Face masks will no longer be mandatory in public places and schools in England and COVID-19 passports will be dropped for large events as infections level off in large parts of the country, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.
Johnson told lawmakers that the restrictions were being eased because government scientists believed it was likely that the surge of infections prompted by the highly contagious Omicron variant “has now peaked nationally”.
While hospitals in northern England are still under pressure because of high caseloads, Johnson said hospital admissions and patients in intensive care units elsewhere in England were stabilising or falling.
“Many nations across Europe have endured further winter lockdowns … but this government took a different path,” Johnson told lawmakers, saying the government had got the toughest decisions right and that numbers going into intensive care were falling.
“Our scientists believe it is likely that the Omicron wave has now peaked … because of the extraordinary booster campaign, together with the way the public has responded to the Plan B measures, we can return to Plan A.”
The government will no longer advise people to work from home and beginning next Thursday, mandatory COVID-19 passes will not be required to gain entry to large-scale events.
Compulsory face masks will be scrapped in classrooms starting from Thursday as well, and from next week they will not be legally required anywhere in England.
“We will trust the judgement of the British people and no longer criminalise anyone who chooses not to wear one,” Johnson said.