Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced all remaining restrictions will soon come to an end, as he revealed his plan for “living with COVID” on Monday.
As part of his speech to the House of Commons, Mr Johnson confirmed positive cases and close contacts will no longer legally have to self-isolate from Thursday.
He praised the UK’s COVID vaccination programme and said it had left England in a strong position going forward.
“While the pandemic is not over, we have now past the peak of the Omicron wave,” he said.
“We now have sufficient levels of immunity to complete the transition from protecting people with government interventions, to relying on vaccines and treatments as our first line of defence as we have throughout the past two years.”
As part of the measures self-isolation support payments will also end, although COVID provisions for statutory sick pay can still be claimed for a few months.
Routine contact tracing will also be end.
Until April 1, he said the government would advise people who test positive to stay at home but after that will encourage people with COVID-19 symptoms to “exercise personal responsibility”.
Other key points include:
- The end of free symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public from April 1
- Free tests will be given to the oldest age groups or those most vulnerable to COVID
- The government will no longer recommend the use of voluntary COVID status certification, or COVID passes
- The NHS app will continue to allow people to indicate their vaccination status for international travel
- The ONS survey to continue to contiue tracking the virus in granular detail to identify any changes in characteristics
Mr Johnson said the aim was to “manage and respond to future risks”, and work would continue to build on the vaccines taskforce and clinical trials as well as international projects.
However, he said that to wait for a total end to the virus before lifting the remaining restrictions would “be restricting the liberties of the British people for a long time to come”.
“This government does not believe that that is right or necessary. Restrictions pose a heavy toll on our economy, our society, our mental well being and on the life chances of our children and we do not need to pay that cost any longer,” he said.
“We have a population that is protected by the biggest vaccination programme in our history. We have the antivirus, the treatments and the scientific understanding of this virus and we have the capabilities to respond rapidly to any resurgence or new variants.”
Earlier today, Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed the government was to roll out another round of COVID-19 booster jabs to the most vulnerable this spring.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid announced the measures on Monday after receiving advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.