People in England who test positive for the coronavirus will no longer be required to stay under isolation starting Feb. 24, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Monday.
The new measures also entail an end to financial support for those who miss work. Starting April 1, lab-confirmed PCR tests for the virus will be available free only to older people and the immune-compromised. The government will also stop offering the public free rapid virus tests, though they will be available privately for a price.
Johnson's plan to live with covid, which includes the elimination of all legal restrictions to fight the disease, came hours after Queen Elizabeth II, aged 95, was found to have the disease.
The Prime Minister told the House of Commons that the country was “moving from government restrictions to personal responsibility” as part of a plan for treating COVID-19 like other transmissible illnesses such as flu. “We now have sufficient levels of immunity to complete the transition from protecting people with government interventions to relying on vaccines and treatments as our first line of defense,” Johnson said.
In the new scenario, the British Government will also stop tracing infected people’s contacts, although those who test positive will still be advised to stay home if they feel sick.
Johnson also said the fact that the Queen had tested positive for COVID-19 was “a reminder that this virus has not gone away.”
The government still plans to offer a fourth vaccine dose to anyone over the age of 75 or aged above 12 and with underlying conditions.
“We don’t need laws to compel people to be considerate to others ... So let us learn to live with this virus and continue protecting ourselves and others without restricting our freedoms, Johnson said.
However, Labour Party leader Keir Starmer was against the PM's approach. “’Ignorance is bliss’ is not a responsible approach to a deadly virus, Starmer said.