New guidance to help limit the rapid spread of the Omicron variant has been published. This guidance will take effect from 00.01 Friday 17 December.
From Friday, businesses will be legally required to take reasonable measures to minimise transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).
The guidance will support businesses to put in place a range of public health measures that will help keep people safe, including enabling home working for those who are able to work from home – something that is key to breaking chains of transmission.
Masks should be worn in all businesses, and retail and hospitality businesses should consider reasonable measures to reduce crowding and manage queues.
Workplace testing is being extended and businesses with more than 10 employees are encouraged to sign up to receive free lateral flow test kits to ensure staff are able to test regularly.
To help mitigate further economic harm as a result of this vital public health guidance, a £100 million financial package for eligible businesses is also being established to support them through this period. £100 million for self-isolation support grants is also being made available to those who need it. The Economy Secretary is engaging with affected business groups and details of the funding is to be set out shortly.
Economy Secretary Kate Forbes said:
“The Omicron variant is spreading at a rapid pace and we have had to work extremely quickly to get revised guidance in place for businesses, to take effect from 00.01 Friday 17 December.
“It is crucial that everyone follows this guidance to support businesses to keep their premises safe and prevent transmission of Omicron, especially as we ramp up booster vaccinations. Please get your booster, test regularly, follow the guidance, wear a mask and distance from people when you’re out and about. All of these layers of protection will help to limit the spread of Omicron, especially as we approach the festive period.
“I am also making a plea to be considerate to staff who are doing their best during this challenging period.
“In addition to guidance, we know that businesses need financial support now. We are working to get funding out to businesses as soon as we can but the Treasury must also step up and provide urgent funding beyond what we are able to provide. I wrote to the Chancellor last night and the First Minister has requested talks with the Prime Minister – this situation is serious and we need the UK Government to engage with us on further support.”