The legal requirement to self-isolate after testing positive for Covid-19 will end next week, Boris Johnson is set to announce.
Downing Street said the prime minister will confirm the repeal of all of England’s pandemic regulations when he lays out his “living with Covid” plan on Monday.
The PM is expected to say that the vaccination programme, testing, and other new treatments like anti-viral drugs can be relied on to keep people safe – and that infectious people will not be made to stay at home.
“Covid will not suddenly disappear, and we need to learn to live with this virus and continue to protect ourselves without restricting our freedoms,” Mr Johnson said ahead of outlining his plan.
“We’ve built up strong protections against this virus over the past two years through the vaccine rollouts, tests, new treatments and the best scientific understanding of what this virus can do.
“Thanks to our successful vaccination programme and the sheer magnitude of people who have come forward to be jabbed, we are now in a position to set out our plan for living with Covid this week.”
But Labour accused the prime minister of “declaring victory before the war is over” in an attempt to distract from Partygate lockdown rule breaking.
No 10 said that by the end of the week, self-isolation regulations will be scrapped for those who test positive, as well as for their close contacts.
Councils will be required to manage any localised outbreaks of Covid-19 in their areas with existing public health powers, as they would do with other infectious diseases.
Downing Street said pharmaceutical interventions would “continue to be our first line of defence” and that the vaccine programme would remain “open to anyone who has not yet come forward”.
“Government intervention in people’s lives can now finally end,” Downing Street said.
Ninety-one per cent of the UK’s eligible population has had at least one dose of vaccine, with 85 per cent double vaccinated. As well, 38 million booster jabs have been administered.
Officials said Monday’s “living with Covid” plan, as well as removing quarantine impositions, will maintain “resilience against future variants with ongoing surveillance capabilities”.
UK news in pictures
Show all 50
This appears to suggest the government will retain state-funded infection sampling, following reports that such studies could be withdrawn as part of the plan.
It comes after senior statistician Sir David Spiegelhalter argued that some form of the Office for National Statistics’s coronavirus study should remain in place.
The Cambridge University professor, who is a non-executive director for the ONS and chairman of the advisory board for the Covid Infection Survey, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the results had been vital for deciding how to proceed in the pandemic.
“It has been absolutely so important as we have gone along,” the professor said on Saturday.
“It has been running since April 2020, and so, as I said, I do have a bias here but it is not just me – I think lots of people are saying how important it is, particularly the statistical community.”
Wes Streeting, Labour’s shadow health secretary said: “Boris Johnson is declaring victory before the war is over, in an attempt to distract from the police knocking at his door.
“Labour doesn’t want to see restrictions in place any longer than they need to be. The government should publish the evidence behind this decision, so the public can have faith that it is being made in the national interest.
“Now is not the time to start charging for tests or weaken sick pay, when people are still being asked to behave responsibly.
“Labour’s plan for learning to live well with Covid would prepare for new variants and secure our lives, livelihoods and liberties.”