Boris Johnson has scrapped England’s Plan B Covid restrictions, which include a call to work from home if possible and for mandatory face masks in indoor public settings.
They also included mandatory Covid certificates for large events and night clubs.
From next Wednesday the restrictions, brought in last month to slow the spread of Omicron, will be axed.
“This morning the cabinet concluded because of the extraordinary booster campaign, together with the way the public has responded to the Plan B measures, we will return to Plan A in England and allow Plan B regulations to expire,” Johnson told MPs.
“In the country at large, we will continue to suggest the use of face coverings in enclosed or crowded places, particularly where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet. But we will trust the judgement of the British people and no longer criminalise anyone who chooses not to wear one.”
Johnson said that restrictions around self-isolation will remain, but that they will end in March “or sooner if the data allows”.
The UK recorded 94,432 Covid cases yesterday, which brought the seven-day average below 100,000 for the first time since 23 December.
There are also signs hospitalisations are starting to dip, while the amount of patients in intensive care has only very slightly increased since the start of the Omicron wave.
This has been attributed to the UK’s large take-up of the booster jab and the fact that Omicron is also less deadly than previous Covid variants.
The restrictions had been extremely unpopular among Tory MPs, with more than 100 refusing to vote for them last December.
Matthew Fell, CBI chief policy director, said: “It’s great news that Plan B is coming to an end and businesses will be hopeful that we are finally starting to turn the corner on Covid-19.
“There’s a vital need now for greater consistency in how we live with the virus in the longer term. Swinging back and forth between restrictions and normality has been damaging.
“The government must start to prioritise Covid infrastructure over interventions. That means relying more on free testing, vaccines and anti-virals.”
Business lobby group London First said: “The impact of restrictions was so stark for many firms in the run up to Christmas and beyond, so support should continue and be extended to longer-term business rates relief and VAT reductions to help those hit hardest.
“The Prime Minister is right to urge caution – no one wants to see another return of restrictions – and it would be prudent to keep face masks on public transport to boost confidence as people return to their workplaces.”