COVID review for England could come this week, early next - source

·2 min read

LONDON, Jan 17 (Reuters) - A review of "Plan B" measures to tackle the spread of COVID-19 in England could take place this week or early next, a senior government source said on Monday, part of efforts to move attention away from lockdown-breaking events at Downing Street.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes to reset his agenda after coming under fire for attending a gathering in the garden of his Downing Street office and residence in May 2020, when strict COVID-19 rules forbade almost all socialising.

He has apologised for attending, but the growing reports of alcohol-fuelled gatherings at the heart of government have prompted calls for his resignation, including from some in his governing Conservative Party.

The removal of "Plan B" measures - an order for people to work from home when they can, to wear masks in public places and use COVID-19 passes to enter some venues - would please many in his party who want to return to something more akin to normal life.

The senior government source said the review could come this week, but possibly early next week.

The measures are currently set in place until at least Jan. 26 after they were introduced in December to try to curb the spread of the Omicron variant.

Education minister Nadhim Zahawi said earlier that infections and hospitalisations from the variant looked to be "plateauing", raising hopes that some of the measures could be removed.

"I'm confident that when we review this on the 26th of January, as we said we would do, then we'll be in a much better place to lift some of these restrictions," he told Sky News.

Asked about the questions over Johnson's future, Zahawi said the prime minister "understands the level of hurt in the country". (Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; editing by Michael Holden and Alex Richardson)

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