Covid news – live: Boris Johnson ends isolation for positive cases and goes ahead with scrapping free tests

The prime minister has announced a raft of changes to Covid rules, including ending self-isolation rules entirely and scrapping free testing.

From Thursday, there will no longer be a requirement for anyone testing positive in England to stay indoors, Boris Johnson told MPs this afternoon. Instead, people will be expected to exercise “personal responsibility”. From 1 April, free universal Covid testing will end in England too – something health experts and scientists have warned could threaten the safety of vulnerable sectors of the population.

Outlining his living with Covid plan in the Commons, the PM said testing had become “much less valuable” in restricting the spread of Covid and that the £2bn-a-month cost of the system meant the government had to “scale back” what it could offer.

Routine contact tracing will also end on Thursday, as will the legal obligation for individuals to tell employers about their requirement to isolate. In addition, the government is stripping back sick pay from 24 March, at which point the £96.35 a-week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will go back to being available on the fourth day of any illness, rather than on day one.

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