We are aware some users might find it difficult to log into our site. We are working on this issue and hope to have it resolved shortly.
News

COVID-19: what will the lifting of Plan B restrictions mean for nurses?

Mandatory mask-wearing and other measures will end on 26 January, but the RCN says this will ‘do nothing to relieve pressure on the NHS’
Unmasked passengers on tube train

Mandatory mask-wearing and other measures will end on 26 January, but the RCN says this will ‘do nothing to relieve pressure on the NHS’

Mask-wearing and other COVID-19 restrictions in England are set to be lifted from next week, the prime minister announced today.

Here’s what nurses need to know as the government rolls back Plan B measures.

What are the changes to Plan B?

Prime minister Boris Johnson today confirmed Plan B measures would be eased in England, with mask-wearing, working from home and COVID-19 passports no longer mandatory when the restrictions expire on 26 January.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Johnson

Mandatory mask-wearing and other measures will end on 26 January, but the RCN says this will ‘do nothing to relieve pressure on the NHS’

Mask-wearing will still be ‘encouraged’ in ‘crowded and enclosed’ public spaces. Picture: Alamy

Mask-wearing and other COVID-19 restrictions in England are set to be lifted from next week, the prime minister announced today.

Here’s what nurses need to know as the government rolls back Plan B measures.

What are the changes to Plan B?

Prime minister Boris Johnson today confirmed Plan B measures would be eased in England, with mask-wearing, working from home and COVID-19 passports no longer mandatory when the restrictions expire on 26 January.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Johnson said mask-wearing would no longer be a legal requirement but would be ‘encouraged’ in ‘crowded and enclosed’ public spaces.

Premature to conclude the Omicron wave is over, RCN says

Pat Cullen

But RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said easing the rules will ‘do nothing to relieve the pressure on the NHS’.

She added: ‘Time will tell whether dropping other measures when the pressure on health and social care services remains unrelenting was wise – particularly when thousands of unvaccinated nursing staff are facing the sack.

‘With so many COVID-19 patients still in hospital, it would be premature to conclude this wave is over. That is not what our members are telling us.’

Mr Johnson also indicated self-isolation rules in England would expire on 24 March and he ‘very much expects’ not to renew them, meaning the legal requirement to self-isolate after a positive COVID-19 test will be lifted.

Mandatory masks in healthcare settings

In hospitals and other healthcare settings, masks remain mandatory for staff and visitors. Government infection prevention and control guidance for winter suggests mandatory mask-wearing is likely to remain until at least March.

Changes to self-isolation guidance this week means nurses can return to work sooner if they test positive for COVID-19. Isolation has been cut to five days provided a negative lateral flow test is returned on day five and six following a positive test.

What are the mask requirements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

In Scotland, hospital staff – including those in non-clinical areas of hospitals – are expected to wear fluid-resistant surgical masks (FRSMs) ‘at all times’, according to Scottish Government guidance.

Staff who work exclusively in non-clinical settings where patient care is not provided will not be expected to wear FRSMs.

In Wales the guidance is the same as in England. All staff and visitors in hospitals and other healthcare settings are required to wear a mask, with the rules expected to remain in place until the spring.

In Northern Ireland, staff and visitors to all community, primary and secondary care settings are required to wear a mask. Staff who work in a clinical setting must use a clinical-grade face mask.

Most Scottish COVID-19 restrictions will end on 24 January

General rules for the public in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are separate from those in England because coronavirus restrictions are devolved to their respective governments.

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced yesterday that all of Scotland’s coronavirus restrictions introduced in response to the Omicron wave will be brought to an end on 24 January.


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first three months:

  • Customisable clinical dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals including Nursing Children and Young People
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • NMC-compliant RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs