England Lifts COVID-19 Restrictions as Omicron Threat Recedes

LONDON: Most coronavirus restrictions including mandatory face masks were lifted in England on Thursday (Jan 27), after Britain’s government said its vaccine booster roll-out successfully reduced serious illness and COVID-19 hospitalisations.

From Thursday, face coverings are no longer required by law anywhere in England, and a legal requirement for COVID-19 passes for entry into nightclubs and other large venues has been scrapped.

The government last week dropped its advice for people to work from home as well as guidance for face coverings in classrooms.

The so-called “Plan B” measures were introduced in early December to stop the rapid spread of the Omicron variant from overwhelming health services and to buy time for the population to get its booster vaccine shot.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the government’s vaccine roll-out, testing and development of antiviral treatments combine to make “some of the strongest defenses in Europe”, allowing a “cautious return” to normality.

But he added that “as we learn to live with COVID, we need to be clear eyed that this virus is not going away”. While infections continue to fall, health officials said that Omicron remained prevalent across the country, especially among children and the elderly.

People wear face masks to curb the spread of coronavirus, which is still a mandatory requirement on Transport for London public transport services, as they travel on a bus going over London Bridge towards the City of London financial district during the morning rush hour in London, Monday, Jan 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Officials said that almost 84 per cent of people over 12 years old in the UK have had their second vaccine dose, and that of those eligible, 81 per cent have received their booster shot.

Hospital admissions and the number of people in intensive care units have stabilised or fallen, and daily cases have fallen from a peak of over 200,000 cases a day around New Year to under 100,000 in recent days.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which make their own public health rules, have similarly relaxed their virus restrictions.

 

Source: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/world/england-covid-19-omicron-threat-lifts-restrictions-2462471

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