Oliver Dowden today gave a firm hint that Plan B restrictions will be lifted in England on January 26 as he said the latest coronavirus data ‘seems to be heading in the right direction’. 

The chairman of the Conservative Party said the numbers relating to Covid infections and hospitalisations are now ‘very promising’.   

Mr Dowden said it has ‘always been my hope that we would have the Plan B restrictions for the shortest period possible’ and he is ‘very hopeful and optimistic’ that curbs will be eased before the end of the month. 

However, he cautioned that the Government will ‘await the data at the point of the decision before making that final decision’. 

There is a growing expectation in Westminster that Boris Johnson will lift Plan B measures when they are reviewed on January 26.   

That will mean the end of working from home guidance and Covid passes for entry to large venues being axed.

Travel testing rules could also be eased for fully-vaccinated travellers so they would no longer have to take a test on their return.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is said to support the move, which would bolster the travel industry and ease financial pressure on families. 

However, reports suggest that a legal requirement to wear face masks in indoor settings like shops and public transport is likely to remain. 

Health Secretary Sajid Javid expects almost all Covid curbs to end in a fortnight because ‘the data is moving in the right direction’. 

Oliver Dowden today gave a firm hint that Plan B restrictions will be lifted in England on January 26 as he said the latest coronavirus data 'seems to be heading in the right direction'

Oliver Dowden today gave a firm hint that Plan B restrictions will be lifted in England on January 26 as he said the latest coronavirus data 'seems to be heading in the right direction'

Oliver Dowden today gave a firm hint that Plan B restrictions will be lifted in England on January 26 as he said the latest coronavirus data ‘seems to be heading in the right direction’

Health Secretary Sajid Javid expects almost all Covid curbs to end in a fortnight because 'the data is moving in the right direction'

Health Secretary Sajid Javid expects almost all Covid curbs to end in a fortnight because 'the data is moving in the right direction'

Health Secretary Sajid Javid expects almost all Covid curbs to end in a fortnight because ‘the data is moving in the right direction’

Covid-19 cases across the UK have fallen by 44 per cent over the past week according to new data

Covid-19 cases across the UK have fallen by 44 per cent over the past week according to new data

Covid-19 cases across the UK have fallen by 44 per cent over the past week according to new data

A further 81,713 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases were recorded in the UK as of 9am yesterday while a further 287 people had died. 

Mr Dowden was asked during an interview on Sky News this morning if he believes the Omicron variant is now in retreat. 

He replied: ‘Well, we have seen some very promising data whether that is in relation to infections or hospitalisations and that of course hasn’t happened by accident. 

‘It has happened because so many people have taken that booster vaccine and thanks to the drive we gave it before Christmas we have now got over 60 per cent of the total population covered with the booster vaccine and actually over 90 per cent of over 50s.

‘That gives us pause for hope and optimism that we may be emerging from the worst of omicron.

‘So it is good news but it is thanks to all that hard work that has happened.’

Asked if the nation should expect Plan B curbs to be lifted at the review in 10 days’ time, he said: ‘Well, it has always been my hope that we would have the Plan B restrictions for the shortest period possible.

‘I am under no doubt the kind of burdens this puts hospitality, wider businesses, schools and so on under and I want us to get rid of those if we possibly can.

‘The signs are encouraging but clearly we will wait to see the data ahead of that final decision.’

Asked if it is likely that the restrictions will be removed, he said: ‘Well, it all seems to be heading in the right direction, particularly crucially in relation to hospitalisations which seem to be plateauing.

‘You have seen those very good headline numbers. It is heading in the right direction now.

‘I am very hopeful and optimistic but clearly we will await the data at the point of the decision before making that final decision.’

Covid passports and work from home guidance for England are expected to be lifted on January 26 – with an announcement likely within days.

The legal requirement to wear face masks in indoor settings such as shops and public transport is likely to remain. 

‘Even as one of the most cautious members of the Cabinet on Covid, Sajid thinks we are on our way out of the worst of the crisis,’ said a source. 

A change on travel testing rules would likely prompt a surge in families booking a half-term break in February. 

‘We are looking at removing all Covid tests for vaccinated travellers by the end of January, which is likely to coincide with the review of the Plan B measures on January 26,’ a source close to Mr Shapps told The Times.

As of last week, fully-vaccinated travellers can take a lateral flow test purchased from a private test provider within two days of arrival rather than the more expensive PCR.

Mr Johnson announced earlier this month that travellers arriving in England would no longer have to take a pre-departure Covid test.

He also axed the requirement for travellers to self-isolate on arrival until they receive a negative PCR test, with people now required to just take a lateral flow test within two days instead.

In Britain, work-from-home guidance and Covid passports to access large events have formed the backbone of Plan B, imposed in early December. But Sage has now formally acknowledged what many experts have been saying for weeks, namely that Omicron is much less severe than previous strains of the virus

In Britain, work-from-home guidance and Covid passports to access large events have formed the backbone of Plan B, imposed in early December. But Sage has now formally acknowledged what many experts have been saying for weeks, namely that Omicron is much less severe than previous strains of the virus

In Britain, work-from-home guidance and Covid passports to access large events have formed the backbone of Plan B, imposed in early December. But Sage has now formally acknowledged what many experts have been saying for weeks, namely that Omicron is much less severe than previous strains of the virus

The PM said he had taken the decision because the Omicron variant is now so prevalent in the UK that the border measures were only having a limited impact on the spread of the disease.     

With the latest wave receding in most areas, modelling presented to scientific advisers on Sage suggests that continued curbs will make little difference to the level of hospital admissions.

In Britain, work-from-home guidance and Covid passports to access large events have formed the backbone of Plan B, imposed in early December. 

But Sage has now formally acknowledged what many experts have been saying for weeks, namely that Omicron is much less severe than previous strains of the virus.

On Friday, Sage published minutes of a meeting on January 7 that said: ‘Early data… indicates that the severity of disease being observed in hospital over the last three weeks is lower than observed in early phases of previous waves, with less need for oxygen, less admission to intensive care, better outcomes, and shorter stays.’

It added: ‘Unlike in previous waves, intensive care units are not likely to be the part of the health system under most pressure in this wave.’

Sage also said that modelling suggested that implementing extra restrictions ‘would now have little effect on the peak’, though it warned that dismantling Plan B restrictions ‘before the peak is passed, could increase the overall impact of this wave on hospitalisations’. 

Its latest conclusions are in sharp contrast to those it drew shortly before Christmas, when it warned hospitalisations could peak at between 3,000 and 10,000 a day and daily deaths at between 600 and 6,000.

The startling scenarios were based on the flawed assumption that Omicron was as naturally deadly as the previous Covid strain, Delta.

Meanwhile, the UK Health Security Agency has updated its assessment of Omicron, saying it now has ‘high confidence that the variant causes low severity of disease in adults’.

The first 40,000 people aged 16 and 17, who had their second dose at least three months ago, will tomorrow be able to book their booster. 

The remainder of the 1.2 million in that age bracket in England will become eligible for booster jabs over the coming weeks.

Mr Javid said: ‘We’re now extending the [booster] programme to 16 and 17-year-olds so they can top-up their immunity this winter to keep themselves and their friends safe.’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Met Police chief Cressida Dick faces backlash after surprise Partygate probe nearly upends Sue Gray inquiry

MET boss Cressida Dick faced a growing Whitehall backlash last night after…

Shoppers furious as council spends £178k on wiggly line pedestrian zone

SHOPPERS are furious that council chiefs have wasted money painting wiggly white…

UFO Congress hearing LIVE — 11 ‘near misses’ with UAPs revealed as sighting videos released in meeting

THE United States Congress held a public discussion about UFOs today for…

Anti-Abortion Pregnancy Centers Are Collecting Troves of Data That Could Be Weaponized Against Women

The first alarm bell went off in Ashley’s head when no one…