“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” (Winston Churchill)
Two stories on the ending of Covid restrictions in England.
To paraphrase Churchill, we may take a day out to congratulate ourselves and celebrate and then it’s back to the legal battle.
England Ends All COVID Passports, Mask Mandates, Work Restrictions
Lily Zhou, Epoch Times, Jan. 19, 2022
Restrictions including COVID-19 passes, mask mandates, and work-from-home requirements will be removed in England, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday.
Johnson also suggested that self-isolation rules may also be thrown out at the end of March as the [Covid] virus pandemic becomes endemic.
Effective immediately, the UK government is no longer asking people to work from home.
The COVID pass mandate for nightclubs and large events won’t be renewed when it expires on Jan. 26.
And from Thursday, indoor mask-wearing will no longer be compulsory anywhere in England.
The requirement for secondary school pupils to wear masks during class and in communal areas will also be removed from the Department for Education’s national guidance.
Roaring cheers from lawmakers could be heard in the House of Commons following Johnson’s announcements on masks.
People who test positive for COVID-19 and their unvaccinated contacts are still required to self-isolate, but Johnson said he “very much expect[s] not to renew” the rule when the relevant regulations expire on March 24.
“As COVID becomes endemic, we will need to replace legal requirements with advice and guidance, urging people with the virus to be careful and considerate of others,” the prime minister said.
Asked to remove testing rules for vaccinated UK-bound travellers, Johnson said the government is reviewing the testing arrangements on travel and that an announcement can be expected in the coming days.
But he refused to reconsider the vaccination mandate for frontline health care workers, insisting “the evidence is clear that health care professionals should get vaccinated.”
Johnson told MPs that the Cabinet decided to remove its so-called “Plan B” measures on Wednesday morning as data suggest the Omicron wave has peaked nationally, and he attributed stabilising hospital admission numbers to “the extraordinary booster campaign” and the public’s compliance to the restriction measures.
The removal of the “Plan B” measures against the [Covid] virus came as the prime minister battles increasing pressure calling for him to resign over alleged lockdown-breaching parties in Number 10 Downing Street, the prime minister’s official residence, during the pandemic.
Plan B: All Covid restrictions to end, Boris Johnson announces
David Bond, Evening Standard, Jan. 19, 2022
Boris Johnson has confirmed that Plan B measures to control the spread of coronavirus in England will be allowed to expire.
Mr Johnson, speaking to the House of Commons after a tumultuous PMQS, said that working from guidance, a requirement to wear face masks and the use of Covid passports in some settings would be dropped.
He said more than 90 per cent of over-60s across the UK had now had booster vaccines to protect them, and scientists believed the Omicron wave had peaked.
He said the Government had taken a “different path” to much of Europe and the “data are showing that, time and again, this Government got the toughest decisions right.”
People will no longer be told to work from home and, from Thursday next week when Plan B measures lapse, mandatory Covid certification will end, Mr Johnson said.
“Organisations can of course choose to use the NHS Covid pass voluntarily but we will end the compulsory use of Covid safety certification in England,” Mr Johnson said.The Government’s guidance to work from home will end immediately, he said.
“From now on the Government is no longer asking people to work from home. People should now speak to their employers about arrangements for returning to the office,” Mr Johnson said.
The Government will also no longer mandate the wearing of face masks anywhere from next Thursday and they will be scrapped in classrooms from this Thursday.
On face coverings, the Prime Minister said: “Having looked at the data carefully the Cabinet concluded that once regulations lapse, the Government will no longer mandate the wearing of face masks.”
Mr Johnson said the Government will also further ease restrictions on visiting care homes, adding that Health Secretary Sajid Javid will set out further details in the coming days.
People will still be required to self isolate if they test positive for Covid, Mr Johnson added. The rules were changed on Monday shortening the period of isolation to five from seven days, providing they can produce two negative tests. Mr Johnson added: “There will soon come a time when we remove the legal requirement to isolate altogether.”
The news comes as Covid infection levels are falling in most parts of the UK for the first time since early December.
The changes are as follows:
WFH guidance dropped from today
- Covid passports no longer required from next Thursday
- Face masks in schools dropped tomorrow
- Face masks in the wider community dropped from next Thursday
- Covid self-isolation stays, although likely to go from March 24
You can read in more detail on this here.
Mr Johnson said the Government would set out its “long-term strategy for living with Covid-19”, adding: “Explaining how we hope and intend to protect our liberty and avoid restrictions in future by relying instead on medical advances, especially the vaccines which have already saved so many lives.
“But to make that possible we must all remain cautious during these last weeks of winter. There are still over 16,000 people in hospital in England alone. The pandemic is not over.”
Mr Johnson insisted Omicron is “not a mild disease for everyone”, including the unvaccinated, and advised people to continue washing their hands, letting fresh air in, testing and self-isolating if positive.
The Prime Minister went on: “This week the World Health Organisation said that while the global situation remains challenging, the United Kingdom can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. This is no accident of history.
“Confronted by the nation’s biggest challenge since the Second World War, and the worst pandemic since 1918, any government would get some things wrong – but this Government got the big things right.”