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Guide to the latest national COVID-19 restrictions

New measures have been introduced in England to respond to the Omicron variant and help reduce its spread. Our guide can help you keep up to date with the latest news relevant for you and your business.

This page was updated on 13 January 2022. 

On 27 November 2021, the Prime Minister announced the introduction of new temporary restrictions as a result of the Omicron variant.

On 8 December 2021, the government announced that England would be moving to Plan B of the COVID-19 Autumn/Winter Plan, to reduce the spread of the Omicron variant. 

The measures introduced as part of Plan B have been outlined below. These were reviewed on 5 January 2022 with the government deciding to extend them by three weeks, with a further review set to take place before the regulations expire on 26 January 2022.

Find out how to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in your workplace.

New national measures announced

Going to work

From Monday 13 December 2021

  • Office workers who can work from home are advised to do so.
  • In cases where homeworking is not possible, staff should continue to go to the workplace. To manage their own risk and the risk to others, these employees should consider taking regular lateral flow tests.
  • Employers should consider whether home working is appropriate for workers facing mental or physical health difficulties, or those with a particularly challenging home working environment.
  • Businesses can continue to use the Working Safely guidance to manage the risk of COVID-19 in their workplace or setting.

Face coverings

  • Customers and staff in public-facing areas are legally required to wear a face covering in most indoor settings unless exempt. 
  • You can see the full list of settings where face coverings are mandatory here.
  • These include the following:
    • shops and supermarkets 
    • shopping centres (malls and indoor markets)
    • close contact services (barbers, hair salons, tattoo and piercing studios, nail salons and massage centres)

      Personal care service practitioners conducting treatments that require them to be in close proximity to a person’s face, mouth and nose should where possible follow good practice and wear a Type II face mask. A Type II face mask is a medical face mask.

    • visitor attractions and entertainment venues (e.g. cinemas, theatres)
    • takeaways without space for the consumption of food or drink on the premises
    • public transport and transport hubs
    • taxis and private hire vehicles
    • places of worship
  • It’s illegal for employers and businesses to prevent people, including staff, from wearing a face covering in these settings.
  • Face coverings are not compulsory in the following settings:
    • Hospitality (e.g. restaurants, cafés and pubs)
    • Bars and shisha bars
    • Gyms & exercise facilities
    • Photography studios
    • Leisure centres, swimming pools, and water and aqua parks
    • Nightclubs, dance halls and discotheques
  • Signage: Settings in which face coverings are required must display a notice (in a visible location) or take other measures to ensure that any person who enters the business or boards the public transport vehicle is aware of the requirement to wear a face covering unless an exemption applies or there is a reasonable excuse. Failure to comply with these regulations could lead to a fixed penalty notice of £1000 (£500 if paid in 14 days).
Download face covering signage
  • As a reminder, businesses can also choose to ask their staff or customers to wear a face covering, even in settings where these are not legally required.

 Visit the government website for more information on face coverings at work

Self-isolation and Test and Trace

  • Individuals who test positive must self-isolate from the day their symptoms started and the next 10 full days, or from the day their test was taken if they do not have symptoms and the next 10 full days.

    Guidance valid until Sunday, 16 January 2022

    Individuals may be able to end their self-isolation period before the end of the 10 full days. This means that they can take a rapid lateral flow test (LFD) on day 6 and day 7 of their self-isolation period and if both these test results are negative, and they do not have a high temperature, they may end their self-isolation after the second negative test result.

    If any of these LFD test results are positive the staff member should continue to isolate and should wait 24 hours before taking the next LFD test.

    Guidance valid from Monday, 17 January 2022

    People testing positive may be able to leave isolation at the start of day six provided they test negative on both day 5 and day 6 and do not have a temperature.

    Individuals who are still positive on their lateral flow tests must stay in isolation until they have had two consecutive negative tests taken on separate days.

  • From Tuesday 14 December 2021, fully vaccinated contacts of a COVID-19 case whether Omicron or not should take a daily NHS lateral flow test for 7 days. 
  • Daily rapid testing also applies to contacts who: 
    • can prove they are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons
    • are taking part or having taken part, in an approved clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine
    • are aged 5 years and over but are below the age of 18 years 6 months
  • Any contacts of a positive COVID-19 case who test positive or develop symptoms will need to self-isolate. 
  • Unvaccinated adults will not be eligible for this new daily testing policy, and they will be required to continue to self-isolate for 10 days if they are a contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 – Omicron or not – unless eligible for an existing workplace daily contact testing policy.

COVID-status certification 

From Wednesday 15 December 2021

  • Certain businesses, venues and events are legally required to check the COVID status of customers. 
  • This means that to enter these settings, customers (aged 18 or over) must provide proof that they:
    • are fully vaccinated (currently, this means a full course of vaccination without the need for a booster. As soon as all adults have had a reasonable chance to get their booster jab, the government intends for boosters to be required instead of two doses) 
    • have received a negative test (PCR or LFT) in the last 48 hours or
    • have an exemption
  • Proof of natural immunity will not be accepted as an alternative to proof of vaccination or a recent test.
  • People are able to demonstrate proof of their COVID-19 status through the NHS COVID Pass. This can be accessed through:
  • While people can use the NHS COVID Pass to demonstrate proof of a negative test result, they can also do this by showing an NHS Test and Trace email or text confirmation.
  • The following settings are required to carry out COVID-19 status checks as a condition of entry:

    • nightclubs, dancehalls and discotheques
    • other late-night dance venues (For these venues, the rules apply from 1 am) 
      These would be settings that meet all of the following criteria:
      • are open between 1 am and 5 am
      • serve alcohol after 1 am
      • have a dancefloor (or designated space for dancing) and
      • provide music, whether live or recorded, for dancing
    • certain events 
      • indoor events expecting 500 or more unseated attendees (e.g. music venues with standing audiences or large receptions)
      • outdoor events expecting 4,000 or more unseated attendees (e.g. outdoor festivals)
      • any indoor or outdoor events with 10,000 or more attendees (e.g. large sports and music events)
  • How can businesses and venues check for proof of COVID-19 status? Organisations can:
    • use the NHS COVID Pass Verifier App to validate an attendee's NHS COVID Pass. This also provides verification of passes from the rest of the UK and 62 countries that are part of the EU gateway
    • check the attendee's NHS Test and Trace text or email notification confirming a negative PCR or rapid lateral flow test taken within the past 48 hours
    • accept certain vaccination proofs from other countries where attendees are international residents
  • While COVID-19 status checks are not mandatory for workers, the government strongly advises that these are carried out for customer-facing staff at your venue or event. 
Guidance for organisations carrying out mandatory COVID-19 status checks Downloadable and easy-to-use marketing toolkit for venues and settings

International Travel - current guidance

  • From 7 January 2022 international arrivals from non-red list countries who are fully vaccinated are no longer required to:
    • take a pre-departure test 
    • self-isolate on arrival in England 
  • From 9 January 2022, Day 2 tests for eligible fully vaccinated travellers and over 5s can be either lateral flow tests or PCR tests. 
  • The UK Health Security Agency continues to process self-declarations against the minimum standards for day 2 lateral flow tests for any providers who wish to offer this service.

An easy to read guide to the international travel requirements is available on our dedicated travel pageFor the latest information on travel, visit the government website.

Booster Vaccines

  • Eligible individuals aged 18 years old and over can book their booster jab online here or visit a walk-in center
  • The gap between the second dose and booster has been reduced to three months (down from six months).
  • A booster dose is being offered to severely immunosuppressed individuals aged 16 or above who have already received three primary doses. The booster can be given three months after the final primary dose.
  • All children and young people aged 12 to 15 years are advised to receive a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. This can be given 12 weeks after the first dose.
COVID-19 vaccines – what you need to know

 More information is available on the UK Government’s Coronavirus Business Support website. For more personalised advice call us on: 0161 359 3050 or email us at:


The information provided is meant as a general guide only rather than advice or assurance. GC Business Growth Hub does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information and professional guidance should be sought on all aspects of business planning and responses to the coronavirus. Use of this guide and toolkit are entirely at the risk of the user. Any hyperlinks from this document are to external resources not connected to the GC Business Growth Hub and The Growth Company is not responsible for the content within any hyperlinked site.

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