Boris Johnson on the verge of lifting coronavirus restrictions in England

LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was expected on Monday to announce plans to lift remaining restrictions on the coronavirus in England, including a legal requirement that those who test positive self-isolate, leaving the country out of control in its handling of the pandemic. .

Johnson’s statement, due for Monday afternoon, comes at a time when case numbers have fallen but a day after Buckingham Palace announced that Queen Elizabeth II tested positive He had mild cold symptoms.

Some critics say the news underscores the dangers of moving too quickly to remove restrictions, while political opponents say decisions are being made in Downing Street to divert attention from Police investigation On whether Mr Johnson has broken his own coronavirus laws.

Before the announcement, Johnson’s aides said the prime minister would devise a strategy for coping with the coronavirus, rather than declaring the pandemic over.

Mr Johnson said in remarks released by the office. headquarters. center.

He added that the announcement “represents a proud moment after one of the most difficult periods in our country’s history as we begin to learn how to live with Covid.”

The rules will only apply to England although it was not clear exactly when they would start. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own powers over health issues and set their own rules.

Mr Johnson’s government said so while intending to To cancel the legal requirement In England for those who test positive to self-isolate, she will still be urging them to stay at home to prevent the spread of the virus and protect the vulnerable.

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The government is also planning to scale back the country’s costly coronavirus testing programme, a move even some lawmakers have voiced from Mr Johnson themselves, with concerns that it could restrict the availability of free tests. And on Monday, a cabinet discussion on the details of that move was adjourned at the last minute amid news reports of jitters over the ongoing costs of the coronavirus measures.

Tim Lawton, a Conservative MP, said the country must “learn to live with Covid and not shut everything down and back off until it’s gone”. But he told the BBC he had “slight concerns that I think we still need to do tests on a large scale, because I think that is the reassurance that people can have that they have taken all possible precautions and that they don’t want to infect others”.

Ahead of Mr Johnson’s statement, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Monday that a second booster vaccine would be offered to adults 75 and over, people living in care homes and those 12 and over with conditions that suppress their immunity. systems.

“We know that immunity to Covid-19 is starting to wane over time,” Mr. Javid said in a statement. This is why we are offering a spring boost to those people at risk of contracting the dangerous Covid-19 virus to ensure they maintain a high level of protection. So far, nearly 38 million Britons have obtained all three snapshots that have already been submitted.

The current restrictions were due to expire on March 24 and, given his precarious political position, Mr Johnson may have struggled to persuade lawmakers from his Conservative Party to agree to any extension of the legal requirements for self-isolation, with fines imposed on those. Who breaks the rules.

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Some members of Johnson’s libertarian wing are likely to pressure the government to withdraw its current directive for people to wear face coverings in crowded and confined spaces, given the waning case numbers.

The Latest available stats It showed 25,696 daily cases and 74 deaths within 28 days of testing positive.

The opposition Labor Party called on the government to publish the scientific evidence behind its decision.

“Now is not the time to start charging for tests or undercutting patient pay, as people are still being asked to act responsibly,” said Wes Streeting, who speaks for Labor on health issues.

He also accused the prime minister of making the expected announcement on Monday to divert attention from a crisis over his leadership and a police investigation into allegations that parties were held in Downing Street during the lockdown.

“Boris Johnson declares victory before the war ends, in an effort to distract police from knocking on his door,” Strange said in a statement.

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