On January 19th, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the end of all Covid measures introduced to combat the Omicron variant. This includes compulsory mask-wearing on public transport and in shops, guidance to work from home, and mandatory vaccine certificates. These measures will no longer be needed starting January 24th, 2022.
He also told the Commons in a public statement that the legal requirement on people who have tested positive with coronavirus to self-isolate would be allowed to lapse on 24th March. School pupils are also not required to wear face masks at secondary schools.
This statement has prompted concern from teaching and health unions, and from NHS and public health representatives.
However, Johnson said “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.”
A director of public health at a city in the north of England said, expressing concern at the move, “We’re seeing a reduction in cases, but they’re still incredibly high. Taking out all these measures does feel risky. And if our focus is keeping kids in schools as much as possible, this may result in more disruption to education. I worry the decision has not been made for the right reasons.”
The changes apply only to England.