UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday brought to an end, COVID-19 passes, the mandatory wearing of face masks and guidance to work from home.
Johnson told MPs the government had “got the big things right” in its handling of the pandemic, adding that he would look to bring forward the lifting of regulations requiring those who have tested positive for COVID-19 to isolate, and changing it to advice and guidance.
“Our scientists believe it is likely that the Omicron wave has now peaked nationally,” Johnson told MPs, while also cautioning there remain “significant pressures” on the NHS.
A meeting of Cabinet agreed this morning that the Plan B rules in place since early December will be lifted on their scheduled review date of 26 January. Work from home guidance is lifted immediately and people are no longer encouraged to work remotely if possible.
“Having looked at the data carefully, the Cabinet concluded that once regulations lapse the Government will no longer mandate the wearing of face masks anywhere,” the prime minister told MPs on Wednesday. “From tomorrow, we will no longer require face masks in classrooms and the Department for Education will shortly remove national guidance on their use in communal areas.”
“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 judgment of the British people and no longer criminalize anyone who chooses not to wear one.”
Johnson’s announcement was met with audible shouts of delight from his own party’s benches. The legal requirement to self-isolate if positive will remain in place, but Johnson hopes this can be removed in the future.
“There will soon come a time when we can remove the legal requirement to self-isolate altogether, just as we don’t place legal obligations on people to isolate if they have flu” and that this point would likely be reached before March. Johnson went onto say.
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