Covid isolation rule changes – when they’ll be scrapped and can employers force you to work?

Covid rules are due to be brought to an end earlier than expected in England following an announcement from Boris Johnson – but what will this mean for going to work and our access to lateral flow tests?

Boris Johnson has announced he plans to dramatically move the UK forward through its exit from Covid rules - meaning your boss could ask you to come into the office when you've got Covid
Boris Johnson has announced he plans to dramatically move the UK forward through its exit from Covid rules – meaning your boss could ask you to come into the office when you’ve got Covid

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced he intends to scrap rules and regulations surrounding Covid-19 earlier than originally planned.

In an announcement to parliament, Johnson said that the new plan would see the schedule for axing years of restrictions move forward dramatically.

He said that the ability to do so “shows that the hard work of the British people is paying off”, however not everyone agrees with the Prime Minister’s decision.

The new policy sees England break away dramatically from the plans and directions of other nations, many of which continue to use quarantines, fines and restrictions to help combat the virus.

Johnson has been warned by some scientists that the move will signal that the pandemic is coming to an end and may well leave vulnerable people dangerously exposed to the virus.

Will Covid rules be scrapped completely?

After years of restrictions in England, it looks like they are coming to an end in the coming weeks



Under the upcoming changes all Covid rules, including the need to self-isolate, will be struck off in England.

The move comes as the government seeks to enter a new phase of endemicity as the country gears up to ‘living with Covid’.

When will Covid rules be scrapped?

Following Johnson’s announcement to parliament, the rules are expected to be scrapped in two weeks time, a month earlier than originally planned.

This means that self-isolation could be axed as soon as February 24. The rules had originally been intended for the bin on March 24, a full month later than the new plans.

For the time being, lateral flow tests are expected to continue being provided for free beyond the end of February, however, the timescale for the end of the scheme is expected to emerge towards the end of the month.

Will your employer be able to force you to work if you have Covid?

A review is expected of the free lateral flow test scheme


Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

People will be advised not to go to work if they pick up the virus, Downing Street has confirmed. However, without the force of the government-backed rules or fines system, the door is open for employers to ask staff to work even when they’re unwell.

The government has liked future advice for going to work with the virus to that of other infectious diseases.

A spokesperson for the PM, when asked if people would be able to go to work with Covid, said: “So there would be guidance, that would not be what we are recommending.

“What we would simply be doing is removing the domestic regulations which relate to isolation.

“But obviously in the same way that someone with the flu, we wouldn’t recommend they go to work, we would never recommend anyone goes to work when they have an infectious disease.”

He continued: “We’ve talked about how we will need to manage living with coronavirus as we emerge from this pandemic. We are entering into that phase of endemicity as I’ve talked about, and it’s only right that we adjust according.” ‘

Will £500 grant for self-isolation be scrapped?

At the time of writing it is not clear whether the £500 grant that has been available to people on low incomes forced to self-isolate will still be available after the lifting of restrictions.

However, the Mirror understands that Test and Trace Support Payment is due to come under review next week, ahead of February 24’s rule scrapping.

The system was introduced in September 2020 in a bid to help workers on low wages manage self-isolation periods financially.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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