In September 2021, the UK government published its COVID-19 Response: Autumn and Winter Plan in two parts, Plan A and Plan B, to set out how it intends to address the challenges that may be posed by COVID-19 through to the spring.

Plan A is currently being applied, and Plan B is only to be implemented if data should suggest further measures are necessary to protect the NHS. Beyond that, the UK government has stated that "more harmful economic and social restrictions would only be considered as a last resort".

The Welsh Government published its own strategy, the Coronavirus control plan: autumn and winter 2021 update, in October 2021. It has stated that any surge in COVID-19 cases would initially be addressed by an enhanced local or regional response.

What the current plans mean, in particular, for employers

Employers are to continue to be required to observe workplace safety guidance. That applicable in England is here and that applicable in Wales is here.

A material difference in the approach of the two jurisdictions is that the requirement remains in Wales that employees should work from home if possible, whereas that is not a feature of Plan A in England, and it is to be reconsidered as a control measure in the event of a shift to Plan B.

Also on 29 October 2021, strengthened measures were announced in Wales due to rising rates of COVID-19, and of particular relevance to employers is a change to the self-isolation requirements for fully-vaccinated household contacts of persons with symptoms or who have tested positive for COVID-19, who are now strongly advised to self-isolate until they have received a negative PCR test. In England, it remains that whilst such persons are advised to take a PCR test, they are not advised to self-isolate pending the result.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.