You will all now have heard of the new Covid-19 variant known as Omicron and how cases are on the rise. Whilst current reports note that symptoms from the new variant are mild, though transmission is high, we are still unclear as to the full effects of this new strain of the virus.
As of 4am on 30th November 2021, new restrictions came into force to try to reduce transmission and until further research is carried out on the effects of this strain of the virus, these changes have been introduced to help protect individuals:
- Face coverings are now compulsory in shops and on public transport
- Face coverings should be worn in communal areas of universities, colleges and schools by all staff, visitors and pupils/students in year 7 and above
- All international arrivals are to take a Day 2 PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative test (unless returning from a red listed country where you must hotel quarantine for 10 days taking a PCR on days 2 and 8.)
- Anyone who comes into contact with someone suspected of having the Omicron variant must self-isolate, regardless of their age or vaccination status, for 10 days.
The compulsory isolation period of 10 days for anyone who comes into contact with a suspected Omicron positive case, will of course impact most of our businesses. As you will be aware, there is no furlough scheme in place and the SSP Covid Rebate scheme came to an end in September, so this could have a major impact on production.
With this in mind, and as the festive period is upon us with Christmas events in the diary, it is crucial that you look at the potential impact this could have on your business, whether a full team has to isolate or a number of individuals are isolating at any one period. With children no longer exempt from isolation, there will also be individuals who may be required to arrange childcare at short notice and it will be important to remain flexible during this time, looking at each case on an individual basis.
The next Government review is scheduled for 17th December 2021, where they hope to have a greater understanding of the effects of this new strain of the virus but until then, it is important to make sure we continue to do what’s right to keep our employees safe.
By Rachel Storey – HR Support