South Shropshire MP, Philip Dunne, has welcomed confirmation today in the House of Commons that the government intends to let covid restrictions expire, as we learn to live with the pandemic.
With case numbers reducing significantly from their mid-December peak, and evidence that Omicron is a milder infection than previous variants of the virus, the government has announced that England will revert to Plan A measures from Thursday next week (27th January).
Mandatory certification of covid-status for large scale events will end, though individual businesses can choose voluntarily to use the scheme if they wish. The advice to work from home where possible ends today, and the government will no longer mandate the use of facemasks anywhere. Advice will continue that the public should think about wearing one in enclosed or crowded spaces.
From tomorrow (20th January) the government will no longer require face masks in classrooms, and the Department for Education will shortly remove national guidance on their use in communal areas.
Plans to ease restrictions on visits to care homes will also be announced in coming days.
It will remain a legal obligation for those who have tested positive for Covid to self-isolate, but the government has announced this will be removed in future, with no legal requirement to self-isolate for covid, just as there is no requirement with flu. The self-isolation regulations expire on 24th March, and the Prime Minister confirmed he is not looking to renew them then – and may even bring forward the date of expiration if the data shows it is safe to do so, subject to a vote in the House of Commons.
Mr Dunne said:
“There is no doubt Omicron tested our communities and our NHS, just as Alpha and Delta variants of Covid did before it. But the remarkable achievement of the voluntary booster campaign, coupled with evidence of milder infection reducing risk of hospitalisation and duration, now means we are able to look towards a future where we live with Covid risk.
“I very much welcomed the government announcement that we will move back to Plan A measures from Thursday next week, which will see people return to their place of work, the end of mandatory covid certification for certain large scale events, and an end to the mandatory use of face coverings, particularly in schools.
“The UK was the first country in the world to administer an approved Covid vaccine, and so it is right that through the remarkable efforts of everyone involved in both delivering vaccine doses, and the willingness of the public to do the right thing and get jabbed, the UK can be the first country to come out of the other side of the pandemic and back to normal life.”