By Rachael Grealish
The Prime Minister has confirmed people will no longer need to self-isolate if they test positive for COVID from this week.
Speaking in the House of Commons today, Monday February 21, Boris Johnson has said the country must ‘learn to live with the virus’ as he laid out his strategy for ‘living with COVID’.
The PM said: “While the pandemic is not over we have now passed the peak of the omicron wave.
“It is now time to move from protecting people with government interventions to vaccines and treatment as our first line of defence.”
Johnson went on to say people will no longer need to self-isolate if they test positive for COVID saying it will be ‘personal responsibility’.
He said: “People will be asked to exercise personal responsibility just as we encourage people who may have flu to be considerate to others.”
From April 1 free universal testing for the virus will also end, but Johnson added the government would continue to provide free symptomatic tests to the oldest age groups and the most vulnerable.
Explaining the decision to completely scale back the restrictions the PM said: “Restrictions pose a heavy toll on our economy, our society, our mental well-being and all the life chances of our children and we do not have to pay the price any longer.
“We have a population that is protected by the biggest vaccination programme in our history. We have the advantage of the treatments and the scientific understanding of this virus and we have the capabilities to respond rapidly to any resurgence or new variants.”
Johnson went on to say the country needs to get its confidence back going forward from the pandemic.
“We chose to compel people to be considerate to others,” he continued, “We can rely on that sense of responsibility towards one another by providing practical advice in the knowledge that people will follow it to avoid infecting loved ones.”
It was also confirmed people over 75 and those who’re vulnerable would receive a fourth COVID-19 jab.
“Today we’re taking further action to guard against a possible resurgence of the virus, accepting JCVI advice for a new spring booster offered to those aged 75 and older, to older care home residents and to those over 12 who are immunosuppressed,” the PM added.
The leader of the opposition has been critical of the Prime Minister’s plans calling them ‘half-baked’ leaving people ‘vulnerable’ to new variants.
Sir Keir Starmer told the House: “Our plan would see us learn the lessons of the past two years and prepared for new variants. His approach will leave us vulnerable.
“As a nation, there is no doubt we need to move on from Covid. People need to know their liberties are returning and returning for good.
“But this is a half-baked announcement from a Government paralysed by chaos and incompetence. It is not a plan to live well with COVID.”