The economy will take a hit of up to £18bn if Boris Johnson implements his Plan B Covid restrictions over winter, according to a leaked government report.
The Cabinet Office estimates the restrictions – which would see the government tell people to work from home and implement mandatory face masks and vaccine passports – would likely be in place until March 2022 and cost the economy between £11bn and £18bn.
The bulk of this cost would come from people being told to work from home again, which would see footfall plummet in central business districts across the country.
The report, leaked to Politico today, indicates that it is unknown how effective implementing these winter restrictions would be in curbing Covid case numbers.
Working from home and vaccine passports would have a “moderate impact”, according to the report.
A separate leaked report from the Treasury, seen by the Telegraph, said mandatory vaccine passports would cost the events sector between £1.4 and £2.3bn.
Health secretary Sajid Javid continues to insist the government is not planning on bringing in winter restrictions, however this could change if the NHS comes under serious pressure.
Covid cases, hospitalisations and deaths have risen steadily this month, prompting predictions that the health service could come under serious pressure over winter.
Immunity from the Covid vaccines is also waning, with the government encouraging eligible people to get their booster jabs.
A government spokesperson said: “We knew the coming months would be challenging, which is why we set out our autumn and winter plan last month. Plan B ensures we are ready, should we need to act, to avoid an unsustainable rise in hospitalizations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
“The presumptions put forward do not reflect government policy … There is no planned five-month timeline.”