LONDON – On Thursday in England, all restrictions on coronavirus imposed by the government were lifted, including legal requirements for people who test positive for COVID-19 to be isolated at home.
Officials say those who have had a positive test will still be advised to stay home for at least five days. But as of Thursday, they are not legally required to do so, and those with low incomes will no longer receive additional financial support to compensate for the loss of income due to isolation. The usual tracking of contacts of infected people has also been canceled.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday outlined his Conservative government’s strategy for “living with COVID” in the long run. He said Britain was moving “from legal restrictions to personal responsibility” and that the end of all domestic legal measures marked the end of the two darkest years in the country’s history of peacetime.
The strategy includes plans to massively reduce free universal coronavirus testing from April 1st.
Britain has already lifted most restrictions on viruses in January after infection rates and hospitalizations fell after a spike in late December. Face masks are nowhere required by law, and vaccine passports to enter nightclubs and other places have been abolished.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which are setting their own health rules, have also opened up, but at different rates.
Some other European countries including Denmark and Sweden, also recently lifted all restrictions on COVID-19.
Some critics have questioned whether it is too early to lift all restrictions, especially isolation laws. The British Medical Association has warned that Johnson’s strategy cannot protect the most vulnerable people and those most at risk from COVID-19.
Approximately 85% of people aged 12 and over in the UK are fully vaccinated and around 66% have received a third or booster dose.
The UK still ranks highest in Europe in the number of coronaviruses after Russia, where more than 161,000 deaths have been recorded.
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