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Coronavirus update

Ending of Covid Restrictions
On Monday 21st February, the Prime Minister outlined the government’s plan for living with COVID-19, explaining that “This plan – underpinned by vaccines – will remove the remaining legal domestic restrictions while continuing to protect people most vulnerable to COVID-19 and maintaining resilience. The government will also secure innovations and opportunities from the COVID-19 response”.

As a consequence, the following measures for England were announced: –

From 21st February:

  • staff and students in most education and childcare settings no longer have to test twice weekly

From 24th February:

  • the legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test will be removed. People who test positive will be advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people. After 5 days, they may choose to take a Lateral Flow Device Test (LFD) followed by another the next day – if both are negative, and they do not have a temperature, they can safely return to their normal routine. Those who test positive should avoid contact with anyone in an at-risk group, including if they live in the same household
  • routine contact tracing will end
  • people who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive will no longer have to self-isolate or take daily tests
  • self-isolation support payments of £500 for those on low incomes will no longer be available
  • workers will no longer be required to tell their employer if they need to self-isolate

From 1st April:

  • Lateral Flow Covid Tests will no longer be free for most people but targeted to a small number of at-risk groups – the Government will set out further details on which groups will be eligible
  • free PCR tests will no longer be available in England from April either, except for a small number of at-risk groups, details of which will be announced later
  • free testing will remain available to social care workers with Covid symptoms.
  • the use of Covid passports will no longer be recommended, except for international travel. The NHS COVID Pass will remain available within the NHS App for a limited period, to support the use of certification in other parts of the UK. The NHS App will continue to allow individuals access to their vaccination status for international travel, as well as their recovery status for travel to those overseas destinations that recognise it.
  • employers will no longer have to explicitly consider Covid in their health and safety risk assessment

Face Masks
Following the ending of the Covid regulations, face masks are no longer legally required in any setting. It will up to businesses, venues and individuals to decide which approach to adopt so hospitals, surgeries, shops, theatres etc. can still request that face coverings are worn on their premises. The Mayor of London has announced that face coverings would no longer be compulsory on the London Underground even though officials have the power to impose them as a condition of carriage.

Second Booster Jabs
It has also been announced that a second booster jab would be made available in the spring to the following groups: –

  • adults aged 75 and over
  • residents in a care home for older adults
  • people aged 12 and over who are immunosuppressed

The dose would be given six months after the previous jab. The Pfizer vaccine will be offered to 12 to 18-year-olds, and either Pfizer or Moderna to other eligible people.

Immunity declines over time and many of the groups affected received their third dose in September or October of 2021. It is expected that there will likely be an autumn booster programme, aimed at a wider group of people.

Reducing The Risk Of COVID
The government will continue to advise that individuals can still reduce the risk of catching and passing on COVID-19 by getting vaccinated, letting fresh air in if meeting indoors, meeting outside if possible, wearing a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces (especially when coming into contact with people you do not usually meet), trying to stay at home if unwell, taking a test if you have COVID-19 symptoms, staying at home and avoiding contact with other people if testing positive, washing hands and following advice to ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’

International Travel
There are no further changes to the rules which have applied since 11th February.

Fully vaccinated travellers (who have had two doses) and under-18s no longer need to take any Covid tests either before returning to or following arrival in England.

Travellers who are not fully vaccinated will no longer have to self-isolate on arrival, or take a test on day eight. However, they will still have to show proof of a negative Covid test taken two days before they travel, and they must still take a post-arrival PCR test.

All passengers still need to fill in a passenger locator form – details of which can be found here.

For advice about travelling abroad from England, including the latest information on coronavirus, safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings please see here.