Many of us are already wondering about what life will be like this winter when it comes to Covid.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been under pressure to make decisions on lockdowns, booster jabs, and how to keep the UK safe as we head into the colder months.
Here’s a round-up of the government’s “plan A” to protect the nation.
Will there be a winter lockdown?
With 81% of people over 16 having had both doses of the vaccine, the harsh step of a winter lockdown has become less likely.
It seems the type of lockdown we’ve all become used to would only be used now as a “last resort”. People close to Johnson have also said he’s “dead-set” against the idea of another lockdown, although Politico points out “we’ve heard that one before”.
So although we’ve been edging closer and closer to a return to normal life in the last few months, the government have made it clear we’re not in the clear yet.
Over 6 million people in the UK over the age of 16 are still unvaccinated and this will be the focus when it comes to encouraging people to get the jab.
Booster jabs will also be a priority and will be rolled out from mid-September to over-50s, healthcare workers, and people with a higher risk of infection to “strengthen the wall of defence”.
The government has also accepted the recommendation by the UK’s chief medical officers for children aged 12 to 15 to be offered a first dose of the vaccine.
If you’re needing to get a PCR test over the winter months, these will continue to be free.
For anyone who needs to self-isolate, the government plans to continue providing financial and practical support to those who are eligible for it.
More funding for the NHS
Over the next six months, £5.4 billion will go into supporting the NHS, including £1 billion to help with backlog caused by Covid.
It’s still a discussion point but it’s likely that NHS staff and people working in social care will need to be vaccinated.
‘Largest ever’ flu jab campaign
The government will not just be encouraging people to get their Covid jabs this winter but to also get their flu jab if they’re eligible.
Speaking in parliament, secretary of state for health and social care Sajid Javid says it will be “the largest ever flu campaign this country has ever seen”.
This year, free flu jabs are available for secondary school children and people aged between 50-64 years. As before, primary school children, over-65s, vulnerable people and pregnant women are eligible for the jab.
Precautions like meeting outdoors and wearing a face mask in public should still be a priority when it comes to getting together with other people.
And when it comes to travel, the government plans to keep an eye on Covid variants that might enter the UK from abroad.
After relaxing the rules for fully vaccinated travellers, plans are still up in the air when it comes to widening out travel restrictions further than that. But watch this space as announcements could be made in the next couple of weeks.
So that’s plan A. What about plan B?
Of course, there has to be a plan B and the government will be keeping a close eye on hospitalisation numbers in case it comes to this.
If it seems the NHS could be put under strain during the winter months, mandatory face coverings and mandatory Covid passports may be considered.
Working from home more could be encouraged as we saw in previous stages of the pandemic.