Government guidelines around wor from home, face coverings and social distancing changed in December 2021 with further changes for January 2022 for England relating to testing, travel and schools.
From 11th January
Most people will not need to take a PCR test to confirm the result. You must self isolate immediately if you get a positive rapid lateral test flow result.
From 9 January
From 4 am on 9 January, if you qualify as fully vaccinated, you can take either a rapid lateral flow or PCR test within 2 days of arriving in England. If you have a positive result on the rapid lateral flow test, you must take a PCR test.
From 7th January
From 4 am on 7 January, if you qualify as fully vaccinated or are under 18, you do not need to take a PCR test before you travel to England or self-isolate when you arrive.
From 4th January
Face coverings are recommended in schools with pupils in year 7 and above. They should be worn in most classrooms, and by pupils, students, staff and adult visitors when moving around buildings.
In response to the risks of the Omicron variant, England is moving to Plan B of COVID19 precautions and restrictions. The rules around workplaces, hospitality venues and self-isolation are changing. Here's what you need to know:
Wear a face covering in most indoor public places and on public transport
You must wear a face-covering in most indoor public places, at large venues and events, and on public transport. Most indoor public places include shops, post offices, public spaces such as libraries, hairdressers and beauty salons, fast food outlets and transport hubs.
You should continue to wear a face-covering in other indoor places, especially those that are crowded and enclosed and where you may come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
Face coverings are not legally required in hospitality settings given that they cannot be worn while eating and drinking. They are also not legally required in exercise facilities including gyms, dance studios, swimming pools or leisure centres (see the ‘When you do not need to wear a face covering’ section below).
Face coverings and face masks are needed in healthcare settings to comply with infection, prevention, control (IPC) guidance. This includes hospitals and primary or community care settings, such as GP surgeries. They should also be worn by everyone accessing or visiting care homes.
From 15 December, certain venues and events will be required by law to check that all visitors aged 18 years or over are fully vaccinated (currently a full course of vaccination without the need for a booster, but this will be kept under review), have proof of a negative test in the last 48 hours, or that they have an exemption. This means that those aged 18 years or over must show their NHS COVID Pass, or an alternative proof of a negative test result, such as an NHS Test and Trace email or text proof, to gain entry into these venues.
Get tested and self isolate where required
If you have symptoms of COVID-19
Get a PCR test as soon as possible if you have any of these symptoms, even if mild:
Stay at home until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test. Check if people you live with need to self-isolate
If you’re a contact of someone who may have been infected with the Omicron variant, you must self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of your age, vaccination status or any negative test results.
Vaccination and Booster Jabs
If you have not yet received the COVID-19 vaccine, you should get vaccinated. Evidence indicates that 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine provide very effective protection against hospitalisation. It usually takes around 2 to 3 weeks for your body to develop its protective response.
To maintain this high level of protection through the coming winter, you should also get a booster vaccine for COVID-19 when offered. Winter is a difficult time when our immunity is weaker. Getting the booster vaccine is an essential part of ensuring immune defence this season. You can still contract and pass COVID-19 to other people even if you are vaccinated.
Work From Home - if You Can
Office workers who can work from home should do so from Monday 13 December. Anyone who cannot work from home should continue to go into work - for example, to access equipment necessary for their role or where their role must be completed in person. In-person working will be necessary in some cases to continue the effective and accessible delivery of some public services and private industries. If you need to continue to go into work, consider taking lateral flow tests regularly to manage your own risk and the risk to others.
Employers should consider whether home working is appropriate for workers facing mental or physical health difficulties, or those with a, particularly challenging home working environment.
For those who attend their workplace, the Government will continue to provide up-to-date Working Safely guidance on how employers can reduce the risks in their workplace. Businesses should consider this guidance when preparing their health and safety risk assessments, and put in place suitable mitigations.
Let Fresh Air In
When a person infected with COVID-19 coughs, talks or breathes, they release droplets and aerosols which can be breathed in by another person. Meeting outdoors vastly reduces the risk of airborne transmission, but this may not always be possible. If you’re indoors, you should let fresh air in to reduce the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.
The more fresh air you let into your home or other enclosed spaces, the less likely a person is to inhale infectious particles.
You can let in fresh air by uncovering vents and opening doors and windows. Opening your windows for just 10 minutes, or a small amount of time continuously where you can, makes a significant difference. This is particularly important before, during, and after meeting people you do not live with indoors.
Access this guide on ventilation of indoor spaces