Today’s business leaders welcomed Boris Johnson’s pledge to remove all Covid restrictions by spring, although unions cautioned against an ‘open-for-all’.

According to the Prime Minister, No10’s home-based guidance won’t apply ‘from now. Face masks are no longer required in English school classrooms starting tomorrow. 

Covid and mandatory face masks are also being thrown out starting Thursday.   

At lunchtime, Mr Johnson informed MPs that the Government would still recommend to people wearing face covers in certain places ‘enclosed and crowded’. However, he said that he trusts the judgment of the British people. 

He promised that the law will soon be removed and self-isolation will no longer be required. 

Ministers are confident they can lift the final restrictions because of the increasingly positive data, after UK Health Security Agency bosses logged 108,069 new positive tests today, down 16.6 per cent on last Wednesday’s 129,587. The fourteenth day was the worst week for cases.

While there were some concerns expressed by unions, Scrapping from Home and Covid Passports was welcomed warmly by British Chambers of Commerce.

The Prime Minister said that 'from now' No10's work from home guidance will no longer apply, and face masks will no longer be required in school classrooms in England from tomorrow

The Prime Minister stated that No10’s “from now” work from home guidance would no longer apply and that face masks wouldn’t be needed in schools in England starting tomorrow



According to the Prime Minister, No10’s home-based guidance is no longer applicable.


Secondary school classes will not require the use of face masks. In the next weeks, Johnson said that masks will not be required in corridors and communal areas.

Starting next Thursday (January 27, 2012): 

Covids that have not been vaccinated or had a negative test in recent months will not be valid for entry into venues and events.

No face masks are required in public places, such as shops or public transportation. Sadiq Khan (the mayor of London) has said that face masks will still be required on Tfl and Tube services. This means that passengers who do not wear one may be refused entry.

In the next few days, restrictions will be lifted on care home visits.

Starting March 24,

People who are positive for Covid should no longer be required to isolate themselves. Johnson stated that he was able to bring forward this rule change.

You could also be subject to other laws such as those requiring you to provide your address to NHS Test and Trace in the event of Covid. 

Director General Shevaun Haviland said: ‘News of the end of work from home guidance will be welcomed by business, particularly those based in city and town centres which rely on footfall from office workers. 

“The elimination of vaccine passport requirements will be a positive development for members working in events and the night-time industry.

Due to high levels of infection, firms continue to experience significant staff absences. Therefore, we will caution against teams returning to work in a rush. This could cause further absences.

“Biz owners will be interested in the longer-term plans of government to assist them should any new virus emerge.

When Plan B began, confusion and loss of faith were common. 

“Even though a Treasury financial package was provided, knowing what support will be offered with each restriction ahead of time is the best method to keep business confidence.

Government must ensure that testing capabilities are maintained. We continue to receive reports from firms who cannot access rapid testing when it is needed. 

“This supply must be consistent in order to keep consumer confidence high and prevent unnecessary shortages.

“As we free ourselves from restrictions, the government must take positive steps to accelerate our economic recovery by making progress on key issues like increasing our export base, and levelling down local economies.

Matthew Fell is the chief policy director of the CBI. He stated that it was great news that Plan B has ended. Businesses will feel hopeful that Covid-19 can be reversed.

“It is urgent that we have a more stable way of living with the virus for the long term. The negative effects of bouncing back and forks between normality or restrictions has been devastating.

“The government must prioritise Covid infrastructure above interventions. This means that we must rely more heavily on anti-virals, free vaccines, and testing.

“There is still work to do on rebuilding confidence and increasing demand. Omicron has held back recovery in some important sectors like international travel, hospitality and other services. Now, the focus must shift to how we can stimulate and grow investment.

Mr Fell stated that hybrid working will remain as businesses seek to balance home-office work.

Jace Tyrrell is the Chief Executive Officer of The New West End Company. He added that “Office employees are returning to London’s West End and retailers, bars, and restaurants can look forward to an exciting year.”

‘With the support of returning shoppers and Government alike, we are confident that the West End can achieve £7.5 billion of turnover this year as it continues on the long road to recovery.’

Although the Federation of Small Business welcomed this move, bosses cautioned that it wasn’t all positive news against a background of rising taxes and business rates.

Some unions have expressed concern of the removal of mandatory face coverings

Unions expressed concerns about the elimination of compulsory face covers 

JULY will see the end of free lateral flow Covid test. 

According to documents between UK health agencies, free Covid lateral flow testing will cease from July as part of the Government’s virus “exit strategy”.  

Ministers have urged Britons to take the swabs regularly in an attempt to quell the spread of Omicron — but only key workers will be able to access free tests if No10’s mooted plan to ‘ramp down the Universal Testing Offer’ gets signed off. 

Instead, officials say an online ordering system will be ready by the end of June to direct Britons to purchase the tests, which are said to cost the Government £30 per pack of seven. 

The No10 previously stated that it would stop providing the free tests to everyone ‘at an later stage.’ These can be ordered from the Government’s website, or picked up by pharmacies. No10 spent billions on the security of these kits in its mass-testing strategy. 

Over the course of one week, 8 million lateral flows were recorded amid record-breaking numbers of cases. Officially, however, not all of the tests are logged.

For the past two weeks, however, Covid infections are in freefall. Boris Johnson was forced to announce his pandemic strategy to prevent the nation from getting Covid-like flu by the natural fizzle out of Omicron waves. 

National Chairman Mike Cherry said: ‘After two years of chopping and changing, small businesses right across England will be hoping that this marks the beginning of a final winding down of trading restrictions.

‘We would now urge everyone to get behind small firms – be that on a commute, whilst working from home, online, or in-person – as they work night and day to recover from another incredibly stressful festive season.

‘Equally, it’s important to respect the house rules that each individual small firm has implemented to keep its customers and staff safe – many have invested thousands in making premises more secure.

“Small businesses and sole traders are ready to help us recover from the recession, just like they helped with last year’s. 

They are facing the possibility of an increase in taxes on dividends, job creation, or a rise in tax rates.

“The Government should consider policies to empower small businesses, start-ups, and get the economy moving again. It is unacceptable to impose a indiscriminate tax upon job creation in an environment with high inflation and a tight labour market.

Unions working in education and the health sectors expressed concerns about the rapid lifting of restrictions.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: ‘Schools and colleges are still feeling the impact of Covid-19. 

According to the ONS, 1/10 primary school pupils in primary schools have Covid-19. Although the trend is decreasing among secondary-aged children, it’s not certain that the trend will persist due to the fact that schools only have returned from the Christmas break for a short period. 

“Such uncertainty could result in a greater risk of disruption for children and staff, and may cause them to become isolated.

“We are worried to see the Covid-19-related absence when the figures are released next Wednesday. 

The danger of lifting restrictions too soon before school is back in session is that we risk causing irreparable damage. 

“This will lead to more education disruption, which is extremely concerning especially for students taking national exams this school year whose educations have been so seriously disrupted.”

“Government should not make announcements to save Boris Johnson’s position, but rather exercise a duty in care for the nation’s students and staff. 

‘This disruption is at the door of the Government who should have got ventilation and filtration solutions in place before Omicron as advised by SAGE and they should be getting these solutions in place urgently now to ensure ​interruption of education remains at the minimum.’ 

Members of the public pictured wearing masks on Northumberland Street, in Newcastle city centre, this afternoon after Boris Johnson's announcement that Plan B resctrictions will be coming to an end next week

After Boris Johnson’s announcement about Plan B, which will cease next week, people were seen in masks walking down Northumberland Street in Newcastle City Centre.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea added: ‘Everyone wants to put the pandemic behind them. But if safety measures are abandoned too early, in one fell swoop, the good progress ​made could be quickly undone.

‘The danger is people will think it’s all over when ​no one can be sure that’s true. New cases are no longer on the rise, but thousands are in hospital and many more are ​still being infected each day.

‘Rather than allowing a free-for-all, ministers should be urging caution and encouraging ​continued mask-wearing on transport, in public places and in schools, where it c​an still make a real difference.’

Meanwhile, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘We need a safe return to workplaces.

“Employers should consult staff and unions about working arrangements, including flexible options for work. Managers also need to conduct risk assessments and increase ventilation.

The spread of Covid has been reduced by using ‘face coverings. Workers are at high risk if they’re made optional in shops and public transport at this point in the pandemic.

“Ministers need to fix the broken sick pay system.” People are being asked to return to work, but the government offers little to no support for those who become sick.

Paddy Lillis (leader of Usdaw’s shopworkers union) said that they are concerned that the decision by the Shopworkers Union to end the mandatory face coverings again in shops has more to do to save the Prime Minister’s Job than Covid Safety.

“It is absurd that the government chose not to address the concerns of members and workers, who were deeply concerned about the possibility of restrictions being lifted at a time when case numbers are still high.

“The government could have relaxed existing restrictions, while still maintaining safety precautions in businesses that were open during the pandemic like supermarkets.

“Face coverings and hand hygiene have become the normal in retail. But, constantly changing the rules can be detrimental.”