What is Plan B?
As part of its COVID-19 Autumn and Winter Plan 2021, the government outlined a set of measures that would be brought in “if the data suggests the NHS is likely to come under unsustainable pressure”.
They were drawn up before the Omicron variant emerged and only apply to England, as COVID restrictions are devolved to the Scottish and Welsh governments and Northern Ireland Executive.
Those changes, which have now been expanded in light of the variant, are:
- Reintroducing guidance to work from home, if you can, from 13 December
- Legally mandating face masks in “most public indoor venues”, including theatres and cinemas from 10 December, with exceptions “where it’s not practical, including while eating, drinking, exercising or singing”
- NHS COVID passes for nightclubs, unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people, and any venue with more than 10,000 people
- Daily testing for people identified as a contact of a coronavirus case – with isolation required only for people who test positive
- Face masks were already a legal requirement in shops, banks, post offices, hairdressers and on public transport in England as of 30 November.
From Friday 10 December, face coverings will become compulsory in most public indoor venues, such as cinemas, theatres and places of worship. There will be exemptions in venues where it is not practical to wear one, such as when you are eating, drinking or exercising. For that reason, face masks will not be required in hospitality settings.
From Monday 13 December, those who can will be advised to work from home.
From Wednesday 15 December, and subject to parliamentary approval, the NHS Covid Pass on the NHS App will become mandatory for entry into nightclubs and settings where large crowds gather – including unseated indoor events with 500 or more attendees, unseated outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees and any event with 10,000 or more attendees.
People will be able to demonstrate proof of two vaccine doses via the app. Having considered the evidence since the emergence of Omicron, proof of a negative lateral flow test will also be accepted.
Taken together, the government is hopeful these measures will reduce transmission and slow the spread of the Omicron variant, and will continue to urge those eligible to get their boosters when called.
Self-isolation and treating symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)
Advice about staying at home (self-isolation) and treatment for you and anyone you live with.
You should also self-isolate straight away if:
- you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 – this means you have the virus
- someone you live with has symptoms or tested positive (unless you are not required to self-isolate – check below if this applies to you)
If you live with or have been in contact with someone with COVID-19, you will not need to self-isolate if any of the following apply:
- you’re fully vaccinated – this means 14 days have passed since your final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine
- you’re under 18 years and 6 months old
- you’re taking part or have taken part in an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial
- you’re not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons
- Even if you do not have symptoms, you’re strongly advised to:
- do daily rapid lateral flow tests (1 a day for 7 days), if you’re fully vaccinated, to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 – find out more about daily testing on GOV.UK
- follow advice on how to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19
- consider limiting contact with people who are at higher risk from COVID-19
- If you test positive, your self-isolation period includes the day your symptoms started (or the day you had the test, if you did not have symptoms) and the next 10 full days.
- You may need to self-isolate for longer if you get symptoms while self-isolating or your symptoms do not go away.
- You may also be able to leave self-isolation after 7 days if certain conditions are met, following two negative lateral flow tests taken on day 6 and day 7 after symptoms start (or, in the case of those who do not have any symptoms, from the date of their first positive test)
While you’re ill, ask a friend, family member or neighbour to check up on you. Arrange a regular call or talk through a doorway (not face to face) so they can check how you’re doing.
Treating a high temperature
If you have a high temperature, it can help to:
- get lots of rest
- drink plenty of fluids (water is best) to avoid dehydration – drink enough so your pee is light yellow and clear.
- take paracetamol or ibuprofen if you feel uncomfortable
Treating a cough
- If you have a cough, it’s best to avoid lying on your back. Lie on your side or sit upright instead.
- To help ease a cough, try having a teaspoon of honey. But do not give honey to babies under 12 months.
- If this does not help, you could contact a pharmacist for advice about cough treatments.
Get help while you’re staying at home
- NHS Volunteer Responders can help you while you have to stay at home (self-isolate).
- They can help with things like collecting shopping and medicines.
- Call 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm, everyday) to arrange help from a volunteer.
- WMO BCCS support. Julie Hodgson 077063 49944 (English), Pauline Chan 077063 51469 （Cantonese0, Judy Zhu 07934 798 145 (Mandarin)
Things to try if you’re feeling breathless
- If you’re feeling breathless, it can help to keep your room cool.
- Try turning the heating down or opening a window. Do not use a fan as it may spread the virus.
- You could also try:
- breathing slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth, with your lips together like you’re gently blowing out a candle
- sitting upright in a chair
- relaxing your shoulders, so you’re not hunched
- leaning forward slightly – support yourself by putting your hands on your knees or on something stable like a chair
- Try not to panic if you’re feeling breathless. This can make it worse.
Get advice from NHS 111 or a GP if:
- you’re feeling gradually more unwell or more breathless
- you have difficulty breathing when you stand up or move around
- you feel very weak, achy or tired
- you’re shaking or shivering
- you’ve lost your appetite
- you’re unable to care for yourself – for example, tasks like washing and dressing or making food are too difficult
- you still feel unwell after 4 weeks – this may be long COVID
- Go to 111.nhs.uk, call 111 or call your GP surgery.
Go to A&E immediately or call 999 if:
- you’re so breathless that you’re unable to say short sentences when resting
- your breathing has got suddenly worse
- you cough up blood
- you feel cold and sweaty, with pale or blotchy skin
- you have a rash that looks like small bruises or bleeding under the skin and does not fade when you roll a glass over it
- you collapse or faint
- you feel agitated, confused or very drowsy
- you’ve stopped peeing or are peeing much less than usual.
Babies and children
- Call 111 if you’re worried about a baby or child.
- If they seem very unwell, are getting worse, or you think there’s something seriously wrong, call 999.
- Do not delay getting help if you’re worried. Trust your instincts.
Staying at home (self-isolating) can be difficult, but it’s important to stop coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading to other people.
- Help and support is available while you’re at home.
- Help with everyday tasks from an NHS volunteer
- NHS Volunteer Responders can help with things like:
- collecting shopping
- collecting medicines and prescriptions
- phone calls if you want to chat to someone
- Call 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm, everyday) to arrange help from a volunteer.
Call WMO BCCS support line and get help from our COVID19 support workers(collecting medicines, shopping, information, food parcel, financial support, etc.)
Pauline Chan (Chinese-Cantonese) 07706 351469,
Judy Zhu (Chinese-Mandarin) 07934 798 145
Janusz Kuzniar (Polish) 07395 797765
Maria Antony (Tamil) 07706 349945
Julie Hodgson (English) 07706 349944
Financial support if you cannot work
Tell your employer if you cannot work while you’re self-isolating.
They should tell you if you’re covered by their sick leave or special leave policy.
If you cannot get sick pay from your employer, you might be able to get Statutory Sick Pay or another type of financial support.
If you’re on a low income and you’re asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, you may be able to get a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment.
Find out more: