The two coronavirus rules getting scrapped this week as Plan B ends – and the changes still to come

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Plan B measures put in place to slow the spread of Omicron will be lifted completely this week.

Prime minister Boris Johnson said that with the highly-transmissible Omicron variant now ‘in retreat’, the measures were no longer needed in England.

All four nations have seen a drop in coronavirus cases.

Guidance asking people to work from home has already been lifted and face coverings have been scrapped in classrooms.

From this Thursday, the remaining restrictions will also be scrapped.

Here are the final two Plan B measures being scrapped this week, and the rule changes that are still to come.

Face coverings

Currently, face coverings are a legal requirement in most public spaces, including shops, shopping centers, salons, cinemas, places of worship and on public transport, for anyone who is not exempt.

However, from Thursday, January 27, face masks will no longer be legally required in any public spaces.

The government is advising that masks continue to be worn in confined public spaces.

However, the police will not have the power to fine people who do not decide to wear one.

Instead, the government said it will “trust the judgment of the British people and no longer criminalize anyone who chooses not to wear one”.

covid passes

Under the current laws, large venues such as nightclubs and some gig venues are legally required to ask for a Covid Pass as a condition of entry.

A Covid Pass, which can be accessed through the NHS app, proves that the customer is fully vaccinated or has recently tested negative for the virus.

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Covid Passes will be longer be a legal requirement for venues from January 27.

Instead, venues will be allowed to choose whether or not they ask for a Covid Pass as a condition of entry.

It is up to venues whether they decide to continue with the requirement, but there will be no legal obligation.

When are other coronavirus rules changing?

self-isolation

Once Plan B restrictions expire on January 27, the only Covid regulations that will remain in place are those around self-isolation.

The government says it is aiming to lift the self-isolation rules eventually – but not quite yet.

For now, it will remain a legal requirement to self-isolation for a period of at least five full days if you test positive for the virus either with a lateral flow test or a PCR test.

You can only leave isolation after five days if you test negative using a lateral flow test for two days in a row.

The regulations are set to expire on March 24, but that date could be brought forward, the prime minister has said.

The legal requirement to isolate is set to be replaced with “advice and guidance urging people with the virus to be careful and considerate of others”.

Travel

Double-vaccinated travelers will no longer be required to take a coronavirus test when arriving in the UK from February 11, the transport secretary announced on Monday.

Also from February 11, unvaccinated passengers will no longer be required to do a day eight test, but they will still need to take a pre-departure test and a PCR test within two days of arriving back in the UK.

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Grant Shapps said the policy of post-arrival lateral flow tests for vaccinated travelers had “outlived its usefulness”, telling MPs in the House of Commons that the change would help the aviation industry to “take back to the skies”.

The changes will come into effect from 4am on February 11 – which is just in time for the half-term holiday.

care homes

Restrictions around care home visits will also be eased in the coming days, the government has said, but for now they remain the same.

Government guidance states that every care home resident can nominate up to three visitors who will be able to enter the care home for regular visits.

Visits should be arranged with care homes in advance and a negative test result should be reported by the visitor ahead of the visit.

Long-term Covid strategy

Mr Johnson has said that the government will soon be setting out “our long-term strategy for living with Covid-19”.

He said it would include plans for “how we hope and intend to protect our liberty and avoid restrictions in future by relying instead on medical advances.”

He has not yet said when the government plans to outline the strategy to the public.



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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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