Setting out his plan for ‘life with Covid’, the Prime Minister says it’s time for ‘personal responsibility’ to take over from Government restrictions.
Opening his speech in Parliament on the loosening of all remaining Covid restrictions, Boris Johnson said: “Before we begin I know the whole House will join me in sending our best wishes to Her Majesty the Queen for a full and swift recovery. It is a reminder that this virus has not gone away.
“But because of the efforts we have made as a country over the past two years, we can now deal with it in a very different way, moving from Government restrictions to personal responsibility, so we protect ourselves without losing our abilities and maintaining our contingent capabilities so we can respond rapidly to any new variant.”
From Thursday in England, Mr Johnson said: “Until April 1 we will still advise people who test positive to stay at home but after that we will encourage people with Covid-19 symptoms to exercise personal responsibility, just as we encourage people who may have flu to be considerate to others.”
He added: “It’s only because levels of immunity are so high and deaths are now if anything below where you would normally expect for this time of year that we can lift these restrictions and it’s only because we know Omicron is less severe that testing for Omicron on the colossal scale we’ve been doing is much less important and much less valuable in preventing serious illness.
The “biggest testing program per person of any large country in the world”, he said “came at vast cost”, adding: “The test, trace and isolation budget in 2020/21 exceeded the entire budget of the Home Office. It cost a further £15.7 billion in this financial year and £2 billion in January alone at the height of the Omicron wave.”