LONDON (AP) – People with COVID-19 won’t be legally required to self-isolate in England starting in the coming week, the United Kingdom (UK) government has announced, as part of a plan for “living with COVID” that is also likely to see testing for the coronavirus scaled back.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said ending all of the legal restrictions brought in to curb the spread of the virus will let people in the UK “protect ourselves without restricting our freedoms”.
He is expected to lay out details of the plan in Parliament today.
“I’m not saying that we should throw caution to the winds, but now is the moment for everybody to get their confidence back,” Johnson told the BBC in an interview broadcast yesterday.
“We’ve reached a stage where we think you can shift the balance away from state mandation, away from banning certain courses of action, compelling certain courses of action, in favour of encouraging personal responsibility.”
But some of the government’s scientific advisers said it was a risky move that could bring a surge in infections and weaken the country’s defences against more virulent future strains.
Health spokesman for the main opposition Labour Party Wes Streeting accused Johnson of “declaring victory before the war is over”.
Johnson’s Conservative government lifted most virus restrictions in January, scrapping vaccine passports for venues and ending mask mandates in most settings apart from hospitals in England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which set their own public health rules, have also opened up, although more slowly.