On 22 February, the Prime Minister announced his “living with COVID-19” strategy.
A full transcript of his speech is available here.
We are awaiting further guidance on the measures and especially the potential impact on employers but, in summary, for England:
From and including 24 February
- It will no longer be law to self-isolate if you test positive. The provision of self-isolation support payments will also end but Statutory Sick Pay can still be claimed for a further month.
- If you’re a fully vaccinated close contact or under 18 you will no longer be asked to test daily for seven days.
- If you are close contact who is not fully vaccinated you will no longer be required to self-isolate.
- Until 1 April, you are advised to stay at home if you test positive. After that, people with COVID-19 symptoms are expected to exercise personal responsibility, just as those with flu are encouraged to be considerate towards others.
From and including 21 February
- Staff and students in most education and childcare settings no longer need to test twice a week.
From and including 1 April
- This will be the end of free symptomatic (PCR) and asymptomatic (lateral flow test) testing for the general public. Those at the highest risk of COVID-19 will continue to get free symptomatic tests.
- Work is being carried out with retailers to ensure the public will always be able to buy a test.
It is also worth noting from the speech:
“We should be clear the pandemic is not over and there may be significant resurgences.
Our scientists are certain there will be new variants and it’s very possible that those will be worse than Omicron.
So we will continue to protect the most vulnerable with targeted vaccinations and treatments and we have bought enough doses of vaccine to anticipate a wide range of possible JCVI recommendations.
Today this includes a new Spring booster, which will be offered to those aged 75 and over, older care home residents, and those over 12 who are immunosuppressed.
We will also retain disease surveillance systems and contingency measures which can ensure our resilience in the face of future waves or new variants.
And we will build on the innovations that defined the very best of our response to the pandemic, including continuing the work of the Vaccines Task Force, which has already secured contracts with manufacturers trialling new vaccines which could provide protection against new variants.”
The devolved nations will be announcing their own plans with regards to the relaxation of COVID-19 measures.