Yesterday (21 Feb), the Prime Minister announced a plan to safely live with and manage COVID-19. This plan includes four main pillars:
- Removing domestic restrictions, while encouraging safer behaviours through public health advice
- Protecting the vulnerable through pharmaceutical interventions and testing, in line with other viruses
- Maintaining resilience against future variants, including through ongoing surveillance, contingency planning and the ability to reintroduce key capabilities such as mass vaccination and testing in an emergency
- Securing innovations and opportunities from the COVID-19 response
The public are encouraged to continue to follow public health advice, however yesterday, the Prime Minister confirmed that all domestic legal restrictions will end on Thursday (24 Feb) as we begin to treat COVID-19 as other infectious diseases, such as flu.
This means that from Thursday (24 Feb):
- The remaining domestic restrictions in England will be removed
- You will no longer be legally required to self-isolate if you test positive for COVID-19. New guidance (not yet published) will advise people who test positive to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for at least five full days, and then continue to follow the guidance until they have received two negative test results on consecutive days
- You will no longer be legally required to self-isolate if you are an unvaccinated close contact, and will no longer be advised to test for seven days if you are a fully vaccinated close contact.
- New guidance will set out precautions for reducing risk to yourself and others
- Self-isolation support payments, national funding for practical support and the medicine delivery service will no longer be available
- Routine contact tracing, including venue check-ins on the NHS COVID-19 app, will end
From 1 April, the Government will:
- Update guidance setting out the ongoing steps that people with COVID-19 should take to be careful and considerate of others, similar to advice on other infectious diseases. This will align with testing changes
- Remove the current guidance on voluntary COVID-status certification in domestic settings and no longer recommend that certain venues use the NHS COVID Pass
- No longer provide free universal symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public in England
- Remove the health and safety requirement for every employer to explicitly consider COVID-19 in their risk assessments
How to stay safe and prevent the spread of the virus
The Prime Minister has announced these changes to encourage us to move towards life beyond the pandemic, as safely as possible. However, it’s important to remember that there are still things we can all do to keep protecting ourselves and others as much as we can. This includes:
- Getting your COVID-19 vaccine, including your booster vaccine, as soon as possible if you haven’t already done so
- Regularly washing your hands with soap or hand sanitiser
- Letting fresh air into enclosed spaces
- Wearing a face covering in crowded or enclosed spaces
Vaccine clinics in Swindon
Yesterday, the Prime Minister also announced that an autumn annual booster programme is under consideration, subject to further advice. The Government has accepted the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s (JCVI) recommendation to offer an additional booster to all adults aged over 75, all residents in care homes for older adults, and all over 12s who are immunosuppressed.
For now, you can visit the NHS website to book a first, second and third booster dose of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. This week we will also be holding two walk-in vaccine clinics in Swindon, offering first, second and booster vaccine doses:
- Today (22 Feb) from 10am to 6pm – Sanford House, Sanford Street, Swindon, SN1 1HE
- Thursday (24 Feb) from 9am to 4pm – St Luke’s Hall, Broad St, Swindon SN1 2DS
Swindon residents who are experiencing financial hardship or who have mobility issues and no practical means to get to a local vaccination centre, can still book a free return taxi journey to a COVID-19 vaccination site until the end of March.