It’s been almost two years since the country first went into lockdown during the first wave of coronavirus. During this time those who suspected they had Covid-19, tested positive or lived with someone with symptoms, had to self-isolate.
However, from today (24 February 2022), all remaining restrictions have been replaced by the government’s “living with Covid plan.”This means that people in England who test positive for Covid-19 are no longer legally required to self-isolate.
This latest change to guidelines has proved divisive, with many saying that they will still self-isolate if they test positive for the virus.
However, Boris Johnson feels that the time has come to make changes and respond to Covid-19 in a “very different way.”
In a statement referring to the lifting of restrictions, the prime minister said: “Because of the efforts we have made as a country over the past two years, we can now deal with it in a very different way, moving from government restrictions to personal responsibility, so we protect ourselves without losing our abilities and maintaining our contingent capabilities so we can respond rapidly to any new variant.”
And though Transport for London (TfL) has proved more cautious in their coronavirus guidelines in the past (for example, insisting the masks still be worn on public transport even when the face mask rules were lifted in restaurants and other indoor spaces on 27 January 2022), they too have announced the lifting of restrictions, meaning that passengers will no longer have to wear face coverings.
A statement released today by the Institute of Biomedical Science in response to the Government’s new plan outlined the possible flaws in the Government’s plan:
“Whilst many will welcome the return to pre-pandemic living outlined in the white paper, we must take a cautious approach to ‘normalisation’.
“Although you cannot test your way out of a pandemic, testing can be used to understand and limit the spread of a virus. The removal of free testing at scale — both polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and lateral flow devices (LFDs) — will compromise population health surveillance and our individual ability to limit any future spread of COVID-19. Therefore, the capability to resume testing at scale, and the associated workforce support, must be part of the Government’s contingency plan.”
You can find outlined changes in restrictions beginning today (24 February) below:
From today (24 February), people who test positive for Covid-19 will no longer be bound by law to self-isolate.
Adults and children who have the virus will be advised to self-isolate — but this won’t be a legal requirement and vaccinated contacts of people who have tested positive will no longer be asked to do daily lateral flow tests for seven days.
Today also marks the end of contact tracing (Track and Trace), as well as the termination of support payments for people who would have previously self-isolated with Covid-19. Businesses will also no longer be legally required to tell staff to self-isolate if they have Covid-19.
For those living in Scotland, current Covid restrictions, including the wearing of face coverings, are to be followed until 21 March, when it is expected they will end.
If you live in Wales, from 28 February you will no longer need to wear face coverings in all indoor places — including schools. However, masks will still be required in shops, health and care facilities and public transport. If cases continue to fall, it is hoped all mask rules will be lifted by the end of March.
Northern Ireland’s health minister revoked all remaining restrictions on 15 February, meaning that you are not legally required to follow any precautions which aim to stop the spread of the virus, but the public is still being encouraged to do so. Individual businesses also retain the right to ask customers to follow rules.