In late September 2021 the Government formulated a “Plan B” as a contingency plan for an increase in Covid cases or the discovery of a new variant of concern, in a bid to protect the general public and the NHS should it be required.
The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been classified as a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation since the 26th of November, based on the evidence that it has several mutations that may have an impact on how it behaves. There is still substantial uncertainty regarding Omicron and extensive research continues to evaluate its transmissibility, severity and reinfection risk.
On the 8th of December 51,342 people tested positive for Covid-19, the number, of cases attributed to the Omicron variant is unknown.
Although the wearing of face masks was reintroduced into certain settings early December, further measures are now deemed to be necessary.
Face coverings must be worn by staff working in indoor settings where the public are required to wear face coverings and where staff come into direct contact with the public. In these settings employers are prohibited from asking their workers to remove a face covering.
There are exemptions to face masks in venues where it is not practical to wear one, such as when you are eating, drinking or exercising. For that reason, face masks will not be required in hospitality settings.
In England, from Monday 13th of December people should return to working from home if they can. However, the Prime Minister also stated: “Go to work if you must.”
In addition to this requirement, from Wednesday 15th of December (subject to parliamentary approval), the NHS Covid Pass on the NHS App to demonstrate proof of two vaccine doses, will become mandatory for entry into:
- All nightclubs
- Indoor, crowded settings with 500 or more attendees where those attendees are likely to be in close proximity to people from other households, such as music venues or large receptions
- Outdoor, crowded settings with 4,000 or more attendees where those attendees are likely to be in close proximity to people from other households, such as outdoor festivals
- Any settings with 10,000 or more attendees, such as large sports and music stadia.
There are some settings that will be exempt from requirements to use the NHS COVID Pass, including (at the moment) communal worship, wedding ceremonies, funerals and other commemorative events, protests and mass participation sporting events.
What you need to do
Encourage your employees to get their vaccinations or boosters where eligible.
Where possible allow employees to work from home.
Review your COVID Risk assessment, as everyone needs to assess and manage the risks of COVID-19, think about the risks they face and do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them, recognising you cannot completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19.
If this alert has raised additional questions or you have a Health and Safety law issue you would like assistance with, please do not hesitate to contact us.