PM announces end to COVID-19 restrictions in England: our response

21 February 2022

On Monday, (21 February) the Prime Minister outlined his ‘plan for living with COVID-19’ which effectively ends all remaining COVID-19 restrictions in England.

This includes an end to mandatory self-isolation for anyone with a positive result, and an end to free universal testing in England on April 1, though free symptomatic tests will be provided to the oldest age groups and the most vulnerable.

Understandably this news has caused much distress to people who have been shielding throughout the pandemic because of their condition.

NHS leaders have also signalled their alarm at this plan, as it’s widely considered a premature step out of the pandemic.

Across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland some restrictions remain in place. Visit the following websites for more information: 

Why this matters?

If you have an autoimmune condition and/or if you're receiving treatment to control your immune system your risk from COVID-19 is higher. Read more about the risks associated with Covid-19.

We’ve worked hard throughout the pandemic to keep you up to date with the latest COVID-19 information, and we’ve worked with our partners in the charity sector to alert the NHS and in Government to the barriers to vaccine uptake for people with arthritis who are immunosuppressed.

Speaking up for people living with arthritis

We want people who are less protected by the vaccines and at risk of severe illness if they catch COVID-19 to live normal lives just like everyone else.

That’s why we’re working with a coalition of charities to raise our concerns at the highest level.

We’ve designed a set of five tests which we believe the Government’s plan must pass to make sure people at highest risk from COVID-19 are well supported to live with COVID-19 now and into the future.

The 5 tests for the plan are:

  • Directly address the concerns of people at highest risk and commit to improve communication with them.
  • Smooth, timely access to COVID-19 treatments.
  • Lateral flow tests remain free.
  • Improve employment protection and support.
  • Set out a plan for the use of preventative COVID-19 treatments and prioritise further research into treatments and vaccines.

We have sent a briefing to all MPs which set out the five key tests and explains why they are so important.

We’re asking MPs to write to the Prime Minister emphasising our asks and to raise questions challenging the Prime Minister on how the Government is planning to support immunocompromised individuals.

Pushing for answers

Getting back to normal is what we all want, not least people at higher risk from COVID-19 who are among those made most vulnerable by the pandemic. However, for that to be possible, Government policy must prioritise supporting people to manage their risk.

We’ll continue to work hard with our partners across the charity sector to raise the voice of immunosuppressed people in government.

We will be meeting with Cabinet Ministers to tell them about our concerns regarding the end of these restrictions.

We are here for you, and we'll provide updates as we learn more.

Are you worried about COVID-19 restrictions stopping?

Whatever you choose to do, make sure that you feel comfortable with your own decisions - that you don’t feel pressured into doing anything you’re uncomfortable with. We outlined some advice to keep yourself healthy and how to approach any concerns, such as getting out and about, keeping connected and taking regular exercise, as well as talking to others.  

Get involved

Join our campaigns network to receive regular updates and to make sure that arthritis is kept on the agenda as UK Governments work through the pandemic.