The work-from-home measures were halted on January 19 after being in place for just over a month (December 13).
It was part of the broader Plan B measures to stem the transmission of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
As part of the wider measures, face masks are still compulsory in shops and public transport and vaccination status “passports” are required to enter certain large venues.
However, testing measures for overseas travelers have been relaxed, with fully vaccinated passengers no longer needing to take a test before departure or self-isolate on return.
Asymptomatic people who test positive for Covid from a lateral flow no longer need to do a follow-up PCR before starting their isolation period.
And the isolation period for those who test positive has been reduced to five days from seven.
When can we return to work?
The current Plan B measures in England are set to end automatically on January 26.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed to PMQs on Wednesday January 19 that the work from home directive would end.
Mandatory mask-wearing and vaccination “passports” for major events will also end.
Here is the schedule:
Immediately, from January 19: Work-from-home guidelines where possible have been lifted, which could benefit inner-city businesses.
From January 20: Face coverings will no longer be advised for staff and students in classrooms.
From January 27: The Department of Education will remove national guidelines on the use of face coverings in common areas of schools. Masks could still be needed in the event of an outbreak, but only if Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi approves a request.
Nightclubs and other venues will no longer require a Covid pass to enter, although some may continue to request one on a voluntary basis.
Face coverings will no longer be required by law in any setting, although guidance suggests masks should still be considered in enclosed and crowded spaces.
March 24: The legal obligation to self-isolate if you have Covid-19 should expire. The Prime Minister hopes to advance the date if the data allow it.
Is it safe to return to work?
Health Secretary Sajid Javid told MPs on Tuesday it was likely ‘we have already peaked in hospital case numbers’ as ministers prepared to review Plan B measures.
He echoed Nadhim Zahawi, the education secretary, who told BBC Breakfast: “If you look at infection rates, they remain high, hospitalizations are still high, affecting 20,000 people in hospital, but we they seem to be leveling off.
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“The good news is that the number of people in intensive care has decreased, certainly in London, which was the epicentre, the level of staff absence in education has remained fairly stable, it was 8% before Christmas, it’s about 8.5% at the moment.
“So I’m confident that when we look at that on January 26, as we’ve said, then we’ll be in a much better position to lift some of those restrictions.
“But it’s worth remembering that because we stuck to plan B, this economy is the most open economy in Europe.”
Dr David Nabarro, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) special envoy for Covid-19, told Sky News there was ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ for the UK in the fight against Covid-1, but that we must always be “respectful”. ‘ of the virus.
He said: “Looking at this from a British perspective, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel… I think it’s going to be bumpy before you get to the end.
“So while it is possible to begin to imagine that the end of the pandemic is not far away, everyone must be prepared for the possibility that there will be more variations and mutations to come, or that ‘there are more challenges, more pushes from the same Omicron to come.
He said children don’t get very sick from Covid-19, and “we’re going to have children acting as carriers of the virus for some time to come”.
He said you should always be ‘respectful of this virus’, adding: ‘Do what you can to stop spreading it. Do what you can to prevent others from being affected. It’s not the common cold.
“I know people wish it were, but it’s a virus that still has some really nasty characteristics. Let’s do our best to protect people from it if we can.”
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What are the current rules regarding working from home?
Government Plan B guidelines state that anyone who cannot work from home should continue to work and should consider taking regular lateral flow tests to manage their own risk and the risk to others.
Although guidance on working from home has ended, employers still need to consider whether working from home is appropriate for workers facing mental or physical health issues, or for those whose home working environment is particularly difficult.
Employers also have an obligation to keep workers safe by considering social distancing, minimizing visitors, good ventilation, one-way systems and additional cleaning measures.
There are no legal limits on contact between people from different households, including in the workplace. There is no government requirement or recommendation for employers to limit capacity in the workplace.
There are specific guidelines for certain industries – including construction, hospitality and manufacturing with more detail for employers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
What else has changed?
Boris Johnson confirmed to the Commons on Wednesday January 19 that the legal requirement for people with coronavirus to self-isolate will be allowed to expire when the regulations expire on March 24, and that date could be brought forward.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed that from Monday January 17 the time people with Covid-19 in England have to spend in isolation is to be reduced to five full days.
Sajid Javid told the House of Commons that data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) showed “around two-thirds of positive cases are no longer infectious by the end of day five”.
This means that from Monday people will be able to take two tests to come out of isolation, “leaving isolation at the start of the sixth day”.
The move comes as businesses face an economy of consumer cancellations as well as staff shortages as workers self-isolate to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said earlier that around 3% of the entire UK workforce was sick or in self-isolation at the end of December due to catching Covid-19.
The government had been under pressure to bring the situation in England into line with that in the United States, where the isolation period had previously been reduced to five days.