People who test positive for coronavirus will no longer be legally required to isolate from Thursday. Those who receive a positive Covid-19 test will still be advised to stay at home for at least five days, but will not be obliged to under law
Routine contact tracing will also end on Thursday, as will self-isolation payments and the legal obligation for individuals to tell their employers about their requirement to isolate.
Changes to statutory sick pay and employment support allowance designed to help people through the coronavirus pandemic will end on March 24.
Free universal testing will end in April under Boris Johnson’s plan for “living with Covid”.
Reacting to the announcement, Ms Leadbeater said: “I’m fairly confident that nobody wants Covid restrictions to last any longer than is absolutely necessary – I know I don’t - but I don’t believe that we should be throwing caution to the wind either.
"Much as we would like to go back to life before the virus, sadly that option isn’t open to us.
"We now have to adjust to a world where we can live with Covid while still protecting the most vulnerable in society.
"We must also take some of the learnings of the last two years forward with us into this new normal.
“We don’t know what new variants might be around the corner, so it would be wrong to wind down the testing facilities that have helped protect us until now.
"Free tests should continue to be available – particularly to those who cannot afford to buy them and people working in health and social care and other frontline settings.
"And we must not leave the most vulnerable in fear of leaving their homes.
"We know that there are a significant number of people who would be seriously ill and even lose their lives if they caught Covid – indeed, many of us have such people in our families, friendship groups and places of work.
"There are also people who will be struck down with long Covid – a debilitating and life changing condition which we still know very little about.
“Going forward we need enough testing of the wider population to be able to identify any new variants quickly, much faster vaccination of the whole world, a proper plan for the NHS and social care to cope with any future surge in infections and a renewed focus on support for those with long Covid.
“So – yes – we do need to return to as a free a society as possible, with all the joy and opportunities this brings, but we all also have a responsibility to protect those most at risk.
"Nobody wants to see Covid being spread when we can contain it by maintaining self-isolation if we are infected and keeping away from public areas or the workplace if we suspect we are carrying the virus.
"That puts a responsibility on employers and the Government to ensure that nobody feels they have to go to work because they can’t afford to stay at home.”