Covid-19 Update 6.20pm 21 February 2022 – end of self-isolation from 24 February 2022

John Cook

Main Points – Living with Covid-19
COVID-19 Response: Living with COVID-19

  1. Removing the last domestic restrictions

From 24 February, the Government will:

  1. 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. After 5 days, they may choose to take a Lateral Flow Device (LFD) followed by another the next day – if both are negative, and they do not have a temperature, they can safely return to their normal routine. Those who test positive should avoid contact with anyone in an at risk group, including if they live in the same household. There will be specific guidance for staff in particularly vulnerable services, such as adult social care, healthcare, and prisons and places of detention.

  1. No longer ask fully vaccinated close contacts and those under the age of 18 to test daily for 7 days, and remove the legal requirement for close contacts who are not fully vaccinated to self-isolate. Guidance will set out the precautions that those who live in the same household as someone who has COVID-19, or who have stayed overnight in the same household, are advised to take to reduce risk to other people. Other contacts of people with COVID-19 will be advised to take extra care in following general guidance for the public on safer behaviours.
  2. 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.

  1.  Revoke The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations.

Local authorities will continue to manage local outbreaks of COVID-19 in high risk settings as they do with other infectious diseases.

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 update guidance setting out the ongoing steps that people with COVID-19 should take to minimise contact with other people.
From 21 February, the Government is removing the guidance for staff and students in most education and childcare settings to undertake twice weekly asymptomatic testing.

From 1 April, the Government will no longer provide free universal symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public in England.

  1. Testing, tracing and certification

From 21 February, the Government is removing the guidance for staff and students in most education and childcare settings to undertake twice weekly asymptomatic testing.

From 1 April, the Government will no longer provide free universal symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public in England.

From 1 April, there will be some limited ongoing free testing:
a. Limited symptomatic testing available for a small number of at-risk groups – the Government will set out further details on which groups will be eligible.
b. Free symptomatic testing will remain available to social care staff.

                From 24 February, routine contact tracing will end.
Contacts will no longer be required to self-isolate or advised to take daily tests. Instead, guidance will set out precautions that contacts can take to reduce risk to themselves and other people – and those testing positive for COVID-19 will be encouraged to inform their close contacts so that they can follow that guidance.

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.

  1. Businesses and other organisations

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. 60.

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

  1. Other points to note
  • The emergence of new variants will be a significant factor in determining the future path of the virus. New variants of COVID-19 will continue to emerge.
  • All scenarios assume that a more stable position will eventually 10 be reached over several years. In the ‘reasonable best case’ there may be a comparatively small resurgence in infections during autumn/winter 2022-23, and in the ‘reasonable worst case’ a very large wave of infections with increased levels of severe disease. The ‘optimistic central’ and ‘pessimistic central’ scenarios are considered the most likely.
  • Once COVID-19 becomes endemic it should be possible to respond to the virus in a similar way to other existing respiratory illnesses, through sustainable public health measures.
  • Booster doses of a COVID-19 vaccine provide good protection against severe disease and hospitalisation for the Omicron variant. Following two doses of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines, a Pfizer booster initially gives around 90% protection against hospitalisation, though this effect wanes over time. Similarly, a Moderna booster gives 90 to 95% protection against hospitalisation up to 9 weeks after vaccination.

The pandemic and associated non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) created significant economic disruption and drove the largest recession on record, with the UK economy contracting by 9.4% in 2020.

John Cook – Solicitor

John Cook

I am a qualified Solicitor with over 30 years’ experience running a business, managing a team, appearing in the Employment Tribunal and advising on almost every conceivable employment law and HR issue. Clients appreciate my down to earth and straight forward approach that allows them to achieve results and manage their organisation more effectively. I take the worry out of employment law and HR issues with a proactive and robust approach.