The living with Covid-19 response has today been announced.
From 24 February 2022 the Government will:
- Remove the legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test. Adults and children who test positive will continue to 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.
- No longer ask fully vaccinated close contacts and those aged under 18 to test daily for 7 days, and remove the legal requirement for close contacts who are not fully vaccinated to self-isolate.
- End self-isolation support payments, national funding for practical support and the medicine delivery service will no longer be available.
- End routine contact tracing. Contacts will no longer be required to self-isolate or advised to take daily tests.
- End the legal obligation for individuals to tell their employers when they are required to self-isolate.
- Revoke The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations.
From 24 March 2022, the Government will:
- Remove the COVID-19 provisions within the Statutory Sick Pay and Employment and Support Allowance regulations.
From 1 April 2022, the Government will:
- Remove the current guidance on voluntary COVID-status certification in domestic settings and no longer recommend that certain venues use the NHS COVID Pass.
- Update guidance setting out the ongoing steps that people with COVID-19 should take to minimise contact with other people. This will align with the changes to testing.
- No longer provide free universal symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public in England.
- Consolidate guidance to the public and businesses, in line with public health advice.
- Remove the health and safety requirement for every employer to explicitly consider COVID-19 in their risk assessments.
- Replace the existing set of ‘Working Safely’ guidance with new public health guidance.
What does this mean for us as employers?
- Until 1 April 2022, you should encourage employees to follow the guidance and continue to stay at home if they test positive for Covid-19 and to avoid contact with anyone in an at-risk group. They can follow existing guidance to leave isolation and still test on day 5 and 6 to see if they are negative. However, there is no legal duty for them to isolate. There is also no legal duty to isolate for unvaccinated close contacts. (NB there will be different guidance for those working in vulnerable services).
- From 24 March 2022 if you pay Statutory Sick Pay this will return to normal for Covid-19 illnesses and therefore, SSP will only be payable from day 4 of illness rather than day 1 if employees have Covid-19 and if they meet all other eligibility criteria. You will also not be able to reclaim for SSP paid related to Covid-19.
- From 1 April 2022, individuals will be encouraged to exercise personal responsibility as they should with other illnesses such as flu. There will also be no free testing for the general public so employees may well not know if they have covid-19. You may want to have some guidance in place for employees to stay home if they feel unwell as they normally would if they need to attend the workplace. You will also need to balance concerns for employees who could be vulnerable (further boosters will be available for them in the Spring). You should also refer to public health guidance and working safely guidance that the Government will be publishing.
- From 1 April 2022, you do not need to explicitly cover Covid-19 in your risk assessments.
- Bearing all of this in mind consider your current policies regarding Covid-19 and if they need amending or adapting.
The Prime Ministers statement can be found here
The press release can be found here
The Covid-19 Response Living with Covid-19 can be found here