This week the government confirmed its move to bring in Plan B restrictions in light of the spread of the omicron variant across the UK. The following measures have been announced:
· From Friday 10 December: face coverings will become compulsory in most public indoor venues, such as cinemas, theatres and places of worship. There will be exemptions 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 notbe required in hospitality settings.
· From Monday 13 December: those who can will be advised to work from home. Anyone who cannot work from home should continue to go into work, for example, to access equipment necessary for their role or where their role must be completed in person. The government guidance recognises that in-person working will be necessary in some cases to continue the effective and accessible delivery of some private industries. If this is the case then employers can ask employees to attend the workplace and it will not be unlawful to do so.
The guidance also recommends that if employees need to go to work then they should consider taking lateral flow tests regularly to manage their risk and the risk to others. Employers also need to be mindful of their health and safety obligations and consider if any updates are needed to their Covid-19 health and safety risk assessments, putting in place suitable mitigations where required.
If an employer does intend to ask employees to attend the workplace it would be sensible to document the tasks that necessitate attendance at the office so that they can demonstrate they have properly considered whether or not the role could be performed remotely.
· From Wednesday 15 December: the NHS Covid Pass on the NHS App will become mandatory for entry into nightclubs and settings where large crowds gather – including unseated indoor events with 500 or more attendees, unseated outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees and any event with 10,000 or more attendees.