World, Europe

UK premier announces end of most COVID-19 restrictions in England

Plan B to expire on Jan. 27, meaning mandatory mask-wearing, COVID certification set to end

Karim El-Bar   | 19.01.2022
UK premier announces end of most COVID-19 restrictions in England

LONDON

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday that most coronavirus restrictions in England will be scrapped next week as the omicron wave seems to have peaked.

Current restrictions, known as Plan B, will expire on Jan. 27, meaning mandatory mask-wearing and COVID-19 status certification will end. Working from home guidance, however, has ended "from now."

"In the country at large, we will continue to suggest the use of face coverings in enclosed or crowded places, particularly where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet," he told the House of Commons. "But we will trust the judgement of the British people and no longer criminalize anyone who chooses not to wear one."

From March 24, there will also likely be no legal requirement to self-isolate if one tests positive for COVID-19.

"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," he said. "The self-isolation regulations expire on March 24, at which point I very much expect not to renew them."

He, however, noted that "omicron is not a mild disease for everyone -- and especially if you’re not vaccinated."

Johnson urged lawmakers "to do everything possible to encourage any remaining constituents who have not done so -- to get boosted now."

Opposition Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer said he would back the proposed easing of restrictions, but only if the science said it was safe and that "he's acting to protect their health, not just his job."

The announcement came as pressure continues to mount over alleged rule-breaking lockdown parties in Downing Street.

Just before the Prime Minister's Questions, Bury South MP Christian Wakeford defected from the Conservatives to Labour.

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