Plan B Covid restrictions removed in ‘important step’ for Derbyshire’s pandemic recovery

The Government announced that its Plan B restrictions to tackle the Omicron variant- including mandatory face coverings and working from home- are to be removed.

By Tom Hardwick
Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 4:09 pm

Boris Johnson told the House of Commons today that the advice to work from home has been dropped, and from Thursday, January 27, mandatory vaccination certificates for nightclubs and large events are no longer required.

From the same date, the wearing of face masks in public places will no longer be mandated and from tomorrow, schoolchildren will not have to wear them in classrooms.

Johnson said: “We will continue to suggest the use of face coverings in enclosed or crowded spaces, particularly when you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet, but we will trust the judgement of the British people and no longer criminalise anyone who chooses not to wear one.”

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street on January 19 (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Johnson also said that the legal requirement to self-isolate after testing positive for Covid was likely to be allowed to lapse when it expires on March 24, and suggested that date could even be brought forward.

"As Covid becomes endemic, we will need to replace legal requirements with advice and guidance, urging people with the virus to be careful and considerate of others.

"The self-isolation regulations expire on March 24, at which point I very much expect not to renew them. Indeed, were the data to allow, I would like to seek a vote in this House to bring that date forward."

Scott Knowles, Chief Executive of the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce, said he was glad that businesses in Derbyshire could begin to recover now that these restrictions were being lifted.

“The introduction of Plan B measures caused great harm to many businesses in industries such as hospitality, leisure and retail over the crucial festive period, so their removal will be hugely welcomed by all those affected.

“More generally, this is a very important step in the economic recovery. The rhetoric of further restrictions surrounding fears over the Omicron variant during the build-up to Christmas had squeezed the brakes on the growth we had experienced in the previous months due to the confusion and loss of confidence it created.

“Today’s announcement should go some way to offering the certainty that businesses have desperately needed to invest and provide the engine for growth that will accelerate the recovery during what we all hope is now the final throes of the pandemic.”

Mr Knowles said that scrapping advice to work from home would provide a real boost for town centre businesses, and urged the Government to end self-isolation for the vaccinated as soon as possible.

“Ending the work from home guidance will also be welcomed by businesses in the city and town centres that rely on footfall from office workers, as well as the office-based firms that are trying to develop a consistent approach to how their employees will work for the long term.

“We would also urge Westminster to do everything it can to bring forward the end of self-isolation requirements for the fully-vaccinated as soon as the data allows, as the loss of key employees has also severely affected businesses across all sectors.”