Please login to the form below

Not currently logged in

England to end COVID-19 isolation laws and mass free testing

From 24 February, all COVID-19 restrictions will end in England and from 1 April, all free mass testing will finish


UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs that the legal duty for those who tested positive to isolate would be scrapped as part of his ‘living with COVID-19’ plan, part of what he said would complete the “transition back towards normality”. Contingencies are still retained in case of a COVID-19 resurgence or a new variant.

In a Downing Street news conference on 21 February, Johnson explained "today is not the day we can declare victory over COVID because this virus is not going away", adding the nation had passed the peak of Omicron, with falling cases and hospital admissions.

The PM’s announcement detailed that from 24 February, all COVID-19 restrictions in England would come to an end, while on 1 April, free mass testing would stop. Johnson added that from 1 April, free testing would be provided for the most vulnerable.

However, British Medical Association – a doctors’ union – commented on the plan, saying it failed to protect those people most at risk from COVID-19. Contrary to the PM’s plans for England, the Scottish government said the public health advice it had received did not outline the lifting of restrictions.

Professor Sir Chris Whitty, England's chief medical officer, said the ending of restrictions was a “gradual, steady change over a period of time”. In addition, Whitty said the number of people being infected with Omicron was still “very high”, with theOffice for National Statistics (ONS) infection figures last week estimating that one in 20 people in England had COVID-19.

Whitty emphasised the public health advice for people with COVID-19 would be to continue to self-isolate in order to prevent other catching it, as would be the case for many other highly infectious diseases.

For England, changes include ending guidance for staff and students in most education and childcare settings to take asymptomatic testing twice a week. From 24 February, those who receive a positive result for COVID-19 will no longer be legally required to self-isolate but are still advised to stay at home, avoiding contact with others for at least five full days.

The self-isolation support payment of £500 for people on low incomes who test positive for COVID-19 will no longer be available but COVID-19 provisions for increased statutory sick pay will still apply for another month.

The UK government's chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, cautioned the virus would continue to evolve over the next couple of years and there was no guarantee that future strains would be less severe than the Omicron subvariant.

Routine contact tracing will come to an end, meaning fully-vaccinated close contacts and people under the age of 18 will no longer be legally required to test daily for seven days.

From 1 April, free mass symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public will come to an end, instead being targeted towards the most vulnerable, while those with COVID-19 symptoms will be asked to exercise personal responsibility when deciding whether to stay at home – until then,  they are still advised to do so. Government guidelines on COVID-19 passports will end and it will no longer recommend venues use the NHS COVID pass.

Article by
Fleur Jeffries

22nd February 2022

From: Healthcare



Subscribe to our email news alerts


Add my company

We are a leading provider of outsourced commercial, medical and recruitment services to UK pharmaceutical, biotech and healthcare companies....

Latest intelligence

The 17th World Congress on Controversies in Neurology
This year, there was a focus on the rare disease neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder that strikes suddenly and mainly impacts women...
Archetypes: Rethinking go-to-market expectations to drive commercial success
In this white paper, our consultants analyze trends spanning global policy developments, rising inflation, and increasingly complex customer journeys, and reveal a new data-driven approach to archetyping that crystalizes the...
Tuberculosis – why it remains a major global public health challenge
Innovative collaboration is required to address the major public health challenges around TB and expedite drug development...