End to covid restrictions announced
The Prime Minister made a statement on 21 February detailing the government's strategy for living with Covid in England:
From 24 February, the legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test will end as well self-isolation support payments. Provisions for claiming statutory sick pay will remain in force until 24 March. Until 1 April, those testing positive will be advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for at least 5 full days and then continue to follow the guidance until they have received 2 negative test results on consecutive days. Fully vaccinated close contacts of positive cases will no longer have to test daily for seven days, and the legal requirement for close contacts who are not fully vaccinated to self-isolate will be removed.
Free symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public will end from 1 April, but free symptomatic tests for the oldest age groups and those most vulnerable to Covid will be provided. Guidance to the public and businesses will be consolidated in line with public health advice, and the requirement for every employer to explicitly consider Covid-19 in their risk assessments will be removed. The existing set of "Working Safely" guidance will also be replaced with new public health guidance.
From 1 April, the government will no longer recommend the use of voluntary Covid-19 status certification. The government will update guidance setting out the ongoing steps that people with Covid-19 should take to minimise contact with other people (to align with the changes to testing).
While many will welcome this return to something approaching the old normality, it poses employers with significant challenges. We discuss some of the issues that the relaxation in restrictions will throw up in our latest bulletin, 'Is Covid over in the workplace?'