British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday January 19 the end, from Thursday January 27, of most of the restrictions imposed to fight against the Omicron variant in England.
Wearing a mask will no longer be compulsory, teleworking will no longer be officially recommended and a health pass will no longer be imposed for access to nightclubs and certain large gatherings, the Conservative leader announced in Parliament.
“As Covid becomes endemic, we must replace legal obligations with advice and recommendations”, did he declare. He also said he does not intend to extend the rule imposing isolation for those who test positive when it expires on March 24. This date could even be brought forward. “We don’t legally require people to self-isolate if they have the flu”, further justified the British Prime Minister.
Peak of the Omicron Wave
The latest data available shows a drop of almost 40% in the number of new weekly cases, while the number of hospitalized patients has stabilized. The number of intensive care patients, which remained low during the Omicron wave, is also decreasing. More than 152,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the UK.
This lifting of health measures, deemed to be draconian by part of the conservative majority, comes sooner than expected. The device to fight against the Covid-19 epidemic was to be reviewed on January 26. The announcements come amid an unprecedented crisis for Mr Johnson, mired in the Downing Street holiday scandal during the lockdowns.
In the UK, each nation decides its health policy. On Tuesday, the Scottish government announced the lifting, from Monday, of most restrictions, allowing the reopening of nightclubs and removing the limit to three households for indoor meetings. Teleworking is still recommended. The Welsh government also announced last week a gradual phasing out of restrictions. Wales has reached the peak of the Omicron wave and the number of cases continues to decline.