U.K. drops mask mandates, vaccine passports, other COVID restrictions

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was met with cheers throughout his speech.

Updated: January 20, 2022 - 11:35pm

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The United Kingdom is ending many COVID-19 restrictions next Thursday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced. 

People in Great Britain will no longer be forced to wear face masks in public places, COVID passport requirements are dropped, and employees are encouraged to return to the workplace, the BBC reports.

Johnson was met with cheers throughout his speech as he said restrictions could be eased because of boosters and how everyone followed guidelines. 

Private businesses can still decide to require the COVID pass.

The prime minister emphasized that students will no longer be required to wear face masks in classrooms either.

"We will trust the judgment of the British people, and no longer criminalize anyone who chooses not to wear" a mask, Johnson said.

The British government will create a long-term COVID-19 strategy, Johnson said.

"We hope and intend to protect our liberty and avoid restrictions in future by relying instead on medical advances especially the vaccines which have already saved so many lives," Johnson told Parliament, also reminding that "we must all remain cautious during these last weeks of winter."

Johnson is facing calls to resign following accusations of hosting parties during lockdown.

While the U.K. lifts restrictions, other countries are imposing more COVID mandates. The Austrian parliament just passed a bill mandating the vaccine for all adults with a threat of fines for those who do not comply. In Washington, D.C., people are now required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination and photo identification to go to restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues.