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21 Feb, 2022 17:03

Workers face ‘terrible choice’ as Covid rules scrapped — union

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the end of all coronavirus restrictions in England
Workers face ‘terrible choice’ as Covid rules scrapped — union

Workers in England will be forced to make a “terrible choice” over risking infecting their colleagues with Covid or losing income while self-isolating as the government ends all Covid rules, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has warned. 

The union, which states it has around 5.5 million members, argued that lifting the rules would put two million workers who do not qualify for sick pay in a precarious position if the legal requirement to self-isolate is removed. 

“If they have got Covid, they want to be able to stay at home without facing a terrible choice about whether that means losing income for a week, and they want to keep their colleagues safe and the other people they work with safe too,” the TUC’s Kate Bell said. 

The union’s statement came ahead of an expected update from Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the House of Commons on Monday evening, announcing the end of remaining Covid restrictions in England. In effect, this would remove the legal order for anyone who tests positive for Covid to self-isolate for up to 10 days (a spell which is currently cut shorter if they test negative on days five and six). 

Alongside the changes, Johnson announced the government would stop providing free Covid tests in England from April – a prospect which was also condemned by the TUC’s General Secretary Frances O’Grady. Speaking on the plan ahead of its confirmation, O’Grady accused the government of preparing to “gamble” on people’s health. 

In advance of the PM’s statement on Monday, Business Minister Paul Scully told the BBC’s Today program that the move was required to save money that “could be spent on other priorities,” as Covid case numbers fall.