BuDS’ Analysis of the Prime Minister’s Commons Statement about Covid-19 Precautions

In a shameful attempt to save his own job, the Prime Minister has announced the rapid ending of ALL precautions against the spread of Omicron in England, including soon even the requirement to self-isolate if infected. The move will prolong the Omicron wave, damage the economy, and lead to more avoidable deaths and hospitalisations, as well as restrict the ability of all clinically-vulnerable people to participate in society. Read on for more.



The following changes have been announced for England:

  • From tomorrow (20 January), face masks in school classrooms will not be required
  • From probably later this week, face masks in communal areas in schools will not be required
  • From 27 January, facemasks will no longer be required anywhere in England, including not on public transport (unless required by the operator themselves).
  • From 27 January, people will no longer be asked to work from home if they can and workers are now expected to “speak to their employers about arrangements for returning to the office.”
  • From 27 January, proof of vaccination status will no longer be required to enter high risk venues like sports stadiums and big events
  • Soon, legal restrictions on visiting care homes will also be removed
  • From 24 March, or earlier if Parliament will vote for it, the legal requirement to self-isolate if you are infected with Covid-19 will also be removed.

The Government intend to publish a strategy for ‘living with Covid’ which will ‘protect our liberty and avoid restrictions’. All Covid controls and precautions in future will be voluntary, so people can decide for themselves if the want to protect others or put them at risk.



Abandoning controls over Omicron is directly against the advice of the Government’s scientific and medical advisors, who called recently for controls to be maintained to help bring about a quicker and more sustainable reduction in the Omicron wave.

The Prime Minister said that he and his political colleagues felt it was safe and reasonable to ignore this advice and abandon all Covid precautions because Covid infection levels were falling and that hospital admissions were now stable. This argument is not valid or indeed honest.

While it is technically true that the percentage of people with Covid across England has just started to slightly decline, infection rates are at an incredibly high level, with 5% (1 in 20) of people infected with Covid. Abandoning controls over Covid now means that Omicron will continue to spread at a very high level and numbers will not decline to safer levels for many weeks. The previous pattern of a sharp but short peak of infection will be replaced by a long period of very high infection levels, ultimately meaning many more people in hospital and dying. Equally, while data does show that hospital admissions stopped increasing in the first week of January, the number of people in hospital with Omicron is at its highest ever level and is likely now to remain high for weeks to come, paralysing the NHS and affecting healthcare for everyone except the rich.

It is quite possible that abandoning controls over Covid will lead to an increase in both infections and hospitalisations, especially as older and clinically-vulnerable people start to catch it in ever-larger numbers now that precautions have been removed.



The Prime Minister is fighting for his political life, with his own backbenchers submitting letters of no confidence to his party chiefs. There is a group of about 60 extremist backbenchers in his own party who might hold the balance of power if a vote of no confidence is held, perhaps as soon as next week. These extremists and their shadowy funders have never believed in the Covid pandemic or the need to save lives, and have consistently called for all controls over Covid-19 to be abolished immediately. By giving this group what they want, however harmful and anti-scientific it is, the PM hopes to increase his chances of hanging on to his job.

It’s important to realise that high levels of Covid infection are bad for the economy as well as for individuals. Businesses and public services will have continuing high levels of staff sickness which affects operations. Hospitality and service business continue to suffer because the majority of people don’t feel safe enough to use bars, theatres, etc. Long Covid will remove hundreds of thousands of workers from the workforce through disability and long-term illness. By removing controls over Covid which would speed up the drop in infections and protect health, the Government has sacrificed the lives, health *and* jobs of everyone in England just to save their own jobs.



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