Winter 2021/22 - Guidance
As the UK enters another winter season, here's the latest updates to official government guidance, and advice from SRUK on what to consider in your work, and social environments.
As the UK eases out of lockdown, it is understandable that many of you may be unsure about how to keep safe as the restrictions ease. Although the legal restrictions caused by COVID have ended, this virus has not gone away, therefore it is important to act sensibly and safely.
How to Keep Safe
The key to keeping safe is assessing your personal level of risk. This includes factors such as:
- Have you had both vaccines?
- Have you had any booster vaccinations, or third dose vaccinations you may be eligible for?
- Are you considered clinically extremely vulnerable?
- Have you had, and recovered from COVID?
- What are the infection rates like in the area you live / travel to?
Not everyone’s level of risk is the same, so decisions on how to act now that lockdown is easing are very personal. Accepting both vaccinations as soon as you are able reduces your risk – for more information see our vaccines FAQ. If you have caught and recovered from COVID previously you will have built up a little more immunity to a repeat infection. We recommend keeping an eye on the infection rates in your area, and adjusting your behaviour based on the risk. For more detailed advice, please read this document ‘Making decisions about keeping safe after 19th July.’
Continuing to socially isolate from the 19th July is not essential, and in some cases may be more damaging to a persons mental and physical health, however caution should be exercised due to the high transmission rates of the delta variant of Covid-19. The key is making sure that you can meet up with other people more safely.
Shielding is no longer mandatory in any of the UK four nations.
Wearing a Mask
Do I still need to wear a mask? Wearing masks is currently mandatory in:
- Bars, restaurants, cafes, nightclubs
- Public transport
- Places of worship
- At work
- Indoor public places (excluding venues where food is served)
- Public transport
- Indoor public spaces (including venues where food is served, unless eating)
- Public transport
In addition private venues are able to enforce their own rules, therefore masks may be required by some businesses or transport providers. If wearing a mask in settings not listed here makes you feel more comfortable, you are welcome to continue wearing one - you won't be alone!
In response to the new COVID-19 variant those who are fully vaccinated will be asked to take daily lateral flow tests for 7 days following contact with someone who tests positive for COVID. Those who test positive must isolate until they have two negative lateral flow tests on consecutive days, with a minimum isolation period of 5 days.
From the 19th of July, all lockdown measures ended, meaning the legal requirement to social distance has ended. However, if you feel that you want to continue to socially distance and wear a face covering, these measures will lower your risk of catching and transmitting the virus.
This removal of restrictions also means that groups of any size can meet, indoors or outdoors. If you are feeling uncertain about your safety in a large group, or in an enclosed space, keep your social activities to a small group of friends and family. Take advantage of the UK summer and meet outside where possible, or in well ventilated indoor spaces. Making sure your social circle have had both their vaccines and received the second dose at least 14 days ago significantly reduces the risk of infection.
Currently, the advice across Wales, and Northern Ireland is to work from home where possible, to reduce the transmission of the Omicron variant. As this is guidance, working from home is not mandatory, however it is encouraged where possible. In Scotland, from the 31st January guidance urging people to work from home will be relaxed in favour of a hybrid model. In England, this guidance is no longer in place, meaning that employers can ask their employees to return to the workplace should they choose to.
Employers have a duty of care to keep their employees safe, therefore if you are at an increased risk of COVID, it is important to have a conversation about measures that can be taken to suit your needs.
People who are immune supressed, and/or entitled to a third primary dose of COVID-19 vaccine are still being advised to work from home.
“Work from home if you can. If you cannot work from home, speak to your employer about what temporary arrangements they can make to reduce your risk.” (Source)
If you wish to communicate this to your employer, SRUK have written a 'letter to employers' which outlines the continued risk of COVID to immunocompromised individuals, and how employers can keep their workforce safe. This letter is designed to be sent from any individual to their employer and can be downloaded using the button below.