What is England's Covid-19 Plan B and when are the rules ending?

9 December 2021, 15:40 | Updated: 19 January 2022, 17:42

By Patrick Grafton-Green

The Prime Minister has announced that England's Plan B measures, which include working from home guidance and vaccine passports, are to be scrapped.

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The restrictions were introduced prior to Christmas as cases of the Omicron variant began to soar.

But Boris Johnson announced at PMQs on Wednesday that "our scientists believe it is likely that the Omicron wave has now peaked nationally".

While he conceded there were still "significant pressures on the NHS across our country", he said: "hospital admissions which were doubling every nine days just two weeks ago have now stabilised, with admissions in London even falling".

He added: "We can return to Plan A in England and allow Plan B regulations to expire."

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What has the Prime Minister announced?

Mr Johnson told the House of Commons that more than 90% of over-60s across the UK had now had booster vaccines to protect them.

He said the Government had taken a "different path" to much of Europe.

He announced that work from home guidance would be lifted immediately, while from January 20 face coverings will no longer be advised for staff and pupils in classrooms.

From January 27, the Department for Education will remove national guidance on the use of face coverings in communal areas of schools.

Masks could still be required where there are outbreaks, but only if Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi approves a request.

From that date, masks will no longer be mandatory on public transport and in shops.

Nightclubs and other venues will also no longer require a Covid pass for entry.

What happens next?

The country will revert to Plan A, which means wearing face coverings will still be advised in "enclosed or crowded spaces".

And while mandatory certification will end, "organisations can, of course, choose to use the NHS Covid pass voluntarily", Mr Johnson added.

Some measures still remain, including those on self-isolation.

The PM said: "In particular, it is still a legal requirement for those who have tested positive for Covid to self-isolate."

The isolation period for those who test positive is five full days if the person tests negative on day five and six.

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Will restrictions be removed completely?

Mr Johnson said there would "soon come a time when we can remove the legal requirement to self-isolate altogether".

He added: "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."

Self-isolation regulations expire on March 24, and the PM said by then "I very much expect not to renew them". He suggested he could even "bring that date forward".

Mr Johnson also said restrictions on visits to care homes will be eased further, with Health Secretary Sajid Javid setting out plans "in the coming days".