HEALTH officials have reportedly drawn up plans to protect Brits from Covid for the next FIVE winters – including mask wearing and social distancing.
A draft blueprint created for ministers suggests a number of policies to help prevent future waves of infection from overwhelming the NHS.
Measures could include working from home temporarily or a limit on indoor gatherings, according to the Daily Mirror.
Officials reportedly believe that the plan could prevent another full lockdown after all adults have been double jabbed, and ministers will be able to pick and choose measures depending on the scale of pressure on hospitals.
Chris Wormald, the top civil servant at the Department of Health, is confident that health secretary Sajid Javid can be convinced of the need for the five-year plan despite his more hawkish position on lockdown restrictions, the Mirror reports.
Mr Javid, who took the reins as Health Secretary last Saturday following Matt Hancock’s resignation, vowed to end all Covid restrictions on July 19. He stressed the unlocking was “irreversible”.
Ministers are set to proceed with the unlocking despite a rise in cases driven by the Delta variant, with data showing that vaccines have broken the link between infections and hospitalisations.
But a Department of Health source told the Mirror that officials were “livid” after Mr Javid said that the lifting of restrictions would be indefinite, claiming he had undermined their “data not dates” policy.
A Department of Health spokesman told the Mirror: “We do not recognise this story and do not know where it has come from.”
The plans could spark fury among Tory backbenchers who have repeatedly called for the end of all remaining Covid restrictions as soon as possible.
It comes after Professor Chris Whitty last month warned that Britain was in for a hard winter – with a flu surge likely.
The Chief Medical Officer for England told health bosses that the medium term outlook was “slightly gloomy” but that we “have to be realistic and get ourselves prepared for that”.
He warned that Covid “has not thrown its last surprise at us and there will be several more over the next period”.
Despite the grim forecast, Professor Whitty is reported to have told cabinet ministers earlier this week that July 19 remains the best time to unlock the country.
All limits on social contact and large gatherings will be lifted with face masks also set to become voluntary. Ministers are confident the vaccine will act as a buffer against a wave of hospitalisations and deaths.
A cabinet source told The Times: “The view among the scientists was that we should get as much open this summer as possible before winter, which will be much more difficult.
"It was very encouraging.”
Another source said Prof Whitty had been “cautiously optimistic”.
Boris Johnson this week acknowledged that Brits were “impatient” to get back to normality – but did not rule out retaining some Covid measures past July 19.
Speaking earlier this week, the PM said: “We'll be wanting to go back to a world that is as close to the status quo as possible.
“But there may be some things we have to do, extra precautions that we have to take, but I'll be setting them out.”
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