Article updated 30 March 2022
At the end of February 2022, the government announced an end to legal Covid restrictions and plans for society to 'live with Covid'.
From 24 February, people no longer had to legally self-isolate if they tested positive with Covid, and by 1 April, free lateral flow and PCR testing will end for most people.
Reading Borough Council leader Jason Brock said: “As the legal COVID restrictions are lifted we need to take care of each other,” he said. “It may take several years before the threat of new dangerous COVID variants subsides and the virus becomes more predictable.”
For now, people should still wear facemasks while visiting GPs, hospitals and pharmacies.
'Living with Covid' changes
From 24 February
- You no longer legally have to self-isolate if you test positive
- You don't need to self-isolate if you’re a close contact who’s not fully vaccinated
- If you're positive, you’re advised to ‘stay at home if you can’ and avoid others
- Routine contact tracing ends
- The £500 payment scheme for certain people to stay home to isolate, ends
- Staff in adult social care, healthcare, and prisons will get own isolation guidance
- Medicine delivery scheme ends for self-isolating people
From 24 March
- Special Covid statutory sick pay scheme ends and returns to pre-pandemic rules
From 1 April
- Government says it will have new guidance for people who test positive - check here
From 21 February:
- Staff and students in education settings no longer advised to test twice weekly
From 4am, 18 March
- No-one arriving to the UK will need to take tests or fill in passenger locator forms
From 1 April
- Free lateral flow tests and free PCR testing will end for the general public
- The government has published a list of approved PCR test providers here
- A small number of at-risk people (those eligible for Covid antivirals and other treatments, who will be sent a pack of tests and can order replacements)
- NHS staff and social care staff will still be able to get free PCR testing as well as free lateral flow tests
- Shops and pharmacies will sell tests to the public
Full details on free test availability here, published by government on 30 March
- Still available to people who haven’t come forward for 1st, 2nd or booster doses
- Children aged 5-11 can get vaccinated, with parental approval, from April
- A ‘Spring booster’ to be offered soon to over-75s, older care home residents, and immunosuppressed people aged 12 and over
- Autumn booster planned for at-risk people
- Community vaccine ‘champions’ to encourage higher uptake in some areas
- Mandatory vaccination for care home staff revoked and plan for NHS staff stopped
View the government's Living with Covid Plan here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-living-with-covid-19
The Royal Berkshire Hospital has appealed to visitors to keep following ‘hand, space, face’ guidance while Covid is still in circulation.
Local GPs have also appealed to the public. “We know that masks can be irritating, and everyone is fed up with them, but please can we ask you to please bear with us so that we can still welcome those with Covid-related anxieties into the surgery and so we can protect our clinically extremely vulnerable staff,” said Balmore Park Surgery.
Milman Road Surgery said: ‘While we appreciate the frustrations that have been caused by the pandemic and its impact on health services, we ask that we all remain respectful and show kindness.’