February 21, 2022
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament on Monday that England’s remaining Covid-19 restrictions would be scrapped, insisting it is time to move beyond coronavirus and learn to live with the disease.
He announced that people living in England would no longer need to isolate after testing positive for Covid-19 from Thursday. The relaxation marks the final coronavirus restriction to be removed.
Johnson called the decision a movement from “government restrictions to personal responsibility.”
Covid-19 tests will no longer be free from April, with only those over the age of 80 able to get the kits without paying. Johnson had said that the cost of testing kits to the government was £2 billion in January – a figure which he believed was unsustainable.
Johnson said that it was time to scale back the testing operations, noting that it had cost the government more than the entire Home Office budget in 2021/2022.
The prime minister also announced a vaccine booster campaign, starting in the spring, which will be open to the most vulnerable people in the community.
Self-isolation payments and routine contact tracing will also end.
In a press statement before the announcement, Johnson said it was a proud moment to scrap the restrictions. “The pandemic is not over, but thanks to the incredible vaccine rollout we are now one step closer towards a return to normality and finally giving people back their freedoms while continuing to protect ourselves and others,” he stated.
The PM praised the NHS, scientists, and the British people for getting to the point where Covid-19 measures could be dropped.
The move comes despite widespread condemnation from the political opposition and the UN, and just one day after it was confirmed that Queen Elizabeth II was suffering from Covid-19. The 95-year-old is said to be only experiencing “mild cold-like symptoms.”