From one minute past midnight people will no longer be legally required to wear a face covering on public transport.
The change follows a significant reduction in the number of coronavirus cases on the Island, allowing a return to level one of the gov’s COVID-19 Winter Framework.
People are also no longer legally required to wear face coverings in health and social care settings. However, Manx Care’s policy requires anyone visiting its health and social care facilities – such as Noble’s Hospital – to wear a medical-grade face mask
While the wearing of face coverings is no longer ‘expected’, the gov says it is still strongly recommended when mixing with others, especially where other mitigations such as distancing or ventilation are more difficult.
Chief Minister Alfred Cannan MHK said: ‘I want to thank everyone on our Island for the way they have responded to the threat of the Omicron variant over the past few weeks. Overwhelmingly, people rolled up their sleeves to get their boosters; tested themselves regularly and reported the results; and acted responsibly, particularly with wearing face coverings. All of this has helped our community to weather the rapid spread of this new variant and keep our Island functioning.
‘All indicators point to our Omicron wave having peaked in early January with case numbers reducing significantly over recent days. Whilst COVID-19 has not gone away, the reduction in case numbers means the Council of Ministers has been able to review the situation here on-Island. We said we would only keep additional measures in place as long as they were necessary and in light of the reduced threat of high case numbers, the Council of Ministers feels the time is right to adjust our response accordingly.
‘I would encourage everyone to still think carefully and act appropriately. The message of hands, face, space, and fresh air is as important as ever. Whilst face coverings will return to being a matter of personal choice outside of health and social care settings, they are still strongly recommended where large numbers of people mix or where ventilation is poor or distancing difficult. Whilst it would seem the worst has passed, we must remain vigilant, but can do so with cautious optimism.’
There are no changes to isolation requirements for those who test positive for COVID-19. There is one change to border rules, with the age limit for children arriving on the Island exempt from isolation and testing increased from 12 years to 12 years and three months. This is to allow those turning 12 a three month window to become fully vaccinated.