Sajid Javid has signalled that new Covid restrictions are still not needed, saying today that England is still “firmly” in Plan A.
The health secretary said the government must “remain cautious, not complacent in any way”, but that he hoped people could “look forward to Christmas together”.
Cases are rising across Europe, with a national lockdown called in Austria this week.
The UK’s cases, hospitlisations and deaths have been relatively flat over the last month, according to chief medical officer Chris Whitty, however there have been warnings that Europe’s Covid wave could eventually wash up on our shores.
“As we all look forward to Christmas, it’s very sad to see cases rising – surging in parts of Europe. We’ve always known that this virus, it loves the winter, it like the cold, darker days that winter brings and we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect ourselves against that,” Javid told Sky News.
“What’s made a real difference here in the UK is our booster programme – our hugely successful booster programme – almost 15m booster jabs given already, covering some quarter of the population over the age of 12.
“That’s 400,000 a day across the UK, and that’s making the difference and we know that because just this week there was more data published on more studies that shows the protection you get from your booster the change in protection, it almost doubles – from 50 per cent to over 90 per cent.”
The government has a set of Plan B restrictions that it has said will be implemented if the NHS comes under too much strain over winter.
This would include mandatory vaccine passports and face masks, while also telling people to work from home.
Javid said there were still no plans to move to Plan B.
“I have mentioned the importance of the booster programme, but in terms of any other potential measures, we have said all along we have got Plan A and that is where we firmly are at the moment,” he said.
“If we needed to take further measures with Plan B than we would do so, but we are not at that point.”