The Government has announced that all COVID-19 restrictions will end in England on Thursday and free mass testing will stop from 1 April as part of its “living with Covid” plan. The legal duty to isolate for those who tested positive will be dropped and from 1 April the provision of free testing will be targeted to the most vulnerable.

The move has been enabled by the nation having passed the peak of Omicron, with falling cases and hospital admissions and seen as the beginning of the “transition back towards normality” while retaining plans to respond to an increase in COVID-19 cases or a new variant.

From Thursday 24 February:

  • People who test positive for Covid will no longer be legally required to self-isolate.
  • But they will still be advised to stay at home and avoid contact with others for at least five full days.
  • Routine contact tracing will end, so fully-vaccinated close contacts and those under 18 will no longer be legally required to test daily for seven days.
  • The £500 self-isolation support payment for people on low incomes who test positive for Covid will no longer be available.
  • Covid provisions for increased statutory sick pay will apply for a further month.

From 1 April:

  • Free mass symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public will end, and will instead be targeted towards the most vulnerable.
  • People with Covid symptoms will be asked to exercise personal responsibility when deciding whether to stay at home – until then they are still advised to do so.
  • Current government guidance on Covid passports will end and it will no longer recommend venues use the NHS Covid pass.

For more information: GOV.UK: COVID-19 Response: Living with COVID-19 (external link)

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