Living with Covid – what you need to know.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday in Parliament, the Government has published its proposals for the next stage of our collective journey, a 63 page snappily titled document “COVID-19 Response: Living with COVID-19”

Many of the changes have already made the headlines, from the lifting of isolation requirements to the end of free-testing. For businesses they are likely to want to weigh up how the changes may impact their business and to reassess how ‘living with Covid’ looks for their business, customers and employees.

From a risk assessment point of view, in future Covid-19 can ‘officially’ take a back seat and the focus will be on more general public health guidance. Let’s hope COVID-19 gets the memo!

Covid-19 response: Living with Covid

Changes at a glance

From 21 February

  • Removal of the guidance for staff and students in most education and childcare settings to undertake twice weekly asymptomatic testing.

From 24 February

  • Removal of 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 asking fully vaccinated close contacts and those aged under 18 to test daily for 7 days, and removal of the legal requirement for close contacts who are not fully vaccinated to self-isolate.
  • End of self-isolation support payments, and national funding for practical support and the medicine delivery service will no longer be available.
  • End of routine contact tracing. Contacts will no longer be required to self-isolate or advised to take daily tests.
  • End of the legal obligation for individuals to tell their employers when they are required to self-isolate.
  • The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations to be revoked

From 24 March

  • Removal of the COVID-19 provisions within the Statutory Sick Pay and Employment and Support Allowance regulations.

From 1 April

  • Removal of the current guidance on voluntary COVID-status certification in domestic settings and no longer recommended that certain venues use the NHS COVID Pass.
  • Updated 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 providing 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.
  • Removal of 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.

For full details of the Government’s response, please see here.