The new Omicron variant of Covid-19 has spread rapidly across the UK over the last two months but the infection rate has suddenly begun to fall, prompting Boris Johnson to drop the “Plan B” restrictions brought in to stop the spread.
Speaking in the House of Commons, the prime minister said that, from Thursday 27 January, guidance on mask-wearing in public places and presenting Covid passes to enter crowded venues will be scrapped as the New Year rise in infections continues to wane without having resulted in the mass hospitalisations experts had feared.
Work from home guidance will meanwhile be lifted immediately, with people are no longer encouraged to work remotely if possible, which has been the official guidance since 8 December 2021.
Taking time out from the firestorm still raging over the Downing Street “Partygate” scandal, Mr Johnson told the Commons that he also hopes to remove the requirement to self-isolate from 24 March, saying: “There will soon come a time when we can remove the legal requirement to self-isolate altogether, just as we don't place legal obligations on people to isolate if they have flu.
“As Covid becomes endemic, we will need to replace legal requirements with advice and guidance, urging people with the virus to be careful and considerate of others.”
NHS rules on boosters were relaxed in December so that all over-18s were offered a third jab, a decision supported by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which also recommended cutting the period between second and third jabs from six months to three in a bid to beat the variant.
You can currently get a booster if you are over 18 - or over 16 with a health condition - and it has been at least three months (91 days) since you received your second dose of one of the approved Covid vaccines.
If you are struggling to secure a booking due to high demand, you can also visit any walk-in vaccination centre to get your jab, with people being advised to use the NHS online walk-in finder to locate their nearest centre.
If you have had a positive Covid test, you are advised to wait four weeks (28 days) before booking your booster, starting from the date you had the test.
“NHS staff are making it as easy as possible for people to get their top-up vaccination,” said Dr Nikki Kanani, deputy lead for the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme.
“People can now go online, find their nearest site and go and get their booster without delay.
“The booster is not just nice to have, it is really important protection ahead of what we know will be a challenging winter.
“So if you are eligible, please do check the site finder and go get your jab.”
This article was amended on 10 December 2021. It had previously stated that Covid boosters were available to everybody over 18, but at the time of publication boosters were only being made available to adults over 40 and people in some additional high risk categories. We also removed a quote from a GP because, while it accurately reported their comments, we understood that it could have been held to over-simplify the science behind some vaccines.
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