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Most Covid rules to end in England as cases fall

Work from home guidance, Covid passports and mandatory wearing of face-masks are being scrapped in England, as Boris Johnson announced the lifting of Plan B measures.

The prime minister said people will no longer be told to work from home “from now on”, and from Thursday next week mandatory mask-wearing and Covid certification will end.

He confirmed the intention to end self-isolation rules for people with coronavirus in the coming weeks. The legal requirement would lapse when the regulations expire on 24 March, he said, and that date could be brought forward.

The PM told the Commons cases were falling and the Omicron wave had likely peaked nationally, meaning rules could now be eased.

Mr Johnson said it was time to “trust the judgement” of the public on the use of masks in enclosed and crowded places, and they will be scrapped in classrooms from tomorrow.

Restrictions on visits to care homes would also be eased further, with Health Secretary Sajid Javid setting out plans “in the coming days”.

Mr Johnson signalled his intention to start treating Covid-19 more like flu, saying: “There will soon come a time when we can remove the legal requirement to self-isolate altogether, just as we don’t place legal obligations on people to isolate if they have flu.

“As Covid becomes endemic, we will need to replace legal requirements with advice and guidance, urging people with the virus to be careful and considerate of others.”

The PM said the government intended to set out its long-term strategy for “living with Covid” and relying on medical advances including vaccines “which have already saved so many lives”.

More than 90% of over-60s across the UK have now had booster vaccines, he said.

“The United Kingdom can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said, but warned to avoid any future restrictions “we must all remain cautious during these last weeks of winter”.

“The pandemic is not over,” he said.

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