The Prime Minister announced before the half term recess of Parliament that he would reveal how Britain will begin a full recovery back to normality following the pandemic. Ministers are readying themselves to announce the end of free Covid testing for most adults in Britain next week to cut the costs of the pandemic, recent reports claim.
The proposal is to remove eligibility for free testing for all people who are not classed as vulnerable or people who are not in a high-risk setting such as a hospital or care home.
Currently, all adults can order lateral flow tests for free from the Government website, however, eligibility will be cut down dramatically for lateral flow tests and PCR testing is also being scaled back.
It is thought that as the free testing is widely reduced, adults will have to pay £100 if they want to test themselves for coronavirus.
It has also been proposed by the PM to scrap compulsory isolation rules a full month earlier than he had planned to.
The statement will be announced next week once parliament returns from recess, and it is thought the “Living Safely with Covid Strategy” will be effective as soon as March.
Boris Johnson said: “It is my intention to return on the first day after the half term recess to present our strategy for living with Covid.”
He added: “Provided the current encouraging trends in the data continue, it is my expectation that we’ll be able to end the last domestic restrictions, including the legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive, a full month early.”
The plans have received criticism from many areas including the UK Health and Security Agency, who have warned for the need of caution as PCR testing has helped measure Covid levels within the community and to track and identify new variants of the virus.
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No 10 have said: “We’d expect anyone with an infectious disease to take steps not to spread that disease further – a colleague at work with flu, for example.”
Some have argued that it would be impossible for the asymptomatic to know if they are infectious and therefore are unable to protect others as well as they could do if they were aware.
The proposed change in Covid regulations is welcomed by the Treasury and Chancellor Rishi Sunak who have pressurised ministers due to the amount of spending the testing costs and the impact isolation has on the economy.
Other plans as part of the strategy include winding down the Covid monitoring programme by the Office for National Statistics that samples the population every week to estimate the spread of the virus.
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Boris is confident the booster jabs and vaccine rollout has been effective enough that alongside the decline in deaths, hospitalisations and cases of Covid, it is a safe time to lift the remaining restrictions.
The UK Health and Security Agency has asked for free tests to be provided for all until the start of April at the earliest, due to concerns of the expense of people potentially having to buy their own test kits.
In light of ‘operation save big dog’ and ‘operation red meat’, Delyth Jewell, MS for Plaid Cymru condemned the Prime Minister during Question Time on Thursday saying: “We need to make decisions motivated by facts.
“I think everyone can tell this decision has not been made with the facts in mind and really I think it is quite distasteful that the Prime Minister is willing to imperil people’s lives in order to save his own skin politically.”