The past few months have been a bit of a Covid frenzy. Over Christmas, it felt as if Omicron was absolutely everywhere. But now case numbers appear to be well past their peak. The only legal requirement still in place across England is that if you test positive for Covid, you have to self-isolate.
But that might not be the case for much longer. Government officials are considering phasing out all remaining restrictions within the next two weeks – a full month earlier than expected.
Currently, there is a legal requirement to self-isolate for a minimum of five days if you test positive, with fines of up to £10,000 for non-compliance. That guidance was set to expire at the end of March, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday told MPs that he plans for all domestic Covid restrictions to be lifted by the end of February instead. That would signal a huge change in the way the UK government manages the virus.
The new rule change follows the end of Plan B measures – like working-from-home guidance and Covid passports for nightclubs – which were ditched last month. The UK has also scrapped all travel testing requirements for double-vaccinated international arrivals.
If the plans do go ahead, the UK will be one of the first countries around the world to lift all Covid restrictions. Needless to say, the move is more than a little controversial. Some see it as PM Boris Johnson trying to distract from his many, many crises and shore up support from Tory hardliners.
Scientist reactions to the news have also been mixed. Some think the move is a logical next step, while others urge caution. Whether or not the pandemic is going to come to some sort of ‘end’ this year is the subject of significant debate, but as the vaccine rollout continues, we reckon there’s room for some hope.