Despite the pre-Christmas concerns about the Omicron variant, COVID-19 isolation and infection control measures are now being relaxed considerably. Employers should be aware of the following key changes:
- From 17 January: self-isolation after a positive COVID test is reduced to 5 full days rather than 7 if the individual tests negative on both day 5 and day 6 and does not have a temperature;
- The statutory sick pay changes which came into force in December (to allow employees to self-certify for absences up to 28 days) will cease to apply from 27 January - so for periods of absence starting on or after that date, the self-certification period will revert to 7 days;
- The current "work from home" requirement will end on 26 January.
- Mandatory mask-wearing in shops and on public transport will also end on 26 January, as will the use of of COVID passports by certain venues.
- The legal duty to self-isolate will be removed altogether from 24 March (and replaced with guidance).
- The requirement for all staff engaged in CQC-regulated activities who have face-to-face contact with patients to be fully vaccinated applies from 1 April 2022. Affected employers are expected to dismiss large numbers of staff who remain unvaccinated.
Employers should review current guidance to staff and ensure that they keep up to speed with developments.