The CBI has called the government’s ‘living with Covid’ plan the “first step to normality” but warned that businesses still need further guidance on issues such as sick pay and employer liability.
The news comes after prime minister Boris Johnson announced yesterday (21 February) that the legal requirement for people who test positive for coronavirus to self-isolate will be removed from Thursday (24 February) and free symptomatic and asymptomatic testing will end in England from 1 April.
The changes, which are still subject to approval from Parliament, also include vaccinated contacts of positive cases no longer having to test for seven days and those unvaccinated of close contacts will no longer be required to self isolate.
In addition, from 24 March Covid provisions attached to statutory sick pay will be removed and wider guidance on workplace safety will be updated.
Matthew Fell, CBI chief policy director, said: “After almost two years, the Living with Covid strategy marks a significant step towards normality returning. Firms want this to be a springboard for confidence, providing the certainty they need to invest and grow.
“But they are also aware that the virus hasn’t disappeared. Living confidently with the virus means prioritising infrastructure over interventions, as the CBI has set out previously. The UK has developed a world-leading vaccine and anti-viral programme, and firms will welcome the government’s continued emphasis on these key pillars.”
He added: “While free testing cannot continue forever, there is a balance to be struck between confidence building and cost-cutting. Mass lateral flow testing has kept our economy open and firms continue to believe the economic benefits far outweigh the costs.
“The government now needs to add further guidance on issues like sick pay and employer liability to avoid the risk of a legal vacuum. Many firms will continue to be cautious and use extra measures to protect their staff and customers, as they have from the outset.”