Hospitality venues could be forced to close again if a rumoured Covid Plan D is implemented to limit the steep increase of cases of the Omicron variant.
On 8 December, in a Downing Street press conference, Boris Johnson confirmed that England would be moving to its Covid Plan B, setting out measures that included working-from-home, mandatory Covid passports in large venues, and mask rules would be extended to more public places.
On Sunday, Johnson addressed the nation after the UK Covid alert was raised to Level 4, although no further restrictions were outlined.
In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon announced on the 10 December the return of the 10-day isolation for any contacts of a positive Covid-19 case. In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland people are currently only required to isolate if they have been in close contact with a suspected Omicron case.
According to Whitehall insiders, the government is now considering a Plan C and an even more stringent Plan D should Omicron infections threaten to overwhelm health services.
It is understood that under Plan D, hospitality venues will only be allowed to serve outside and could be forced to completely shut down if infections continue to increase.
At this stage, there is no official outline for Plan C, but it could see the return of the NHS Covid app check-in for bars, pubs and restaurants.
Initial reports indicate the two doses of the vaccine are not enough to prevent Omicron infection, but a booster jab prevents 75% of people from developing severe symptoms.
New modelling forecasts from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) has predicted that in England between 25,000 and 75,000 more deaths could be caused by the variant between 1 December 2021 and 30 April 2022, if no extra measures are imposed.