On Monday, in the House of the Commons, the Prime Minister outlined the content of the Government’s publication ‘Living with COVID’.
The key messages include:
- Ending legal requirements for twice a week testing in schools from today.
- Ending of legal requirement to self isolate following a positive test result from 24 February.
- Ending of legal requirement to test for 7 days after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive from 24 February.
- End of routine contact tracing on 24 February.
- Ending of free testing for the general public from 1 April.
- Ending of guidance for voluntary COVID-status certification for certain venues from 1 April.
The publication ‘Living with COVID’ can be read in full here.
There are a few key points that will affect businesses:
From 24 February end self-isolation support payments and national funding for practical support. The medicine delivery service will no longer be available. People who were instructed to self-isolate before this date will still be able to claim support payments within the next 42 days.
From 24 March, the COVID-19 provisions within Statutory Sick Pay and Employment and Support Allowance regulations will end. People with COVID-19 may still be eligible, subject to the normal conditions of entitlement.
From 1 April, the Government will remove the current guidance on domestic voluntary COVID-status certification and will no longer recommend that certain venues use the NHS COVID Pass. The NHS COVID Pass will remain available within the NHS App for a limited period, to support the use of certification in other parts of the UK. The NHS App will continue to allow individuals access to their vaccination status for international travel, as well as their recovery status for travel to those overseas destinations that recognise it.
From 1 April, guidance to the public and to businesses will be consolidated in line with public health advice. There will continue to be specific guidance for those whose immune system means they are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 despite vaccination.
Businesses and other organisations
Employers and businesses have also taken significant steps over the pandemic to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 within their settings. The Government has lifted the majority of legal requirements on businesses, and continues to provide ‘Working Safely’ guidance setting out the steps that employers can take to reduce risk in their workplaces.
From 24 February, workers will not be legally obliged to tell their employers when they are required to self-isolate. Employers and workers should follow Government guidance for those with COVID-19.
From 1 April, the Government will remove the health and safety requirement for every employer to explicitly consider COVID-19 in their risk assessments. The intention is to empower businesses to take responsibility for implementing mitigations that are appropriate for their circumstances. Employers that specifically work with COVID-19, such as laboratories, must continue to undertake a risk assessment that considers COVID-19.
From 1 April, the Government will replace the existing set of ‘Working Safely’ guidance with new public health guidance. Employers should continue to consider the needs of employees at greater risk from COVID-19, including those whose immune system means they are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19. The Government will consult with employers and businesses to ensure
guidance continues to support them to manage the risk of COVID-19 in workplaces.
The Government will continue to promote and support good ventilation. Employers and businesses should continue identifying poorly ventilated spaces and take steps to improve fresh air flow.
There will be a lot of questions left to be answered, and we are in regular contact with the HSE and Primary Authority to support members through these changes in the coming weeks.