WINCHESTER’s MP has suggested the current measures to prevent the spread of Covid are not “sustainable”.

In the House of Commons on Wednesday Steve Brine pressed Prime Minister Boris Johnson on a “long-term plan for living with Covid in 2022”.

Mr Brine: “The Prime Minister deserves real credit I think for his recent decisions in respect of Covid. He has followed the evidence, but he has also taken I think the wider view of our society and our economy which has to be right.

“In my opinion England is not out of step with Scotland and Wales, they are out of step with us. Can I ask my right honourable friend to also, though, take the long view because it is increasingly clear we are a long way from learning to live with Covid but we also have an NHS on a permanent war footing and that’s not sustainable so what is the long-term plan for living with Covid in 2022 and could that include any changes to mandatory isolation, test and trace as for instance we see different isolation dates in the US and Germany to here in the UK?”

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Mr Johnson said the Government will continue to “keep isolation timings under review” as it does not want to “release people back into society so soon”.

He added: “As I said in my earlier answers, I do think we have a good chance of getting through this difficult wave and getting back to something like normality as fast as possible. It is important that Omicron seems to provide some sort of immunity for instance against Delta, that may be a positive augury for the future.”

It came as the PM faced a series of requests from his own backbenchers on when restrictions will be dropped, such as working from home guidance, and for assurances that certain sectors will be exempt from any future curbs.

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Mr Johnson insisted face masks in schools will “not last a day more” than needed and noted there are no restrictions on weddings and funerals at the moment, telling MPs: “That’s certainly the way we wish to keep it.”

He also gave assurances that “something closer to normality”, with fewer Covid restrictions, could begin by the end of January.

Mr Johnson reiterated the existing Plan B measures expire on January 26, telling MPs: “By then we hope to have greatly increased the already extraordinarily high number of people in this country who have not only been vaccinated, but who have been boosted.”

He added: “As Omicron blows through and it is is very much my hope and belief that it will, I do believe we will get back to something much closer to normality.

“That doesn’t meant there won’t be further challenges but I think life will return to something much much closer to normality. It won’t be necessary to have the restrictions that we currently have in place.”

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Kimberley Barber