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As of Thursday 20th January face masks in school are no longer required.

In Prime Ministers Question times on Wednesday 19th January, Boris Johnson announced that England would be moving from plan B to plan A to reflect the fact that the Omicron wave has peaked.  So, what does that mean for everyday life?

Do I still have to wear a face mask?

From 27th January, the government will no longer mandate the wearing of face masks anywhere.  This means that it will no longer be a criminal offence to not to wear one without an exemption.

Some businesses and organisations such as transport operators or shops may still request that people wear them, which means you may be refused access.  The TFL required people to wear face coverings the last time the UK went into Plan A.

The government has also said that they  “will continue to suggest the use of face coverings in enclosed or crowded places, particularly where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet”.

What is happening with face masks in schools?

For children, though, it will be a bit earlier with classrooms not mandating mask-wearing from the 20th.  This is in line with the national guidance from the Department of Education which recommends an end to face mask use in communal areas in schools.

Some schools will be able to recommend the use of face masks in school when there may be a local outbreak, but they can only do this for a limited time.

Do I still need a vaccine certificate?

From the 27th mandatory Covid status certification will end, but some organisations can use the NHS Covid pass voluntarily.

The government is also reviewing the definition of fully vaccinated, and may decide to increase this from two jabs to three.

Can I still work from home?

Work-from-home guidance has been lifted.  People are recommended to talk with their employers about returning to working in the office.

Can I visit a care home?

Yes!  Care home visits are back on and we will know more over the coming days.

Do I have to self-isolate if I catch covid?

Self-isolation is still a legal requirement for people who have tested positive, however, from  17 January the isolation period was reduced from seven to five days, provided that you receive two negative tests on the fourth and fifth days.

The Prime Minister has said that he plans to remove the need to self-isolate on 24 March.  People will then be given the power to choose when to self-isolate and make choices based on their own judgment.  This mirrors advice given to people who have the flu and places the power back with the people.

What does it mean for travel?

So far there haven’t been any updates on travel and travel procedures.  While pre-departure tests have been scrapped, fully vaccinated travelers must book a PCR or lateral flow test ahead of their trip to England to be taken within 48 hours of arrival.

Those who are not vaccinated must test 48 hours in advance and quarantine for 10 days, with tests on days two and eight. Testing is still in place for travel to some other countries but rules vary.

Are we getting back to normality? 

From the Prime Ministers’ speech yesterday it sounds like the UK is going back to life before Covid!  While some may argue that we are moving too quickly and face another outbreak, it appears that the government is letting the UK use their common sense when it comes to Covid.

 

Do you think we are moving out of Plan B too quickly?  Tell us in the comment section below.

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