UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the end of COVID-19 measures introduced to curb the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in England, but three jabs could be the new fully vaccinated.
The United Kingdom was the first country to limit international travel over the Omicron variant, raising alarm bells about its mutations, and in December introduced work-at-home advice, more mask-wearing and vaccine passes to slow its spread.
But while cases soared to record highs, hospitalisations and deaths have not risen by the same extent, in part due to the UK’s booster rollout and the variant’s lesser severity, which has led the UK Prime Minister to announce the end of ‘plan B’ safety measures on 26 January and compulsory self-isolation for people with COVID-19 on 24 March.
These include compulsory mask-wearing on public transport and in shops, guidance to work from home and the showing of vaccine certificates.
Ministers are also set to ditch the COVID-19 testing system for fully vaccinated holidaymakers within days in a move that will the hard-hit travel industry another boost, following on from the removal of pre-return tests and expensive post-arrival PCR swabs earlier this month.
This means that a family of four will save around £80 to £100 ($150-$190) on testing costs.
Right now, returning double-jabbed Britons must take one rapid lateral flow test by day two. If positive, they have to take a confirmatory PCR test and isolate.
There is also talk of the UK bringing in a three-jab rule for entry after the spring. This would mean that travellers who have not received a booster jab could still face testing restrictions, which could be problematic for countries that are behind in the vaccine rollout, such as Australia and New Zealand.
Unvaccinated travellers will remain subject to multiple tests and self-isolation.
Johnson has faced criticism for his handling of the pandemic overall and the UK has reported 152,513 deaths, the seventh-highest total globally.
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