Covid: Free testing likely to continue in Scotland and mask rules scrapped on London Tubeon February 23, 2022 at 5:02 pm

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Five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Wednesday evening.

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Wednesday evening. We’ll have another update for you tomorrow morning.

1. Free testing likely to continue in Scotland

While in England mass free Covid testing will end from 1 April, in Scotland the country’s deputy first minister has said it will continue at some level beyond that date. John Swinney said Scottish ministers would set out in March how free PCR and lateral flow tests would be allocated. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said testing will be more “targeted” from the end of March and her government is seeking clarity from ministers in Westminster about how it could be funded. You can read more about the different plans for testing across the UK here.

Lateral flow test

Image source, Getty Images

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2. Tube and bus mask rules scrapped in London

Passengers will not be required to wear face coverings on London’s transport network from tomorrow. Transport for London (TfL) said it would no longer be a condition of carriage for masks to be worn, to tie in with the government lifting remaining Covid restrictions in England. TfL said it made the decision after data showed a fall in Covid infection rates in London but it still “strongly encouraged” people to wear masks. The legal requirement to wear a mask on public transport in England was lifted last month, but London’s mayor chose to keep the rule in place on the capital’s transport network.

Woman wearing mask on the Tube

Image source, EPA

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3. Heathrow passenger numbers plummet

Heathrow Airport has said its passenger numbers fell to their lowest level for 50 years in 2021, as the pandemic restricted travel abroad. The UK’s biggest airport does not expect passenger numbers to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2025 or 2026, chief executive John Holland-Kaye said. The airport had a weak start to the year, with January and February numbers almost a quarter lower than expected. But it predicts “a surge of Brits heading for summer sun” in 2022.

Heathrow passenger

Image source, Getty Images

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4. What do people in Wales think about Covid changes?

Covid restrictions are being lifted at a different pace across the UK but decisions made by ministers in England also have an impact on the rest of the UK. The move to end free testing in England from 1 April, for example, could have a knock-on affect on funding for tests across the UK. We’ve spoken to people in Wales about how they feel about the changes.

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5. Towns to keep one-way streets

When the country first went into lockdown many towns and cities across the UK introduced measures like wider pavements and one-way streets to help social distancing. While some High Streets have gone back to normal, Ceredigion Council in Wales says the changes are staying for now. Some business have complained of fewer parking spaces and lower footfall but others say they have meant more space for outdoor dining. Read more about what people think here.

Café and outside diner

And there’s more…

For more on how Covid rules are changing across the UK, our explainer has all the details.

You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

Government statistics show 160,979 people have now died, with 164 deaths reported in the latest 24-hour period. In total, 18,734,683 people have tested positive, up 39,656 in the latest 24-hour period. Latest figures show 11,083 people in hospital. In total, more than 52 million people have have had at least one vaccination
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