Plan B COVID restrictions in England expected to be scrapped this month

"There frankly doesn’t seem to be any other expectation at the moment"

All Plan B COVID restrictions in England are expected to be scrapped later this month, according to a senior government source.

Currently, as part of Plan B restrictions, face masks are required in cinemas and theatres, and people need to show proof they’re fully vaccinated or provide a negative test when visiting clubs, indoor unseated venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people and any event with more than 10,000 people.

According to The Telegraph, coronavirus passports and work from home guidance are widely expected inside Whitehall to be lifted from January 26 for England, although some rules on face masks may remain.

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“There frankly doesn’t seem to be any other expectation at the moment,” a government source close to COVID policy said about ending Plan B restrictions.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers his speech during the Conservative Party conference at Manchester Central Convention Complex on October 6, 2021 Credit: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

The introduction of the restrictions in December was criticised by the music industry.

Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, released a statement that said: “We are disappointed that MPs have today voted in to law covid passports for nightclubs. The NTIA have consistently opposed their introduction due to the many logistical challenges they pose for night time economy businesses.”

In a report by the UK Treasury and the Cabinet Office’s COVID-19 Taskforce it was suggested that COVID passports passports only reduce overall community transmission by just one to five per cent.

Following the implementation of Plan B restrictions, the Music Venue Trust found a “catastrophic” drop in attendance, advance ticket sales and spend per head in grassroots music venues, meaning that the entire sector was once again “at risk of permanent closure” without “immediate” government support. When that support did come, UK music venues criticised it as “pointless” and “bonkers”.

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There are also reports that the government is looking to scrap free lateral flow tests for the majority of people. 

Speaking to NME, Mark Davyd of the Music Venue Trust explained how its Reopen Every Venue Safely programme “is built on key elements of risk mitigation that build together to create spaces that are as safe as they can be. A core element of that is a testing programme that is freely available to everyone”.

“Our #TakeATest campaign has been hugely successful in allowing the live music community to play its part in the Reopen Every Venue Safely programme. We therefore urge, in the strongest possible terms, the government to keep free tests available and open to everyone,” he said.

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