Covid cases fall another 5.3 per cent to 72,727 infections

Britain’s Covid cases continued to fall today by 5.3 per cent in a week, official figures show as the Omicron wave recedes across the country.

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data show there 72,727 positive tests over the last 24 hours, down from the 76,807 recorded last week.

It was the fifth day in a row cases have fallen — after briefly picking up on Sunday and Monday. However, the UK-wide figures do not include cases in Scotland today so the actual drop-off is may not be as steep as it appears.

The number of people dying with the virus also continued to fall slightly today, reducing 0.3 per cent to 296 from the 297 recorded last week.

The figures come after thousands of punters took to dance floors across England without needing to show Covid passes or use masks for the first time since Plan B measures were brought to an end last night. 

Revellers packed out clubs, bars and pubs across England for boozy celebrations yesterday evening as the nation fully embraced its first weekend of partying without Plan B measures in place. 

Hundreds of people were pictured queuing to get into bustling venues in Newcastle and Leeds, while young people also made the most of the end of social distancing and the rule of six in Swansea and Cardiff.

And last night, Wales finally re-legalised the opening of nightclubs after they were shut for more than a month under First Minister Mark Drakeford’s draconian Covid curbs.  

Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the end of Plan B measures in England, which included work from home guidance, masks in schools and public places, and the use of Covid passports in large venues. 

What are the rules for clubbers in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland?

ENGLAND:

  • Covid passes no longer mandatory
  • Face coverings not required
  • No imposed limits on attendance. 

SCOTLAND:

  • Face coverings still required
  • Social distancing at one-metre where people are exempt from wearing face coverings
  • Table service and attendance limits both scrapped. 

WALES:

  • Social distancing and ‘rule of six’ lifted  
  • Face coverings not required 
  • Table service and attendance limits scrapped.

NORTHERN IRELAND: 

  • Covid passes only required in indoor venues of 500+ people 
  • Two-metre social distancing rule scrapped 
  • Face coverings still required.

Advertisement

In other coronavirus developments:

  • The more infectious BA.2 Omicron sub-variant has now been found in more than half of US states;
  • Families were boosted by new EU travel rules which will allow children who have recently recovered from Covid to enter without testing;
  • Apple Music jumped on the opportunity to take a very public dig at Spotify by bragging that it was ‘the home of Neil Young,’ after its streaming rival agreed to remove the singer’s albums over his dispute with controversial podcaster Joe Rogan;
  • The number of civil servants working in some Whitehall departments more than tripled this week after being told to return to the office; 
  • Psychologists have warned the Government’s ‘nudge unit’ manipulated fear tactics in a manner akin to China to coerce a terrified public into following strict Covid rules.

Clubbers in England will enjoy by far the fewest amount of restrictions of all the home nations upon their return to bars, pubs and nightclubs from this weekend.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s night life came back with a bang on Monday, January 24 after Nicola Sturgeon lifted an array of strict measures to curb the number of people allowed at indoor events in the country. 

Table service requirements, closures and attendance limits for indoor events were all scrapped, but face masks are still required in nightclubs.

Restrictions on late night venues, the use Covid passes and social distancing were all relaxed in Northern Ireland from Wednesday. 

The home nations came under fire for their collective decisions to force embattled hospitality businesses to close over the busy festive period under draconian measures, while England remained restriction-free. 

Though most restrictions in England were lifted earlier this month, England officially moved from Plan B to Plan A on Thursday.

The move included the ditching of masks in indoor areas, such as pubs, bars and hospitality venues. Work from home guidance was also lifted earlier this week. 

Daily Covid cases, deaths and hospital admissions have all tumbled in the past 24 hours as the country’s Omicron wave continues to recede. 

Revellers enjoy the first full weekend of partying in Newcastle without draconian Plan B measures in place

Revellers enjoy the first full weekend of partying in Newcastle without draconian Plan B measures in place

Hundreds of people were pictured queuing to get into bustling venues in Newcastle without needing to show Covid passes or use masks for the first time

Hundreds of people were pictured queuing to get into bustling venues in Newcastle without needing to show Covid passes or use masks for the first time

It was the first weekend that young people were able to go to nightclubs in England and Wales with the reduction in Covid numbers

It was the first weekend that young people were able to go to nightclubs in England and Wales with the reduction in Covid numbers 

These three girls were photographed last night in Leeds City Centre, celebrating the first weekend of freedom from Covid-19

These three girls were photographed last night in Leeds City Centre, celebrating the first weekend of freedom from Covid-19

A man is arrested by police on Friday evening in Newcastle as revellers packed out clubs, bars and pubs across England for boozy celebrations yesterday evening

A man is arrested by police on Friday evening in Newcastle as revellers packed out clubs, bars and pubs across England for boozy celebrations yesterday evening

These friends in Leeds also celebrated the end of the Plan B Covid-19 rules which were removed during the week

These friends in Leeds also celebrated the end of the Plan B Covid-19 rules which were removed during the week

England’s Plan A Covid measures explained:

Now that England has reverted to Plan A measures, which Covid rules are still in place?

  • Self-isolation is still mandatory for those testing positive for Covid-19. The 10-day period can end early after five full days with two negative lateral flow tests. 
  • Masks are no longer a legal requirement for indoor venues, although they are still required in health and care settings.
  • Local directors of public health are still able to recommend face coverings in communal areas only in education settings within their area. 
  • Use of Covid passes for large events and late night venues is no longer required by law. 
  • Work from home guidance has now ended, although individual employers can implement their own rules. 

Advertisement

Revellers in England were pictured celebrating the first full weekend without significant Covid restrictions. 

Showing proof of Covid vaccination is no longer a mandatory requirement upon entry to a nightclub and face coverings will not be used anymore. 

But in Scotland, face masks are still to be used in all indoor settings, while physical social distancing rules remain in place for the majority of businesses.

In Wales, the rule of six and social distancing have both been scrapped, and face masks are not required in nightclubs.

But in Northern Ireland, revellers must still show proof of full vaccination at indoor venues with more than 500 people. Face coverings are still also required. 

Government dashboard data shows there were another 89,176 positive tests across the country in the past 24 hours, marking a 7 per cent decrease on last Friday. 

Daily infections hit a plateau last week – which was attributed to rising cases in primary schools and people returning to work – after coming down rapidly from a peak of over 200,000 earlier in the month.

But they have started to fall again this week, albeit gradually, despite compulsory face masks and vaccine passports being scrapped in England.

Health officials said there were 277 more coronavirus deaths registered in the UK on Friday – down by around 4 per cent in a week.  

Despite Covid infections in Scotland plummeting since the New Year, rules on outdoor events were only lifted last week. 

Scots are still being urged to take Covid tests before meeting people, while ministers say face masks rules could continue for months and maybe years. 

In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford moved to Covid alert level zero yesterday, allowing nightclubs to reopen and cancelling social distancing rules. 

Last week, crowds were permitted to return to outdoor sporting events in Wales and limits were removed from taking part in outdoor activities. 

But the Covid pass will continue to be required for entry to larger outdoor events attended by more than 4,000 people, if unseated, or 10,000 people when seated.

Covid passes will still be required in all Welsh cinemas, theatres and concert halls which are currently open.

Last night, nightclubs reopened and the requirement for two-metre social distancing and the rule of six ended.

But Welsh businesses, employers and other organisations must continue to undertake a specific coronavirus risk assessment and take reasonable measures to minimise the spread of coronavirus.

Nightclubs reopened in Wales for the first time in 2022 after First Minister Mark Drakeford downgraded the nation's Covid alert status, allowing this girls in Wind Street, Swansea to enjoy a night out on the town

Nightclubs reopened in Wales for the first time in 2022 after First Minister Mark Drakeford downgraded the nation’s Covid alert status, allowing this girls in Wind Street, Swansea to enjoy a night out on the town

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford moved to Covid alert level zero yesterday, allowing nightclubs to reopen and cancelling social distancing rules. These five girls used bin bags to protect themselves from the rain in Cardiff on Friday night

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford moved to Covid alert level zero yesterday, allowing nightclubs to reopen and cancelling social distancing rules. These five girls used bin bags to protect themselves from the rain in Cardiff on Friday night

Large groups of people queued up outside Pryzm nightclub in Cardiff upon the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions

Large groups of people queued up outside Pryzm nightclub in Cardiff upon the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions 

Clubbers improvised with plastic bags to protect themselves from the wet and windy weather as Covid rules were finally relaxed in Wales

Clubbers improvised with plastic bags to protect themselves from the wet and windy weather as Covid rules were finally relaxed in Wales

Hundreds of people stood waiting to get into the Live Lounge in Cardiff, which was allowing patrons in for the first time this year

Hundreds of people stood waiting to get into the Live Lounge in Cardiff, which was allowing patrons in for the first time this year

Despite the threat of rain, partygoers stood outside nightclubs in cities like Cardiff, pictured, after nightclubs reopened

Despite the threat of rain, partygoers stood outside nightclubs in cities like Cardiff, pictured, after nightclubs reopened

Hundreds of young people were pictured queuing to get into Pryzm nightclub in Cardiff for a wild Friday night

Hundreds of young people were pictured queuing to get into Pryzm nightclub in Cardiff for a wild Friday night

Scotland has lifted the vast majority of its remaining Covid restrictions this week - with nightclubs set to reopen and social distancing rules at indoor events scrapped

Scotland has lifted the vast majority of its remaining Covid restrictions this week – with nightclubs set to reopen and social distancing rules at indoor events scrapped

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced last week nightclubs would be able to reopen, while the caps on indoor events, table service requirements for venues selling alcohol and social distancing will also be removed

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced last week nightclubs would be able to reopen, while the caps on indoor events, table service requirements for venues selling alcohol and social distancing will also be removed

Working from home will remain part of the advice from the Welsh Government but it will no longer be a legal requirement.

Everyone must also continue to self-isolate if they test positive for coronavirus but the Welsh Government has reduced the self-isolation period from seven to five full days.

Face-covering rules, which apply on public transport and in most public indoor places remain in place. 

Mr Drakeford said: ‘We have passed the peak of this Omicron wave and there are encouraging signs that cases of coronavirus may be starting to stabilise.

‘But we all need to continue taking steps to stay safe – unfortunately the pandemic is not over yet.

‘We are moving to alert level zero and we will retain some important protections, such as face coverings in most indoor public places and risk assessments.

‘We can do this thanks to the hard work and efforts of everyone in Wales and the remarkable success of our vaccine and booster programmes. Thank you all.’

It comes as Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, said that face coverings were ‘not the biggest handicap’ that people were having to endure as the country attempts to recover from Covid.

A range of measures introduced on Boxing Day to deal with the Omicron variant will be scrapped from tomorrow, but laws making masks mandatory in shops and other settings with remain.

In contrast, the Prime Minister has unveiled a bonfire of almost all restrictions in England by March, including guidance on masks.

Asked on the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme today if she can see people wearing masks for ‘months or years to come’, in Scotland, Ms Sturgeon said: ‘I hope not. I don’t want any of these measures to be in place for any longer than is necessary. 

‘But masks … are something we can do. None of us enjoy wearing them but they are perhaps not the biggest handicap to endure in order to try to stem transmission.

‘So while they can make a difference to controlling the virus then i think it is something we should do.

Again I would suggest that it is England that is the outlier here, not Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, or many countries across the world.’

Scottish Conservative shadow cabinet secretary for Covid recovery, Murdo Fraser said: ‘Nicola Sturgeon still can’t bring herself to admit the restrictions she imposed over Christmas were unnecessary. 

Source

Hippo Sighting Report

Help us out, we really appreciate it.

Help contribute to our research, and let us know if you have seen similar situations that we may have missed. Our team will review the details you provide and add to our main list once we verify the information.

stay informed

Subscribe and get the updated Hippo List.

Get notified when we release our updated lists by email.

Make a Donation

Thank you for subscribing!

We will send you an email to confirm your details.  Welcome aboard!

Thanks for sending us your report.

We will review your information, and publish in on our list once we validate the details.