What was once a hotspot for the COVID-19 contagion is now free from all restrictions. On Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he is scrapping the last of domestic coronavirus restrictions in England, including the requirement for people with COVID-19 to self-isolate.
Even as he acknowledged the potential for new and more deadly variants of the virus, Johnson told lawmakers in the House of Commons that the country was “moving from government restrictions to personal responsibility” as part of a plan for treating COVID-19 like other transmissible illnesses such as flu. “We now have sufficient levels of immunity to complete the transition from protecting people with government interventions to relying on vaccines and treatments as our first line of defense,” Johnson said.
As it stands, mandatory self-isolation for people with COVID-19 will end starting Thursday, and the routine tracing of infected people’s contacts will stop. People will still be advised to stay home if they are sick — but will no longer get extra financial support introduced during the pandemic for those who miss work.
Furthermore, the government will also stop offering the public free rapid virus tests, though they will be available privately for a price, as is already the case in many countries.
This being said, Johnson also warned that scientists were “certain there will be new variants and it is very possible they will be worse than omicron,” the currently dominant strain. Johnson said the fact that Queen Elizabeth II tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday was “a reminder that this virus has not gone away.”