What is Plan A? Covid rules after Plan B restrictions end, key dates and Boris Johnson announcement explained

The Prime Minister announced England will soon be scrapping Plan B Covid restrictions which were introduced in December 2021 in response te the Omicron wave

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Plan B restrictions are to be scrapped in England, the Prime Minister has announced.

Boris Johnson told PMQs today that the rules, which were introduced in December to curb rapidly rising Omicron cases, will be removed in response to steadily declining infections.

However, Covid guidance will not disappear altogether after Plan B is scrapped, with the government reverting back to Plan A advice.

Here’s exactly what you need to know about the new Covid rules in England.

What does the end of Plan B restrictions in England mean?

Mr Johnson made the announcement in parliament on Wednesday (19 January) that Plan B restrictions will be scrapped.

His announcement focused on a range of measures which had been introduced to combat the Omicron crisis which gripped the UK in December and early January.

One of the key measures being removed is mandatory face masks in public areas.

This means that people will no longer be fined for not wearing a face mask in places such as public transport.

Schoolchildren will also no longer be expected to wear face coverings while in school.

The Prime Minister also said the government was scrapping working from home guidance effective immediately, with employees able to return to offices and workplaces as normal.

The compulsory use of Covid passes, which show the vaccination status of the user, to access venues such as stadiums and nightclubs will also be removed, although Mr Johnson did state that venues could choose to still use this measure if they wish.

(Credit: Mark Wilson/JPIMedia) (Credit: Mark Wilson/JPIMedia)
(Credit: Mark Wilson/JPIMedia)

There were no immediate changes to the self-isolation rules, although the Prime Minister did state that rules on this will expire on 24 March and the overnment may bring this date forward in the future.

The last announcement on self-isolation came as the time period was cut to five days if the person who tested positive produces a negative lateral flow test on day five and six.

However, Mr Johnson did say that self-isolation could be removed altogether in the future, adding: “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.”

Restrictions on care homes will be relaxed, although more information on the rules and the date of this is still to be detailed by the government.

When will Plan B rules end?

There will be staggered dates for the scrapping of Plan B measures in England.

The key dates are:

  • 19 January - the immediate removal of working from home guidance
  • 20 January - the removal of mandatory face masks in secondary schools
  • 27 January - the removal of mandatory face masks in remaining venues, and the scrapping of a mandatory Covid pass for large events and nightlife venues

What is the government’s Plan A?

The relaxing of Plan B rules means that the government will be moving back towards Plan A, which had been in place in England prior to the strengthening of the rules in early December.

In Plan A, the focus is on the booster and vaccine rollout as the first line of defence against Covid-19, as well as advice and guidance as opposed to mandatory rules.

Children aged between 12 and 15-years-old will continue to be offered the vaccine, as well as those who are not already jabbed, and everyone will be encouraged to get a flu jab.

Free PCR tests will continue and lateral flow test will still be made freely available.

Advice from the UK Government will encourage proper ventilation indoors when meeting with others, and encouraging the use of face coverings in crowded places.

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