Premier League football clubs are ready to demand fans show vaccine passports to enter stadiums, starting from this weekend.
Boris Johnson hit the panic button today with claims that ‘Plan B’ could be triggered almost immediately amid growing fears about the Omicron strain: including plans for a blanket order to work from home where possible, more mask-wearing and Covid passports.
And the Premier League are prepared to ask all supporters attending matches to show their vaccine certification.
Covid-19 vaccination spot checks for every fan could come to the Premier League imminently
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has triggered ‘Plan B’ restrictions to stop the spread of Omicron
Newcastle United player Javier Manquillo has his Covid status checked at St James’ Park
There are 10 matches planned for this weekend, while West Ham and Tottenham have home European fixtures on Thursday night, after the new restrictions could be introduced.
Top-flight clubs discussed the new potential regulations at last Friday’s Premier League shareholder meeting.
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.
A meeting of the core ‘Covid O’ Cabinet committee is scheduled for later to sign off the precise details, with a blanket work from home order, compulsory mask-wearing and Covid passports among the likely measures.
Every fan attending a Premier League game from this weekend could have their Covid vaccination status checked outside the stadium
Until now, only spot checks on vaccination status have taken place at football matches
But the apparent move will spark accusations Mr Johnson is deploying a ‘dead cat’ tactic – making a big newsworthy announcement in order to distract attention from another crisis.
There had been expectations curbs would be ramped up before Christmas, but sources had been playing down the prospects it would be this week.
It comes after a bombshell video emerged of No10 aides joking about their ‘illegal’ Christmas party – with Sajid Javid cancelling interviews this morning.
Johnson apologised ‘unreservedly’ for the video during Prime Minister’s Questions at lunchtime but denied a Christmas party took place.
‘I apologise unreservedly for the offence that it gave up and down the country,’ he said. ‘But I have been repeatedly assured there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken.’
Health Secretary 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 giggling about the lockdown-busting gathering last year.
The footage of Ms Stratton was filmed on December 22 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.
In the bombshell video a No 10 aide asks a question about ‘a Downing Street Christmas party on Friday night’, to which Allegra Stratton laughed and replied: ‘I went home.’
The clip, discovered by ITV news shows Allegra Stratton, then the PM’s press secretary, and Ed Oldfield, No10’s head of digital, rehearsing a question and answer session in the No9 briefing room.
It came as new plans for Britons to work from home and for offices to be closed are being drawn up by the Government to curb a surge in Omicron variant case numbers over the festive period – but Tory MPs admitted the ‘indefensible’ and ‘catastrophic’ video could mean the public will resist or ignore more restrictions because of a lack of ‘moral authority’ in No 10.
Some backbenchers have even suggested that Boris Johnson’s 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.
Meanwhile, Britain’s Covid crisis continued to surge yesterday in the face of the spiralling Omicron crisis, with cases increasing again on last week and Boris Johnson warning the super-mutant variant is more transmissible.
Government figures showed there were 45,691 new positive tests over the last 24 hours, up 15 per cent on last Tuesday’s figure of 39,716.
Experts believe Omicron now makes up to almost two per cent of all new infections, suggesting up to 1,000 people are currently being struck down every day.
The true overall toll, however, is just 437 because only a fraction of samples are analysed. Health chiefs have already warned that it is now spreading domestically in multiple regions.
Despite cases continuing to tick upwards, hospital admissions are flat (up 0.7 per cent on last week) but are expected to rise in the coming days in line with infections. Deaths appear to already be trickling upwards, jumping 13.2 per cent to 180.
Eminent epidemiologist Professor Tim Spector claimed infections of the highly evolved variant were doubling every two days. The above graph, based on MailOnline analysis, shows how the number of daily cases of Omicron could breach the 100,000 barrier before New Year’s Day, if that pace continues