Letter to businesses from Dr Rupert Suckling - January 20th 2022

A letter to businesses from the Director of Public Health at Doncaster Council with regards to the revert back to plan A.

The Government has announced that from January 27 England will revert to Plan A restrictions. From January 20 the work from home guidance ends and businesses are able to invite employees back to their place of work. From January 27 the additional changes are:

• Covid passes are no longer mandatory – however if you use them in your business you can continue to do so.

• Mandatory face masks will end – again if you want to continue to use face masks at work you can keep these in place.

• It is still a legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid-19.

We are now starting to see Covid 19 rates fall across Doncaster and want to thank you for all the work you have put in to adhering to the changing measures and guidance. However, the rates are still very high and there are still too many people needing to self-isolate and therefore unavailable for work and needing hospital admission.

Just because the restrictions are being relaxed does not mean that you have to make changes, if you feel that face masks are protecting your staff and helping to keep cases low within your business then you can keep these measures in place. My professional advice is to move gradually and only once you are happy with your risk assessments, at least this side of half term.

Our business settings are not the main driver for cases in the borough and you’ve been doing a great job at keeping cases contained so please do think about what is best for your business and your employees when considering any changes.

Since I wrote to you at the beginning of January there have been further changes in guidance relating to self-isolation, and I wanted to take this opportunity to bring these to your attention.

Positive cases

If your employee tests positive:

The self-isolation advice for people with Covid-19 has changed. It is now possible to end self-isolation after 5 days, following 2 negative LFD tests taken 24 hours apart. The first LFD test should not be taken before the fifth day. Employees who have 2 consecutive negative tests on day 5 and 6 can return to work. Any person retuning to the work setting should take additional precautions to limit close contact with other people.

From 11 January 2022, any employee who DOES NOT have any symptoms of covid but tests positive on an LFD test does not need to get a follow-up PCR test. They must register their LFD test on the Government website and self-isolate immediately for 10 days. They are able to leave isolation early if they have two negative LFD tests 24 hours apart with the first test taken no earlier than day 5 of their isolation. Please note that anyone who needs to claim the £500 support payment will still need a PCR test.

If your employee is a close contact, including household contact of someone who has tested positive:

Vaccinated persons and children: Any persons aged under 18 years and 6 months and fully vaccinated employees are strongly advised to take an LFD test every day for 7 days. This daily test should be completed before the person leaves the household for the first time that day. If any of these test results are positive, the person should self-isolate and arrange a PCR test.

Our local advice is that if you are a close contact and cannot get hold of an LFD test to test daily please isolate.

People who are not fully vaccinated: Any persons not fully vaccinated and living in the same household as someone with Covid-19 are legally required to stay at home and self-isolate. Fully vaccinated is defined as 14 days after having received 2 doses of an approved vaccine. This applies only to people ages 18 years and 6 months or above.

While the number of cases is falling, it remains important that we all work together to continue to protect our community.

Here are some of the ways you can do this:

Have effective ventilation – this continues to be key in preventing and reducing the impact of an outbreak of Covid-19.

LFD (asymptomatic) testing – regular testing is helping us to identify people who are positive without symptoms who would be unknowingly spreading the virus.

PCR testing – Any employee with new Covid-19 symptoms should arrange PCR testing and not attend their place of work.

Vaccination - Continue to promote vaccination to all who are eligible.

Support and welfare

The self-isolation support grant remains available and the criteria and how to apply are available at the link above.

Information about local support for self-isolation is available here, including a phone number for people who need additional support in self-isolation.

The national guidance is changing regularly so please do keep up to date and check the latest via www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Thank you again for all that you have been doing to protect your employees, their families, and the wider community.

Dr Rupert Suckling

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