Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce the end of covid regulations next week in his ‘plan for living with covid.’
The PM is expected to confirm all regulations that restrict public freedoms will be repealed in a public announcement tomorrow (February 21).
Vaccines and other pharmaceutical interventions will continue as a first line of defence. All remaining domestic covid regulations that restrict public freedoms are expected to end this coming week.
The government says that thanks to improved understanding of the virus and a successful vaccination programme we can now move away from government intervention to personal responsibility.
It has been almost two years since the first lockdown in March 2020 which saw freedoms curbed, non essential shops shut and the country told to stay at home if they weren’t key workers.
Government says the pandemic was “the biggest public health emergency in a century and led to unprecedented challenges.
“Lockdowns and other non-pharmaceutical interventions were necessary to save lives and protect the NHS as scientists and clinicians worked on a global scale to detect and respond to new variants, but they took a significant toll on lives and livelihoods.
“Restricting face to face education has resulted in detrimental effects to children’s learning, mental health, development, and future earning potential. Mental wellbeing has been adversely impacted, particularly among young people and those living in deprived neighbourhoods.”
In December 2020 the vaccine rollout began. Since then, nearly 53 million people or 91% of the UK population have had one dose, and nearly 49 million or 85% a second. New treatments also include antivirals.
The government Roadmap to unlocking England in 2021 meant the lifting of the majority of restrictions in July 2021, 4 weeks later than expected due to a rise in Delta variant cases.
The Omicron variant brought Plan B restrictions with the reintroduction of guidance to work from home and an extension to the legal requirement to wear a face mask to most public indoor venues, including theatres and cinemas.
Plan B was implemented to slow the spread of Omicron and a booster jab campaign was launched.
Nearly 38 million boosters have now been administered.
Government says this, coupled with improved scientific understanding, “meant restrictions were avoided and Government intervention in people’s lives can now finally end.”
Further detail will be set out next week. The plan is expected to focus on:
Removing regulations and requirements while emphasising public health advice, in line with long standing methods of managing a range of infectious diseases
Protecting the vulnerable through pharmaceutical interventions and testing, in line with other viruses
Maintaining resilience against future variants with ongoing surveillance capabilities
Securing innovations and opportunities from the Covid response
Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said: “Covid will not suddenly disappear, and we need to learn to live with this virus and continue to protect ourselves without restricting our freedoms.
“We’ve built up strong protections against this virus over the past two years through the vaccine rollouts, tests, new treatments, and the best scientific understanding of what this virus can do.
“Thanks to our successful vaccination programme and the sheer magnitude of people who have come forward to be jabbed we are now in a position to set out our plan for living with covid.”