England to Lift COVID-19 Restrictions, Free Mass Testing

United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Feb. 21 that the COVID-19 restrictions and free mass testing for the general public in England will soon end.

Speaking in parliament, Johnson outlined the government’s plan on “living with COVID,” including ending domestic legal restrictions on Feb. 24 and free mass testing from April 1.

Limited symptomatic testing will remain available for a small number of at-risk groups and to social care staff.

The National Health Service and social care staff will no longer get asymptomatic testing, but it is expected to continue for patients and care home residents.

Schools and other educational facilities will no longer be advised to test twice weekly.

The government will also scrap COVID-19 passes, with no longer recommending certain venues to use them.

The government will also end some of the financial support for those who are unable to work from home after testing positive from March 24.

The government will continue its vaccination program and provide updates on its advice.

Johnson described the rule change as a “moment of pride after one of the most difficult periods in our country’s history.”

“Today is not the day we can declare victory over COVID because this virus is not going away. But it is the day when all the efforts of the last two years finally enabled us to protect ourselves while restoring our liberties in full,” Johnson said in a press conference later in the day.

The announcement came a day after Queen Elizabeth II tested positive for COVID-19 with mild symptoms, according to the Buckingham Palace.

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