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Wed 19th Jan 2022 - ‘Plan B’ restrictions in England to be lifted next week
‘Plan B’ restrictions in England to be lifted next week: All “Plan B” restrictions in England will be lifted next, prime minister Boris Johnson has told MPs. These include the advice to work from home, covid passports and mandatory face mask rules, as England eases its covid restrictions in the face of Omicron cases dropping. The measures were introduced in December due to a surge in cases of the new variant, putting further pressure on hospitality operators as festive bookings suffered mass cancellations. “Within hours of learning of this new covid variant last November this government acted, introducing balanced and proportionate restrictions,” said Johnson. “As we learnt more about this highly transmissible new variant, we implemented ‘Plan B’ measures we had prepared precisely in case our situation deteriorated, encouraging people to change their behaviour to stop the spread of the virus and buying crucial time to get boosters in arms. Many nations across Europe have endured further winter lockdowns, many have seen hospitality curfews and nightclubs closed, the return of social distancing, and in some places, Christmas and new year as good as cancelled. But we kept England open and supported those businesses which faced reduced demand because of the response to ‘Plan B’ measures. Today’s latest Office for National Statistics data shows clearly that infection levels are falling in England, and while there are some places where cases are likely to continue rising, including in primary schools, our scientists believe it is likely that the Omicron wave has peaked nationally.” Johnson urged the public to remain cautious through the rest of the winter months but said hospital admissions have stabilised and intensive care numbers are falling. “So this morning, the cabinet decided that due to the booster campaign, together with the way in which the public responded to ‘Plan B’ measures, we can move to ‘Plan A’ in England and allow ‘Plan B’ to expire.” Johnson said the need for covid passports and face masks will be made redundant from next Thursday (27 January), and the government is no longer advising people to work from home. “As covid becomes endemic, we will need to replace legal restrictions with advice and guidance urging people with the virus to be careful and considerate to others,” he added. Johnson also said he wants to bring forward the date for the end of self-isolation requirements from 24 March, and will now set out a long-term plan for living with covid in England “avoiding restrictions in future”. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he would support the lifting of “Plan B” measures “if the science is safe” but said the government must have “a robust plan to live well with covid”. But the SNP’s Ian Blackford said the prime minister is “throwing caution to the wind” with the NHS still under pressure, pointing to measures such as face coverings still being in place in Scotland.

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