Covid measures such as tests were never intended to be part of daily life, Sajid Javid says

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said Covid measures were not meant to stay in place

Sajid Javid today admitted he will continue to wear a face mask on busy trains and urged ill workers to stay at home in the post-Covid era.

Despite masks no longer being compulsory in public settings in England, the Health Secretary said he would still cover up on a ‘packed’ London Tube because cases are still high.

He also called on people to take more ‘personal responsibility’ over their decisions, saying workers should ‘stay away from others’ and no longer battle into the office if they feel unwell.

Boris Johnson last night hailed the end of the ‘darkest, grimmest years in our peace-time history’ as he confirmed the final Covid curbs would be axed.

After almost two years of on-off lockdowns, the PM revealed that all remaining legal restrictions will be lifted at midnight tomorrow. 

The requirement to self-isolate for at least five days after testing positive for Covid is being dropped, and free testing — thought to cost No10 £2billion a month — will end on April 1 for all but the elderly and vulnerable. 

Asked about the next steps for the swabbing programme on a broadcast round this morning, Mr Javid dodged questions over rumours of a funding row between him, Rishi Sunak and the PM.

Instead, he said: ‘We must not forget that the restrictions that we had in place were extraordinary, and they were never intended to be a daily part of life.’  

He heralded the end of restrictions as a ‘historic moment’, and claimed England was already the ‘freest country in Europe’ before the announcement.

But Mr Javid also warned people to remain ‘vigilant’ because Covid ‘isn’t done with us’.  

And he insisted the nation would be ready to ‘bring back online’ tests at a moment’s notice, should another dangerous variant emerge.  

England will end free tests for everyone from April 1, it was announced last night. Pictured above is a testing centre in London

England will end free tests for everyone from April 1, it was announced last night. Pictured above is a testing centre in London

Mr Javid reportedly clashed with the Treasury over the weekend after insisting over-50s with Covid symptoms should still be able to get free tests after April. 

Whitehall sources said at one point Mr Javid was warning he would be forced to take the money from cash earmarked to cut NHS waiting lists. 

The idea was ruled out by both the Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the PM, who said that Mr Javid find the cash from other parts of the Department of Health’s vast £180billion annual budget.   

EU unveils plans to to allow ALL fully-jabbed British tourists into Europe without pre-departure tests 

Families have been given a boost for Easter holiday hopes as the EU has unveiled plans to permit all fully-vaccinated Brits to travel to Europe without pre-departure tests.

The EU Council is set to approve recommendations for a one-size-fits-all approach to travel in Europe which would simplify entry requirements for those travelling from outside the EU, according to the Telegraph.

The plans, which could get the green light today, will also mean British children who have not been fully vaccinated are also permitted to travel to the EU.

The newspaper reports that the European Commission is ‘optimistic’ most EU and EEA countries will implement the new recommendations but member states may deviate if they choose as they are not rules. 

If approved, the plans will be introduced from March 1, meaning families will be able to enjoy Easter holidays in Europe without facing confusion from each country’s entry requirements.

It comes as Boris Johnson hailed a new post-Covid era yesterday as he declared that self-isolation laws are being axed from Thursday and free Covid tests will go from April.

The dispute came to a head yesterday morning before Cabinet, just hours before the PM unveiled his ‘Living With Covid’ strategy in the Commons. 

Asked about the dispute today, the Health Secretary did not rule out a confrontation over the end of free testing in England.

He told BBC Radio 4: ‘What I am saying is that there was a debate like there is on any major policy before it is announced. 

‘That’s perfectly normal, that’s how good governance works, and once we’ve reached an agreement that we’re all happy with — including myself and of course every other member of the cabinet — that’s what we presented in our living with Covid plan.’

He added: ‘It was a historic moment yesterday. We were already the freest country in Europe and now we were able to go even further. 

‘When it comes to testing we set out that our universal offer is still there until March but it doesn’t make sense to continue that indefinitely.’

But the Health Secretary still called for caution over the virus as case rates remain high.

Although Covid cases have been falling for the last three weeks, around 42,000 are still being recorded every day. 

Surveillance suggests one in 20 people in England were infected in early February. 

Asked on LBC about the rates, Mr Javid said: ‘For now, although the infection levels have been falling significantly, week after week, I think where infection levels are at the moment, if I was on the London Tube, for example, and it was packed, I would wear a face mask.

He said ‘these are now personal decisions, we want people to take more personal responsibility’.

‘I would look at what’s the general prevalence, where case numbers are, where infection numbers are, hospitalisation numbers… we provide that data on a daily basis, it’s there for everyone to see.

‘I think taking all that into account, I would make a decision.’

Masks were completely scrapped in England last month when ‘Plan B’ came to an end, but they remain a ‘condition of carriage’ on Transport for London.

London mayor Sadiq Khan revealed yesterday, however, that the rule is likely to be dropped in the coming weeks as ministers shift to ‘personal responsibility’. 

Mr Javid told Sky News: ‘Covid is still out there. We may be done with Covid, but it is certainly not done with us and we have to remain cautious and vigilant.

‘That is why we set out yesterday just how we will continue to do that, so vaccines remain an important part of our defences. The antivirals and other treatments that we have also will play a continued important role.

‘But also we’ve put in place a surveillance system so that we’re able to detect any potential future threats, and also the ability for us to react quickly.’

The Covid test stockpiling begins 

Shameless stockpilers have been showing off their ‘towers’ of NHS lateral flow packs after a rush for free swabs when it was revealed each test will cost between £3 and £5 each from April 1.

The Government website ran out last night with packs still unavailable online and via the 119 phone line this morning after Boris Johnson said they would be phased out in six weeks.

People who opt to keep testing face spending £20 to £25 for a box of seven — around £3 to £5 per test, MailOnline understands. Yesterday the Government already started secretly rationing, limiting orders to one pack in 72 hours rather than every 24 hours.

And extraordinary pictures show the lengths that some Britons have gone to stockpile packs, proudly sharing pictures of mounds of tests that are costing the taxpayer £2billion per month.

One person, who has stockpiled more than 25 packs, tweeted: ‘When the Government wants to start charging for lateral flow tests. I’ve come fully prepared so I don’t run out of covid tests’.

English dramatist and academic Dan Rebellato tweeted a picture of his own ‘absurd tower’ of tests in his office. He said: ‘Both of us working in education, we test very regularly – to protect ourselves and our students. I knew they’d scrap the free testing so have been ordering test packs whenever I remember’.

Asked by Times Radio about whether people with cold or flu-like symptoms should pay for a Covid test, Mr Javid said: ‘That’s a decision for you to make. For people who want to buy tests, they will no doubt be available.

‘We are returning more or less to the situation pre-Covid — I’m sure you woke up pre-Covid and had cold or flu like symptoms and I think we all know what to do then.

‘I think when we look back at the height of Covid and the lessons we’ve all collectively learned, certainly one of those lessons might be if you’re not feeling well, whether you think it’s Covid or not, it’s always best to stay away from others — at least for a short time — to make sure you’re not infecting others.’

Mr Johnson heralded last night’s plans as a ‘historic moment’ but he, too, said this was not ‘victory’ over the virus.

The Prime Minister warned there was still a risk that new variants could emerge which were more dangerous than Omicron.

His plans were blasted by the British Medical Association last night, which claimed removing all restrictions was ‘premature’ and ‘completely illogical’.

Dr Chaand Nagpul, its chairman, said: ‘Living with Covid must not mean ignoring the virus all together — which in many respects the Government’s plan in England seems to do.

‘Far from giving people more freedom, today’s announcement is likely to cause more uncertainty and anxiety.’

He warned England risked creating a two-tier system between those who could and could not pay for Covid tests.

Dr Nagpul also accused ministers of ‘neglecting’ the most vulnerable people in society with their plan, which he said failed to protect those at highest risk. 

The head of the NHS Confederation — which represents hospital trusts — Matthew Taylor urged the Government to ‘reconsider’ its plans.

He called for ‘dedicated funding for continued access to Covid tests for all NHS workers in patient-facing roles.’

Some scientists blasted the plans today, saying the Government was relying too heavily on an ‘incomplete’ vaccination programme.

Dr Stephen Griffin, a virologist at Leeds University, said: ‘I am dumbfounded by the majority of these announcements. 

‘Some comfort can be taken from retaining an albeit whittled down ONS survey, but other than the note of caution evident from the chief medical officers presentation yesterday, it would seem that the over reliance on an as yet incomplete vaccination programme is the sole remaining protective measure left for the UK population.’

Julia Faulconbridge, the vice-chair of the British Psychological Society, said: ‘Living with Covid does not mean consigning groups of our society to living in isolation, and it does not mean we have to put vulnerable people at risk of damage to their physical and mental health.

‘Collective responsibility and coming together as society has been what has seen us through this pandemic so far, we must look to these values now and ensure no-one is left behind in the wish to declare the pandemic “over”.’ 

Yesterday Labour also slammed the ‘living with Covid’ strategy as coming too early and risking flare-ups in Covid cases.

DAN WOOTTON: Boris has given us back our freedom but the Covid control-freaks haven’t gone away and they will try and lock us up again at the first bump in the road

On Thursday, the English will finally be free again.

It might sound dramatic but, as Boris Johnson announced all Covid laws are finally being axed and we will be able to make sensible decisions for ourselves again, I let out a visceral sigh of relief and my shoulders all of a sudden felt lighter.

After 23 months of soul destroying and, frankly, deadly restrictions, I rejoice that one of the most shameful eras in our recent history, where our civil liberties and freedoms were stripped away en masse with virtually no debate or opposition, is at an end.

The scientific establishment, the media hysterics and the scare mongering Labour opposition have lost their battle to trap us into a liberty destroying Covid blackhole for years to come – and by God they tried.

As the Leader of No Opposition Keir Starmer made clear in Parliament today, if he had his way the UK would be following his pals Justin Trudeau in Canada and Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand into divisive, unnecessary and never-ending regulations like vaccine and mask mandates that are currently tearing those two Commonwealth countries apart.

Of course, there is much to criticise: Boris plunged the country into draconian lockdowns three times with no evidence they actually worked; increasingly, it looks like they killed far more folk than they saved.

Pictured: Labour Party leader Keir Starmer speaks following a statement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions at the House of Commons

Pictured: Labour Party leader Keir Starmer speaks following a statement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions at the House of Commons

Chief Medical Officer, Sir Chris Whitty, Boris Johnson and Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance address the nation during a press conference on plan for Living With Covid yesterday

Chief Medical Officer, Sir Chris Whitty, Boris Johnson and Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance address the nation during a press conference on plan for Living With Covid yesterday

But I do feel proud to be British today; proud that we have a Prime Minister prepared to stand up to the terrifying new international health establishment and allow his citizens to move on from a virus that is now no more deadly than a run of the mill flu.

I’m proud too that we have a 95-year-old monarch who has continued to work during her brush with the variant Omicron, sending a clear message to her people that the days of Covid hysteria are at an end.

The focus now must be on ensuring we never react in the same way again.

That’s going to be hard, especially given so many of those with influence are addicted to the damaging lockdown policies they have followed since March 2020 and are unable to have the good grace to admit they called it wrong.

And because we have a media elite obsessed with encouraging the government to deprive us of freedom wherever possible who always manage to ask the wrong questions.

Like Sky News’ lockdown-breaking star presenter Kay Burley who, upon hearing the news of the Queen’s cold-like symptoms, tweeted: ‘Might this impact on any decision by the Government to further lift #COVID19 restrictions?’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured) laid out 'Living With Covid' strategy to MPs yesterday

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured) laid out ‘Living With Covid’ strategy to MPs yesterday

Er, no, of course not, Kay!

The fact the Queen is likely to breeze through her brush with Covid, thanks to the milder nature of the variant, her triple vaccinated status and (probably) the use of antiviral drugs, means ordinary life beckons.

We have beaten the virus, but what we now need to battle is the establishment blob which wants to continue to inflict control.

SNP’s village idiot at Westminster Ian Blackford described Boris’s plan today as ‘reckless’ because it ‘flies in the face of advice of scientists at the World Health Organisation’.

What, you mean the organisation that effectively colluded with the communist Chinese regime to cover up the outbreak in the first place and have continually refused to hold China to account?

And it might not be popular in polite society circles to question our own scientific and medical masterminds, but Saint Christopher Whitty and Lord Patrick Vallance have proved total flops when it comes to their pandemic advice.

Boris Johnson (C), Britain's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty (L), and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance attend a press conference to outline the new long-term Covid-19 plan

Boris Johnson (C), Britain’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty (L), and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance attend a press conference to outline the new long-term Covid-19 plan

Remember, Whitty wanted to destroy all of our Christmases and damage countless businesses by locking us all down again in December for Omicron, despite South African medics insisting the variant was a pussycat.

We were told we could have as many as 6,000 deaths and a million infections a day.

But, sparked by the rebellion from brave Tory backbenchers and an even braver Cabinet resignation from Lord Frost, Boris didn’t lock down and the worst case scenario never eventuated. Not even close. And that’s despite Omicron being far more transmissible.

Even Bill Gates reluctantly admitted over the weekend Omicron is working as a natural vaccine.

He said: ‘Sadly, the virus itself, particularly, the variant called omicron, is a type of vaccine, that is, it creates both B-cell and T-cell immunity, and it’s done a better job getting out to the world population than we have with vaccines.’

I have no idea what he’s sad about – Omicron should be celebrated as a natural vaccine that is providing a path out of this two-year hellscape.

And we know now that natural immunity provides stronger protection from Covid than vaccines, anyway.

But these should be yesterday’s arguments and it’s tragic and pathetic to see so many vested parties seemingly wanting the Covid and lockdown chaos and carnage to continue for another moment longer than necessary.

Labour’s Starmer and his mini me Wes Streeting have been out the past 24 hours trying to convince us that Boris handing back our God given freedoms that were only ever meant to be compromised while the NHS was under imminent threat of being overwhelmed is somehow irresponsible.

But remember they also said Freedom Day last July shouldn’t go ahead and pushed for a path to lockdown before Christmas.

The Be Kind left around the world has collapsed morally internationally thanks to the totalitarian path of segregating society between the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

For months, I’ve heard people wish Ardern or Trudeau were in charge in the UK. Things would be so much better, they insist.

Well, I beg to differ as riot police currently clash with non-violent protestors in Canada’s capital of Ottawa and New Zealand’s capital of Wellington to try and deal with the unjabbed truckers, paramedics, doctors and teachers who have lost their jobs thanks to the cruel and counterproductive vaccine mandates.

Boris implored us today to get back to the days where personal responsibility was king

‘It is time that we got our confidence back,’ he said, in a storming speech to parliament.

‘We don’t need laws to compel people to be considerate to others. We can rely on that sense of responsibility towards one another – providing practical advice in the knowledge that people will follow it to avoid infecting loved ones and others.

‘So let us learn to live with this virus and continue protecting ourselves and others without restricting our freedoms.’

That’s all I’ve ever asked for.

It was always a pipe dream to think we could shut down a respiratory virus. Food must still get to your door, delivery drivers still need to enter the country, essential workers still need to get to work, we still need to socialise with other human beings.

I believe that, in time, when all the costs have been properly analysed, lockdown will prove to be one of the most disastrous policy approaches, both in terms of public health and the economy, in history.

There is certainly no longer any justification for legal requirements to self-isolate, the £15.7 billion test and trace white elephant, perpetual boosters for the healthy or the terrifying provisions of the Coronavirus Act. I celebrate that they’re all going.

The biggest danger now to society is those folk in the media and politics who should know better continuing to propagate the myth that we remain in the midst of a dangerous pandemic when Omicron has rendered Covid defeated.