Last week we clarified the reduction in the required isolation period from 7 to 5 days. This Wednesday saw the announcement of further changes to the regulations surrounding Covid, and following receipt of an update from the Department of Health and Social Care we thought it would be useful to share the latest information with you. These changes apply to England only, and there’s an update on the position in the devolved nations below.
Next Thursday, 27th January, is the day when England reverts to Plan A measures. The headline change is that there will no longer be a requirement for the wearing of face masks, a move that will make working and shopping a more comfortable experience for everyone. Wearing a face mask is still advised in crowded or enclosed spaces, so there’s a decision to be made depending on the space and airflow available in your shop or office.
Less relevant is the removal of the need for Covid Passports for large events, also on 27th January, but if you’ve been using them for busy in-store events it’s an opportunity to reconsider. This may also have a positive effect on attendances of live performances, potentially bringing more musicians and the audience they inspire to buy instruments, accessories and music from you.
Work from home guidance was ended on Wednesday, 19th January. If you’ve had office staff working from home it’s now up to you to decide whether it’s time to have everyone back on site, and the advice given when restrictions were lifted last year remains helpful in this similar situation. You can find that here.
The isolation rules remain as we reported last week; anyone who tests negative on day 5 needs to test negative again 24 hours later and can then end their isolation period. If the test on day 5 is positive isolation continues until two negative tests are taken 24 hours apart.
As ever, there is no consistency between the four nations, and the requirement for face masks in Scotland remains absolute. Deputy First Minister John Swinney told Holyrood:
“As things stand just now, the Scottish Government is absolutely crystal clear that the requirement to wear face coverings in public spaces, in public transport, and in secondary schools remains absolute.”
In Wales restrictions are being eased towards a return to what it references as Level Zero, an equivalent to England’s Plan A. From today there are no restrictions on attendance at outdoor events, Next Friday, 28th January, restrictions on hospitality will end but Covid Passports will still be required for large events, cinemas, nightclubs and theatres. 10th February will see Wales complete the move to Level Zero and a return to a weekly review cycle.
The easing of restrictions in Northern Ireland follows a similar trajectory, though again on slightly different dates. Social distancing rules in workplaces have been removed, and changes in the self-isolation period from 7 to 5 days have followed those in England, with the same requirement for two negative tests 24 hours apart. It is expected that remaining restrictions will end when they are reviewed in 3 weeks time.