January 19, 2022 1.11 pm

Work from home, COVID passes and face mask requirements to end, announces PM

Self-isolation will end soon as well

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the scrapping of Plan B COVID restrictions from next week.

In a statement to the House of Commons on Wednesday, Mr Johnson confirmed the changes would take place from Thursday, January 27 and will see work from home guidance scrapped, the removal of the COVID pass requirement and the mandatory wearing of face masks.

Mr Johnson told MPs the measures, introduced prior to Christmas to tackle the spread of the Omicron variant had worked.

“Our scientists believe it is likely that the Omicron wave has now peaked nationally,” he said.

“There remain of course, significant pressures on the NHS across our country… but hospital admissions, which were doubling every nine days just two weeks ago, have now stabilised with admissions in London even falling and the numbers in intensive care not only remaining low but are actually also falling.”

Face masks in classrooms will no longer be needed from tomorrow.

“In the country at large, we will continue to suggest the use of face coverings in enclosed or crowded spaces, particularly when you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet, but we will trust the judgement of the British people,” he said, adding the government would “no longer criminalise anyone who chooses not to”.

Further restrictions on visits to care homes are also due to be relaxed.

“There will soon come a time when we can remove the legal requirement to self-isolate altogether,” said Mr Johnson.

A long-term strategy for living with COVID-19 is due to be published at a later point.

Mr Johnson’s statement came amid further controversy around lockdown parties attended by government staff and MPs while restrictions were in place last year.

Just before Prime Minister’s Questions, Bury South MP Christian Wakeford defected from the Conservatives to the Labour Party.

His constituency was one of the red wall seats to go Conservative in the 2019 general election.

He said his former party had been “incapable” of providing the leadership “this country deserves”.

Elsewhere national media outlets are reporting how up to 20 MPs could be submitting letters of no confidence in Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

A total of 54 letters could trigger a leadership vote, but the number submitted remains unknown until chairman of the 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady makes any announcement.