Policy Spotlight with Rhouda: PM announces ‘Living with Covid’ Plan

The Prime Minister is set to announce his plans to remove all remaining Covid legal restrictions in England, including the requirement to isolate. Boris Johnson stated that the plans to remove all restrictions “will return people’s freedom” and bring society “towards a return to normality.”

Downing Street has confirmed that anyone who tests positive, and any of their close contacts will no longer have to self-isolate by the end of the week. No.10 have also said that the success of the Covid vaccination programme had put England in a “strong position to consider lifting the remaining legal restrictions.”

The Prime Minister has also set out a timetable for the scaling back on the availability of free coronavirus tests, with the exception of older and vulnerable people as they will continue to have access to them.

Sara Williams, CEO of Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, said: “The decision to remove the remaining covid restrictions won’t come as a surprise to many as the government have made it clear that living with covid will be the end goal. The news will also come as a relief to many businesses as they can return to normal working conditions and will be less likely to face staff shortages or a decline in consumer spending in the retail and hospitality sectors.

“Despite this, some businesses will be apprehensive to adjust to the new normal as they feel a duty to protect their staff and provide a safe working environment. The pandemic is not over, and as the government begin to re-open the country to a pre-pandemic lifestyle it is now more important than ever for as many people as possible to be fully vaccinated, for their own safety.”

For people to feel confident again and to be able to ‘live with Covid’ it is essential that businesses are provided with a free supply of test kits; this will also aid the UK in shifting the balance towards personal responsibility, allowing people to feel safe and protected whilst going into work. Many firms trialled hybrid and remote working throughout the pandemic and have found it successful. More staff members may feel comfortable working from home especially as there is no obligation for other staff members to self-isolate if they have tested positive.

For business guidance on implementing hybrid or remote working or for HR advice on staff safety and wellbeing, get in touch with sonia.bhattle@staffordshirechambers.co.uk.

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