Boris Johnson has backed sticking with Plan B measures in England as he hopes to “ride out” the massive wave of Omicron cases without lockdown restrictions despite warnings the NHS is under significant pressure.
The Prime Minister said anyone who believes the battle against the disease is over is “profoundly wrong” as he confirmed he would advocate to his Cabinet the need to stick with work-from-home guidance, mask-wearing and the use of Covid health passes.
With daily lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in England exceeding 200,000 for the first time, Mr Johnson said now is the time for the “utmost caution” but argued the booster rollout has given substantial protection to the nation.
“So together with the Plan B measures that we introduced before Christmas we have a chance to ride out this Omicron wave without shutting down our country once again,” he told a Downing Street press conference.
“We can keep our schools and our businesses open and we can find a way to live with this virus.”
The Prime Minister acknowledged the weeks ahead are going to be “challenging” and said “some services will be disrupted by staff absences” as he pledged to “fortify” the NHS to withstand the pressures and protect supply chains.
Under the measures, he said 100,000 “critical workers” will get lateral flow tests on every working day starting on Monday.
“As our NHS moves to a war footing, I will be recommending to Cabinet tomorrow that we continue with Plan B,” he added.
“Because the public have responded and changed their behaviour, your behaviour, buying valuable time to get boosters in arms and help the NHS to cope with the Omicron wave.
“So please carry on observing those measures for now.”