COVID-19 legislation and guidance update, February

This post includes a rolling update of new legislation and guidance on coronavirus COVID-19 during February 2022 *.


Statements on end of COVID-19 legislation in England

The BBC summarized the changes are follows:

  • From 21 February: the government is dropping guidance for staff and students in most education and childcare settings to undertake twice weekly asymptomatic testing
  • From Thursday 24 February: people who test positive for Covid will no longer be legally required to self-isolate
  • Also from Thursday: fully vaccinated close contacts and those aged under 18 will no longer be legally required to test daily for seven days
  • From 1 April: Free mass lateral flow testing for symptomatic and asymptomatic people will end
  • From 1 April: People with Covid symptoms will be asked to exercise personal responsibility when deciding whether to stay at home, until then they are still advised to do so.

Relevant documents include:

COVID-19 Response: Living with COVID-19. (21 February 2022).

Health Secretary Statement on spring COVID-19 booster vaccinations: A statement from the Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid on spring COVID-19 booster vaccinations following updated advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. DHSC, (21 February 2022).

Independent report, Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation statement on COVID-19 vaccinations in 2022, In January 2022, JCVI published a statement setting out evidence that good protection against hospitalisation was being maintained in older adults following booster vaccination, and that the need for and timing of further booster vaccinations would be kept under review.

Throughout the pandemic, coronavirus (COVID-19) has disproportionately affected those in older age groups, residents in care homes for older adults, and those with certain underlying health conditions, particularly those who are immunosuppressed. For this reason, these groups have been prioritised for vaccination across all of JCVI’s advice thus far. (21 February 2022).

Independent report, Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation statement on COVID-19 vaccinations in 2022. For 2022, the primary aim of the COVID-19 vaccination programme continues to be the prevention of severe disease (hospitalisation and mortality) arising from COVID-19. (21 February 2022).

PM statement at Covid press conference: 21 February 2022 The Prime Minister gave a press conference on our plan to live with COVID-19. (21 February 2022).

Prime Minister sets out plan for living with COVID, (21 February 2022).

Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19), Find out how to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in your workplace. Shops, branches, and close contact services – Information box added. From 24 February, you’ll no longer be legally required to self-isolate if you test positive for COVID-19 or if you’re an unvaccinated close contact of someone who’s tested positive. DBEIS and DDCMS, (21 February 2022).

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Wedding and civil partnership ceremonies, receptions and celebrations, From 24 February, you’ll no longer be legally required to self-isolate if you test positive for COVID-19 or if you’re an unvaccinated close contact of someone who’s tested positive. Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Cabinet Office, (21 February 2022).

Enabling safe and effective volunteering during coronavirus (COVID-19). Added callout box signposting “COVID-19 Response: Living with COVID-19”. DDCMS, (21 February 2022).

Coronavirus: how to stay safe and help prevent the spread, Find out how to stay safe and help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Cabinet Office, (21 February 2022).

Recent Comments (others below)

Bishop of London responds to Prime Minister’s announcement lifting remaining Covid-19 restrictions, in which she stated inter alia: “Although the legal restrictions are being lifted, there may be good reason for us to take some measures as individuals and as local churches. I am conscious that some people with medical conditions will be more fearful now that compulsory isolation for those who are likely to be infectious is ending and we should not lose our focus on the most vulnerable”. (21 February 2022). There has been no change in the Church’s guidance document issued on 25 January 2022, below. 

The British Medical Association@TheBMA, says removing all restrictions, testing, sick pay and isolation payments in England is “premature”, “incredibly concerning” and “completely illogical”, adding that it “neglects” and “fails” those most at risk from Covid-19. (21 February 2022). 

Christina Pagel, Director of UCL’s Clinical Operational Research UnitJohnson wants us to take personal responsibility for Covid – but England is left exposed GuardianThe Guardian, (22 February 2022).


Statement on end of COVID-19 legislation in Scotland

On 22 February 2022, the Scottish Government issued COVID 19 Scotland’s Strategic Framework Update February 2022. In a speech, the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the details of the updated Strategic Framework to manage COVID-19, primarily through public health advice, vaccination and treatment, rather than through legal restrictions. She set out an indicative timescale for remaining legal protections to be lifted, as follows:

  • vaccine certification will no longer be legally required from 28 February, although the app will remain available for any business that wishes to continue voluntary certification to reassure customers;
  • current legal requirements on the use of face coverings, the collection of customer details for contact tracing purposes, and for businesses, service providers and places of worship to have regard to guidance on COVID and to take reasonably practicable measures set out in the guidance are expected to be lifted on 21 March, subject to the state of the pandemic:
  • lateral flow and PCR tests will continue to be free, ahead of a detailed transition plan being published on the future of Scotland’s test and protect programme in March.

People who test positive for COVID-19 will continue to be asked to self-isolate to reduce the risk of infecting other people. The recommended period of self-isolation will be kept under review.


COVID-19 restrictions in Northern Ireland

Health Minister Robin Swann has stated that, though the Department of Health will carefully consider the UK Government’s Living With COVID plan for England and its implications for the Province, no decisions have yet been taken on any changes to Test and Trace in Northern Ireland:

“My Department continues to keep all aspects of the COVID-19 test and trace programme in Northern Ireland under review to ensure it remains proportionate and effective.

Our key priorities for testing include ensuring that it is prioritised for those who need it most. It is also imperative that we have appropriate contingency planning in place, with flexible testing capability which can be rapidly deployed to respond to any future variants or seasonal surges. Robust surveillance systems must also be maintained, to ensure any new developments in the pandemic are swiftly detected.

Keeping the public safe, in particular those at highest risk of severe illness, will continue to be at the centre of our considerations. Any policy changes will be informed by the latest clinical and scientific advice and consideration of the COVID situation in Northern Ireland.”


COVID-19 restrictions in Wales

The Welsh Government announcement is due on March 4.


Legislation

England

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel and Operator Liability) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2022, SI 2022/125 and Explanatory Memorandum. This instrument amends the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel and Operator Liability) (England) Regulations 2021 (S.I. 2021/582) to revise the baseline border measures to facilitate the safe recovery to former levels of travel, whilst retaining the ability to monitor and respond to threats to public health in a timely manner.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation etc.) (Revocation) (England) Regulations 2022, SI 2022/161. These Regulations revoke the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020 and the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No.3) Regulation.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel and Operator Liability) (England) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2022, SI 2022/168. These Regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel and Operator Liability) (England) Regulations 2021). The amendment are consequential on the revocation of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020 (S.I. 2020/1045).

Wales

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (Wales) Regulations 2022, WSI 2022/126 (W.41). The Regulations revoke and replace the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (Wales) Regulations 2020 (S.I. 2020/574 (W. 132). For persons arriving in Wales who began their journey outside of the common travel area, the Regulations require that they provide information about where they live, their vaccination status, and other related matters (via “a passenger locator form”). Certain categories of person are exempt from this requirement.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 5) Regulations 20222, SI 2022/142 These Regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020  to provide inter alia  that those Regulations expire at the end of the day on 28 March 2022 (rather than 25 February 2022).

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Public Health Information to Travellers and Operator Liability) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2022, SI 2022.150 In consequence of the revocation and replacement of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (Wales) Regulations 2020 by the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (Wales) Regulations 2022, these Regulations make amendments to the Public Health Information Regulations and Operator Liability Regulations.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 6) Regulations 2022, WSI 2022/180 These Regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 (S.I. 2020/1609 (W. 335)) (“the principal Regulations”) to ensure the continued proportionality of regulation 20 of those Regulations. The amendments narrow the scope of regulation 20 by providing an exhaustive list of the premises to which the requirement applies. The requirement now applies to the listed indoor public areas, when the public have access to the premises.

Scotland

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (International Travel and Operator Liability) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 3) Regulations 2022, SSI 2022/53, and Policy Note.  These Regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (International Travel and Operator Liability) (Scotland) Regulations 2021. Except where noted below, they come into effect at 4.00 a.m. on 11 February 2022.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Requirements) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 5) Regulations 2022, SSI 2022/74 These Regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Requirements) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 (“the Principal Regulations”). They remove the requirement in the Principal Regulations for persons responsible for certain premises to have a reasonable system for checking that a person on the premises has been fully vaccinated, has received appropriate test results, or is otherwise exempt.  The Regulations come into force on 28 February 2022.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Requirements) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 4) Regulations 2022, SSI 2022/77 These Regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Requirements) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 (“the Principal Regulations”). These Regulations come into force on 27 February 2022. Regulation 2 amends regulation 19(1) (expiry) of the Principal Regulations by extending the date on which they expire from 28 February 2022 to 24 September 2022.

Northern Ireland

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel, Operator Liability and Information to Passengers) (Amendment No. 2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2022, SR 2022/43. These Regulations amend The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 (the principal regulations) and The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel, Operator Liability and Information to Passengers) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 (the Operator Liability Regulations).

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel, Operator Liability and Information to Passengers) (Amendment No. 3) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2022, SR 2022/46 Regulation 3 and the Schedule deal with the regime for exempting arrivals in Northern Ireland from the various coronavirus travel rules. They do so by simplifying the exemption regime for certain categories of person by merging many of the individual categories into larger categories. The Schedule also adds a new exemption category of seasonal and temporary horticultural and food processing workers.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions, Wearing of Face Coverings) (Revocation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2022, SR 2022/47 These Regulations revoke the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations 2021 and the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings) Regulations 2020.


Guidance

Public reminded to stay safe as COVID-19 England restrictions lift, News Story. UK Health Security Agency, The government has ended legal restrictions in England and is instead asking the public to practice specific safe and responsible behaviours. (24 February 2022).

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance, Collection. Find guidance about coronavirus (COVID-19) for health and social care settings, other non-clinical settings, and for the general public. UK Health Security Agency, (24 February 2022).

See above. 


Commentaries

Covid-19: Government plans to remove all remaining restrictions in England a month early , BMJ (9 February 2022).

SPICe Briefing Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) (Scotland) Bill: Criminal Justice, Courts and Legal Aid, (18 February 2022).

Removing free access to covid-19 tests is incomprehensible, BMJ (21 February 2022).

Open Letter from UK Scientists and Medics Re: Early End to England’s Isolation Rules, (21 February 2022).


Church of England

Update 21 February 2022

Bishop of London responds to Prime Minister’s announcement lifting remaining Covid-19 restrictions, (21 February 2022).

There has been no change in the guidance document issued on 25 January 2022, below. 

Update: Tuesday 25 January, 13.30

The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, has thanked parishes and the public for their sacrifices as England lifts plan B measures from Thursday 27 January,

Updated documents:


Law and Religion UK

Post last updated,  1 March 2022 at 07:32.. 


* Information on COVID-19 on L&RUK

These updates are now published at the start of each month; they are not reissued, but new items are added as they become available, providing a “rolling update” of the latest developments. They are also added to COVID-19 Coronavirus: legislation and guidance which is  the main source of  information, and listed with the newest items last (unlike the CofE documents, infra); items in the monthly updates yet to be added are marked “§“.  Earlier updates are here.

Church of England documents

Church of England documents are listed under their full title and issue number, in the same order as they appear on the Church’s web site.

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Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "COVID-19 legislation and guidance update, February" in Law & Religion UK, 10 February 2022, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2022/02/10/covid-19-legislation-and-guidance-update-february/

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