Prime minister credits booster shots for slowing spread of omicron variant
England is ending its mask mandate, effective today.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the easing of restrictions Wednesday.
“We will trust the judgment of the British people and no longer criminalize anyone who chooses not to wear one,” Mr. Johnson said.
And the British government is saying people no longer need to work remotely at home and can go back to the workplace in England. In addition, masks won’t be required in English secondary schools starting today.
In addition to the end of the mask mandate, the government won’t require COVID-19 passports anymore at large events and gatherings, such as those at nightclubs and other venues, the BBC reported. (But Mr. Johnson said organizations could insist on them at their venues.)
Elsewhere in the United Kingdom, Scotland and Wales also have eased restrictions. Each nation within the U.K. establishes its own COVID-19 policies.
The restrictions originally went into place in early December to prevent the spread of the omicron variant. Mr. Johnson said those restrictions succeeded in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
Mr. Johnson explained to lawmakers that the restrictions are being eased because the number of omicron-caused cases have “peaked nationally.” He credited Britain’s successful campaign in getting people to take booster shots.
According to the government’s official numbers, COVID-19 infections have dropped in most parts of the United Kingdom since early December. England reported 108,069 cases Wednesday, roughly half the daily number during the holidays.
Still, some scientists disagreed with the end of the mandate. In a story on Voice of America’s website, University of Warwick virologist Lawrence Young called it risky, in the face of high levels of infection.
The restrictions were eased in England as infections began to level off. But hospitals in northern England continue to see a high number of cases.
The mask mandate will remain in effect in England for those infected with COVID-19. According to the BBC, that particular mandate will continue until March 24.