Boris Johnson has plans to scrap all Covid laws starting in March, as the PM under fire tries to win back his backbenchers.
A senior source claimed the Government was seriously considering abandoning all legally-binding curbs in England and moving to a guidance-based system as it pivots towards living with the virus like flu.
According to the official, even the most simple rules can be violated. This includes the obligation of self-isolation and cooperation with Test and Trace.
Emergency Covid laws brought in at the start of the pandemic are due to expire in March if they are not renewed as part of a timetable set out before Omicron hit.
The Ministers have already decided to scrap Plan B restrictions that were put in place last month in order to combat the highly transmissible variant. WFH guidance and Covid passports will be canceled later this month.
Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, said today that he’s ‘cautiously optimistic’ about whether final Plan B curbs will be significantly reduced next week after ministers consider No10’s next steps.
Johnson is believed to have been reassured by the collapsed case numbers in the UK and low hospital rates, so that Covid can be used as a safe living space for the UK.
He will finalise the plans to drop the final over the coming weeks, with an announcement on which measurers will be dropped expected in March, according to the Guardian.
In an attempt to placate backbench MPs, the embattled PM has outlined a range of Tory-friendly policies. He is currently facing demands to resign from parties in No10 during lockdown.
Boris Johnson, pictured leaving Downing Street today, is preparing plans to scrap all Covid laws starting in March. The under-fire PM wants to win back his backbenchers
Professor Mike Tildesley, a University of Warwick academic and leading government adviser, said the latest Covid figures were ‘cautiously good news’
According to a source, it was ‘perverse’ that emergency Covid laws would remain in effect for more than two years after the outbreak of the pandemic.
Sajid Javid stated today that he was ‘cautiously optimistic” about a plan to relax Plan B restrictions. He also said that he has plans in place for next week.
According to the Health Secretary, “Eight weeks ago, when this House met last, the Omicron variant was unknown in the rest of the world.” But, we’ve seen only a third of UK’s Covid cases since that time.
“The Government’s response to Omicron, combined with the efforts of many British citizens, has seen us becoming the most supported country in Europe and tested the most. We also have the highest number of antivirals per head.
“We are Europe’s openest country.
“It is absolutely imperative that this restriction be removed as soon as possible.
“Due to the fact that these drug defenses are in place and that it is likely that we already have reached the maximum number of hospitalisations, we can be cautiously optimistic about being able to significantly reduce restrictions for next week.”
However, covid passes to large indoor venues as well as widespread WFH guidance will likely be discarded. Masks on buses and in shops could remain for a while.
The government has placed its faith in collapsing Covid and the widening gap between serious illness and cases.
According to data from Government Dashboard, another 84,429 positive tests for the virus were performed in the UK over the last 24 hours. This is a decrease of 41% from the previous week.
For 12 consecutive days, daily cases fell week-on-week. Yesterday saw 85 deaths from coronavirus, a 10% increase over last Monday.
Recent hospital data indicates that 2,357 patients were admitted on January 11th, almost unchanged over the past week.
Mr Johnson is said to be keen to ditch the measures — which nearly 100 Tories voted against last month — to win back the support of his backbenchers.
Anger is building within his party about a wild party held in No10’s garden on May 20, 2020 at the peak of the first lockdown.
Yesterday’s scandal was exacerbated by Dominic Cummings (ex-chief aide to Mr Johnson) claiming that Johnson warned Johnson in advance of his illegal party.
Mr Johnson has launched a string of populist policy announcements this week in an attempt to save his premiership – including tougher rules on Channel crossings and a freeze on the BBC license fee.
Although some experts think that it could pose a danger to the NHS by downgrading Covid legislation, others believe it is the best option.
Leaders should not make ‘premature claims’ as to when the restrictions would end, according to The World Health Organization.
Dr David Nabarro, the WHO’s special envoy on Covid, told BBC Breakfast: ‘I’m a public health person… Because once you have made a promise it is very difficult to cancel. You feel like you are making a U-turn.
“This virus is always evolving, and it’s very difficult to predict where it’ll be. We can tell where we want to go. I believe it is foolish to promise that something will happen on a specific date.
Dr Nabarro reiterated that the UK situation ‘gives reason for hope,’ but urged caution.
According to him, “The end goal we all aim for is that this virus does not exist, but that our lives are organized so that they do not become disrupted.”
“We must also be humble because this virus continues to evolve, and we are never sure where it will go next.
However, one of Omicron’s scientists advised that future variations would be milder or more mild than Omicron.
Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of SAGE, told Times Radio: ‘It doesn’t do the virus any good to become increasingly severe.
“In actuality, it seems like Omicron’s variant. It’s become more transmissible so it’s less severe. And we hope this’s the direction of travel.
Professor Hayward stated that he believed the pandemic would end and that people will be able to live with it with less disruption.
He stated, “It will eventually settle into a seasonal pattern. We may still have very large winters with infection, but it is not enough to justify societal closure.”
“So, although it seems like a positive picture, we still haven’t quite reached the end yet.”
As the world comes to terms with Covid, many are asking whether it is appropriate for mass booster jab campaigns to continue.
After a study was done in Israel, it has become clear that four doses of Omicron are not enough to prevent people from getting infected.
The trial of more than 270 medical staff l found the fourth shot only raised antibodies ‘a little’ compared to those who were triple-vaccinated.
The likelihood of a positive test for mutant strain in four-dose participants was only slightly lower than that who received three doses.
Both Moderna and Pfizer were able to replicate the results.
Dr Gili Regev-Yochav, the lead researcher at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv, said the small extra benefit was not enough to justify a rollout to the whole adult population.