What might ministers do to tackle a new Covid surge?
MASKS: Ministers surprised many in July by scrapping the legal requirement to wear face masks in places such as shops and public transport. Restoring mask laws would be unpopular with Tory MPs but is seen as an option that does little damage to the economy. Likelihood: 4/5 JAB PASSPORTS: Health Secretary Sajid Javid appeared to rule out the controversial idea on Sunday, saying it was ‘not going ahead’. But Downing Street later described vaccine passports as a ‘firstline defence’ against rising cases and the measure will be included in today’s Covid Winter Plan. Likelihood: 3/5 WORKING FROM HOME: Boris Johnson has resisted a big ‘back to the office’ push this summer after being forced to U-turn on the issue last year. The measure remains one of the most likely to return if cases soar again. Likelihood: 3/5
SOCIAL DISTANCING: Social distancing rules are seen as one of the most effective tools against fast-rising infections but also one of the most disruptive to the economy and normal life. Limits on the size of gatherings could be reimposed if the situation worsens dramatically, but ministers are likely to resist bringing back the one metre rule unless the situation becomes dire. Likelihood: 2/5 LOCKDOWN: Downing Street yesterday said lockdown powers would be ‘retained’ in the plan for this winter but would only be used as ‘a last resort’. Boris Johnson is said to be ‘dead set against’ ordering another lockdown and ministers believe mass vaccination will make it unnecessary. But the Prime Minister has had to Uturn before and another lockdown could be ordered if a new variant emerges that evades the vaccines. Likelihood: 1/5