As expected Boris Johnson has announced the relaxation of almost all legal restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID pandemic. The announcement confirmed;
- From Thursday 24 February those testing positive for COVID will no longer be legally required to isolate. The government will issue guidance which advises people to self-isolate if they test positive for COVID but this guidance will be allowed to expire from 1 April, at which point those who test positive will be encouraged to exercise personal responsibility.
- From 1 April free lateral flow tests will cease to be available other than for the over 80s or those who are at high risk.
- From 24 March rules relating to statutory sick pay permitting employers to claim sick pay from the first day of absence will end and the usual SSP rules will apply to COVID related absences.
- Similarly from 24 March, Employment Support Allowance rules will revert to their pre-COVID standard with employers only permitted to claim after 7 days.
- Travel tests will remain despite the relaxation of domestic rules.
- It will be left to companies to decide what other protections they wish to maintain such as face masks and social distancing.
We are still awaiting the published guidance and will update further once this is received but this appears to be a very firm step in the way of releasing all COVID restrictions. Employers will though want to understand the ongoing risks so that their own workplace risk assessments can be undertaken and appropriate voluntary measures put in place.
If these changes affect you or your business please contact our Employment Team on 0345 646 0406 or fill in our online enquiry form and a member of our Team will be in touch.