Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed the ending of covid regulations.
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.
The PM said: “While the pandemic is not over, we have now passed the peak of the Omicron wave, with cases falling, hospitalisations in England now fewer than 10,000 and still falling, and the link between infection and severe disease substantially weakened.
“Over 71 per cent of all adults are now boosted in England, including 93 per cent of those 70 and over, and together with the treatments and scientific understanding of the virus we have built up, 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.”
The PM said the Testing, Tracing and Isolation budget in 2020-21 exceeded the entire budget of the Home Office.
It cost a further £15.7 billion in this financial year, and £2 billion in January at the height of the Omicron wave.
Of the 40 temporary provisions of the Coronavirus Act, 20 have already expired, 16 will expire on 24 March, and the last 4 relating to innovations in public service will expire six months later.
A new Spring booster jab will be offered to those aged 75 and over, older care home residents, and those over 12 who are immunosuppressed.
The Vaccines Task Force will continue to ensure the UK has access to effective vaccines as they become available.
The Therapeutics Task Force will continue to support seven national priority clinical trial platforms focused on prevention, novel treatments and treatment for long-Covid.
Changes at a glance
Today, 21 February the Government is:
- Removing the guidance for staff and students in most education and childcare settings to undertake twice weekly asymptomatic testing.
From 24 February the Government will:
- Remove the legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test. Adults and children who test positive will continue to be advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for at least 5 full days and then continue to follow the guidance until they have received 2 negative test results on consecutive days.
- No longer ask fully vaccinated close contacts and those aged under 18 to test daily for 7 days, and remove the legal requirement for close contacts who are not fully vaccinated to self-isolate.
- End self-isolation support payments, national funding for practical support and the medicine delivery service will no longer be available.
- End routine contact tracing. Contacts will no longer be required to self-isolate or advised to take daily tests.
- End the legal obligation for individuals to tell their employers when they are required to self-isolate.
- Revoke The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations.
From 24 March, the Government will:
- Remove the COVID-19 provisions within the Statutory Sick Pay and Employment and Support Allowance regulations. From 1 April, the Government will:
- Remove the current guidance on voluntary COVID-status certification in domestic settings and no longer recommend that certain venues use the NHS COVID Pass.
- Update guidance setting out the ongoing steps that people with COVID-19 should take to minimise contact with other people. This will align with the changes to testing.
- No longer provide free universal symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public in England.
- Consolidate guidance to the public and businesses, in line with public health advice.
- Remove the health and safety requirement for every employer to explicitly consider COVID-19 in their risk assessments.
- Replace the existing set of ‘Working Safely’ guidance with new public health guidance.
The voice of reason.
Now we can all make our own minds up about what is and isn’t safe, just like our 80,000 unvaccinated NHS staff.
If those NHS/care staff hadn’t already gone when being pushed out for being unvaccinated!
Does this mean the Doctors surgeries will now return to normal practise and the online patient access services will be back to normal too? Our surgery hasn’t had a booking system online for two years, or anything else for that matter. Telling everyone they need to ring at 8.00 am knowing they actually only have a few appointments each week day. Thousands trying to get through at the same time with constant engaged sound is pointless. In effect you are barred from getting any help at all. Will hospital appointments be available too without having to wait a year or longer? Is the UK now a third world Country?
Kent Resident – Depends on your postcode that but yes essentially we are moving into an era of being a less developed nation. The rich getting richer whilst the poor get poorer and the amount of poor goes up. This is the Tory vision and always has been. Never has it been as unchecked as it is now mind you.
The government seems to be rapidly losing its common sense (What’s left of it).
Anyone who thinks this signals “things back to normal” or this decision is based on anything but financial is a moron.
This is Tories being Tories…. Making sure their rich donors can do what they like to their staff again.
I think things should be relaxed and lots of people can return to do what they want when they want. However some sensible help for the most vulnerable should be given.
The far right commentators on here will be giddy the overlords can force them to work whenever and pay whatever they want whilst cost spiral out of control and quality of life for millions falls off a cliff but some of us live in the real world and expect a government to govern.
His logic of people can act kind and protect themselves why do we have such crime rates? Why do we need a police force? Because people can’t be kind and a sensible it’s why we have seatbelt laws and helmet laws to help protect people from their own stupidity- Covid should be no different.
I haven’t seen any “far right commentators on here”, but if WE need rules to protect ourselves, then does that apply to unvaccinated NHS staff and care workers too? Or are the general public more stupid?
The most positive aspect of this announcement is that all the companies out there who have been blaming “Covid” for appalling customer service over the last two years have to now sort themselves out.
Yes, that includes the local Doctor’s surgeries.
We can live in hope. I went to the opticians in late 2020 (before anyone was vaccinated) and to the dentist last year. So I really don’t understand how it apparently still “isn’t safe” for GPs to see people in person.
This is a pretty appalling decision by the Government. Removal of the requirement to isolate, and the removal of free access to LFTs means that the highly infectious Omicron variant will sweep the country, infecting everyone who hasn’t yet had it, and quite a few who have, for a second time.
Those of us who’ve exercised our right to be vaccinated against this dreadful disease are most likely, should we get infected, to experience mild child-like symptoms.
Those of us who’ve exercised our rights not to be vaccinated against this dreadful disease are more likely to experience far worse outcomes.
And those of us who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons have been thrown to the wolves.
You were right first time!
Andrew we wouldn’t ever live our lives again if you had your way. I dont think many take your comments seriously anymore
What was asked was “what can’t you do today (under lockdown restrictions) that you will be able to do on Thusday (when we are “free”).
And your answer is?
I’m honoured and humbled that you think people did take my comments seriously.
They are, I think, rational and logical.
I certainly don’t take them seriously, but I do find them extremely funny.
I think Andrew’s comments are rational and logical too. But then I don’t have paranoid ideas about vaccinations.
They are compared to your comments Marva.
I think someone posed this question on an earlier thread, but just what have these “freedoms” given us that we don’t already have? What will we be able to do on Thursday that we can’t do today? Shop, travel, pub, restaurant, library, concert, gig, church, bus, train …
The only difference I can see is that the most vulnerable have now completely lost their freedom.
Nothing whatsoever has changed for “the most vulnerable”. Anyone vulnerable can still stay away from crowds and wear masks, just as carers and visitors to vulnerable people will still wear masks… and I know I’m banging on about it, but THE biggest threat to the truly vulnerable are unvaccinated carers and medical staff.
There was a (very fat) woman on the BBC yesterday who hasn’t left her home in two years because she’s medically vulnerable, and she complained about the dropping of restrictions. If she never leaves home, then what difference does it make to her?
It’s exactly the same with my own mother, who has been too scared to leave home in two years apart from medical appointments, and will still insist on visitors wearing masks (unless they’re drinking tea, as apparently the virus doesn’t spread then!).
Your theories against the unvaccinated are utter rubbish. They were right not to have it. Especially now it’s been shown young men are 133 times more likely to suffer from myocarditis after having it. Its more harmful for residents to be cut off from their unvacinnated families and lose some of their best staff
“HEART inflammation triggered by some covid-19 vaccines has been a concern, especially in younger people, but a preliminary study suggests that in those most affected, it is six times more likely to occur after a coronavirus infection than after vaccination.”
Your point being what?
Peter Checksfield doesn’t think much of my comments….good, because I wouldn’t want them to be approved of by him.
I love your comments Marva.
It’s the theories anti-vaxxers like to write about which are unscientific rubbish.
Am sorry am not convinced by clown head and his lies.
There is much changing this week. The most notable being the need to self isolate being dropped. Twice weekly testing for school children too. Mass return to work.
The main bonus for me will be (hopefully) the dirty looks from old people stopping when I’m shopping without a mask on.
I think Kathy Bailes should drop the comments section.
If you favour fascist censorship out of the Nazi and Stasi play book. How shameful would that be?
I think that the comments section is turning into some sort of online playground. I don’t think a newspaper with no readers’ comments equals “fascist censorship”.