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Boris Johnson's winter 'Plan B' has left ministers wondering if there's a Plan C

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When Sajid Javid made his debut as Health Secretary in the House of Commons in June, he struck a markedly different tone to his predecessor Matt Hancock. Where Hancock had earned a reputation for being the voice of caution on Covid, Javid declared that when restrictions in England ended on 19 July, this would be “irreversible”.

While allies of Hancock complained that it was an approach that would prove hard to sustain, the comments landed well with the parliamentary party. Tory MPs fed up of what they saw as departmental doom welcomed the change in tone – finding comfort in the fact that Javid had, like them, spent much of the pandemic on the sidelines dealing with casework and experiencing the pandemic on the ground.

But as Chief Medical Office Chris Whitty warns that “winter is coming”, Javid’s promise of an irreversible roadmap is looking harder to stick to. After the Prime Minister unveiled his Covid plan for the coming months, there is already a hint that some restrictions could return in the form of face masks and working from home guidance, and there are worries that a bit of bad luck could see further restrictions having to be introduced.

Officially, there are two plans for the........

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