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Lancashire Times
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12:15 AM 24th January 2022
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England Returns To Some Sort Of Normality From 27 January 2022

image by pixabay
image by pixabay
Now that England will fully return to Plan A from Thursday 27 January thanks to the success of the booster programme, ministers are urging anyone who has still not had a top-up jab to come forward and Get Boosted Now.

The Prime Minister announced a move to Plan B on 8 December following the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

The measures introduced helped to control the spread of COVID-19, bought time to assess the variant and allowed the NHS to rapidly expand the booster programme to strengthen defences.

While vaccinations remain a priority, the success of the vaccination programme so far means we are now able to cautiously return to Plan A in England.

From Thursday 27 January:

venues and events will no longer be required by law to use the NHS COVID Pass. The NHS COVID Pass can still be used on a voluntary basis as was previously the case in Plan A

face coverings are no longer required by law in any setting. Public health guidance will remain in place, suggesting individuals should continue to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces, where you may come into contact with people you do not normally meet

the Department for Education will remove national guidance on the use of face coverings in communal areas, with local directors of public health able to recommend the use of face coverings in education settings across their area only where the department and public health experts judge the measure to be proportionate due to specific health concerns. This is a temporary measure and directors of public health continue to advise individual settings experiencing outbreaks

any local introduction of face coverings must be subject to routine review and removed at the earliest opportunity

Throughout the pandemic, the government has maintained a balanced approach to COVID-19 measures, considering the freedoms of individuals together with the public health concerns of COVID-19. Although the government is able to remove blanket restrictions, prevalence of COVID-19 is still high with over 16,000 people in hospital in England with the infection. As such, individuals, employers and local leaders are urged to act cautiously and consider the risk of COVID-19 when moving back to Plan A. The guidance on GOV.UK will be updated accordingly.

Due to the success of the booster programme, with over 30.5 million boosters given in England, the situation continues to improve.

The latest data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows that getting a booster is 89% effective in preventing hospitalisation from COVID-19 from 2 weeks after it is administered and is 65 to 75% effective against symptomatic infection from Omicron.

Vaccinations remain our best defence against COVID-19 and in December the Prime Minister launched a national appeal to Get Boosted Now. The government met its target of offering every eligible adult a booster jab by Christmas and now more than 4 in 5 (81%) of eligible adults in England have had their booster.

Over 90% of people aged 12 and above have had their first dose and over 83% have had their second. The government recently provided an extra £22.5 million to councils for Community Vaccine Champions to help drive uptake in harder-to-reach communities.

The vaccine programme is being bolstered by the development of world-leading antiviral treatments. In December, the Prime Minister confirmed a new national PANORAMIC study where 10,000 UK patients at risk of serious illness from COVID-19 will be given molnupiravir to treat their symptoms at home.

Testing also remains a vital tool in controlling the spread of COVID-19 and has allowed the government to take a proportionate approach to restoring individual freedoms.

Thanks to the accessibility of lateral flow tests, people self-isolating with COVID-19 can now end their isolation after 5 full days, provided they test negative on day 5 and 6. Contacts who are fully vaccinated can also avoid isolation by testing daily with lateral flow tests and most of those who test positive on a lateral flow test no longer have to confirm their case with a PCR test.

The government is no longer asking people to work from home if they can. People should speak to their employers about arrangements for returning to the office, and should follow the Working Safely guidance.
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-covid-19

The government will set out a long-term strategy for living with COVID-19 in due course.