The government has today announced that the measures put in place under Plan B in England will be lifted.
The government is no longer asking people to work from home. People should now talk to their employers to agree arrangements to return to the office.
- From 20 January: Face coverings will no longer be advised for staff and pupils in secondary school and college classrooms.
- From 27 January: Face coverings will no longer be advised for staff and pupils in communal areas of secondary schools, nor for staff in communal areas of primaries. Directors of Public Health will only be able to recommend pupils and staff wear masks in communal areas in places where there are outbreaks or where the local public health situation justifies it, and with sign-off from the Education Secretary.
- From 27 January: There is no longer a legal requirement to wear a face covering. The government suggests that you continue to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where you may come into contact with other people you do not normally meet.
- From 27 January: Venues and events will no longer be required by law to check visitors’ NHS COVID Pass. Some venues may still choose to run the NHS COVID PASS voluntarily and request it.
In his speech to the Commons he added
‘On Monday we reduced the isolation period to five full days with two negative tests.
And there will soon come a time when we can remove the legal requirement to self-isolate altogether – just as we don’t place legal obligations on people to isolate if they have flu.
As Covid becomes endemic we will need to replace legal requirements with advice and guidance urging people with the virus to be careful and considerate of others.
The self-isolation regulations expire on 24th March, at which point I very much expect not to renew them’.
We all know by now that the devil is in the detail; we will update you with any news from Local Authorities and the HSE. Although these good news measures should reduce staff absence as see the start of a ‘return to normality’ Health and Safety Law still stands.
As we start to prepare for the return of staff to offices and business premises, it is important to review and amend your Covid-19 risk assessments and safety controls, to ensure the Health and Safety of workers. Regular testing, good ventilation and good hygiene are imperative to control the spread of Covid-19. So too is supporting the mental health of those who have spent many months at home, and who may be severely affected by the pandemic. Equally, seeing the relaxation of measures outside the workplace can be a direct conflict of practices within the workplace, careful management of employees and methods of work need to be considered.