Prime Minister Unveils 'Living with COVID' Plan

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    It has been a whirlwind of a journey throughout the Coronavirus pandemic and although we weren’t sure we’d ever see the end of it, it seems we just might this week as the Prime Minister has set out the Government’s plans for living with and managing COVID-19.

    Restrictions are set to end this week with rules changing around self-isolation, testing, vaccinations, and more.

    Below we have detailed the latest updates with everything you need to know about the Living with COVID Plan.

    COVID Laws: What is changing? 

    COVID Restrictions will be lifted

    All outstanding domestic COVID restrictions will be lifted this week. People will no longer be required to self-isolate after a positive coronavirus test, whether they are vaccinated or not.

    For those who are vaccinated and come into contact with a positive case, will no longer need to test for 7 consecutive days if they do not wish to isolate.

    What was once Government law has now become guidance, however it is advised for people to continue to act responsibly if they are experiencing severe symptoms.

    COVID-19 Vaccinations: Do I need to get jabbed?

    Vaccines will remain the first line of defence against the virus and an additional booster jab will be offered to the UK’s most vulnerable citizens this spring. This applies to people aged 75 years and over, residents in care homes, and people aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed.

    Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced that ministers will meet to review compulsory vaccinations for health and care staff in England.

    Before this announcement, if health and social care workers had not received both doses of their vaccination by 1st April 2022, they would either be redeployed or dismissed.

    However due to growing pressures on the NHS, this is currently under review whilst the Government looks at potentially scrapping this measure in a bid to avoid a major staffing crisis.

    Free testing to end on April 1st

    From April 1st, 2022, free universal testing will cease in England and from 24th February 2022 the contact tracing programme will end.

    The Prime Minister announced the plan to cut back on free testing as he said it cost the UK £2 billion in January alone.

    From the end of March, the majority of people across the UK will have to pay if they wish to be tested. People operating in hospitals, care homes, as well as those who are most vulnerable will still receive free tests.

    Financial Support through COVID to be removed

    From 24th February, self-isolation support payments will end and from 24th March and the additional COVID provision on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) along with the employment and support allowance will also end.

    Final claims for the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

    On 17th March 2022, the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate scheme will end. Employers will have until 24th March 2022 to submit any new claims for absence periods leading up to 17th March 2022 or will need to amend claims that have already been submitted.

    Employers will no longer be able to claim back Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) after March 17th for any employees who are absent due to COVID-19 or the need to self-isolate.

    From March 25th, employers will be able to revert to paying SSP beginning on the fourth qualifying day their employee is absent from work, regardless of the reason for their absence.

    For further information on eligibility and how to make your final claims, you can search ‘check if you can claim back Statutory Sick Pay’ on GOV.UK.

    Changes to the COVID-19 laws are not all shared across the UK. Northern Ireland have already lifted all restrictions whereas Wales and Scotland are taking a much more cautious approach.

    Please check your government’s guidance to find out how restrictions are changing for where you are located in the UK.

    Should you require any further advice or help on how best to prepare for what we have discussed above, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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