All coronavirus laws in England including the legal requirement for people who test positive to isolate have come to an end today.

It marks the start of a new stage of coronavirus pandemic and forms part of the Government’s living with Covid strategy.

Coronavirus infection rates in south Essex have fallen in the past week, fuelling hope the Omicron wave is now over.

Southend recorded the highest number of Covid cases in the latest weekly figures to February 18, with 713.

Basildon recorded 621 in the same period, while there were 251 new cases in Castle Point.

Rochford saw 373 cases confirmed, but has the highest infection rate (425 cases per 100,000 people) due to its smaller population.

Despite the improving picture, there are still a number of areas still considered hotspots, with case rates above 400 in the past week.

Those areas are:

  • Great Wakering and Foulness (48 cases)
  • Shoebury (58 cases)
  • Thorpe Bay (41 cases)
  • Southchurch (42 cases)
  • Victoria (55 cases)
  • Chalkwell (42 cases)
  • Leigh (45 cases)
  • West Leigh (41 cases)
  • Eastwood Park (50 cases)
  • Ashingdon (35 cases)
  • Hullbirdge (29 cases)
  • Rayleigh North West (49 cases)
  • Rayleigh North East (42 cases)
  • Rayleigh South West (38 cases)
  • Wickford North East (30 cases)
  • Lee Chapel South and Kingswood (44 cases)
  • Langdon Hill (37 cases)

An Ipsos survey of 1,018 people aged 16-75 found that 46% of those polled believe that the Government is relaxing coronavirus restrictions too quickly, while 39% believe it is about the right time.

The survey found that 49% of people do not support the end of legal self-isolation for those testing positive for Covid, while 33% of those polled do support the end of the legal requirement.

Almost four in 10 Britons surveyed said it is likely they will go to the shops (37%) even if they have tested positive for Covid, and the same proportion of workers feel they would go into work if they were positive.

The survey found that 24% said it is likely they would travel on public transport if they had tested positive, while 20% said they would visit elderly relatives.

More than half of those polled (52%) said it is likely that they would go for a walk outside if they had tested positive for the virus.

Just 29% of those surveyed support the decision to no longer provide free Covid-19 test kits.

Keiran Pedley, at Ipsos, said: “While the public are divided on whether or not this is the right time for the Government to relax Covid-19 restrictions, it’s clear that the decision to stop providing free Covid-19 tests to anyone who requests them is not a popular one.

“It is notable that British workers are split on whether they would go into work even after testing positive which may have implications for plans to get people back into offices.”