The Plan B Covid rules, which had been launched to tackle the spread of the Omicron variant, are no longer required across England, Mr Johnson told the House of Commons today (January 19). This brings to an end the need to work from home and the use of Covid-19 passports for large venues.
For students at secondary schools in England, face masks do not need to be worn in the classroom. Rules on wearing masks in communal school areas will be dropped at a later date.
Mr Johnson said:
"Today's latest ONS data shows infection levels are falling in England and while there are some places where cases are likely to continue rising, including in primary schools, our scientists believe it is likely that the Omicron wave has peaked nationally.
"Having looked at the data carefully, the Cabinet concluded that once regulations lapse the Government will no longer mandate the wearing of face masks anywhere.
"From tomorrow, we will no longer require face masks in classrooms and the Department for Education will shortly remove national guidance on their use in communal areas.
"In the country at large we will continue to suggest the use of face coverings in enclosed or crowded spaces, particularly when you come into contact with people you don't normally meet - but we will trust the judgment of the British people and no longer criminalise anyone who chooses not to wear one."
Teaching unions have voiced concern about the announcement for schools. Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said,
"Schools and colleges are still feeling the impact of Covid-19. The latest ONS infection survey update shows 1 in 10 primary age pupils have Covid-19. While the trend amongst secondary aged children is down it is however uncertain, due to the short time schools have been back since the Christmas holidays, that this trend will continue.
"Such uncertainty could lead to a pronounced risk of increased disruption with children and staff having to isolate."