Prime Minister’s statement on Omicron variant
On Wednesday 8 December 2021 the Prime Minister gave a statement on COVID-19 and the Omicron variant.
He confirmed that the government will move to Plan B in England. As part of this, the Prime Minister announced the following measures:
From Monday 13 December, those who can are advised to work from home.
From Friday 10 December, the government further extended the legal requirement to wear a face mask to most public indoor venues, including theatres and cinemas. There are exemptions in venues where it is not practical to wear one, such as when you are eating, drinking or exercising.
From Wednesday 15 December the NHS Covid Pass on the NHS App became mandatory for entry into nightclubs and settings where large crowds gather - including unseated indoor events with 500 or more attendees, unseated outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees and any event with 10,000 or more attendees.
People will be able to demonstrate proof of two vaccine doses via the app. Having considered the evidence since the emergence of Omicron, proof of a negative lateral flow test will also be accepted.
As Omicron spreads in the community, the government also intends to introduce daily contact tests for contacts of confirmed positive Omicron cases instead of the ten-day self-isolation period.
Guidance and toolkit on working safely during COVID-19
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) have updated the working safely guidance for several sectors which cover a range of different types of work including construction, shops, restaurants and offices.
The updates include information on who should go to work.
The government has also produced a toolkit which councils, trade bodies and other business networks can use to support working safely communications to businesses. The toolkit includes materials on face coverings, ventilation, employee vaccines, testing and other general working safely guidance.
Ventilation and air conditioning guidance and materials for councils and businesses
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has made available guidance to help councils and businesses identify poor ventilation in work areas and take practical steps to improve it.
HSE has also made available a series of new ventilation guidance videos setting out the key advice and examples of how businesses have improved ventilation to reduce COVID-19 transmission. With winter approaching, HSE has also revised the guidance on balancing ventilation and keeping warm.
HSE has also created a presentation.
The COVID-19 Response: Autumn and Winter Plan 2021 Information for Landlords on Ventilation
If you have responsibility as a landlord, whether in the Social Rented Sector or Private Rental Sector, we ask that you help us in our efforts to encourage behaviours to help combat the virus and cascade the message of the importance of good ventilation to your residents.
To support the health of your residents, there are several things you, as a landlord, should do to enable ventilation in and around your residents’ homes:
- Ensure that all habitable rooms have functioning openable windows (including providing replacement keys where these have been misplaced/lost) - ideally with opening areas of at least 1120th of the floor area;
- Ensure that all bathrooms/kitchens have either functioning openable windows and/or (preferably both) appropriate functioning extract ventilation;
- Consider installing positive pressure or constant run ventilation systems to ensure there is adequate background ventilation and to reduce the likelihood of condensation, and ensure that such systems are operating effectively, with filters etc replaced at appropriate intervals;
- Ensure that tenants have clear instructions and understand how to operate ventilation and heating systems, and are advised on the best ways to achieve a healthy and economic balance of heating, ventilation and moisture production within the home;
- Ensure that problems with damp are fully investigated and addressed promptly.
We also request that you prioritise as far as possible any planned or known works that might improve ventilation, such as repairing broken safety catches on windows for those concerned about security or a fall hazard.
Face coverings poster
The government has updated a poster to help remind people to wear a face covering where they are legally required to do so.
There are some places where people must wear a face covering by law, unless they are exempt or have a reasonable excuse.
For specific guidance on infection control in relation to Coronavirus (COVID-19) see:
Do you run a hospitality business? Are you required to check the COVID status of customers? What do you need to do?
From 6am on Wednesday 15 December, certain venues and events will be required by law to check the COVID status of customers using the NHS COVID Pass or other accepted proof to gain entry into these settings.
Checking the COVID status of attendees is mandatory in certain places, in order to allow them to stay open more safely, and to prevent unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
Carrying out COVID-19 status checks on a voluntary basis
Venues and events that are not required to use the NHS COVID Pass can still opt to use it voluntarily as a condition of entry to reduce the risk of transmission at venues or events.
You should consider using the NHS COVID Pass if you operate a venue or event where individuals are likely to stand or move around, or where individuals are in close contact, even if you are not legally obliged to.
Venues and events that must carry out COVID-19 status checks
The use of the NHS COVID Pass is required as a condition of entry into the following places:
- Nightclubs, dancehalls and discotheques
- Other late night dance venues, where all of the following apply:
- The venue is open between 1am and 5am.
- It serves alcohol during this time.
- It has a dancefloor (or space for dancing).
- It provides music, whether live or recorded, for dancing.
- Indoor events with 500 or more attendees, where those attendees are likely to stand or move around for all or part of the event, such as music venues with standing audiences or large receptions.
- Outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees, where those attendees are likely to stand or move around for all or part of the event, such as outdoor festivals.
- Events with 10,000 or more attendees, whether indoor or outdoor, such as large sports and music events.
Nightclubs, dancehalls and discotheques will be required to check the COVID status of visitors at all times
There are exemptions, including weddings and civil partnership ceremonies, funerals, events in private houses where people do not have to pay or hold a ticket to enter, and receptions celebrating a wedding or other significant life event.
The responsible person - the organiser or manager of the premises - of a relevant venue or event is required to take reasonable measures to check attendees’ Covid-19 status, and is legally required to deny entry if a customer does not meet the entry requirements.
The responsible person must produce, and keep up to date, a statement setting out the measures they will introduce to ensure that they are meeting the requirements of carrying out mandatory COVID-19 status checks, and that they are making the public aware of these measures. This should explain, where applicable, a spot check approach, if you have prior agreement from the local authority.
The responsible person must also retain records containing the following information on implementing the requirements of carrying out mandatory COVID-19 status checks:
- The date of the event, or the date the records refer to for a venue.
- The number of people that attended the venue or event.
- Where you have departed from your general policy statement of measures to meet certification requirements:
- The reasons for adopting different measures.
- What measures were adopted.
- How an individual’s eligibility to enter the venue was checked.
- The number of occasions on which the reasonable measures you were taking to check COVID-19 status of attendees were varied from 100% checks by agreement with the local authority, and the number of people who were admitted on each such occasion.
- The number of occasions on which people were admitted to avoid injury or harm.
Information from within the NHS COVID Pass, such as an individual’s name or COVID-19 status must not be kept.
NHS COVID Pass Verifier App
It is recommended that you use the NHS COVID Pass Verifier App to scan an attendee’s NHS COVID pass. More information on the App can be found on this website.
Further guidance and queries
Further guidance can be found at the following webpages:
Please contact [email protected] or call 01228 817272 if you have any questions.
Mandatory certification toolkit for venues in England
The NHSX (a joint unit of NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care) has made available a toolkit which provides a suite of downloadable and easy-to-use resources for venues and settings where proof of COVID status is mandatory as a condition of entry or is being used on a voluntary basis.
The resources include social media materials for an organisation’s channels, posters, website banners, email signatures and window or door stickers.
COVID status means that people will be able to prove that they are eligible to access venues by using either the NHS COVID Pass, a negative test result via text or email from Test and Trace or international visitors with their own solution that is accepted at the border.
Should you experience any problems with the toolkit, please email [email protected]
Taxis and private hire vehicles
Updated guidance on COVID-19 for Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles has been published.
This is for drivers, operators and owners of taxi and private hire vehicles to protect against coronavirus. It includes the latest advice on lateral flow testing.
Travelling by taxi?
Even after you have received a vaccine, you should continue to follow this guidance on how to travel safely when using taxis or private hire vehicles.
Follow the advice of the operator and driver. For example, you may be asked to sit in the back left-hand seat if travelling alone. You may want to check with your taxi or private hire operator before travelling if they have put any additional measures in place.
You must wear a face covering when using taxis or private hire vehicles, unless you are exempt or have a reasonable excuse.
You should use contactless payment if possible, or find out if you can pay online in advance.
Where possible open windows for ventilation when in the vehicle.
Be aware of the surfaces you touch. Be careful not to touch your face. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when coughing or sneezing.
When finishing your journey, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands as soon as possible.