COVID-19: Government announces end of work from home guidance and mandatory face coverings

Boris Johnson has announced that England is to return to Plan A next week, marking the end of the current Plan B restrictions. This means that from Thursday 27 January 2022:

  • Wearing of face masks in the current designated indoor settings and on public transport will no longer be a mandatory legal obligation. Instead, wearing of face masks will be left to people’s judgment. However, they will still be recommended in enclosed and crowded spaces where people are in contact with those that they do not normally meet;
  • Mandatory COVID-status certification will end, but businesses may continue to use it if they wish to do so;
  • Self-isolation rules continue to apply.  This means that anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must legally self-isolate for a minimum of 5 full days but may then be released following two negative tests taken on two separate days, or after 10 full days’ isolation, whichever is sooner.  Close contacts of a COVID-positive case must legally self-isolate for 10 days, unless they are fully vaccinated or are under the age of 18 years 6 months. NB however, Boris Johnson has highlighted that the current regulations governing self-isolation are due to expire on 24 March 2022 and that he expects by this date to not have to renew them.

Boris Johnson has also announced that with effect from today, 19 January 2022 , there is no longer a direction for people to work from home where they can do so. The government has indicated that employees should make contact with their employers to discuss returning to the workplace.

Other points to note include:

  • There are no immediate changes to the rules on testing etc for international travel but an announcement will be made in this regard in coming days;
  • Lateral flow testing will be kept free of charge for ‘as long as necessary’.

Useful links:

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus: How to stay safe and help prevent the spread