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When will work from home rule end in England and other key questions answered

Written by on 14/01/2022

Working from home measures were introduced a month ago on December 13 as part of wider Plan B measures to stem the transmission of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

As part of the wider measures, face masks are still mandatory in shops and public transport and vaccine status ‘passports’ are needed to enter some large venues.

However since then, testing measures for overseas travellers have been relaxed, with fully vaccinated passengers no longer needing to take a pre-departure test or self-isolate on return.

Asympomatic people who get a positive Covid test from a lateral flow no longer need to do a follow-up PCR before starting their isolation period.

And the isolation period for those who test positive has been cut to five days from seven.

When can we go back to work?

The current Plan B measures are set to end automatically on January 26.

It means that if Prime Minister wants to renew them, he’ll have to secure support after a Commons vote.

Is it safe to go back to work?

On Monday, Cabinet minister Michael Gove said that the country is moving to a stage where it can “live with Covid”.

Mr Gove acknowledged there would still be “difficult weeks ahead” with the NHS facing real pressure, and it was not yet possible to say the current Omicron-driven wave of Covid-19 cases was abating.

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However, he said that while the easing of restrictions would have to be guided by science, it would be “the sooner the better”.

He told Sky News on Monday: “We are moving to a situation – we’re not there yet – but we are moving to a situation where it is possible to say that we can live with Covid, and that the pressure on the NHS and on vital public services is abating.”

READ MORE: Follow our Covid-19 news here

What are the current rules about Working from Home?

The current government guidance states that anyone who cannot work from home should continue to go into work and they should consider taking lateral flow tests regularly to manage their 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.

Employers have an obligation to keep workers safe by considering social distancing, minimising visitors, good ventilation, one way systems and additional cleaning measures.

There are no legal limits on contact between people from different households including in the workplace. There is no government requirement or recommendation for employers to limit capacity in the workplace.

There are specific guidelines for some industries – including construction, hospitality and manufacturing with more details for employers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

What else has changed?

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed that as from Monday, January 17, the amount of time people with Covid-19 in England have to spend in self-isolation is to be cut to five full days.

Sajid Javid said in the House of Commons that data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) showed “that around two-thirds of positive cases are no longer infectious by the end of day five”.

That means that from Monday people will be able to take two tests to get out of isolation, “leaving isolation at the start of day six”.

The move comes as businesses are facing a save of cancellations from consumers as well as shortages of staff as workers isolate to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) earlier said that around 3% of the entire UK workforce was off sick or in self-isolation in late December due to catching Covid-19.

The Government had been been under pressure to bring the situation in England into line with the United States, where the isolation period was earlier cut to five days.

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