Tomorrow (Thursday) all official Covid-19 restrictions will end within England as part of the ‘Living with Covid’ plan.
With cases continuing to fall and the Omicron wave having past its peak, the government has given the green light to a return to normality.
But there are still concerns over the decision.
- the legal obligation to self-isolate following a positive coronavirus test will be axed
- anyone testing positive for the virus will not have to stay at home for five days – although that remains the advice
- vaccinated contacts, and those under 18, will not have to test for seven days
- the legal requirement for contacts who are not vaccinated to self-isolate is removed.
Impact on businesses
Another change from Thursday is that workers will no longer be required to tell their employer if they need to self-isolate.
Phil Pinder is vice chair of the York Retail Forum and co-owner of The Potions Cauldron on Shambles and the Hole In Wand in the Coppergate Centre.
He told YorkMix: “I think it’s all a bit sudden that it’s coming to an end.
“My worry is if we have a repeat [outbreak of Covid] from doing this too quick and too soon.
“But hopefully we’ve had a good few months where masks have been optional, there hasn’t been too much of a spike and the rates are going down.”
From Friday 1 April, employers will no longer have to include Covid requirements within health and safety risk assessments.
Phil said he thought businesses will want to continue to protect both their workforces and the public, despite the changing protocol.
He said: “We will see hand sanitiser and optional face masks around for a long time. Not only with Covid but with other diseases as well, I think having regular hand sanitiser points helps lessen the spread of even the common cold.”
Next steps for April and beyond
As self-isolation requirements lessen, financial support for those isolating with low-incomes will stop. From 24 March the government will remove the Covid-19 arrangements within the statutory sick pay, employment and support allowance regulations.
Free mass testing will stop from April 1 for most people, as the government is taking a guidance response to protecting those against the virus.
Additionally, using both NHS Covid passes and Covid passports will no longer be required, except for international travel.
To keep up-to-date with the latest Covid-19 figures in York, check here.