Government outlines next steps in its Covid response

13 September 2021

Measures from the Coronavirus Act 2020 are expected to be repealed as the Government sets out its plans for dealing with the pandemic during the autumn and winter months.

The Prime Minister’s Office has said that Boris Johnson will give full details in the week ahead.

Although nearly 90% of the UK population aged over 16 have received a first dose of the Covid vaccine, and more than 80% have received both doses, the winter months will bring renewed challenges, he has warned.

The Government expects to receive confirmation next week from the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisation (JCVI) on the details of a vaccination booster programme, with plans in place to begin this month.

This will boost immunity over the months ahead, protecting against serious disease and death and unsustainable pressure on the NHS.

The Prime Minister is also expected to repeal, in England, sections of the Coronavirus Act 2020 that are no longer necessary including powers:

  • to close down sectors of the economy, such as business premises, or apply restrictions to events and gatherings

  • that disrupt education, enabling temporary closure or restricting access to schools, colleges and childcare

  • that extend time limits for urgent warrants and to detain infectious people.

Vital powers from the Act will however be retained including giving sick pay to those isolating from day one rather than day seven, directing schools to remain open if they close against official guidance and helping the NHS to get the emergency resources it needs.

In addition, legal requirements will remain for someone to isolate if they test positive, to protect the most vulnerable from infection and to control the spread of variants.

What the statement from Number 10 did not mention was the subject of vaccine passports but the plans in this regard were revealed by Health Secretary Sajid Javid in television interviews.

He said that the Government had decided not to go ahead with plans for members of the public to have to show proof of double vaccination in order to gain entry to clubs and other crowded events.

“We've looked at it properly and, whilst we should keep it in reserve as a potential option, I'm pleased to say that we will not be going ahead with plans for vaccine passports,” Mr Javid confirmed.