The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out plans to end free tests and the legal need to self-isolated if testing positive for Covid-19.
From Thursday, people who test positive will no longer be under a legal obligation to self-isolate and from 1 April, free testing will end in England as part of the government’s plan for “living with Covid”.
Wider guidance on workplace safety will be updated to reflect these changes shortly.
The PM said that due to high levels of immunity, the remaining restrictions could be lifted.
Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement to Parliament on the ‘Living with Covid’ strategy, BCC Co-Executive Director, Claire Walker, said:
“Businesses will welcome the ambition of the Prime Minister, which inches us closer to pre-pandemic trading conditions. However, for many firms, this move will not be without its challenges and Government must not pass public health decisions on to the business community, who are not public health experts.
“Members continue to tell us that access to free testing is key to managing workplace sickness and maintaining consumer confidence. If the government is to remove this, companies must still be able to access tests on a cost-effective basis.
“We look forward to consulting with Government to help shape the new guidance for businesses that will be developed. It is critical that a variety of issues and scenarios be fully addressed by this. Businesses need clarity if they are to operate at maximum capacity, as well as keep consumers and employee’s confidence high.
“Businesses also need to understand how Government will respond to further variants of concern – or indeed a future pandemic – and what support would be put in place if new guidance or mandatory restrictions are introduced that have a negative impact on the economy.
“Firms will only truly be able to ‘Live with Covid’ when they are confident that a plan is in place for future outbreaks. Uncertainty will put a brake on investment and the shadow of the pandemic could continue to loom over our economy for some time to come.”