Prime minister says all legal restrictions can be lifted now vaccination levels are high and deaths are low
Source: The Guardian
That’s it from me, Léonie Chao-Fong, and from the UK politics blog this evening. Here are the key events from today:
- Boris Johnson has announced the end of all domestic Covid restrictions in England in a process starting later this week. On Thursday, the legal requirement to self-isolate with people instead advised to stay at home if they have Covid, or believe they do.
- The £500 payment for some people on lower incomes will end on Thursday. From 24 March, statutory sick pay and employment support allowance will only start being paid after four and seven days of absence, rather than immediately.
- Free testing for the public will end in England from 1 April, with most people having to pay for lateral flow and PCR tests. There will be some exceptions, with free symptomatic tests remaining for NHS patients and in care homes, and some asymptomatic testing for both.
- In response, the campaign group Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice said the lifting of all restrictions is “reckless and dangerous” and that scrapping free testing will cause avoidable deaths.
- Education unions warned that the lifting of Covid restrictions could result in chaos in schools in England and put school leaders in an impossible position. Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, warned the changes could lead to more disruption to education.
- Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer described Boris Johnson’s statement in the House of Commons as “a half-baked announcement from a government paralysed by chaos and incompetence”. He said Labour does not want to see restrictions in place “a moment longer than necessary, but we have to take the public with us, and that requires clarity”.
- Over-75s and people with suppressed immune systems in the UK are to be offered another Covid-19 booster vaccination in the coming weeks to increase potentially waning protection, after advice from the government’s vaccines watchdog.
- London Mayor Sadiq Khan confirmed rules on wearing face coverings on public transport will be lifted, however he added that the Transport for London will “likely” continue to recommend their use on the network.