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The Prime Minister has set out the government’s plan to manage Covid throughout autumn and winter.
The Government says that thanks to the success of the vaccination programme, the data continues to show the link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths has weakened significantly, and in England, the number of hospital admissions with Covid has remained relatively stable over the last month. Although deaths increased at the beginning of the summer, the Government says they have remained far below the levels in either of the previous waves.
Over autumn and winter, the government will aim to sustain this progress through:
Vaccines will continue to be the first line of defence. All those who were vaccinated during Phase 1 of the vaccine programme (priority groups 1 to 9) will be offered booster jabs from this month – to boost immunity amongst the most vulnerable groups during winter.
The Test, Trace and Isolate programme will continue its work, with symptomatic PCR testing continuing throughout the autumn and winter.
Lateral flow tests will remain free of charge for the time being but this will end at some point and individuals and businesses will be expected to bear the cost. The government says it will engage widely on this before any changes are made.
The legal obligation to self-isolate for those who have tested positive, and their unvaccinated contacts will continue, and the financial support payment for those self-isolating on certain benefits will continue in its current format until the end of March.
Acknowledging that autumn and winter could pose renewed challenges and the difficulty of predicting the path of the virus with certainty, there will be a range of ‘Plan B’ measures kept under review to help control transmission of the virus while minimising economic and social damage, including:
The government could also consider asking people to work from home again if necessary, but a final decision on this would be made at the time, dependent on the latest data – recognising the extra disruption this causes to individuals and businesses.