The U.K. will no longer require face masks in certain situations, nor COVID-19 vaccine passports for large events, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Wednesday.
The rules are set to begin next Thursday. Along with nixing vaccine passports for large events, schools will no longer be forced to impose mask mandates on students and masks will no longer be legally required in places of public accommodation, The Associated Press reported.
The nation’s five-day self isolation requirement for the infected remains in place, but is reportedly expected to be lifted before its scheduled expiration March 24.
With regard to compulsory face masks, Johnson said, “we will trust the judgment of the British people and no longer criminalize anyone who chooses not to wear one.”
Johnson eased the restrictions, which were implemented in December around the time of a nationwide surge of Omicron cases, because scientists indicated that the highly contagious variant has already “peaked nationally,” and case rates have either plateaued or decreased in most of England.
“As COVID becomes endemic, we will need to replace legal requirements with advice and guidance, urging people with the virus to be careful and considerate of others,” Johnson continued.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 19, 2022
The rescission of these restrictions comes as Johnson faces public scrutiny for allegedly violating his own COVID protocols. Numerous reports have recently surfaced alleging that he hosted or attended several lockdown-flouting parties over the course of the pandemic. (RELATED: ‘Nobody Warned Me’: UK PM Denies Knowing Party Was Against Lockdown Rules)
In the wake of such allegations, Johnson has faced calls for resignation from members of both the Labour and Conservative parties.
“I expect my leaders to shoulder the responsibility for the actions they take,” Conservative lawmaker David Davis said of the prime minister. “So, I will remind him (Johnson) of a quotation which may be familiar to his ear: Leopold Amery to Neville Chamberlain: ‘You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. In the name of God, go.’ ”