Covid self-isolation rules in England set to be removed by the end of next week

ITV News Political Reporter Harry Horton on the plans to remove all Covid rules in England from next week

Covid self-isolation rules in England are set to be removed from next week as Boris Johnson sets out his "Living with Covid" plan.

The PM is expected to confirm that all coronavirus restrictions will end in the coming days, as we rely on vaccines and anti-virals to combat the virus.

He told the BBC: “I’m not saying that we should throw caution to the winds, but now is the moment for everybody to get their confidence back.”

Just hours later it was announced that Her Majesty the Queen had tested positive for Covid and was experiencing mild cold-like symptoms.

Mr Johnson accepted in his interview with the BBC that coronavirus "remains dangerous if you’re vulnerable and if you’re not vaccinated, but we need people to be much more confident and get back to work".

However there has been hesitancy among some scientists to end virus restrictions completely, as infection numbers are still in their thousands.

A total of 34,377 coronavirus cases were recorded on Saturday in the UK - the majority of those in England.

Ahead of publishing his 'living with Covid' plan, which is due to be set out on Monday, Mr Johnson said: “Covid will not suddenly disappear, and we need to learn to live with this virus and continue to protect ourselves without restricting our freedoms.

"We’ve built up strong protections against this virus over the past two years through the vaccine rollouts, tests, new treatments, and the best scientific understanding of what this virus can do.

“Thanks to our successful vaccination programme and the sheer magnitude of people who have come forward to be jabbed we are now in a position to set out our plan for living with Covid this week.”

The current self-isolation rules in England are if you test positive for Covid or develop the main symptoms of coronavirus, you must self-isolate for 10 days or fully-vaccinated people can end self-isolation early following two negative lateral flow tests on days five and six.

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The ramping up of Covid testing or future vaccine programmes will be used if a new variant emerges, but the government will be guided by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) if further vaccinations are necessary.

The prime minister had previously told MPs at the beginning of February that he wanted to remove all coronavirus restrictions a full month sooner than planned.

Mr Johnson will present the government's "Living With Covid" strategy when the Commons returns from its recess on February 21.

However Labour has warned against "declaring victory before the war is over in an attempt to distract from the police knocking at his door" - in reference to the ongoing Met Police investigation into parties held in Downing Street during Covid lockdowns.

West Streeting, Shadow Health Secretary, added: "Labour doesn’t want to see restrictions in place any longer than they need to be. The government should publish the evidence behind this decision, so the public can have faith that it is being made in the national interest.

 "Now is not the time to start charging for tests or weaken sick pay, when people are still being asked to behave responsibly.

"Labour's plan for learning to live well with Covid would prepare for new variants and secure our lives, livelihoods and liberties."

The announcement comes as the government plans to scale back but not scrap all free Covid tests.

ITV News understands the so-called “quad” met on Friday - the PM, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Health Secretary Sajid Javid, and chief of staff, Steve Barclay to discuss next week’s “living safely with Covid” plan.

The decision to remove the tests is said to be partly driven by the Treasury wanting to significantly reduce Covid spending from an estimated annual £15bn. 

According to Whitehall officials ministers believe it is too costly to keep free mass testing but that some element of free testing will remain.