Now it’s time for On Point, where we speak to experts to delve deeper into the biggest news stories in the spotlight right now.
From Thursday, local time, in the UK, COVID passes and rules on masks in public places will be completely revoked.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, under-fire politically for secret, alcohol-fueled parties at 10 Downing Street while Britain was supposed to be on lockdown, also said this month that he expects to scrap mandatory isolation rules by end of March.
The UK government also says school-age students in England will not have to wear any kind of face coverings in school and that includes classrooms, corridors and other communal areas.
Immigration and related quarantine rules have also been softened.
However, the British government continues to suggest masks be worn in enclosed and crowded places.
These new rules apply to England instead of the whole UK as COVID restrictions, as part of health policy, are a devolved matter.
For more on this, we connect to Professor Michael Toole, Associate Principal Research Fellow at the Burnet Institute in Melbourne, Australia.
Good morning, Professor Toole. Firstly, we’d like to get you reaction to the UK’s move. Do you think it’s the right decision and do you predict other governments to follow Britain’s lead?
It seems clear two firm camps of thought are now entrenched about COVID-19. One saying it’s time to live with it, like the flu. The other side saying restrictions must stay because we are not yet out of the woods. Which do you agree with at this point in the pandemic?
While the UK is scrapping its restrictions, the U.S. government seems to be trying to double down of its regulations. However, data appears to show Omicron is burning out in the U.S. as well. As a medical expert, do you understand why the Biden administration is resisting rolling back measures?
Finally, new research says a lack of trust in political leaders and experts is part of the reason some people are still refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Why do you think so many people are hesitant, and with numerous reports of sometime severe side effects, do you think their concerns are justified?
Thanks for your insights We appreciate you coming on and hopefully we’ll speak again soon