Jab rules in England venues as Omicron spiral


Plan B applied on English stadiums Image: MJR Group Ltd./Coliseum

Proof of coronavirus vaccination or a negative lateral flow test will be required for spectators to attend sporting events in England (UK) with crowds of over 10,000 after the Government announced it will implement ‘Plan B’ as omicron cases double every two to three days in the United Kingdom.

The ‘Daily Mail’ stated that the Prime Minister (PM) of United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, hit the panic button on December 8th by introducing new restrictions amid growing fears about the Omicron strain which has half of the world in its grip presently: Including a blanket order to work from home where possible, more mask-wearing and COVID passports.

Vaccine passports mean the Premier League will be told it is mandatory to ensure all their 20 clubs ask every supporter attending matches to show their vaccine certification.

The ‘Daily Mail’ further stated that the National Health Service (NHS) COVID pass will be mandatory in night clubs and other venues where large crowds gather from “a week’s time”, the Prime Minister told a Downing Street presser, as he described the measures as “proportionate and responsible”.

He added that the pass can be obtained with a negative lateral flow test or by having had two doses of a vaccine but hinted this could change by saying “we will keep this under review as the boosters roll out”.

Indeed, the new regulations will also affect a number of major sporting events over the busy festive period until the threat of Omicron is deemed to have diminished.

The Prime Minister said, “We will also make the NHS COVID pass mandatory for entry into nightclubs and venues where large crowds gather, including unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people and any venue with more than 10,000 people. The NHS COVID pass can still be obtained with two doses (of a COVID vaccine) but we will keep this under review as the boosters roll out. And having taken clinical advice since the emergence of Omicron, a negative lateral flow test will also be sufficient.”

The PM added, “As we set out in Plan B, we will give businesses a week’s notice, so this will come into force in a week’s time, helping to keep these events and venues open at full capacity while giving everyone who attends them confidence that those around them have done the responsible thing to minimize risk to others.”

There is a full schedule of Premier League (the top level of the English football league system) matches next week, starting on December 14th and running until December 16th, with the national football schedule now heading into its busiest period over Christmas.

Top-flight clubs discussed the new potential regulations at the Premier League shareholders’ meeting held recently.

It will likely cause chaos for supporters entering grounds, where they have largely only been spot-checked for vaccine certification in the first four months of the season since stadiums reopened.

Clubs are also braced for a backlash from fans, who have been able to attend matches in large numbers without wearing masks or having their vaccine status checked during the season to date.

The Prime Minister bowed to mounting alarm about the risk of the NHS being overwhelmed by cases of the Omicron COVID variant by introducing tougher restrictions in the lead-up to Christmas.

The announcement of new regulations has sparked accusations that Johnson is deploying a ‘dead cat’ tactic – making a big newsworthy announcement in order to distract attention from another crisis.

There had been expectations that curbs would be ramped up before Christmas, but sources had been playing down the prospects it would be so soon.

Bombshell video

The above comes after a bombshell video emerged of No 10 aides joking about their “illegal” Christmas party last December – with Health Secretary Sajid Javid canceling interviews on the morning of December 8th.

Johnson apologized “unreservedly” for the video during Prime Minister’s Questions at lunchtime but denied a Christmas party took place – “I apologize unreservedly for the offence that it gave up and down the country. But I have been repeatedly assured there was no party and that no COVID rules were broken.”

Javid was brutally empty-chaired by broadcasters after pulling out of appearances following the emergence of the footage showing the PM’s former Press Secretary Allegra Stratton – who resigned on December 8th – giggling about the lockdown-busting gathering last year.

The footage of Stratton was filmed on December 22nd last year – four days after the alleged “boozy” party and when London was under strict Tier 3 coronavirus curbs.

The revelation follows a week of tortured denials from No 10 that there was a “party” – even though dozens of staff allegedly exchanged “secret Santa” gifts and drank past midnight at an event said to have included party games.

Some backbenchers have even suggested that Johnson could be forced to resign unless he “holds his hands up” because of the video, which calls into question his insistence that all the rules had been followed at the time.

Omicron surge

Meanwhile, Britain’s COVID cases continue to surge in the face of the spiraling Omicron crisis, with cases increasing again in the first week of December and Boris Johnson warning the supermutant variant is more transmissible.

COVID cases jumped 6 percent on December 8th and breached 50,000 for the fourth time in a week.

Health Secretary Javid said Omicron cases could exceed one million by the end of this month on the current trajectory – “Although there are only 568 confirmed Omicron cases in the United Kingdom, we know that the actual number of infections will be significantly higher. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) estimates that the number of infections is approximately 20 times higher than the number of confirmed cases, and so the current number of infections is probably closer to 10,000.”

Added Javid, “UKHSA also estimate that at the current observed doubling rate of between two and a half and three days, by the end of this month, infections could exceed 1 million.”

The National Health Service (NHS) is the umbrella term for the publicly-funded healthcare systems of the United Kingdom. Since 1948, they have been funded out of general taxation. There are three systems which are referred to using the ‘NHS’ name.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is a Government agency in the United Kingdom, responsible since April 2021 for UK-wide public health protection and infectious disease capability, and replacing Public Health England. It is an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care.

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