Covid: Sajid Javid says public need to get used to ‘living with Covid’ in the same way people live with flu

The Health Secretary spoke in a press conference to confirm the changes to restrictions in England which the Prime Minister had announced earlier during PMQs

Sajid Javid has said that the public will need to get used to “living with Covid” in the same way they they live with flu, as restrictions begin to ease in England.

The Health Secretary spoke in a press conference, confirming details of the easing of rules after Boris Johnson made the announcement at PMQs earlier today (19 January).

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The country will ease Plan B restrictions which were introduced in early December to combat the Omicron wave.

He added that the government will be looking towards creating a plan which will allow the country to “live with Covid” in the coming months.

At a glance: 5 key points

  • Sajid Javid has confirmed the easing of Plan B Covid restrictions in England after it was announced earlier in the day that the country was to move back Plan A guidance
  • The Health secretary set out in detail the rules which were to be repealed, including mandatory face masks, Covid passes and working from home guidance
  • He also said that the government will be looking towards creating a plan for “living with Covid” in the Spring
  • Mr Javid told the public that they should eventually expect to live with Covid in the same way they live with flu
  • England is set to move back to Plan A guidance from next week

Public must ‘live with Covid in the same way we live with flu’

The Health Secretary used the press conference to confirm the announcement which the Prime Minister had made in parliament earlier in the day.

From 19 to 27 January, Plan B restrictions will be rolled back in England with the country returning to Plan A guidance.

A work from home requirement has been scrapped from 19 January, with mandatory face masks in secondary schools removed from 20 January.

Mandatory face masks in every other venue and Covis pass requirement to access events and nightlife will be relaxed from 27 January.

Mr Javid described the move as a “major milestone” of the pandemic but warned that the virus will not disappear.

He said: “It’s not the end of the road and we shouldn’t see this as the finish line because we cannot eradicate this virus and its future variants.

“Instead we must learn to live with Covid in the same way we have to live with flu.”

The Health Secretary said that the government would be producing a “long-term plan for living with Covid-19” in the Spring and detailed some of the “pharmaceutical defences” which will help to deliver this plan.

He said: “The way we are going to do this is we’re going to have to find a way to remove almost all of these restrictions and get life completely back to normal but with one or two really big things that I think will be there for a while.

“That is I think probably the need to vaccinate, I can’t tell you how often that will be, but I think vaccinations will remain hugely important just as we have to have annual vaccinations protecting older people against flu.

“I think antivirals and treatments will continue to play a big role, especially for those that might be more exposed, and I think testing, it’s great where we are today with testing and I think it will improve over time.

“These pharmaceutical defences of the vaccines, antivirals, monoclonal antibodies, and testing, I think they will be the cornerstone of our future defences.”

Prime Minister has been ‘vindicated’ by focus on boosters

Mr Javid said that the reason the country was able to repeal the measure was down to the Prime Minister’s focus on the booster programme.

He said: “The central decision that he made which was to absolutely focus on boosters has been vindicated.

“That is the main reason that we are where we are today because the Prime Minister made those decisions.”

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