COVID update

The government has announced that it will be bringing in new COVID-19 restrictions for England this week. The news follows significant concerns over the emergence of a new coronavirus variant.  The government has confirmed, however, that it will not yet be moving fully to its COVID-19 Plan B – instead it is implementing a Plan B-Lite.

The quick introduction of these measures demonstrates the speed with which the government is prepared to bring in new restrictions to respond to COVID-19 concerns. This means that employers need to continue to keep on the ball to ensure they can react immediately.

Employers need to be aware of the following changes:

Tuesday 30 November 2021

Face coverings in shops and public transport

Face coverings will once again be mandatory in certain settings including shops, banks, post offices, hairdressers, and on public transport. Importantly, however, at this stage they are not compulsory in hospitality venues.  Full details of this measure are awaited.

Employers will need to consider this measure both for staff and visitors to their workplace

Day 2 PCR tests regardless of vaccination status

The government is reintroducing an obligation for travellers into England to take a day 2 PCR test, regardless of vaccination status (replacing the existing requirement to take a Lateral Flow Test). The PCR test must be purchased from a private provider.  Importantly, travellers will also be required to self-isolate pending receipt of a negative result.  A positive result will require the traveller to self-isolate for 10 days, as now.

Self-isolation will mean an employee not being able to attend work, Employers will need to re-visit their time off/working from home arrangements for self-isolation.

Close contacts of Omicron cases must self-isolate

The government requires all close contacts of anyone who has tested positive for the Omicron variant to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of vaccination status. Affected individuals will be contacted by NHS Test & Trace.

Again Employers will need to revisit their self-isolation arrangements should an employee be notified via NHS Test & Trace.

At this stage, the government is not recommending that there be a return to home-working for those who are able to do so.

We advise that all employers review their COVID 19 risk assessment to ensure that the most appropriate COVID secure measure are taking place based on their industry and workplace. If you need further support with this, please contact our sister company, Health & Safety Support