COVID-19: PM announces roadmap to end pandemic restrictions, but the ‘work from home’ message remains
25 February 2021
On Monday this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson laid out a cautious, four-step roadmap for easing - and ultimately ending - lockdown restrictions in England. Each step will be assessed against four data-based tests before the various restrictions can be eased. Further details of the roadmap, with the types of workplaces that can be re-opened at each step, can be found on our COVID-19 guidance: returning to work webpage, which is regularly updated.
Crucially for our profession, the ‘stay at home’ requirement (except for permitted reasons) remains in place until 29 March and people will still only be able to leave their home for work purposes where they cannot reasonably work from home. Although from 29 March people will no longer be legally required to stay at home, the Government is urging us to continue working from home where possible. This remains the case even after all legal social contact restrictions can be removed (no earlier than 21 June), although this guidance is subject to the findings of a government review of social distancing and other measures to limit transmission of the coronavirus.
The Government is also urging businesses to continue taking all necessary precautions as restrictions ease and will be updating its guidance on how businesses can improve fresh air flow in indoor workplaces.
Alongside the continued successful roll-out of the vaccination programme, widespread asymptomatic testing will be needed to reduce the risks of reopening workplaces. It is now possible to access rapid lateral flow testing in the workplace for individuals who do not display symptoms of COVID-19, but who may be infectious.
The UK Government is actively encouraging regular asymptomatic testing in workplace settings that remain open during lockdown and where people cannot work from home. Government departments are working with businesses in different sectors to help them set up mass testing and NHS Test and Trace will support organisations with guidance, training and test kits which are being supplied free of charge until 30 June. Businesses with 50 or more employees are eligible for this workplace testing and can register here.
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