As we enter a new year, COVID-19 cases remain very high with Omicron now established as the dominant variant. High case numbers translate into a variety of problems. Alongside the issues surrounding hospitalisation and health care resources, high case numbers result in large numbers of people self-isolating as NHS Test and Protect seeks to break the chain of transmission. This inevitably leads to pressures on businesses and can leave employers short-staffed.
On Wednesday 5th January 2022 the First Minister announced changes to the self-isolation and testing requirements, bringing the rules in line with similar changes made throughout the rest of the UK.
For new cases from 6th January 2022, the changes include:
- If an individual has a positive Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test result and no symptoms, they do not need to book a PCR test (However, it is worth noting that if someone is told to self-isolate by Test and Protect, they may be eligible for a £500 Self-Isolation Support Grant and a positive PCR test result is still required to apply for this, albeit that this may subsequently change). The requirement remains to self-isolate, and report the result online.
- If an individual tests positive, it is possible to end the standard 10-day self-isolation period early, if they (i) do not have a fever and (ii) have two consecutive negative LFD test results from day six onwards, taken 24 hours apart. This means the self-isolation period can be cut to seven days in these circumstances. This is regardless of vaccination status.
- If someone is a close contact (household or non-household) who is fully-vaccinated (two doses and the booster), they can take daily LFD tests instead of self-isolating. The daily LFD tests should be taken for seven days in a row, and providing they are negative, and the individual has no fever, there is no requirement to self-isolate.
- It remains the case that for close contacts who are not fully-vaccinated, they should self-isolate for 10 days and book a PCR test. Even if this test result is negative, the 10 day self-isolation must still be completed.
The Scottish Government has introduced these changes in the hope that they reflect a balance between slowing the rate of transmission with the wider economic harms that broader self-isolation rules can cause.
It is important that businesses remain supportive of employees required to self-isolate and employers are encouraged to follow the advice in the COVID-19: Fair work statement.
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If you are concerned by high numbers of employees self-isolating, or any other issue stemming from the current COVID situation and how it is affecting your business, do not hesitate to get in touch with our Employment Team who can assist.
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