Plan B measures explained

Published Wednesday 15 December 2021 at 13:27

As parliament agreed various Plan B measures last night, here’s a round-up of the current Covid rules and advice across England.


Face masks

It is now law to wear face coverings in most public places, including hairdressers, shops, takeaways, community centres and village halls, and communal areas in schools and colleges. Facemasks were reintroduced on public transport last month.

Get the full list on the website.

You don’t have to wear a face mask in pubs, cafés and restaurants, or in gyms and nightclubs.

However local advice from Blackburn with Darwen’s Director of Public Health is to wear face masks where possible in all enclosed public space whether or not it is required by law.

The police and police community support officers can enforce face masks rules, but Council officers cannot.


Working from home

While not law, the government’s advice is to work from home if you can, to avoid unnecessary social mixing.

Anyone who cannot work from home should continue to travel to their workplace. If you travel by public transport, remember to wear a face covering.


NHS Covid passes

Over 18s must show a NHS Covid pass, which show a negative Covid test in the last 48 hours or full vaccination status, to get into many large venues from today:

  • nightclubs
  • indoor unseated venues with more than 500 people
  • unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people
  • any venue with more than 10,000 people

There are more details on the Covid pass and how to get yours on the website.


Booster vaccination

From Wednesday 15 December, all over 18s in England will be eligible for a booster dose three months after their second Covid vaccination. Booster appointments can be made through the NHS online booking system.


Local leaders have welcomed these new measures which are designed to help reduce the spread of the Omicron variant of Coronavirus, expected to be the most dominant variant within weeks.

Coun Mohammed Khan CBE, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said:

Making these infection control measures law means that they are now enforceable – people can be fined for not wearing masks in shops or for not self-isolating when they have been told to, for example.

I appreciate we have all been through a lot these last two years, but wearing a mask is a small price to way to help prevent more people becoming ill in our local communities and local NHS services coming under greater pressure.

I urge everyone in Blackburn with Darwen: please, do the right thing and follow all the rules that have been put in place to protect us all.



Last night, government ministers also agreed to change the rules around testing for close-contacts and who must self-isolate.

People who are fully vaccinated, or under 18, and have been in contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 do not immediately have to self-isolate. Instead they are advised to take rapid lateral flow tests every day for 7 days. If they then test positive or develop symptoms, they will need to self-isolate for 10 days, and arrange a PCR test.

Anyone who has not been fully vaccinated still has to self-isolate for 10 days from the day they were last in contact with the positive case.

Get more details of self-isolation rules on the website. 


Prof Dominic Harrison, Director of Public Health for Blackburn with Darwen, added:

Considering what we already know about how easily the Omicron variant spreads, I feel very concerned about this change in self-isolation and the move to a much weaker testing strategy.

However, for schools, businesses and essential local services to keep running, I understand the need to move away from the previous requirement for all close-contacts of suspected Omicron cases to self-isolate.

It’s been a tough decision for the government, but I worry that it could cause a problem for places like Blackburn with Darwen. People who cannot afford to take time off work to self-isolate if they test positive may not test at all, regardless of being a close-contact of someone with Covid.

This increases the risk of outbreaks, which in turn could pile additional pressure on our local health services.

Get the latest on the Plan B measures in the fight against Omicron on the government’s website:

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