Changes to self-isolation periods
In recent weeks, the Government published new guidance, changing the rules on self-isolation after a positive test.
The self-isolation period for people who test positive for Covid-19 is being cut to five full days in England. From 17 January 2022, people will be able to leave isolation after negative lateral flow tests on days five and six.
The guidance states that people who receive negative lateral flow test results on day 5 and day 6 of their self-isolation period, with the tests taken 24 hours apart, will not have to isolate for the full 10 days.
Those who leave self-isolation on or after day 6 are still strongly advised to limit close contact with others in crowded or poorly ventilated spaces, work from home and minimise contact with those who are at higher risk.
From Tuesday 11 January 2022, people in England who receive a positive lateral flow test result will not be required to confirm their result with a follow-up PCR test.
Under the new guidance, anyone who receives a positive lateral flow test should report their result on gov.uk and must self-isolate immediately.
A number of industries across England are reporting staff shortages due to Covid related absences.
During December 2021, it was reported that Ministers were told to expect mass staff absences and shortages due to the rising number of cases. It was reported that a number of rail companies had been forced to cancel services and Royal Mail said it was experiencing high staff absences.
A number of schools have recently warned that teacher shortages could lead to schools closing and more pupils learning online. The Education Secretary recently advised schools to start preparing for shortages by merging classes into larger groups and considering flexible teaching options.
Covid related staff absences have also been reported at hospitals in England, with the number of workers off sick trebling since the beginning of December. It is reported that this is the highest number of Covid related absences since the vaccine rollout. The Armed Forces have now sent 200 personnel to support NHS hospitals across London.
The Care sector has also warned that it is in crisis due to staffing shortages.
Testing for critical workers
From 10 January 2022, key workers will be told to take a lateral flow test every day that they are working.
The Government will provide lateral flow tests to these industries directly and will assist with organising the logistics.
It says that the aim of this is to ensure infections are caught as early as possible to minimise spreading the virus to colleagues which have resulted in staff shortages across the country.
The Government has said that critical workers are those who work in essential services, cannot work from home and are at risk of infecting each other. This will include those who work in critical national infrastructure, national security, transport, and food distribution and processing. The Government will contact the relevant organisations directly.
The Government has now eased the rules on testing for people travelling to England who are fully vaccinated.
From 7 January 2022, fully vaccinated people travelling to England will no longer have to take a test 2 days before they travel. They will still have to take a test on arrival, but will no longer have to self-isolate while awaiting the result.
From 9 January 2022, rather than taking a PCR test on day 2 of arrival into England, they can now take a lateral flow test. This test must be bought from a private test provider, however, and the free NHS tests are not allowed to be used.
Those who are unvaccinated will still need to continue to take a pre-departure test, PCR tests on day 2 and day 8 and self-isolate for 10 days when travelling to England.
How can Nelsons help?
Charlotte Dowdy is a Trainee Solicitor at Nelsons.
For advice on or further information in relation to the subjects discussed in this article, please contact Charlotte or a member of our expert Employment Law team in Derby, Leicester or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online form.Contact us