British Prime Minister Boris on Monday said he would end all coronavirus restrictions in England including mandatory self-isolation for people with COVID-19 and free testing, drawing scepticism from some scientists and political opponents.
Johnson’s “living with COVID” plan has sparked alarm that it is premature and will leave the country vulnerable to new viral variants, but the government says it has provided more testing than most other countries, and must now curb the cost.
The plan to ditch the remaining legal restrictions is a priority for many of Johnson’s Conservative Party lawmakers, whose discontent over his scandal-ridden leadership has threatened his grip on power. Some critics think the plan is also a bid to divert attention from those scandals.
Britain has reported 160,00 deaths from COVID-19, the seventh-highest death toll in the world.
As Hong Kong builds isolation units and Europe retains social distancing and vaccine rules, Johnson is moving to repeal any pandemic requirements that impinge on personal freedoms, saying it is time the public took responsibility.
Johnson said that the legal requirement to self-isolate for people who test positive for COVID would be removed on Feb. 24 while free universal testing would end on April 1.
The devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have set their own COVID-19 restrictions, but the amount of money they have to spend on testing will flow from decisions made by the UK government.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was scathing on Twitter, writing: “To allow significant dismantling of the testing infrastructure built up in last two years would be inexcusable negligence given ongoing risks.”
Sources: reuters.com– Elizabeth Piper Elizabeth Piper and Alistair Smout
Image Sources: Reuters, cnbc.com