A revised approach to tackling the coronavirus this winter could cost the UK economy around £18 billion over the next five months.
That’s according to documents understood to have been leaked from within the Treasury and the government’s official Covid-19 taskforce.
Proposals for a so-called ‘Plan B’ have been drawn up and put to decisionmakers at the top of government with the aim being to curtail the spread of Covid-19 across the country during the winter.
Those proposals include mandating an increase in mask wearing, the extended use of vaccine passports and more working from home for people who can do so.
For now, the government has said it will be focussing on ramping up the rollout of vaccines and booster jabs to vulnerable people and those aged over 50.
However, there are concerns that new restrictions and a Plan B approach will be needed in the coming weeks if the number of Covid cases continues to rise and healthcare services come under huge pressure from an increased weight of demand.
According to the Treasury and the Cabinet Office’s Covid-19 Taskforce, those Plan B measures may need to be in place until march 2022 and could cost the British economy between £11 billion and £18 billion.
Details of those figures and what plans are being considered by the government have been published by the website Politico.
Covid passports are discussed within the leaked documents as a policy approach that might have a major impact on economic performance nationally, with specific sectors likely to be badly affected and those measures having the potential to exacerbate ongoing supply chain problems.
A government spokesperson has said: “We knew the coming months would be challenging, which is why we set out our autumn and winter plan last month.
“Plan B ensures we are ready, should we need to act, to avoid an unsustainable rise in hospitalisations that would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
“The presumptions put forward do not reflect government policy. The data does not currently show that plan B is necessary – and there is no planned five-month timeline.”