The main points are:
- The remaining domestic restrictions in England will be removed from 24 February. The legal requirement to self-isolate ends on 24 February.
- Until 1 April, people who test positive are advised to stay at home. Adults and children who test positive are advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for at least five full days and then continue to follow the guidance until they have received two negative test results on consecutive days.
- Self-isolation support payments, national funding for practical support and the medicine delivery service will no longer be available from 24 February.
- Routine contact tracing ends, including venue check-ins on the NHS Covid-19 app.
- Fully vaccinated adults and those aged under 18 who are close contacts are no longer advised to test daily for seven days and the legal requirement for close contacts who are not fully vaccinated to self-isolate will be removed.
The guidance has also been immediately removed for staff and students in most education and childcare settings to undertake twice weekly asymptomatic testing.
From 1 April, the Government will also:
- Remove the current guidance on voluntary Covid-status certification in domestic settings and no longer recommend that certain venues use the NHS Covid Pass.
- No longer provide free universal symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public in England.
- Remove the health and safety requirement for every employer to explicitly consider Covid-19 in their risk assessments.
From April, the Government will also update guidance setting out the ongoing steps that people with Covid-19 should take to be careful and considerate of others, similar to advice on other infectious diseases. This will align with testing changes.
The Government has also confirmed that those most vulnerable to Covid-19 will be offered an additional booster vaccine from the spring and six months after their last dose. This decision has been made following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). It covers people aged 75 years and over, residents in care homes for older adults, and people aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed.
Kate Blackburn, Director of Public Health for Wiltshire, said:
“Covid-19 has been with us for two years now and it will continue to be part of our day to day lives, while hopefully allowing us to live normally as much as possible. The Government’s plan doesn’t mark the end of the pandemic, but the start of a new phase that will require us to use our own judgement in deciding the steps to take to protect the health of those around us.
“Covid-19 has taken its toll and we recognise that people are ready to leave it firmly behind and move on with their lives, however, we mustn’t forget that there are those who are much more vulnerable to viruses than others so we ask people to be mindful of that going forward.
“ As a society, there is a much greater awareness of the simple steps we all can take to stop the spread of viruses such as Covid-19, and we’d like people to continue with those behaviours going forward and just to be sensible, as that will help continue to make a positive difference. This includes good hand hygiene and trying to stay away from other people, particularly those who are more vulnerable, if you feel poorly.
“It's important to note though that until the 1st of April, people who test positive are still advised to stay at home, even if the law has changed. Adults and children who test positive are advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for at least five full days and then continue to follow the guidance until they have received two negative test results on consecutive days.
“We have forged and strengthened brilliant working partnerships during the pandemic; from colleagues in health, our public sector partners, and schools and education facilities, and these relationships will continue as we navigate our way through this next phase together.
“We sincerely thank everyone for their support, resilience and commitment up until now and, while we recognise there might be some who are feeling a little anxious about what’s next, we’ll continue to be here for you just as we have been throughout.”
The latest local Covid stats from 4pm on 21 February show that the number of cases in Wiltshire in the last seven days is 3,302.
Keep playing your part
You can still reduce the risk of catching and passing on Covid-19 by:
- Getting vaccinated
- Letting fresh air in if meeting indoors, or meeting outside
- Wearing a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces, especially where you come into contact with people you do not usually meet, when rates of transmission are high
- Trying to stay at home if you are unwell
- Taking a test if you have Covid-19 symptoms
- Staying at home and avoiding contact with other people if you test positive
- Washing your hands and following advice to ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’.