December 9, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set the Government’s “Plan B” for managing COVID-19 over the winter in motion, with unseated indoor events of 500 or more in England to require proof of vaccination from next week.

Unvaccinated attendees can also provide from of a negative COVID test taken within two days of the event to gain entry.

“It’s now the proportionate and the responsible thing to move to Plan B in England…so we slow the spread of the virus, buy ourselves the time to get yet more boosters into arms and especially the older and more vulnerable people and understand the answers to the key outstanding questions about Omicron,” said Johnson on Wednesday evening UK time.

Under Plan B, those who can work from home are advised to do so and laws requiring masks to be worn in most indoor settings will be reintroduced.

For event settings, in addition to unseated 500-pax events indoors requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test, the same will be required of unseated outdoor events of 4,000 or more and any event of 10,000 attendees or over.

Nightclubs and late night venues will also require proof of vaccination or a negative test for entry.

The UK removed almost all COVID-19 restrictions in July during the Northern summer, with the latest moving coming after the emergence of the Omicron variant in Africa in November, which has seen cases in South Africa spike from between 200-400 daily earlier in November to over 19,800 cases yesterday.

While some European countries imposing stricter COVID-19 restrictions have lower vaccination rates, the UK’s vaccination rate is relatively high at 69.5 percent of the total population, including children who are not yet eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. By comparison, Australia’s whole-of-population vaccination rate stands only slightly higher at 74.34 percent.

The latest daily COVID-19 infection count in the UK was 51,342 cases on Wednesday. Over 5,000 people have been admitted to hospital in the last seven days.

There are currently over 500 Omicron cases confirmed in the UK, but health authorities believe the actual number of cases of the new variant in the UK is more likely to be 20 times higher, around 10,000.