Living with COVID-19 plan

England have set out a plan to live with and manage COVID-19 and Scottish outline the Scotlands Strategic Framework Update. Here we summarise what we know so far.  

COVID-19 restrictions end

On 21 February the Government set out the plan to live with and manage COVID-19 in England and on 22 February the Scottish Government set out Scotlands Strategic Framework Update. We will keep you updated on COVID-19 updates from Wales and Northern Ireland as soon as they become available. We know a lot of people are worried about restrictions easing. Here we summarise what we know so far for England and Scotland:

What restrictions are changing?
  • Further vaccinations (boosters) have been recommended for people who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 this spring and autumn. This will include people with lymphoma. See our COVID-19 vaccine webpage for further information about the boosters.
  • There will continue to be specific guidance for people whose immune system means they are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 despite vaccination. We will update our COVID-19 and lymphoma pages with further information when this is available. 
  • Free testing will end for most people from 1 April, but will still be available for a small number of at-risk groups. The Government will set out further details on which groups will be eligible. We will update our COVID-19 and lymphoma pages with further information when this is available.
  • People at highest risk of developing severe COVID-19 can now access antiviral medicines should they test positive for COVID-19. See our COVID-19 treatments webpage for further information.
  • Access to lateral flow and PCR tests will continue to be free of charge, ahead of a detailed transition plan being published on the future of Scotland’s test and protect programme in March. Lateral flow testing will continue in schools for the time being. Everyone will be advised to test at least twice a week and in particular before mixing in crowded places or with anyone who is clinically vulnerable. 
  • Continued advice for anyone who tests positive to stay at home for the recommended period of isolation to reduce the risk of infecting others, including those who may be clinically vulnerable. Contact tracing and advice to contacts also continues at this point. Self-isolation support grants also remain available.
  • All adults ,16 and over, are eligible for a booster vaccination and, third primary doses are now being provided for all those aged 5 years and over, who at the time of their first or second dose are identified as being severely immunosuppressed. Vaccines will also be offered to all 5 to 11 year olds.
  • Legal duty for employers to make workplaces safe and to conduct risk assessments continues. The needs of those in the highest risk category should be taken into consideration when planning hybrid working – including people who might prefer home working, or those keen to return to the workplace.
When are restrictions changing?

Restrictions are going to be eased over the next few months. Here is what is planned in England and Scotland:


From 21 February:

  • Staff and students in most education and childcare settings will no longer have to take two lateral flow tests a week.

From 24 February:

  • People who test positive will no longer legally have to self-isolate. 
  • People who test positive will continue to be advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for at least 5 full days and then continue to follow the guidance until they have received 2 negative test results on consecutive days. 
  • Routine contact tracing will no longer take place. 
  • People who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive will no longer have to take lateral flow tests for 7 days, or self-isolate.
  • Self-isolation support payments will end. National funding for practical support and the medicine delivery service will no longer be available. 
  • People will no longer have to tell their employers when they are required to self-isolate. 

From 24 March:

  • COVID-19 provisions for increased statutory sick pay will stop.

From 1 April:

  • You will no longer have to show a COVID pass to enter certain venues.
  • Lateral flow tests and PCR tests will no longer be free in England. You will be able to buy tests and some people who are at highest risk of becoming seriously ill if they get COVID-19 will be given free tests. The Government will set out further details on this closer to the time.
  • People with COVID-19 symptoms will be asked to exercise personal responsibility, but public health advice would be to stay at home. 
  • Employers no longer need to explicitly consider COVID-19 in their health and safety risk assessments. Talk to your employer if you are worried about returning to work.

From 28 February:

  • COVID certification scheme will cease to be a legal requirement. 

From 21 March (indicative date, to be confirmed at preceding review): 

  • The legal requirement to wear face coverings in public indoor places and on public transport will convert to guidance.
  • Other remaining legal requirements will convert to guidance and good practice as appropriate.

From Spring 2022 (date to be confirmed):

  • Changes to testing and isolation requirements expected. A detailed Test and Protect transition plan will be published in March. 
Further support

We have a webpage with tips on keeping yourself as safe as you can now that restrictions are lifting which you may find helpful. 

However you’re feeling, we’re here for you. Our helpline services team can offer support in a range of ways. Contact us for support.

You may find our video, Helping you to manage uncertainty helpful. 

Check the GOV.UK website for the latest COVID-19 information and guidance.

Other organisations you might find useful in supporting your mental wellbeing include:

Published: 22 February 2022

Photo: Stock photo