COVID-19 restrictions removed and new guidance from Friday
From tomorrow (Friday 1 April), the Government is removing some COVID-19 restrictions and introducing new guidance as set out in its Living with COVID-19 plan
From tomorrow (Friday 1 April), the Government is removing some COVID-19 restrictions and introducing new guidance as set out in its Living with COVID-19 plan, and Wiltshire Council is asking people to continue to be courteous of others with local case rates still high, by wearing a face covering in indoor crowded spaces, practising good hand and respiratory hygiene and continuing to stay at home if they are unwell to limit the transmission of all infectious diseases.
Free universal symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public in England will end from 1 April, however limited free COVID-19 testing for vulnerable groups and some health and social care workers will continue to be made available nationally as per the government's policy. Wiltshire Council's seven lateral flow test collection sites have now closed as required through this national policy change.
On Tuesday 29 March, Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid announced that people at risk of serious illness from COVID-19, and eligible for treatments, will continue to get free tests to use if they develop symptoms, along with NHS and adult social care staff and those in other high-risk settings. The Government will outline their approach in detail on 1 April.
As the country begins to look to manage the virus like other respiratory infections new guidance will be released. It will advise people with symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as COVID-19, with a high temperature or those who feel unwell, to try and stay at home and avoid contact with other people, until they no longer have a high temperature and they feel well enough to resume their usual activities.
People should continue to follow the current guidance until 1 April.
From 1 April, anyone with a positive COVID-19 test result will be advised to try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for five days, as this is the period when they are most infectious.
Advice will be provided for people who need to leave their home when they have symptoms or have tested positive, including avoiding close contact with people with a weakened immune system, wearing a face-covering and avoiding crowded places. Children and young people who are unwell and have a high temperature should stay at home and avoid contact with other people, where they can. They can go back to school, college or childcare when they no longer have a high temperature, and they are well enough to attend.
Other changes to guidance from 1 April:
- the current guidance on voluntary COVID-status certification in domestic settings will be removed and the government will no longer recommend that certain venues use the NHS COVID Pass
- the health and safety requirement for every employer to explicitly consider COVID-19 in their risk assessments will end
- a number of changes and new guidance has also been confirmed for adult social care, including those working in adult social care services will also continue to receive free personal protective equipment (PPE). Priority vaccinations and boosters for residents and staff will also continue.
Kate Blackburn, Director of Public Health, said: "As we adjust to living safely with COVID-19, it is important that we keep in mind that the virus is still very prevalent in our communities and poses a health risk, particularly to vulnerable people.
"There are things we can still all do to protect ourselves and others, and it's those simple behaviours that many of us have already made part of our daily routine - not going out and meeting people if we feel poorly, washing hands with soap and warm water regularly for 20 seconds, and wearing a face mask in indoor crowded settings which do make a difference.
"Vaccines are still clearly a very important tool to help us live normal lives. They are safe and effective, and they also reduce the likelihood of experiencing severe illness from COVID-19. We would encourage anyone who can get vaccinated and hasn't yet, to do so, it's never too late.
- people can find out about getting their COVID-19 vaccination (including the recently announced additional booster)
- guidance on infection prevention and control for seasonal respiratory infections including COVID-19
- the latest Government announcement on the Living with COVID-19 plan
Wiltshire Council won't be routinely publishing the latest local COVID-19 case numbers but the latest information can be found on the GOV dashboard.