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Government sweeps away Covid rules in England by ending self-isolation and free Covid tests/community PCR testing – a move that could hit low-paid workers hard says Usdaw

Date: 22 February 2022 Current Covid restrictions were due to expire in England on 24 March but the Government announced it will be ending Covid rules a month early on 24th February.
In a speech given to the House of commons the prime minister Boris Johnson scrapped the remaining Covid legal restrictions in England and said he wanted to shift the onus from state mandates to personal responsibility. 
 
Under the Living with Covid plan, from Thursday, the legal requirement to self-isolate after testing positive for Covid will end, as well as free tests.
 
Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “The prime minister is ending Covid restrictions a month early and there is some concern whether this is based on following the science or political convenience.
 
“Covid is still out there, and infections remain high, so we urge a cautious approach to lifting all restrictions. 
 
“Leaving self-isolation up to individuals means that many people who can’t afford to take time off may feel pressured into going into work. It could also lead to spike in infections, putting more pressure on staffing levels and on low paid workers’ finances. Statutory sick pay is currently paid at just £96.35 per week and for many low-paid workers being ill has a huge financial impact on them. Trade unions secured Statutory Sick Pay from day one for Covid absences during the pandemic. This must continue and be extended to all sickness absences, along with sick pay reflecting average pay and being available to all workers. 
 
“Scrapping free tests is purely an economic decision by the Government. However, charging for tests will price out low-paid workers who are already struggling to make ends meet with food and fuel prices rising, energy bills soaring and real wages falling. This will be an additional cost that many cannot afford. 
 
“In January, the Government removed compulsory face covering in shops which dismissed the concerns of many retail workers and subcontracted responsibility for safety out to the public. We will continue to call on employers to put the safety of our members first and urge the public to respect shopworkers by wearing face coverings, observing hand hygiene and maintaining social distancing.”
 
Notes for editors:
 
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 360,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades.

For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers