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End of mandatory vaccine passes as Plan B restrictions to be relaxed in England

Boris Johnson: announced on Wednesday that Plan B restrictions will end on January 26
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Prime minister Boris Johnson has announced Plan B Covid-19 restrictions will be lifted in England next week.

Plan B measures currently in place, including mandatory Covid certification to access certain venues and the wearing of face masks, will expire on January 26. The prime minister's announcement could have an impact on rules and guidance currently imposed at racecourses across England.

The Racecourse Association would not comment when contacted by the Racing Post on Wednesday following the government's announcement, but will make a statement in the near future.

Johnson also announced working from home guidance would be lifted from next Thursday.

In a statement to the House of Commons, he said: "This morning, the cabinet concluded that because of the booster campaign and the way the public responded to Plan B measures, we can return to Plan A in England and allow Plan B regulations to expire.

"As a result, from the start of Thursday next week, mandatory certifications will end in England, but organisations can choose to use NHS Covid passes voluntarily. From now on, the government is no longer asking people to work from home and people should now speak to their employers about arrangements to returning to the office.

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"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.

"In the country at large we will continue to suggest the wearing of face coverings in enclosed or crowded spaces, particularly when coming into contact with people you don't normally meet, but we will trust the judgement of the British people."

People in England had been required to provide an NHS Covid pass to gain entry into unseated outdoor venues with a capacity of 4,000 people or more, or any venue with a capacity of 10,000 or more from December 15, which affected major meetings including Kempton's two-day King George VI Chase fixture.

There were 84,987 daily positive Covid-19 cases in England and 94,432 in the UK overall on Tuesday according to the website.

Restrictions in Wales could ease on January 28

While restrictions are set to ease in England next week, some will remain in place in Wales and Scotland to help combat the spread of the Omicron variant, including the use of compulsory Covid certification for entry to sporting events including race meetings.

Wales is on a roadmap to return to alert level zero – the lowest level of restrictions – on January 28 if cases continue to fall, with limits on outdoor attendance including sporting events removed entirely from Friday.

Once Wales returns to alert level zero at the end of the month, which will also see nightclubs reopen and hospitality allowed to operate normally, Covid passes will still be required for large events before Wales returns to a three-week review cycle from February 10.

Kelso: will welcome back racegoers on February 3

In Scotland, crowd limits for large outdoor events were removed on Monday with Kelso set to become the first racecourse to welcome back spectators on February 3.

Covid certification showing full vaccination or a recent negative lateral flow test are still required in some capacity after the country's first minister Nicola Sturgeon also announced on Monday that 50 per cent of attendees at outdoor events with at least 1,000 people would be required to have their Covid certification checked, up from the current 20 per cent requirement.

The vaccine passport scheme, which was introduced last year, is also in place for anyone over the age of 18 for entry into unseated outdoor events of more than 4,000 people and any event attended by more than 10,000 people.

Read these next:

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Boost for Scottish racecourses as crowd limits to be lifted

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From the start of Thursday next week, mandatory certifications will end in England, but organisations can choose to use NHS Covid passes voluntarily
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