Revealed: PM's 'living with Covid' plan as restrictions end next week

19 February 2022, 22:30 | Updated: 20 February 2022, 15:54

Boris Johnson intends to repeal all pandemic regulations that restrict public freedoms in England
Boris Johnson intends to repeal all pandemic regulations that restrict public freedoms in England. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

The legal duty to self-isolate after testing positive for coronavirus will end next week, the Prime Minister is due to announce as part of his 'living with Covid' plan.

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Boris Johnson is set to repeal all pandemic regulations in England when he lays out the next steps in the country's response to Covid-19 on Monday, Downing Street said.

He is expected to tell MPs, who will be returning from February recess, that the vaccine programme, testing and new treatments can be relied upon to keep the public safe.

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It comes after ministers claimed new variants of the virus are expected to follow a similar pattern to Omicron in being more mild than early Covid mutations.

Speaking ahead of outlining his plan, the PM said: "Covid will not suddenly disappear, and we need to learn to live with this virus and continue to protect ourselves without restricting our freedoms.

"We've built up strong protections against this virus over the past two years through the vaccine rollouts, tests, new treatments, and the best scientific understanding of what this virus can do.

"Thanks to our successful vaccination programme and the sheer magnitude of people who have come forward to be jabbed, we are now in a position to set out our plan for living with Covid this week."

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

Local authorities will be required to manage outbreaks with pre-existing public health powers, as they would with other diseases.

Downing Street said pharmaceutical interventions will "continue to be our first line of defence", with the vaccine programme remaining "open to anyone who has not yet come forward".

With 85% of the UK's population double-vaccinated, and 38 million booster jabs administered, No 10 said it had concluded "government intervention in people's lives can now finally end".

However, No 10 appeared to keep the door open to state-funded infection sampling remaining in place, following reports that Covid studies could be withdrawn as part of the plan.

Officials said Monday's 'living with Covid' plan, as well as removing quarantine impositions, will maintain "resilience against future variants with ongoing surveillance capabilities".