British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday shocked many in the UK by announcing an end to all COVID restrictions, including mask mandates, working from home and vaccine passports.
“Many nations across Europe have endured further winter lockdowns, but this government took a different path,” Johnson told lawmakers. “Our scientists believe it is likely that the omicron wave has now peaked nationally.”
Since the pandemic hit, Johnson instituted some of the most strict Covid policies in Europe, including:
- Compulsory face coverings in most indoor public venues, including theaters and cinemas — as well as on public transport and in shops and hairdressers — but not in pubs or restaurants, or venues such as gyms where it’s “not practical”
- People were advised to work from home “if they can”, and were advised to take lateral flow tests (LFTs) before entering any “high-risk setting”, including busy areas and some workplaces.
- People were required to show proof of vaccination or a recently negative test (or are exempt) to gain entry to nightclubs and large-scale events.
- All school staff and secondary school pupils were required to take two lateral flow tests (LFTs) a week, and secondary school pupils had to wear face coverings in class
The UK on Jan. 19 said the latest seven-day average of cases was 92,087, down by more than 80,000 from the first week of 2022.
The British government is no longer advising people to work from home, and compulsory face masks will be scrapped in secondary school classrooms starting Thursday.
Mandatory Covid-19 passes will not be needed to gain entry to large-scale events beginning Jan. 27. Face masks will no longer be legally required anywhere in England as of that day.
The requirement for those infected to self-isolate for five full days remains, but Johnson said that measure will also end in the coming weeks.
“We will trust the judgment of the British people and no longer criminalize anyone who chooses not to wear one,” Johnson said.