Plan B has officially been binned but some Covid rules continue to confuse
Plan B has officially ended in England, with sweeping measures introduced in December to slow the spread of Omicron finally being shelved.
The rules saw NHS covid passes become compulsory in certain settings, face mask mandates in indoor venues (minus hospitality), and work from home guidance issued.
But as of Thursday, those rules are no more, well, sort of. Some safety measures remain, and some continue to confuse.
Here’s everything you need to know about life under Plan A.
What rules are being dropped?
Venues such as bars, restaurants, cinemas, and theatres no longer have to ask you to show your NHS covid pass, though they still can if they want to.
Under government guidance, face masks will no longer be required in classrooms, or in public indoor places such as on public transport and in shops…
But, as has become the new normal, there are exceptions… they may still be required on public transport and in some shops.
Why the confusion? Well, while the government has scrapped face mask rules, a number of other officials have announced they will continue to require people to use them. So have major retail chains.
Reminder: face coverings are still compulsory on TfL services.
This virus hasn’t disappeared. It would be dangerous to pretend it has.
— Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan (@MayorofLondon) January 26, 2022
London mayor Sadiq Khan has said passengers in the capital must “do the right thing” and continue to wear masks on buses, trains, and the tube.
Sainsbury’s bosses have also said shoppers will still be required to slip on a mask before entering their stores, with a spokesperson saying: “Safety remains our highest priority.”
Similarly, John Lewis, Waitrose, and Tesco have also asked staff and customers to continue wearing them. Morrisons is following the government advice and Aldi has said the issue is now a “personal choice”. Lidl will display signage featuring the government directive on wearing masks in crowded and enclosed spaces.
Face masks are still advised in crowded and enclosed spaces where you might make contact with people you don’t normally meet.
Working from home advice ends on Monday, although a lot of workers returned to the office soon after Boris Johnson announced Plan B measures would be scrapped on January 19.
What about care homes?
Care homes rules will also be eased, it was announced Thursday, making it easier for family and friends to visit loved ones after years of difficulty.
From Monday, residents will be allowed unlimited visitors, and self-isolation periods will be cut from 14 days to 10.
Care workers will also be able to use lateral flow tests before their shifts as opposed to weekly PCR tests by February 16.
Outbreak management rules will be halved from 28 days to 14.
Which rules remain?
Anyone who tests positive for Covid will still have to self-isolate for 10 days, but they can end it if they test negative on two lateral flows after five days.
Self-isolation rules are set to expire on March 24, and the PM has said he hopes he won’t have to renew them.
When it comes to travel abroad, fully vaccinated passengers currently still need to book and pay for either a lateral flow or PCR test before coming back to England. If you’re fully vaccinated, you don’t need to self-isolate while waiting for your result, but if the test comes back positive, you need to self-isolate.
Those who aren’t fully vaccinated need to book and pay for day two and day eight tests. They also currently have to self-isolate for 10 days.
But as of 4am on February 11, travel rules will change and travellers won’t need to take a test or self-isolate when returning to England if double-vaccinated.
But those arriving in England who are not fully vaccinated will need to show proof of a negative covid test taken in the two days before travel, and book and pay for a covid PCR test to take on their return. They will not need to quarantine unless the PCR is positive.
Regardless of vaccine status, everyone must still complete a passenger locator form when returning home.
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By Charlie Herbert