Boris Johnson to lift Covid-19 lockdown requirement in England

Downing Street said Mr Johnson intends to lift all pandemic rules that restrict public movement in England when he lays out his vision for the future on Monday.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has not set a deadline for the end of lockdown requirements in Scotland. Details of the new Covid-19 strategy are due to be released by the Scottish government on Tuesday.

Mr Johnson is expected to tell MPs upon their return from the February recess in Parliament that the vaccination program, testing and new treatments can be relied upon to keep the public safe.

This comes after ministers said the new variants of the virus are expected to follow a similar pattern to Omicron in that they are milder than early Covid-19 mutations.

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NHS leaders warn of government plan to ‘live with Covid’

Speaking before laying out his plan, Mr Johnson said: “Covid will not suddenly disappear and we need to learn how to live with this virus and continue to protect ourselves without restricting our freedoms.

“Over the past two years, we have built strong defenses against this virus through the introduction of a vaccine, tests, new treatments, and a better scientific understanding of what this virus is capable of.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to lift the legal obligation to self-isolate in England after testing positive for Covid-19. Photo: Matt Dunham – Poole/Getty

“Thanks to our successful vaccination program and the sheer number of people who have reached out for help, we are now able to lay out our plan for living with Covid this week.”

By the end of the week, self-isolation rules will be lifted for those who test positive and their close contacts, officials said.

Local governments will need to manage outbreaks with pre-existing public health powers, as with other diseases.

Downing Street said pharmaceutical interventions “will continue to be our first line of defense” and the vaccination program will remain “open to anyone who has not yet reported”.

After 85% of the UK population had been vaccinated twice and given 38 million booster shots, No. 10 said it had concluded that “government interference in people’s lives can now finally stop.”

However, #10 appears to have left the door open for government-funded infection sampling following reports that Covid studies may be withdrawn as part of the plan.

Officials said Monday’s plan to “live with Covid,” as well as lifting lockdowns, would remain “resilient to future options with ongoing surveillance capabilities.”

It comes after senior statistician Sir David Spiegelhalter said some form of Office for National Statistics coronavirus study should remain in place.

The University of Cambridge professor, who is a non-executive director of the ONS and chair of the advisory board for the Covid Infection Survey, told BBC Radio 4 Today that the results were vital to monitoring people’s behaviour.

“It was very important as we moved forward,” he said on Saturday.

“It’s been running since April 2020 and so, as I said, I have a bias, but it’s not just me – I think a lot of people are saying how important this is, especially the statistical community.”

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