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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Return to ‘Plan A’: What are the new Covid-19 rules in England?

Here is a breakdown of when Covid-19 rules are easing and what it means for everyday life.

On Wednesday, Boris Johnson announced that the Government will not be renewing ‘Plan B’ restrictions next week, stating that ministers got the “tough decision” to not go further with restrictions after rising cases right and that the UK has passed the peak wave of Omicron.

On Thursday 27 January, the UK will move back into ‘Plan A’, enjoying more of the freedoms we had before December. Here is what it means for everyday life.

Do I still have to wear a face mask?

From next Thursday, face masks are not mandatory when in public spaces or on public transport.

As of yesterday, children and teachers in secondary schools do not need to wear them in class but need to remain wearing them in hallways and communal spaces until 27 January.

Can I work from home?

It depends on your employer. The work-from-home (WFH) advice has been suspended immediately meaning that it is down to employer’s discretion whether to continue WFH measures, to offer flexible working, or request employees to return to the office.

Do I have to social distance?

No. There are no legal rules on social distancing in England, so it is up to individual businesses and work places to enforce social distance measures if they feel that it is appropriate.

Can I visit loved ones in the hospital?

As of writing, on Friday 21 January, visiting restrictions across Bradford Hospitals remains the same.

A patient on a green (non-Covid-19) ward can only have one dedicated visitor per stay, for one hour twice a week, after seven days of admission. The visitor also has to handover a negative lateral flow test to show proof of negative status.

It is up to individual NHS Trusts to set visitation guidelines. These rules change quickly and suddenly so it best to check your local hospital’s rules on their website.

Do I need the Covid-19 pass for events and nightclubs?

Mandatory Covid-19 passports will end, but it is down to individual establishments whether they want to enforce them voluntarily.

Can I visit friends and family in a care home?

More guidance on care home visitation is coming soon. Currently, to keep people in residential homes safe, visits from friends and family are limited.

Can I go on holiday?

There were no new announcements on international travel. People who are fully vaccinated who want to go abroad do not have to take a PCR or lateral flow test before leaving the UK but must book a test before jetting off, for within 48 hours of arriving back.

Travellers must check the requirements of the country they are travelling to before departure as some countries require negative Covid-19 tests or they can refuse entry.

Unvaccinated passengers must continue to take a pre-departure test, PCR test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 and self-isolate for 10 days.

Test to release’ remains an option for unvaccinated people to shorten their self-isolation period.

Do I need to self-isolate?

Fully vaccinated people who contract Covid-19 can leave isolation on day 6 if they obtain negative covid-19 lateral flow tests on days five and six.

People who have had only one dose of the vaccine or are unvaccinated must self-isolate for ten days even if they test negative for the virus.

What are the remaining rules?

The main rule left is self-isolation. It is still the law to self-isolate if you are fully vaccinated and test positive for the virus or come into contact with a person with Covid-19 if unvaccinated.

This rule, which has been the law since 2020 is due for renewal on 24 March.  Speaking on Wednesday, the prime minister said he planned to remove the obligation to self-isolate when the regulations expire and may bring the date forward “if the data allows” mirroring the approach to comparable endemic viruses such as the flu.

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