Britain's response to Covid is set to be dramatically scaled back early next year as part of a pandemic 'exit strategy' codenamed 'Rampdown'.
The secret Whitehall plan is detailed in official Government documents leaked to The Mail on Sunday. They describe how much of the Government's £37 billion emergency programme for dealing with the virus will be dismantled and the country prepared for living with Covid 'for years to come'.
The extraordinary 160-page dossier includes a string of documents marked 'official sensitive' drawn up by the senior Government officials tasked with winding down Britain's battle against the pandemic.
The file reveals how the Government is set to:
- Axe the legal requirement for those who catch the virus to self-isolate for ten days;
- End free Covid tests and instead allow private companies to charge for lateral flow and PCR tests;
- Shut down the national 'Test and Trace' system, which identifies those who may have been exposed to the virus;
- Focus the fight against Covid on tackling local outbreaks and protecting 'highest risk settings', such as care homes;
- Scrap £500 payments for those on low incomes who must quarantine.
In the documents, experts say Covid will remain at 'endemic' levels for years and that mutant strains of the virus will also 'remain a very real risk'. But, crucially, the Government's central planning assumption – described as the 'leaving soon' scenario – predicts there will be 'no winter resurgence' of the virus.
The revelations come as the number of new Covid cases plunged by more than a quarter in just over three weeks – from 52,009 a day to 38,351 – and more than 12 million people have had their booster vaccines.
The leaked Rampdown plans will be hailed by business owners and families exhausted by Britain's two-year battle against the virus.
Professor Robert Dingwall of Nottingham Trent University, one of the UK's leading sociologists and a former Government adviser, said: 'I very much welcome the fact that people are planning for the end of the emergency and the restoration of everyday life. Treating Covid like any other respiratory infection should encourage people to dial down the fear and anxiety that have bedevilled the country for the past couple of years.'
But one Whitehall source has told The Mail on Sunday that some systems for monitoring the spread of the disease have already been shut down, sparking alarm among top Government scientists.
Another source also said large numbers of health experts who have led the fight against the virus for 18 months are 'just walking away' from the Government, resulting in a huge 'loss of knowledge'.
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