BORIS Johnson hopes to relax Covid rules in February and take Britain “much closer to normality”.
Thanks to the booster rollout, the PM said the country will be in a stronger position to fight Omicron when Plan B measures expire in three weeks.
His upbeat outlook in the Commons yesterday fuelled optimism that working from home, mandatory masks and vaccine passports won’t continue next month.
Tory MPs praised the PM for resisting doomster demands for more restrictions and urged him to throw off the remaining curbs.
Mr Johnson said: “As Omicron blows through and it is is very much my hope and belief that it will, I do believe we will get back to something much closer to normality.”
While infections hit 194,000 yesterday, ministers are encouraged by growing evidence that Omicron is far milder than previous strains.
They are also throwing the kitchen sink at the booster programme, which the Sun’s Jab’s Army campaign is helping to turbo-charge.
In major developments:
- The PM visited a vaccination centre as he urged people to get boosted
- Pre-departure and PCR tests for travel were axed in a boost for holidays
- Grant Shapps said ALL travel tests could soon be scrapped in a win
Cabinet yesterday agreed to extent Plan B until the end of the month when the regulations are due to expire.
Extending the measures into February risks a fresh rebellion with his backbenchers who last month dealt him the biggest revolt of his premiership.
Heading off another row, the PM insisted the booster programme provides us with light at the end of the tunnel.
He said: “That doesn’t meant there won’t be further challenges but I think life will return to something much much closer to normality.
“It won’t be necessary to have the restrictions that we currently have in place.
“Business, investors, will have all the confidence that they need, but to be frank, you are already seeing a huge investments in this country because of the approach that we have taken.”
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The PM also all-but ruled out “shutting down our country again” with a full-fat lockdown.
But he stressed the return to normality hinged on hospitalisation numbers and said he’s put the NHS on a war footing.
He told MPs: “I am sorry to report that hospital admissions are rising rapidly, doubling around every 9 days, with already more than 15,000 Covid patients in hospital in England alone.
“We are experiencing the fastest growth in Covid cases that we have ever known, with over 218,000 cases reported yesterday, although that included some delayed reporting.
“And potentially of greatest concern, case rates are now rapidly rising among the older and more vulnerable, including doubling every week among those over 60, with the obvious risk that this will continue to increase the pressures on our NHS.”
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