Government Prepares To Axe All Covid Rules
February 21, 2022.
Boris Johnson has insisted that he isn't taking a gamble with public health as he prepares to drop all coronavirus restrictions as soon as this week, including the requirement to self-isolate if you catch the illness. The Prime Minister is expected to confirm next week that the government is doing away with all remaining Covid rules and that free access to tests for the whole general public will come to an end.
Speaking to the BBC on Sunday morning, he insisted he was "certainly not asking people to throw caution to the wind" and that "it's very important we should remain careful".
However, he said that the UK had entered a "different world" when it comes to Covid, in which vaccination and pharmaceutical treatment will be used instead of legal restrictions to control the virus.
"We now have reached a stage, thanks to the efficacy of the vaccine rollout, where we can shift the balance away from state mandation and banning certain course of action, in favour of encouraging personal responsibility," he told presenter Sophie Raworth. Johnson said testing will continue at a "low level" in this era of "living with the virus", arguing that the government cannot justify continuing to spend £2bn each month on free tests while both the number of Covid cases and number of people hospitalised with the illness continue to fall.
"It is important that people should feel confident again and people should feel able to go back to work in the normal way," he said. "I really want to see our country getting back on its feet."
Labour demands evidence
However, the Prime Minister was warned this morning by Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting that the government cannot expect Labour's backing for scrapping the remaining mitigations until he showed the scientific evidence supporting it.
Streeting accused Johnson of seeking to "declare victory before the war is over" on Covid so he can divert attention from partygate and the highly-anticipated Metropolitan Police report into lockdown parties, which is expected to be published in the coming weeks.
“The whole decision-making process in Number 10 at the moment is being driven by the Prime Minister's political weakness and not public health, and that should concern all of us," Streeting told Raworth.
Streeting said Labour was deeply concerned by the plan to end the provision of free tests to the general public, likening it to a football team "being two-one up with ten minutes left to play and taking your best defender off the pitch”.
He continued: “I am very worried by reports that the Prime Minister is planning to end free access to testing because we’ve seen, particularly over Christmas and New Year, that people are keen to do the right thing, whether it’s protect family members, especially the elderly and vulnerable, or co-workers and friends. We know testing is popular, it’s a crucial defence".
© Adam Payne / Politics Home
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