Businesses welcome relaxation of Plan B restrictions

The UK government has announced an end to all Plan B restrictions in England on 26 January. The measures, which were brought in to combat the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, included compulsory wearing of facemasks on public transport and shops, guidance for employees to work from home, and vaccine certification for some public venues.

The requirement for people with Covid-19 to isolate will also be allowed to lapse when that regulation expires on 24 March.

Matthew Fell, chief policy director at the CBI, said: “It’s great news that Plan B is coming to an end and businesses will be hopeful that we are finally starting to turn the corner on Covid-19. There’s a vital need now for greater consistency in how we live with the virus in the longer term. Swinging back and forth between restrictions and normality has been damaging. The government must start to prioritise Covid infrastructure over interventions. That means relying more on free testing, vaccines and anti-virals.

“There’s also still a job to be done on repairing confidence and demand. Omicron has pushed back the recovery for some key sectors, like international travel and hospitality. The focus now must be on how we can grow the economy and stimulate investment.”

The CBI also welcomed the removal of government guidance for employees to be working from home wherever possible, instead leaving such decisions for employers to decide. Fell said: “Hybrid working is here to stay, with firms that can already seeking a balanced approach to home and office working.

“But there are clear benefits to being in the office, such as collaboration and on-the-job learning, and blanket work-from-home guidance has had significant downsides for city centre trade in sectors such as hospitality and retail.”

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