The Prime Minister has announced a move to Plan B measures, as outlined in the Covid-19 Autumn/Winter Plan. Plan B measures will come into force while more data on vaccine efficacy is assessed.
Moving to Plan B will help to slow the spread of the Omicron variant and reduce the chances of the NHS coming under unsustainable pressure, while buying time to deliver more boosters.
The approach continues to be based on helping you recognise risk and protect you and your family and friends from Covid-19, enabling you to continue your normal lives as much as possible.
The measures announced yesterday are:
- From 10 December, mandatory face covering rules are extended to most indoor settings (but will not include hospitality settings).
- From 13 December, guidance is for people to work from home if they can. Anyone who cannot work from home should continue to travel to their workplace.
- From 15 December, introduction of mandatory certification for certain settings. This will mean a requirement to show vaccination status or a recent negative test to enter certain high risk settings.
These measures are in addition to:
- Encouraging everyone to carry on regular testing, especially before you meet others, socialise or go to crowded or enclosed places.
- Promoting vaccines and boosters – we know being fully vaccinated is the best way for you to protect yourself, your family and friends against catching Covid-19.
- Reminding people of the importance of ventilation - let in fresh air when meeting indoors.
Through the Council’s Local Outbreak Management Board, we will be reviewing our local plans to ensure our response continues to reflect the changing local and national risk.
While there are no confirmed cases in Solihull as yet, now we are seeing community transmission in other parts of the country, so it is only a matter of time before Omicron finds its way to Solihull. That is why we are going to Plan B.
It is also why we need to take the Omicron variant seriously. The science is still emerging but it points to this being easier to pass on and more infectious than other variants of COVID-19. Vaccination, including boosters, remains an absolutely key defence.
Solihull still has high levels of the Delta strain locally with just over 1,000 new cases a week. Rates are particularly high in school-aged children but are also increasing in 25-69 year olds.
At the moment 33,351 people in the borough aged 12 or over have not had their first dose of vaccination. Please join the 161,194 (85%) of eligible residents who have been vaccinated. This is your best defence against COVID-19.
The uptake is lower in men than women and in 18-39 year olds. If this is you, please book in for your jab or find your nearest walk in session. This is especially important if you’re planning to meet up with older or vulnerable relatives at Christmas.
The booster also is very important. The NHS is starting to contact everyone over the age of 18 for their booster – in turn. 12-15 year olds will be offered a second dose no sooner than 12 weeks after their first.
Vaccines are available at locations across the borough including GP surgeries, our permanent vaccination centre on Solihull High Street and some local pharmacies. Slots show when they are available on the national booking service website with walk-ins also possible on the High Street. More centres are being opened up and there is plenty of availability although you may need to travel a little further.
- Get vaccinated so you’re better protected for Christmas – but don’t think it. makes you invincible, you can still get and transmit the virus after vaccination
- Infectious droplets can last for hours in stuffy rooms - good ventilation keeps air circulating.
- Indoor crowded spaces are riskier than outdoor ones.
- Test before you go out so you don’t infect other people - this is really important if you’re with people who may be more vulnerable to COVID-19.
- After nearly two years of this virus, we all want to enjoy Christmas. The Omicron variant has meant we’ve had to move to Plan B. I am asking you to think very carefully about what you do and the steps you can take to reduce your risks until the impact of Omicron becomes clearer.
After nearly two years of this virus, we all want to enjoy Christmas, but the Omicron variant has meant we’ve had to move to Plan B.
COVID-19 is likely to be with us for some time and we’ll all need to understand and manage our risks.
Director of Public Health, Solihull Council
Below are useful links to find out where you can get a vaccine, how to book, and how to get a test.
- Birmingham & Solihull NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Service – Birmingham & Solihull NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Service (birminghamandsolihullcovidvaccine.nhs.uk)
- What you need to know – Birmingham & Solihull NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Service (birminghamandsolihullcovidvaccine.nhs.uk)
- The NHS is also contacting people to bring forward second vaccination appointments, or rebook yourself on the National Booking Service.
- To get a test there are options to suit everyone, find a walk in site and ask for an assisted test, collect a kit to test at home, order online for free home delivery or get a 'collect code' and pick up a pack from participating local pharmacies.
- If you should get a positive rapid test result it’s vital to get a confirmatory PCR test within 48 hours. Check the Covid-19 mobile testing unit timetable here or book via the national PCR test booking system.
- Full government guidance on new rules around self-isolation is here.
- For the latest information see Coronavirus (Covid-19) latest information | solihull.gov.uk