Boris Johnson plans to lift self-isolation rules in England within weeks – despite warnings from public health experts that the pandemic is “not close” to being over.
Speaking in the Commons on Wednesday, the Prime Minister indicated that laws requiring people in England to self-isolate if they have the virus will be lifted a month earlier than planned.
And he told MPs he will present his plan for “living with Covid” when Westminster returns from a short recess on February 21, with self-isolation rules dropped if the data remains encouraging.
The change would mark a significant divergence from the rules currently in place in Scotland where people are still required to isolate for a period of seven days if they receive a positive coronavirus result.
They are then able to end isolation if they have no fever and record two negative lateral flow tests.
In England, people are currently required to isolate for a period of five days if they have the virus.
Despite calls for Scotland to follow suit in reducing the isolation time, this has so far been ruled out.
Jason Leitch, the country’s national clinical director, earlier warned that Scotland is “not close” to the end of the Covid pandemic.
Despite acknowledging that the situation is a more positive one that it was at the start of the year, Leitch insisted that the pandemic will not end this month.
“You can’t rule out a reverse gear because you don’t know if (another) Delta is coming, or a version of Delta is coming,” he told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme.
“We’re hope we’re heading towards more mild variants and therefore we would never have to go back to what you had, you may have to have a reverse gear.”
Leitch continued: “I am very hopeful, but this is not after the pandemic.
“We’re not close to after the pandemic. We are getting close to the end of Omicron.
“We’re not close to after the pandemic. The WHO think we’re about half way through, so this pandemic won’t end in February.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already announced that the Scottish Government will publish a new strategic framework for dealing with Covid on February 22.
She explained that the document will set out an “approach to managing Covid more sustainably and less restrictively in the remaining phases of the pandemic”.