February 24, 2022 5.00 pm

Small businesses might suffer despite COVID self-isolation restrictions ending

Self-isolating is no longer a legal requirement

From Thursday, February 24, people who tested positive for coronavirus will no longer be required to self-isolate, but they are advised to stay at home for at least five full days.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the UK’s COVID vaccination programme this week and said it had left England in a strong position going forward.

However, it could leave many smaller businesses facing some difficult decisions.

Katrina Pierce, Lincolnshire Development Manager for The Federation of Small Businesses, told BBC Look North: “The impact will be felt more sharply by small businesses. Larger businesses have more staff, more capability, more pairs of hands there that can keep the business running when a few people are off work.

“That’s not the case in smaller businesses, so having people potentially off work ill. We do need to remember this has not gone away, people will still fall ill with this.”

As part of the measures self-isolation support payments will also end, although COVID provisions for statutory sick pay can still be claimed for a few months. Routine contact tracking will also end.

From April 1, free mass testing for the general public will end. Until this date, the Prime Minister said the government would advise people who test positive to stay at home, but after that will encourage people with COVID-19 symptoms to “exercise personal responsibility”.

The government will also no longer recommend the use of voluntary COVID status certification or COVID passes. However, the NHS app will continue to allow people to indicate their vaccination status for international travel.