"We will trust the judgement of the British people," the PM said.
England will lift almost all of its COVID-19 restrictions starting next week, with the goal of getting back to normal life as soon as possible.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday that he's going to remove England's "Plan B" COVID-19 rules, which include measures like mask wearing, social distancing and showing proof of vaccination.
Plan B was implemented late last year when the U.K. was bracing for the Omicron variant, which spread quickly around the world in November and December.
But now Johnson wants to return to Plan A, which essentially means opening things up and removing mandatory measures that impact most people's daily lives.
In a statement to lawmakers, Johnson said that he "will end the compulsory use of COVID status certification in England." He added that organizations can still use the pass "voluntarily" if they wish.
"Our scientists believe it is likely that the Omicron wave has now peaked nationally," Johnson said.
He also announced that the government no longer requires people to work from home anymore and that employers and their workers can start discussing plans to return to the office.
In terms of masks? They're also out.
"Having looked at the data carefully, the Cabinet concluded that once regulations lapse, the government will no longer mandate the wearing of face masks anywhere," Johnson said. Students and staff won't be required to wear masks inside classrooms starting as early as January 20.
Although the mask mandate is being removed, the PM still encouraged people to continue wearing masks in crowded situations, especially around people they don't usually see.
"But we will trust the judgement of the British people and no longer criminalize anyone who chooses not to wear one."
He also indicated that they would be easing restrictions around visits to care homes in the days ahead.
However, certain restrictions will still remain, such as self-isolation in cases where people have tested positive for the virus.
Johnson also recently changed the rules so that people who test positive for COVID-19 will have to isolate for only five days and take two negative tests before going out again.
However, the PM said he'd like to eventually remove the self-isolation rule entirely, and he compared it to self-isolating when you have the flu.
"The self-isolation regulations expire on 24th March, at which point I very much expect not to renew them," he said.
The restrictions will be removed starting next Thursday, January 27.
The changes apply to England only, and not to the entirety of the United Kingdom. However, BBC News reports that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which all set their own public health rules, have also recently announced the easing of some restrictions.
Johnson's critics were quick to point out that he made this announcement amid his own COVID-related scandal. There are calls for him to quit as PM after it was revealed that his staffers partied at his residence during lockdowns in 2020, BBC News reports.
Johnson has so far resisted the calls to step down.
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.