Boris wants to ditch masks and working from home at end of January – but drop off in booster rate could delay plan

Boris wants to ditch masks and working from home at end of January – but drop off in booster rate could delay plan

January 31, 2022

BORIS Johnson wants to ditch compulsory masks and working from home at the end of January — but low booster jab rates could derail the plan.

The PM yesterday urged Brits to keep it on track insisting: “We can do it, we can all get boosted now.”

But while data shows the Omicron wave peaking, take-up of third jabs has plummeted.

Just 141,495 third doses were put in arms on Sunday — compared to almost a million a day in December. One in three eligible Brits is still not boosted.

Take-up in some areas is so low that batches of the Pfizer jab are being wasted as the vaccine cannot be stored once opened.

Politicians and medics warn that waning booster rates could delay a return to normality when the Plan B rules are reviewed on January 26.

They issued a “get jabbed” plea as:

  • OFFICIALS began drawing up a “living with Covid” blueprint to phase out free tests and contact tracing this spring;
  • THE PM backed reducing isolation to five days if science allows;
  • DOCTORS admitted bungling their evidence against reducing isolation, and;
  • CABINET minister Michael Gove said he was wrong to back more restrictions before Christmas — and that the PM called it right.

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Figures out yesterday showed there were 77 deaths across the UK, up from 42 a week earlier.

Another 142,224 positive tests were announced yesterday — down by ten per cent compared to last Monday — but higher than Sunday’s figure.

Hospital Covid patient admissions have flattened out for now.

But Mr Johnson told The Sun last night: “Two doses aren’t enough against Omicron — you need to get a booster. Three jabs will give you the best protection against severe illness which is why it’s so important people continue to come forward.”

Writing in The Sun today, top doc Sir Jonathan Van Tam stresses: “The higher the uptake for those all-important booster jabs, the fewer people end up in hospital and the sooner the pandemic will be over. It really is as simple as that.”

And this morning health minister Ed Argar said the Government is keen to drop Plan B restrictions as quickly as possible.

He said: "We have seen in recent days those cases, particularly in London, starting to plateau and come down and hospitalisations starting to slow.

"It's absolutely vital that as soon as it's safe to do so, as soon as we're able to do so, we ease those restrictions – for example working from home or otherwise – and try to get our society back to normal as we learn to live with this virus."

A blueprint for a post-pandemic world is being worked on by Whitehall officials.

Ideas include an end to free lateral flow tests as soon as April, and scaling back of vaccines to an annual jab for the most vulnerable.

There would be a phasing-out of legal restrictions on isolating and the contact tracing system.

Pressure is growing on medics to cut the isolation time to five days, with the PM backing the idea publicly for the first time.

Mr Johnson told reporters: “Of course we’re looking at that and we’ll act according to the science, as we always have.

Surging cases have forced millions of Brits into self-isolation and sparked mass workplace absences and transport chaos.

Health chiefs yesterday struck a deal with private hospitals to shore-up NHS capacity.

A three-month contract with at least ten private health firms will see them put staff and beds on stand-by in case the local NHS gets overwhelmed.

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