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Former British Prime Minister Boris JohnsonPhoto by Leon Neal/Getty Images

LONDON (LifeSiteNews) — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that his country is to move into mitigated COVID restrictions from January 27, dropping the legal requirement for face masks and COVID passports for entry into certain venues while leaving open the possibility for individual businesses to “voluntarily” require COVID jab certification.

In a Wednesday address to Parliament, Johnson said that the country would move into an eased lockdown phase known as “Plan A,” declaring that the transition — scheduled for January 27 — marks the end of a requirement to wear face coverings in any setting, including schools.

“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,” he said to a rapturous chamber.

Turning to Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the House of Commons, Johnson added that “from tomorrow [Thursday] we will no longer require face masks in classrooms.”

Although seeming to abolish the legal requirement for masks, the prime minister said the government “will continue to suggest the use of face coverings in enclosed or private spaces, particularly when you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet, but we will trust the judgement of the British people and no longer criminalize anyone who chooses not to wear one.”

In addition, Johnson said his government “is no longer asking people to work from home” and that it “will also ease restrictions further on visits to care homes,” leaving the finer details to be parsed out by Health Secretary Sajid Javid “in the coming days.”

However, after announcing that “we can return to ‘Plan A’ in England and allow ‘Plan B’ regulations to expire,” Johnson said that “the House will know that some measures still remain, including those on self-isolation.”

Self-quarantining rules are to remain in place until at least March 24, when the legal obligation to stay at home for at least five days following a positive COVID test will expire. Johnson said that he “very much expects not to renew” the rule, adding that he would “seek a vote in this House to bring that date forwards.”

Although announcing that mandatory COVID jab credentials for entry to larger venues are being scrapped, Johnson quickly qualified that private businesses and organizations can still “choose to use the NHS [National Health Service] COVID Pass voluntarily, but we will end the compulsory use of COVID status certification in England.”

Political commentator and GB News host Neil Oliver posted a tweet on Johnson’s remarks, asserting that “this is not the end.”

Privy Council member and outspoken lockdown critic Lord David Frost, who previously called the government restrictions “COVID theatre,” commented that the lockdown measures were “always unnecessary” and that it is time “to get back to normal.”

Johnson said that he was prompted to relax measures as COVID infections had “now peaked nationally,” admitting that the crisis is more endemic than pandemic and explaining that his overall plan is to “replace legal requirements with advice and guidance urging people with the virus to be careful and considerate of others.”

“There remain, of course, significant pressures on the NHS across our country,” Johnson continued, “but hospital admissions, which were doubling every nine days, just two weeks ago have now stabilized, with admissions in London even falling. The numbers in intensive care not only remain low but are actually also falling.”

Despite the rapid decline in infections, the prime minister confirmed that there will be no reprieve regarding the punishing NHS COVID shot mandate, which will require all frontline health-care staff to have received a full regimen of the jabs as a condition of employment by April 1.

The mandate is expected to affect more than 70,000 NHS employees.

In answer to Conservative MP Dr. Andrew Murrison who asked whether there might be a relaxation of the requirement, Johnson said: “I just remind him [Murrison] this is something that is supported by the NHS themselves for patient safety … People do want their medical staff to be vaccinated. I would just repeat what I have said throughout the afternoon, I do think it is the responsibility of all healthcare professionals to be vaccinated.”

Meanwhile, data from the U.K. Health Security Agency suggests that infection with the novel coronavirus is much more likely among those who have received the jabs. The “vaccinated” have likewise come to dominate COVID hospitalizations and deaths in the U.K. and other highly vaccinated European nations, as well as parts of the United States.