Prime minister Boris Johnson announced that all of the Plan B measures – including the compulsory wearing of face masks – would be lifted over the next week, while admitting that infection rates are still high.
The move has raised some eyebrows, especially since Johnson has been facing challenges to his leadership over allegations that Downing Street hosted multiple parties throughout the Covid lockdowns.
BBC Breakfast’s Charlie Stayt told Javid: “Some people think that the reason all of these measures [have been lifted] is pure politics.
“This is about saving the skin of the prime minister.”
The health secretary replied: “People would be wrong to think that.”
He referred back to the press conference from Wednesday and explained that government scientists have made it clear we have “reached the peak of case infections and hospitalisations”.
But, Javid admitted hat he would still be choosing to cover his face in crowded settings.
He explained: “Because prevalence is still high.
“If I go to my local shop, which is small and enclosed, you can have quite a few people in there at one time.
“I don’t know most of those people, so I think that would be sensible. I think that [wearing a mask] would be sensible on the Tube in London.
“People will be asked to make their own personal judgement, just as we do when fighting flu and other [illnesses].
“I don’t think it can be right to keep rules in place that require people to do things or wear face masks without reviewing them.”
Stayt replied: “I do understand that – but equally, do you understand that people will hear you say that the rules are relaxed, and in the same breath the health secretary – [who] is telling them you don’t have to wear a mask – is saying that I’m going to wear a mask?
“Can you see that that is a little mixed?”
Javid replied by saying this was simply a return to Plan A, where people exercised their own personal responsibility rather than by “government diktat”.
Not only will the face mask mandate be revoked but NHS Covid passes will no longer be compulsory.
The working from home guidance has been lifted, too.
The legal requirement for people with Covid to self-isolate will also be allowed to lapse when regulations expire on March 24.
The decision came just days after the alleged ‘Operation save Big Dog’ hit he headlines. This was reportedly a strategy to bring new, dramatic Tory policies forward to win back backbenchers who were wavering in their support for Johnson.
This included introducing a freeze on the BBC licence fee for two years and new promises on tackling the influx of refugees boats arriving on England.