Nicola Sturgeon has announced that home working will once again be a legal requirement in Scotland for those able to do so. Those running businesses in Scotland will be under a new legal duty to take reasonably practicable measures to minimise the risk of transmission.
The Scottish Government will publish further guidance to assist businesses with this new legal duty. In essence, it means a return to physical distancing in premises, protective screens and measures to control the flow of customers. All of this will be familiar from the start of the pandemic.
The Scottish Government also tightened rules on self-isolation over the weekend. Household contacts of an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 must, for now, isolate for 10 days irrespective of their age, vaccination status or PCR test result. Non-household contacts of an individual who tests positive must continue to isolate, if they are double vaccinated, until they have a negative PCR test result. Non-vaccinated contacts must continue to isolate for 10 days.
The Scottish Government stopped short of introducing legal restrictions on people’s ability to socialise but strongly recommended that everyone limits their social contact to three households at a time.
In England, the UK parliament passed legislation yesterday activating elements of the government’s Plan B, including extending the requirements for face coverings and extending the use of COVID-19 passports. From 14 December in England, double vaccinated contacts of an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 should take lateral flow tests every day for seven days. This replaces the requirement to self-isolate for contacts of Omicron cases.
Those travelling to the UK must take a PCR or lateral flow test two days before departure and take a PCR test in the two days after they arrive in the UK. They must self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
We hope not to bring news of further restrictions, whether before or after the festive season. However, the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic sadly looks set to continue for the foreseeable future.