On 30 November 2021, as a result of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, face coverings became mandatory once again in certain indoor settings and on public transport.
On 8 December 2021, the Prime Minister announced that the full Plan B response would be activated, with face coverings required in more public venues from 10 December 2021, and guidance to work from home where possible from 13 December 2021.
The Plan B restrictions will be in force for six weeks, with a review after three weeks.
Face coverings from 10 December 2021
On 30 November 2021, face coverings were reintroduced in many indoor settings, including shops and public transport. On 10 December 2021, the use of face coverings was extended to most public indoor venues, including cinemas, theatres and places of worship, but excluding hospitality.
Employers should require customers and staff to wear face coverings, unless exempt.
Work from home guidance from 13 December 2021
Guidance has been issued indicating that those able to work from home should do so from 13 December 2021. It provides that office workers who can work from home should do so from Monday 13 December. Those who cannot work from home should continue to go into the office. The guidance suggests that those who need to continue to go into work consider taking lateral flow tests regularly to manage their own risk and the risk to others.
Therefore, where staff cannot work from home because they cannot perform their role fully from home, consider hybrid working, encourage staff to take lateral flow test before they come to the office and continue to maintain social distancing.
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.
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.
NHS Covid Pass from 15 December 2021
On 15 December 2021, the NHS COVID pass will become mandatory for workers and customers in specified settings in England which includes unseated indoor events with 500 or more attendees, unseated outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees and any event with 10,000 or more attendees. To enter or work in these venues and events, customers and workers must provide proof that they are fully vaccinated or have tested negative in the last 48 hours (unless they are exempt from these requirements).
There is likely to be further guidance. We will keep you posted.