The plan for living with Covid has come into effect from today in England. The lifting of the remaining Covid restrictions has taken place today.
People who test positive for Covid-19 no longer have to isolate. This is part of the government’s plan for living with Covid. Adults and children who have the virus will be advised to self-isolate, but this won’t be a legal requirement.
As part of the plan vaccinated contacts of people who have tested positive will no longer be asked to do daily lateral flow tests for seven days and contact tracing will end.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty said the ending restrictions was a “gradual, steady change over a period of time”, adding: “This is not a sudden ‘everything stops’.”
He said the number of people being infected with Omicron was still “very high”.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) infection figures last week estimated that one in 20 people in England had Covid.
People who test positive will no longer receive support payments this move is something that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “These are decisions which will hit the lowest paid and the most insecure workers the hardest.”
Echoing the Labour leader, Usdaw, the UK’s fifth biggest trade union with over 360,000 members, general secretary Paddy Lillis has said “Leaving self-isolation up to individuals means that many people who can’t afford to take time off may feel pressured into going into work. It could also lead to spike in infections, putting more pressure on staffing levels and on low paid workers’ finances.”
Also, with the government’s plan for living with Covid, testing will no longer be free. Free testing for the public will end in England from 1 April, with most people having to pay for lateral flow and PCR tests. Boots will be charging £17 for a pack of four lateral flow tests, or one test for £5.99, including delivery.
Mr Lillis doesn’t think this is good for low paid workers. “Scrapping free tests is purely an economic decision by the Government. However, charging for tests will price out low-paid workers who are already struggling to make ends meet with food and fuel prices rising, energy bills soaring and real wages falling. This will be an additional cost that many cannot afford.”