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Wearing a mask indoors in public places, vaccination passport: the last restrictions intended to combat the Covid-19 pandemic are lifted this Thursday in England. Prime Minister Boris Johnson even hopes to be able to lift the obligation to isolate himself in the event of a positive test in March.
England leaves behind on Thursday January 27 almost all of the latest restrictions in force to fight against Covid-19, with which, the government hopes, the population will get used to living as they do with the flu .
After ending a week ago the recommendation to work from home for those who can, England is now abandoning other restrictions – among the lightest in Europe – introduced in December in the face of a surge in Omicron case: obligation to wear a mask indoors in public places and a vaccination passport for events with a large audience.
“As Covid becomes endemic, we must replace legal obligations with advice and recommendations,” Boris Johnson told MPs last week.
Opposed to the lifting of the obligation to wear a mask in public transport, the mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced to maintain this measure in the capital.
More reluctant than the rest of the United Kingdom (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) to implement restrictions, England had, for the first time, lifted them almost entirely on July 19, nicknamed the ” freedom day. But the emergence in the fall of the Omicron variant, even more contagious than Delta, led Boris Johnson’s government to launch its “plan B”, despite the opposition of part of its majority.
Hospitals held up
These measures were intended to strengthen the protection of the population thanks to the recall campaign and to continue to try to convince the recalcitrant to be vaccinated. Thirty-seven million booster doses were thus administered, allowing, underlines the government, to reduce serious cases and hospitalizations and to reduce the pressure on the health system. According to the latest figures, 64% of the population over the age of 12 received a third dose.
As the number of cases exploded over the holidays, Boris Johnson had resisted calls to further toughen the restrictions in place. He believes that the facts proved him right: hospitals held on, the number of patients on ventilators never increased, and cases fell sharply.
However, the United Kingdom, among the countries hardest hit by the pandemic with nearly 155,000 deaths, still experiences nearly 100,000 new cases recorded daily.
The Prime Minister even hopes to be able to lift in March the obligation to isolate themselves in the event of a positive test, “just as there is no legal obligation for people who have the flu to isolate themselves”.