The U.K. ended all its coronavirus restrictions on Thursday, including the legal requirement that people who test positive for COVID-19 isolate at home.
Those who tested positive will still be advised to stay at home for at least five days, according to officials. However, as of Thursday, they are no longer legally required to do so, and those on lower incomes will no longer receive additional financial assistance to compensate for a loss of income due to isolation. The routine tracing of infected individuals’ contacts has also been discontinued.
On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined his Conservative government’s long-term strategy for “living with COVID.”
He stated that Britain is transitioning “from legal restrictions to personal responsibility,” and that the repeal of all domestic legal measures marked the end of two of the country’s darkest years in peacetime history.
The strategy includes plans to drastically reduce free universal coronavirus testing beginning April 1.
Most virus restrictions were already lifted in England in January, following a drop in infection rates and hospitalizations following a surge in late December. Face masks are no longer legally required anywhere, and vaccine passports are no longer required for entry into nightclubs and other venues.
Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, which have their own public health rules, have also opened up, albeit at different rates.
Other European countries, such as Denmark and Sweden, have recently lifted all COVID-19 restrictions as well.
Some have questioned whether it is too soon to abolish all restrictions, particularly isolation laws.
Johnson’s strategy, according to the British Medical Association, fails to protect the most vulnerable people and those most at risk of COVID-19 harm.
In the United Kingdom, 85 percent of people aged 12 and up are fully immunized, with approximately 66 percent having received their third or booster dose.
With over 161,000 recorded deaths, the United Kingdom continues to have Europe’s highest coronavirus toll after Russia.