All remaining Covid-19 restrictions in England are set to be scrapped according to Boris Johnson, signaling a move to his ‘living with Covid plan’.
On bringing forward his plans, the Prime Minister said it “shows that the hard work of the British people is paying off”.
However, his plan has already received major push back from scientists and his own MPs.
Doctors have warned that Mr Johnson risks broadcasting to the nation that the pandemic is over, unions have said he is “going too far, way too soon”, while charities say the move risks isolating the clinically vulnerable.
It has also been reported that no one in the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and Nervtag is aware of any scientific advice given to Johnson that would suggest he can end all restrictions.
The PM’s intention puts England on a different course to the rest of the UK, who still wears back face mask and self-isolates after a positive test.
152,338 people in England have died of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, while combined deaths between Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland total 25,561.
When will Covid rules end in England?
All restrictions in England are likely to end on 24 February, three days after MPs return from parliamentary recess.
“It is my intention to return on the first day after the half-term recess to present our strategy for living with Covid,” Johnson said speaking to the House of Commons at Prime Minister’s Questions.
In January, Johnson hinted that Covid-19 measures could be scraped for good when they expired on March 24 or sooner. Though it looks like he has sped up plans as his premiership continues to creak.
What restrictions will end?
The removal of restrictions will almost certainly see the end of mask wearing, while legally mandated self-isolation after a positive test will also go.
Guidance to work from home has already ended, while care homes no longer have any limit on visitors.
It comes at the same time rules for travelers to the UK are being relaxed.
From February 11, the fully vaccinated do not need to take any Covid tests and those unvaccinated will not have to isolate on arrival.
What are the current restrictions in England?
England has the least number of Covid-19 measures in Britain, they include:
- People who develop Covid symptoms or test positive must self-isolate for 10 days (or five full days following two negative lateral flow test results)
- Entry to certain venues may depend on an NHS Covid Pass
- Face coverings are required in health and care settings, including hospitals, GP surgeries and pharmacies
- Some shops have asked customers to keep wearing face coverings
- Masks are required on public transport in London
- Some schools are forcing face coverings in the communal areas
These measures will likely be removed when measures are lifted.
What happens if you test positive?
Under new rules, although you are not legally obliged to self-isolate following a positive test, you are expected, but not mandated to isolate from settings such as the workplace.
Currently, if you are caught not isolating, you can receive a fine reaching up to £10,000, but this is very rare.
Will testing be free?
Lateral flow and PCR testing remains free, for now. However, its long term future is uncertain and the UK Government has not given any reassurances that it will be charge free in the long term.
Will there be any financial support?
At present in England, those on lower incomes may apply for a £500 payment if you are self isolating and miss out of your wages.
It is not known if this will continue after measures are dropped.
Covid restrictions in Scotland
- Face coverings are compulsory on public transport and indoor communal spaces including shops
- NHS Covid pass needed to enter some venues including nightclubs
- A two meter distancing rule remains in healthcare settings
Covid restrictions in Wales
- NHS Covid pass needed for entry to many venues
- Compulsory face coverings in schools, on public transport, in shops and hospitals
- Secondary school pupils are asked to test for virus three times a week
Covid restrictions in Northern Ireland
- Face coverings compulsory in shops, indoor seated venues and public transport
- NHS Covid pass needed to enter nightclubs, indoor unseated venues and partially-seated events with 500 or more people
- Secondary school pupils must wear a face covering inside school buildings
- Maximum of 30 people allowed in homes