Covid: Living with Covid plan will restore freedom, says Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson is due to set out his plans to scrap all remaining Covid legal restrictions in England, including the requirement to isolate. The prime minister is meeting the Cabinet this morning before updating MPs in the Commons. Mr Johnson said the end to restrictions will return people’s freedom and “mark a moment of pride as we begin to learn to live with Covid”. Speaking before Monday’s announcement, Mr Johnson said his plan would bring society “towards a return to normality” after “one of the most difficult periods in our country’s history”.

No 10 said the success of the Covid vaccination programme had put England in a “strong position to consider lifting the remaining legal restrictions”. It added that the pandemic was “not over” and the plan for living with Covid would take a “cautious approach”, which would retain “some surveillance systems and plans for contingency measures which can be stood up if needed to respond to new variants”.

The legal requirement to self-isolate for a fixed period after testing positive in England has been in place ever since mass testing was rolled out. Before that, most Covid testing was limited to people as they arrived in hospital with symptoms, so self-isolation was not an issue. Currently positive or asymptomatic people have to isolate for up to 10 days, but can end their isolation earlier if they register negative lateral flow tests on both days five and six. Mr Johnson has said that Covid testing would take place at a “much lower level” after revealing £2bn was spent on the system in January alone.

Community PCR testing for people with symptoms is expected to stop under the new plan, but it is unclear whether the availability of free lateral flow tests will be reduced.

But Prof Anthony Costello, professor of global health and sustainable development at UCL, told the BBC: “The worry about lifting the legal restrictions is that we are telling not only our population, but the world, that there is really nothing to worry about, that it’s all over when it isn’t.”

More later.

It gets my vote. Let the individual decide for her/himself as to how life is to be lived in the future. If an establishment demands a face covering to enter, then wear one; if not then decide for yourself.


While this is good news, I fear that I have less reason than most to rejoice in it. Having your freedom restored isn’t such a big event when you don’t have much sense of losing it in the first place. My lifestyle isn’t typical, I admit, but the only loss of freedom I felt was the freedom to go into Tesco without a face mask, which also had the knock on loss of freedom to see clearly what I was putting in my trolly, on account of having to identify my desired products through steamed up glasses.

Even that minor loss of freedom was more than made up for by the rather agreeable two months paid absence from work that was gifted to me at the start of the pandemic. I’m pleased for those who have suffered more than I have, though.

Big mistake in my opinion, which is going to lead to a lot of deaths. I suppose once dead we won’t be able to vote against the government. Perhaps that’s the plan! 🪦

It all very well to say the individual should be able to decide for themselves what safeguards to take, but most of the time that’s out of our control

Take public transport, for example. Or rather, don’t take it, because it’s going to be a Covid contagion hotspot

If public transport is your only way to work, then, yeah, you can wear a mask

But you’ve still got to squash in with what will now be a load of non mask wearing, non lateral flow tested people who may well have Covid because they’re no longer required to isolate.

And that could be a death sentence for many and is going to send transmission rates sky high

Same with offices, people have to go to work but now now they’ll get no protection by everyone wearing masks, getting tested or isolating

Just wearing a mask won’t protect you from the contagion load sitting among people who don’t wear masks, don’t know if they’ve got Covid because they haven’t tested or have Covid but aren’t isolation

It’s bound to cause massive outbreaks and some will die, be seriously ill or get and long Covid

And those outbreaks will increase the amount of virus in circulation, leading to those who’ve been able to avoid being exposed to it much, the vulnerable, the elderly, the frail suddenly getting exposed to more of it from contact with people in shops, health care providers, deliveries, relatives etc Also a death sentence for some

It’s just Johnson trying to make himself popular by giving us our “freedom” in an attempt to make us forget partygate. And he doesn’t care who he kills off to do it

I can do without having the freedom to die horribly, thank you very much


You can’t die, Maree, I depend on you for likes, you’ve got responsibilities. :flushed:



That’s my dependable Maree. :mini: :hugs:

1 Like

The chances of dying are probably much slimmer nowadays and serious illness is less of a prospect, but … the chances of infection will increase exponentially. All infections, except those requiring hospital treatment, will now go (mostly) untested and unreported, so, in the event of a new viral arrival, contagion will be instant and far-reaching - no problem if it’s “benign” but if it isn’t … :scream_cat:

The latest UK Summary:

Now or Never for BJ … :102:

According to this report, there was a clash between Sunak and Javid about ending free testing kits -

It was briefly reported by The Telegraph too but they say it has now been resolved - I’ll be watching Boris make his statement in the Commons later.

I think it’s mad to give up testing - not only will people be unaware if they are infectious, it also means the spread can’t be monitored, so no “hot spots” will be identified. :frowning_face:

1 Like

Live Reporting


  1. Boris Johnson announces an end to all Covid restrictions in England, saying the country will now rely on vaccines and treatments
  2. From Thursday, people with a positive test will no longer need to self-isolate and routine contact tracing will end
  3. Free testing will end from 1 April for the general public, including those with symptoms
  4. But most vulnerable will continue to get free tests if they are symptomatic and others will be able to pay for it
  5. Special payments available to those forced to self-isolate will also come to an end

I do not agree with that part. With one wide sweeping statement, he has effectively kicked the self employed in the wallet! I’ll lay good odds that many of the self employed wont isolate and if they spread all sorts of variants, it’s him they’ll blame🤬

So - what’s changing with Covid rules?

Here are more of the details of the rule changes announced today, which all apply to England:

  • The legal requirement to stay at home if you have Covid ends on Thursday

  • Currently, people have to isolate for 10 days - or five full days if they have two negative lateral flow tests

  • People will be advised to stay at home for at least five days - and from 1 April it is down to “personal responsibility” (1)

  • Routine contact tracing will end on Thursday too (2)

  • Self-isolation payments of £500 for those on low incomes are also going to end this week (3)

  • Changes to statutory sick pay and employment support allowance will end on 24 March (4)

  • Employees will no longer have to tell their bosses about their requirement to isolate (5)

  • Free testing for all is coming to an end in April - but people will be able to buy tests instead (6)

  • The rapid tests will be targeted to certain sections of the population, including the most vulnerable(7)

  • Some asymptomatic testing will continue in the most risky settings like social care (8)

  • The Department of Health and Social Care will receive no extra money to deliver testing (9)

  • The Office for National Statistics coronavirus surveillance reports will continue (10)

(1) can of worms
(2) good riddance
(3) there’ll be trouble ahead
(4) more trouble ahead
(5) there’ll be trouble at mill
(6) £30 a test kit?
(7) fairy nuff
(8) not enuff
(9) Dido Harding “blew” all the spare
(10) good

It’s a bad idea to stop all the free testing when we won’t know how many infections there are and the varients. What about the most vulnerable? Who can’t have the vaccine.

1 Like

They can still have the free tests.


The tests will be £30 for a box of 7. Wouldn’t mind betting they’ll also be sold separately for £3 each.

At a cost of £2 billion a month to the Government, I’d rather that money got spent on something else.

1 Like

I agree in principle with most of this, because we have to start living again, and at the moment it seems most people are managing to do this - at the moment. But I’m concerned that free testing will stop. Yes, I get that free LFTs are costing the government enormously, but stopping free PCRs even for those with symptoms, is madness in my opinion.

Because virtually nobody will be reporting LFT results, and free PCR tests will come to an end, even for those with symptoms, I don’t understand what weight the ONS coronavirus surveillance reports will have. There won’t be any accurate means of counting positive cases, because almost no-one will know if they’re positive, and the tiny minority who pay for tests will not give anything like a true picture.

So when other variants appear (and there’s no guarantee they will continue to be mostly mild, like Omicron), how will any surge in cases be identified? I suppose when people start dropping down dead…


I agree to everything that you say @Bathsheba

The COVID-19 Infection Survey (CIS) is the largest regular survey of coronavirus (COVID-19) infections and antibodies, providing vital information to help the UK’s response to the pandemic. Find out all about the survey and what to expect if you are asked to take part.

This survey aims to find out how many people of different ages:

  • are still getting COVID-19, with or without symptoms
  • previously had COVID-19, with or without symptoms
  • have had a strong response to a COVID-19 vaccination

AFAIK, the ONS COVID estimated figures, based on its’ surveys, have been consistently more accurate than the official government figures, which are based on reported cases only.

1 Like

I think test kits should be freely available for longer too.
However, I was glad to hear the Govt have agreed to continue the ONS monitoring, so there will still be some method of detecting surges in the virus and new strains.
As I understand it, monitoring doesn’t rely only on the general public testing with free kits.
There is also the Covid 19 Infection Survey, which monitors a group of people across different areas and age ranges by collecting nose swabs and blood samples for lab testing to estimate the regional spread and areas where it’s surging - plus genome sequencing to detect the emergence of variant strains.
There are various other surveys running too and it’s not clear which of the survey methods will continue but I got the impression that this one will continue, though maybe scaled back in numbers.

Edited to Add: Sorry, I replied to your post before I realised Omah had already replied and has posted something similar.

1 Like