Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce the plan for “Living With Covid” later today (February 21). A cabinet meeting to discuss the plans is scheduled, after which Johnson will brief the public via a news conference on the outcome.
A move to drop all remaining Covid restrictions is said to be a consideration. On Saturday, Downing Street confirmed that those who test positive, as well as their close contacts, would no longer be legally required to self-isolate by the end of this week.
It would see a move from “government intervention towards personal responsibility”, and the Prime Minsiter said an ending of restrictions would “mark a moment of pride as we begin to learn to live with Covid”.
The government are thought to be erring towards a “cautious” approach by retaining “some surveillance systems and plans for contingency measures which can be stood up if needed to respond to new variants”.
It has not yet been confirmed, however, whether free lateral flow tests (LFT) will remain in circulation. Boris Johnson is said to be considering changes to the law which would mean the public need to pay for any Covid test, be it a PCR test or LFT.
Unison, Unite, and the GMB have questioned the decisions, urging the government to keep the mass testing programmes and need to self-isolate, to avoid the chance of mass super-spreading across public areas like schools.
There is no confirmation as to whether people could go to work after testing positive, but a spokesperson as previously said “there would be guidance, that would not be what we are recommending”.
The plan to get rid of self-isolation has also been criticised by a number of health experts across the country.
Speaking to the BBC, Prof Anthony Costello, professor of global health and sustainable development at UCL, said: “The worry about lifting the legal restrictions is that we are telling not only our population, but the world, that there is really nothing to worry about, that it’s all over when it isn’t.”
This is a developing story, which is due to be confirmed in a Press Conference later today (February 21).