Betting Omicron has peaked, British PM Johnson set to lift COVID rules


LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to finish most COVID-19 measures launched to curb the speedy unfold of the Omicron variant in England as he appears to be like to reside with the virus and absolutely reopen the financial system after an obvious peak in circumstances.

Britain was the primary nation to restrict worldwide journey over the Omicron variant, elevating alarm bells about its mutations, and in December launched work from home recommendation, extra mask-wearing and vaccine passes to gradual its unfold.

But whereas circumstances soared to file highs, hospitalisations and deaths haven’t risen by the identical extent, partly due to Britain’s booster rollout and the variant’s lesser severity.

Health minister Sajid Javid mentioned on Tuesday Britain had probably reached the height in each circumstances and hospitalisations, with the so-called Plan B measures due to expire in per week.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll have the ability to considerably cut back measures subsequent week,” Javid mentioned in parliament.

Johnson will handle parliament on Wednesday on subsequent steps for Plan B and hopes to reset his agenda following furore over the lockdown gatherings at his workplace, which has some in his social gathering plotting to take away him.

Johnson admitted he attended a gathering within the backyard of his Downing Street workplace and residence in May 2020 whereas social mixing was banned.

The lifting of Plan B measures, together with Johnson’s navigation of Omicron with out resorting to stringent lockdown, may assist him appease vocal opponents of restrictions in his personal social gathering amid the social gathering unrest.

“Decisions on the subsequent steps stay finely balanced,” a authorities spokesperson mentioned.

“The Omicron variant continues to pose a major menace and the pandemic isn’t over. Infections stay excessive however the newest knowledge is encouraging, with circumstances starting to fall.”

Johnson has confronted criticism for his dealing with of the pandemic general, and Britain has reported 152,513 deaths, the seventh highest whole globally.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout and Andrew MacAskill; modifying by Guy Faulconbridge)

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