Source: Daily Mail
England woke up to freedom today after nearly two years of crippling on-off lockdowns as all emergency Covid laws introduced to tackle the pandemic ended at midnight.
'We must never lose sight of the fact the rules and regulations we introduced were an extraordinary response to an extraordinary challenge, they were never intended to be the new normal.'
Self-isolation rules for the infected are now officially over, masks are no longer necessary on public transport in London and NHS hospitals are finally being told to lift visiting restrictions.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said England was exiting the 'grimmest years in our peacetime' and becoming the freest country in Europe thanks to high booster vaccination rates and life-saving new drugs.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid branded 'Freedom Day' — how February 24, 2022 will go down in the history books — 'important' but urged people to remain 'sensible' in the next stage of the country's battle with Covid, warning that the virus 'is not done with us'.
Mr. Javid told The Times: 'We must never lose sight of the fact the rules and regulations we introduced were an extraordinary response to an extraordinary challenge, they were never intended to be the new normal.'
Since Boris Johnson told the nation to 'stay at home' in a landmark Downing Street press conference on March 23, 2020, England has been through three blanket lockdowns, months of 'whack-a-mole'-style local restrictions and repeated school closures.
From today, however, anyone who receives a positive Covid test will no longer be obliged to quarantine at home for five days by law — although the advice remains. Routine contact tracing has also been axed, as has the £500 self-isolation payments.
Changes to statutory sick pay and employment support allowance designed to help people through the pandemic will end on March 24, when Britain embarks on another vaccine roll-out to give 8 million elderly adults and over-12s with weakened immune systems a fourth jab.
And then in the final step to pre-Covid life, free universal testing will end on April 1 and will instead be focused on the most vulnerable. High street pharmacies will sell rapid swabs for as little as £1.89.
Despite the good news, an Ipsos survey of 1,018 people aged 16-75 found that 46 percent of those polled believe that the Government is relaxing coronavirus restrictions too quickly, while 39 percent believe it is about the right time.
The survey found that 49% of people do not support the end of legal self-isolation for those testing positive for Covid, while 33 percent of those polled do support the end of the legal requirement.
Almost four in 10 Britons surveyed said it is likely they will go to the shops (37 percent) even if they have tested positive for Covid, and the same proportion of workers feel they would go into work if they were positive.
The survey found that 24 percent said it is likely they would travel on public transport if they had tested positive, while 20% said they would visit elderly relatives.
More than half of those polled (52 percent) said it is likely that they would go for a walk outside if they had tested positive for the virus.
Just 29% of those surveyed support the decision to no longer provide free Covid-19 test kits.