Department For Work & Pensions Newsletter (Including Covid Updates)

COVID-19 Plan B announcement

This week the Prime Minister announced a move to Plan B measures in England as outlined in the COVID-19 Autumn/Winter Plan.

Plan B measures will come into force while more data on vaccine efficacy is assessed.

Moving to Plan B will help to slow the spread of the new Omicron variant and reduce the chances of the NHS coming under unsustainable pressure, while buying time to deliver more boosters.

In summary the measures announced this week are:

  • From today, face coverings are required by law in most indoor settings. There are exemptions where it is not practical, such as when eating, drinking, exercising or singing (more detail on face coverings below)
  • From Monday 13 December, those who can work from home should do so, allowing us to slow transmission by reducing our contact with others. Anyone who cannot work from home should continue to go into work, and consider regular testing to manage their own risk and the risks to others.
  • From Wednesday 15 December certain venues and events will be required by law to check that all visitors aged 18 years or over are fully vaccinated, have proof of a negative test in the last 48 hours, or have an exemption.

The Government has announced its intention to replace self-isolation with daily testing for some contacts of people who have tested positive for COVID-19. Further details will be set out shortly. Until then, current rules continue to apply and you must self-isolate if instructed to do so by NHS Test and Trace. This remains the law.

These measures are in addition to:

  • A renewed push on testing.
  • A renewed push on vaccines and boosters – being fully vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself against catching COVID.
  • Continued messaging on ventilation – let in fresh air when meeting indoors.

DWP services in jobcentres remain unchanged and we will continue to deliver face-to-face services.

Face coverings

From today 10 December face coverings are required by law in most indoor public places, and on public transport, including taxis. There are exemptions including for hospitality settings such as cafes, restaurants and pubs, nightclubs and other night-time dance venues, gyms and photography studios.

We recognise that face masks may limit communication for people who use lip reading or who are deaf or have poor hearing. We are also aware that they may cause challenges to those with mental health conditions and respiratory problems.

The Government has introduced and promoted the use of exemption badges and lanyards as a mitigation against harm or discomfort in these cases. We will continue to issue and promote public communications that point out the exemptions, noting that not all disabilities may be visible.

Read the guidance Face coverings: when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make one.

Advice for people who are vulnerable

The Government will continue to assess the situation and the risks posed by Omicron and, based on clinical advice, will respond accordingly to keep the most vulnerable safe. Introducing face coverings, mandatory certification and working from home will help to reduce transmission, and add a further layer of protection for the most vulnerable.

Those previously identified as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) should follow the same guidance as everyone else and consider advice from their health professional on whether additional precautions are right for them. Extra precautions their GP might recommend could include:

● considering whether those you are meeting have been vaccinated – you might want to wait until 14 days after others’ second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before being in close contact with them, or asking friends and family to take a rapid lateral flow antigen test before visiting you.

● considering continuing to practice social distancing if that feels right for you and your friends.

Read the guidance Coronavirus: how to stay safe and help prevent the spread.