The legal requirement to stay at home if you are confirmed with Covid-19 will end from Thursday, Boris Johnson has confirmed. It’s part of the Government’s plan to “live with” Covid and end laws telling people how to behave.
Mr Johnson said: “It is time that we got our confidence back … so let us learn to live with this virus and continue protecting ourselves and others without restricting our freedoms.”
A number of the changes are likely to be controversial, including the decision to end free provision of lateral flow Covid-19 tests from April 1.
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Mr Johnson said: “We will end free symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public.”
Speaking in Parliament, Mr Johnson set out the changes coming into force over the next few weeks. They include:
1) Ending the need to self isolate if you have Covid
But while laws will no longer be in effect from February 24, people who test positive for the coronavirus will still be advised to stay at home.
2) Ending free tests for most people
Tests will be available for some people, such as care home residents, and it will be possible for members of the public to buy tests, he said.
3) Changing the rules on sick pay – with less money for some workers
Temporary rules giving everyone a legal right to sick pay from the first day they become ill will end. It means statutory sick pay will be paid once again when an employee is sick for at least 4 days in a row.
4) Ending rules for people who have been in contact with the virus
Other changes include ending the rule for people who have been in contact with somebody known to have coronavirus. At the moment when you have been vaccinated and a contact has the virus, you are asked to take regular lateral flow tests for seven days. People who have not been vaccinated are require to self-isolate for 10 days since the contact took place. But these rules will end.
5) Ending test and trace
The contact tracing system, designed automatically to let people know if they have been in contact with someone infected with Covid-19, will also come to an end. There will also be an end to the legal obligation for people to tell employers if they are required to self-isolate.
6) Ending emergency powers given to local councils
The Government will end rules, known as “health protection number 3 regulations”, which gave local councils the power to close venues on the basis of a health risk.
7) But the pandemic isn’t over
However, the Government says the Covid-19 pandemic is not over. It will retain some facilities such as labs which detect new variants. It will also retain infrastructure making it possible to increase testing again, if needed.
Boris Johnson said there would be more variants of Covid-19, and some could be worse than Omicron, the current dominant variant.
He also highlighted the announcement earlier today from Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who said a fourth ‘spring booster’ will be offered to many people, including everyone aged over 75.
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