Why has 'Plan B' been brought in now when Covid cases were higher in October?

Covid-19 new rules

A Suffolk Health Chief has asked people to be kind and respectful to people who have to enforce the Plan B Covid restrictions of face masks and vaccine passports - Credit: Archant/SCC

The Government has introduced its 'Plan B' measures despite Covid-19 cases being lower now than they were in October both nationally and in Suffolk.

From today face coverings will be required by law in most indoor settings, people will be encouraged to work from home from Monday and vaccine passports will be required for certain venues from December 15.

In October cases reported in a day peaked at 56,712 in the UK and 774 in Suffolk, whereas in the past few weeks the highest figure for the UK has been 54,902 and 599 for Suffolk. 

Suffolk's director of public health, Stuart Keeble believes the restrictions have been brought in now due to uncertainty of the impact of the new variant Omicron.

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL - Credit: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Mr Keeble said: "Its about trying to get ahead of the curve because it always takes two to three weeks for the impact of those decisions.

"There is uncertainty around Omicron, our understanding is growing and developing. What we do know is that the doubling rate is every three to five days which is extremely rapid."

While it is not known if it is more severe or lethal, the speed it's moving at the moment would suggest it will infect a large number of people very quickly.

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He added: "It's about looking at the direction of travel and the speed of change as it is about the absolute rates."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a second nationwide lockdown last October

Boris Johnson confirmed that “Plan B” of the government’s coronavirus strategy will be enforced across England - Credit: PA

Working from home

Working from home is a "useful tool" and it helps reduce mixing and break the transmission chain according to Mr Keeble, who acknowledges that "there's no one single answer".

The aim of Plan B is to "try and buy us a bit of time and slow things down while we work out what's the best strategy," he continued.

"We know that potentially Omicron might undermine somewhat the protection.

"We don't have all the answers yet, the right thing is to step in and be cautionary."

Mr Keeble also said that people "need to use their own common sense" in scenarios such as Christmas parties.

He added: "I'm also acutely aware of the importance of meeting up with family."

Mr Keeble suggested five points he wants Suffolk residents to consider.

Work from home - If you can work from home then do

Booster Jabs - You can still get your first or second jab too if needed

Be kind and respectful - If someone asks you to wear a face mask or for a vaccine passport Mr Keeble asks you remember "they've got a job to do as well".

Face coverings  - Consider wearing them in busy areas even if not specifically required to.

Lateral flow tests - Still work for the Omicron variant and are easy to take before mixing with groups of people.