Government Announcement on New Covid Rules For England – Including Working From Home If Possible And Wearing Masks In More Public Places
Further to earlier LTBs, this is a summary update for Branches and Health and Safety Reps following the Government’s announcement yesterday regarding the so called ‘Plan B’ implementing further Covid restrictions for England. Other parts of the UK have also tightened up their Covid regulations.
What are the new measures for England?
From Friday 10 December, face coverings are mandatory for most indoor public venues including places of worship, theatres and cinemas – as well as on public transport and in places like shops and hairdressers.
Masks won’t be needed in pubs or restaurants, nor in venues like gyms where it’s “not practical to wear them”.
From Monday 13 December, people should work from home“if they can”.
From Wednesday 15 December(subject to parliamentary approval), people will need an NHS Covid Pass – showing their vaccination status or a recent negative lateral flow test – to gain entry to:
- Indoor unseated venues with more than 500 people
- Unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people
- Any venue with more than 10,000 people
The government also wants people to do a lateral flow test (LFT) before entering “a high-risk setting” – such as a crowded place – “involving people you wouldn’t normally come into contact with, or when visiting a vulnerable person”.
People who’ve come into contact with Omicron cases currently have to go into self-isolation for 10 days. Ministers intend to change the rules so they can do daily Covid tests, instead.
What Covid rules were already in place in England?
The rules include:
- Pupils at secondary schools are “strongly advised” to wear face coverings in communal areas; as should staff and visitors at all schools and childcare settings
- Contacts of suspected or confirmed Omicron cases will be contacted and required to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their age or vaccination status
- Anyone travelling to the UK has to take a PCR or LFT no more than 48 hours before their departure, and a PCR test within 48 hours of arrival in the UK – and must self-isolate until they have a negative result
- 1m-plus social distancing remains in places such as hospitals and passport control
- Anyone with Covid symptoms or who tests positive has to self-isolate
What’s happening with boosters?
Every eligible person in England, Scotland and Wales should be able to book their booster by the end of January – although some may get it at a later date.
- In England, jabs will be rolled out at 1,500 community pharmacy sites and extra hospital hubs
- Wales will increase capacity in clinics and drive-through centres and will work with GPs and others to deliver vaccines
- Northern Ireland has announced extra vaccination clinics and is prioritising 40 to 49-year-olds
- Scotland is focussing on the over-40s,and all 40 to 60-year-olds have been directly invited to get their booster
Why are the new changes being made?
A new Covid variant – Omicron – has been identified, and there are fears it could be more infectious and less responsive to vaccines.
What are the Covid rules in Wales?
- NHS Covid Pass needed for entry to nightclubs, cinemas, theatres and concert halls and many other indoor and outdoor events
- Work from home wherever possible
- Face coverings compulsory in schools, on public transport, and in shops and hospitals
What are the Covid rules in Northern Ireland?
- A limit of 30 people from different households mixing in homes
- Face coverings compulsory in shops, indoor seated venues and visitor attractions, public transport and some other settings
- Post-primary pupils must wear a face covering inside school buildings, as well as on school transport. Staff are encouraged to wear masks in school areas where they can’t socially distance
- Vaccine passports for venues including nightclubs, bars and cinemas
- Work from home wherever possible
What are the Covid rules in Scotland?
- 2m (6ft) physical distancing rules remain in healthcare settings such as hospitals, GP surgeries and dentists
- Face coverings still compulsory on public transport and inside places like shops
- All school staff and secondary pupils to wear face coverings indoors
- Indoor hospitality venues must collect customer contact details
- Work from home where possible until at least the middle of January
- All over-18s required to prove their vaccine status at nightclubs and other venues
- First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has urged people to take LFTs before mixing with other households
The implications of the announcement will, as with previous Covid restrictions announcements, be discussed with the employers.
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer