Government guidance for people in England to work from home where possible has come to an end, as have other ‘Plan-B’ measures such as mask wearing.
Speaking in the House of Commons following repeated calls for him to resign, the Prime Minister said that Cabinet had decided that because of the success of the Covid-19 booster campaign, England can return to Plan A.
“From now on, the government is no longer asking people to work from home,” said Boris Johnson.
“People should now speak to their employers about arrangements for returning to the office, and having looked at the data carefully the Cabinet concluded that once regulations lapse, the government will no longer mandate the wearing of face masks anywhere.”
Plan-B regulations, which include work from home guidance, mask wearing and Covid certification to enter venues such as nightclubs, officially expire from Thursday 27 January.
Yesterday First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that work from home guidance in Scotland would remain until the end of the month. She told Holyrood: “We will continue to ask people to work from home whenever possible at this stage and for employers to facilitate this.”
Working from home
But she added that the Scottish government “will engage with business now about a return to a more hybrid approach from the start of February”.
In Wales, from 28 January, working from home will remain “important” but will no longer be a legal requirement, while in Northern Ireland the Stormont executive is facing calls to amend its work from home guidance to help businesses to recover.
Responding to Johnson’s Covid-19 announcement, Simon Blake, chief executive of Mental Health First Aid England, warned employers against a one-size-fits-all approach to returning to offices.
“There is a lot to be said about the positive benefits of returning to a physical workplace but let’s make sure all managers are having open and non-judgmental conversations about what works best for individuals.
“There is no space for a one-size-fits-all approach in the post-pandemic workplace and if we have learnt anything from the last two years, it’s that things can change overnight. The next couple of weeks, could well be a transitory moment for the workplace and what works now, might not necessarily work in three months’ time, or even a year. So, let’s not enforce rigid boundaries and instead of thinking forever, take a whole-organisation, fluid approach to workplace wellbeing.”
Last week the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and Royal College of Nursing (RCN) called for an immediate delay to plans for mandatory Covid vaccination of NHS staff in England, fearing a “catastrophic impact” on services.
In the House of Commons today, Conservative MPs asked Boris Johnson if he will end plans to require NHS and care workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 before April.
Esther McVeigh said the plans are “utterly unjustifiable” any longer, and Mark Harper called on the prime minister to reconsider the position, but Johnson said the policy will remain and the evidence is clear they should get vaccinated.