The latest Covid-19 restrictions will end in England from 26 January, the prime minister announced on Wednesday.
Addressing MPs in the House of Commons, Boris Johnson said scientists now believed the Omicron wave has peaked nationally, while hospital admissions had stabilised.
As a result, so-called Plan B restrictions will not be renewed when they are reviewed on 26 January. The rules, which were brought in late last year to tackle the surge in Omicron cases, include working from home if possible, the mandatory wearing of face coverings and the use of Covid passes.
There will still be a legal recruitment to self-isolate if someone tests positive, but Johnson said there will “soon be a time” when that would also be removed.
The current regulations concerning self-isolation expire on 24 March and Johnson said: “I do not expect to renew them”, noting that he would seek a vote in the Commons to bring that date forward should the data permit.
However, Johnson also warned that people should “remain cautious” during the last weeks of winter, adding. “The pandemic is not over. Omicron is not a mild disease for everyone, especially if you’re not vaccinated.”
He added that data showed that around 90% of people in intensive care had not received booster jabs.
Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, said he would support the relaxation of the Plan B guidance “as long as science says that it is safe”. He also said the government needed a “robust plan to live well with Covid” but questioned “where is it?”.