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Government Update: Living with COVID plan: Key dates – what’s changing in England?

The government has published its plan for living with COVID-19.

Published: 18 February 2022

The government has published its plan for living with COVID-19.

From Monday 21 February 2022:

  • guidance for staff and students in most education and childcare settings to undertake twice weekly asymptomatic testing is dropped

From Thursday 24 February 2022:

  • people who test positive for COVID-19 will no longer be legally required to self-isolate, but will still be advised to stay at home and avoid contact with others for at least five full days.
  • routine contact tracing will end, so fully-vaccinated close contacts and those under 18 years old will no longer be legally required to test daily for seven days or advised to self-isolate.
  • workers will no longer be required to tell their employer if they need to self-isolate.
  • the £500 self-isolation support payment for people on low incomes who test positive for COVID-19 will no longer be available.
  • COVID-19 provisions for increased statutory sick pay will apply for a further month.

From Friday 1 April 2022:

  • free mass symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for the general public will end, and will instead be targeted towards the most vulnerable.
  • people with COVID-19 symptoms will be asked to exercise personal responsibility when deciding whether to stay at home – until then they are still advised to do so.
  • current government guidance on COVID-19 passports will end and it will no longer recommend venues use the NHS COVID Pass.

This plan is for England only. Restrictions remain in place in other parts of the UK.


Free access to testing to end, with some exceptions

Changes to COVID-19 testing – both to rapid lateral flow device (LFD) testing for people with no symptoms and PCR testing for people with symptoms – were announced by the Prime Minister.

From Friday 1 April, free access to all types of COVID-19 testing will end, with some exceptions.

Social care staff and people considered to be most at risk will continue to have free access to the tests.

People deemed ‘at-risk’ are yet to be defined, but it’s likely to include those eligible for antiviral treatments that need to be given early on to try to prevent hospitalisation.

But the majority of the public will not be able to find out if they have coronavirus unless they pay privately for tests.

And instead, it will be up to those who feel unwell to decide whether to stay at home, as they do for other infections.

There will remain, however, an ability to ramp testing back up, if considered to be required.

Extra booster this spring for over 75s and high risk

An additional booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will be offered to all adults over 75 years old, and to the most vulnerable over-12 year olds in the UK this spring.

Vaccine advisers say the extra dose will help top up their protection against severe COVID-19.

And according to the BBC, an autumn COVID-19 booster programme, aimed at a wider group of people, is also planned later this year.

Until now, only people with weakened immune systems have been eligible for a fourth dose.

But this spring, fourth doses, given six months after their last dose, will be available to:

  • adults aged 75 years old and over
  • residents in care homes for older adults
  • people aged 12 years old and over who are immunosuppressed or have weakened immune systems

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) says that vaccinating these groups is a ‘precautionary’ move and does not mean there is any current danger to their health.

‘Look out for each other,’ urges Devon’s Director of Public Health

Public Health experts are appealing to the public to ‘continue looking out for each other’, by being cautious and following coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance over the next few months.

The Director of Public Health, Steve Brown, made his comments following the Prime Minister’s announcement that the legal requirement for people with coronavirus to self-isolate is to be removed this week. Changes were also announced bringing an end to the mass availability of COVID-19 testing for people with or without symptoms.

Steve Brown said:

“It is vital that people continue to look out for each other, and do all they can to reduce risk, especially to those who are more vulnerable.

“That means being respectful of other people’s concerns and personal situations.

“The public health advice is that anyone who tests positive for coronavirus, or who shows symptoms of having it, including a high temperature or cough, should stay at home and avoid contact with others. The same can be said for any other infectious illness, such a flu, or vomiting and diarrhoea.

“We need to get to a place whereby it’s commonly accepted that when someone’s not well and there’s risk of spreading that virus, that they stay home to reduce the risk of transmission to others.”

Meanwhile, groups that champion and support the needs of vulnerable people have spoken out in concern about the removal of COVID-19 restrictions.

Diana Crump, CEO of Living Options Devon, said:

“We are hearing from people who we support that they’re worried what the removal of the self-isolating legislation will mean for them.

“The concern is that without the legal requirement, many people who have coronavirus, knowingly or not, will be out and about, and the airborne nature of the virus means infection and spread is very likely.

HM GovernmentOur plan for living with Covid

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