Before vote, UK says 'Plan B' measures vital to understand COVID variant

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LONDON, Dec 13 (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson believes new measures to tackle the spread of a coronavirus variant are necessary to better understand Omicron, his spokesman said on Monday, before an expected rebellion by some lawmakers in a parliamentary vote.

Lawmakers will vote on Tuesday to approve the measures, which include ordering people to work from home, to wear masks in public places and use COVID passes to enter some venues, but many Conservatives have said the steps are too draconian.

The measures are expected to pass despite the threatened rebellion by dozens of Conservative lawmakers, largely by votes from the main opposition Labour Party which is yet another blow for a prime minister already under considerable pressure.

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Fighting questions over reported parties in his Downing Street office last year when such gatherings were banned, Johnson is also under fire over the expensive refurbishment of his apartment and a chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Asked what Johnson's message to those considering voting against the measures was, his spokesman said: "We are facing a tidal wave of Omicron and these 'Plan B' measures are a vital part of enabling us to buy time so we can get more of these booster doses in arms and provide protection."

The measure that has most angered some in the Conservative Party is the use of COVID-19 certification to enter some venues, such as night clubs, which several lawmakers have said is an assault on the country's liberty by the state.

The government says that people who have not been double-jabbed can instead offer proof of a negative lateral flow test to gain access to indoor venues of more than 500 people.

"On the issue of certification ... it requires proof of a negative test unless you are double vaccinated and it allows us to keep some of these settings open which is vital for hospitality," the spokesman said.

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Reporting by Elizabeth Piper, Writing by Kylie MacLellan, Editing by Paul Sandle

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