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Government’s Covid winter plan could see five more years of face masks and social distancing UK News

Coronavirus contingency plans could see restrictions come back repeatedly over the next five years.

The draft plans, seen by The Mirror, are designed to protect the country from further waves of viruses.

They include a series of measures that could be taken, including making face masks mandatory again and restoring social distancing, in the event of new epidemics.

Read more:How many cases of Covid-19 are there near you as the Northeast has the worst rates in the country

Ministers could be empowered to choose the restrictions needed during the winter, depending on the scale of infections and the strain on hospitals.

And the government could again order measures such as working from home or limits on indoor gatherings.

It comes as the Prime Minister is expected to announce the end of restrictions on July 19 – although Mr Johnson warned yesterday that certain “extra precautions” may be needed.

Officials are believed to believe an emergency plan could help prevent another complete lockdown once enough people receive two doses of the vaccine.

The NHS has already been given the green light to plan a series of booster vaccines for the most vulnerable before winter, as scientists believe Covid-19 will be a part of life for years to come as countries learn how to use it. to face.

Former health secretary Matt Hancock was reportedly involved in the latest plans before stepping down for breaking lockdown rules by kissing an assistant.

According to The Mirror’s story, Chris Wormald, the top health ministry official, is convinced that new health secretary Sajid Javid can be convinced that the five-year plan is necessary.

New Health Secretary Sajid Javid wears mask
The new Secretary of Health Sajid Javid

But that could anger some backbench Tory MPs who want the restrictions to be permanently ended as soon as possible.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Sajid Javid could not rule out winter restrictions on Monday when pressed by MPs.

“If his team comes up with a winter restriction plan, the health secretary should share it with the public.”

But a spokesperson for the Department of Health said: “We do not recognize this story and do not know where it came from.”

It is widely believed that winter is likely to be difficult for the NHS and for those vulnerable due to Covid-19. England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty this week told Cabinet ministers that if he agrees with a summer reopening, preparations should be made for a harsh winter.

We may know more when Mr Johnson sets out what stage four of the lockdown roadmap looks like.

The prime minister warned on Thursday that some “additional precautions” may still be needed.

He urged parents and students to be patient with calls to end self-isolation for entire school bubbles before the fall term.

“I know how eager people are to return to total normalcy, as I am,” he told reporters.

“But I think I’ve said it before, we’ll want to get back to a world as close to the status quo as possible. Try to come back to life as close as it was before Covid.

“But there might be some things we need to do, some extra precautions we need to take, but I’ll outline them.”

As reopening approaches, the Northeast currently has the highest rate of Covid-19 cases in the country, increasing by 100% the previous week to 349.8 per 100,000 people.

However, although the country has seen a “sharp increase in the number of cases”, Mr Johnson said this “was not translating into a sharp increase in serious illnesses and deaths”.

He said it seemed “increasingly clear” that the vaccination program had “broken the link between infection and mortality”.

He added: “This gives us the possibility, we believe, on the 19th, to move forward cautiously and irreversibly.”

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