Lifting the remaining Covid restrictions in England is “a moment of pride” for the country, Boris Johnson has declared.
Cabinet will this morning sign off on the government’s “Living With Covid” strategy, which the prime minister will announce to MPs in the afternoon before addressing the nation at a Downing Street press conference.
It will mean the legal requirement to self-isolate after testing positive will be dropped.
Controversially, Johnson is also expected to announce that access to free Covid tests will be scaled back.
Appearing on the BBC’s Sunday Morning show, the PM said esting would be taking place at a “much lower level” in future.
Under the government’s plan, individual personal responsibility will replace state intervention as the way in which England will deal with the virus in future.
Speaking ahead of the cabinet meeting, Johnson said: “Today will mark a moment of pride after one of the most difficult periods in our country’s history as we begin to learn to live with covid.
“It would not be possible without the efforts of so many – the NHS who delivered the life-saving vaccine rollout at phenomenal speed, our world-leading scientists and experts, and the general public for their commitment to protecting themselves and their loved ones.
“The pandemic is not over, but thanks to the incredible vaccine rollout we are now one step closer towards a return to normality and finally giving people back their freedoms while continuing to protect ourselves and others.”
More than 81 per cent of adults have now received a booster dose in England, while Covid cases are continuing to fall after the record highs caused by the Omicron variant.
However, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) have warned that lifting restrictions could lead to a “rapid” rise in cases if new variants emerge in future.
Meanwhile, Labour have also accused Johnson of lifting the restrictions as a way of appeasing his own backbenchers, rather than following the scientific data.
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said he was “particularly concerned” about phasing out free lateral flow tests.
“It’s a bit like being to one up with 10 minutes left to play and subbing your best defender,” he told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips.
“We are not out of the woods yet on Covid. It’s important that when the government publishes its plan for living with Covid tomorrow that is a robust plan that enables everyone to live well with Covid.
“Access to free testing right now, given the prevalence of the virus, given the fact we’re still asking people to isolate at home if they have the virus if they’re infectious, is a really critical tool.
“Acting on sick pay would also make an enormous difference.”