New workplace safety guidelines for ending most restrictions in England have been released as regional mayors urged ministers to keep masks mandatory on public transport in England.
The document says the government “expects and recommends” that masks be worn by workers and customers in overcrowded confined spaces after home work is over.
Table service is recommended to continue in bars, while pubs, restaurants and nightclubs are encouraged to check vaccine and testing status as a condition of entry through the NHS Covid Pass.
Boris Johnson had previously suggested that the so-called vaccine passports would only be recommended in “nightclubs and other high-traffic places”.
Unions and employers have criticized the guidance in Stage 4 of the Prime Minister’s plan to end the lockdown, with the TUC calling it “a recipe for chaos and increased infections.”
Paddy Lillis, General Secretary of Usdaw Stores Union, said: “We are very disappointed that the government has not consulted widely with unions and employers on these directions.
“So what they’ve published now, just days before it went into effect, doesn’t provide any reassurance for staff or employers. It’s a real mess.
“The protection of retail workers by wearing face coverings and maintaining social distancing in busy public spaces such as shops should be strengthened by law. “
Dr Roger Barker, director of policy at the Institute of Directors, said bosses were “understandably confused” as he criticized “a series of mixed messages and patchwork demands”.
“Go back to work or continue to stay at home. Throw away your masks or continue to wear them. The long-awaited directives from the government today have done little to clear up this confusion, ”he said.
Sainsbury’s has said it will encourage customers to continue to wear masks in its supermarkets, with the workplace mask guidelines saying they don’t just apply to staff.
“Face coverings are no longer required by law,” he adds.
“However, the government expects and recommends that people continue to wear face coverings in confined and crowded spaces. “
The guidelines also apply to offices, factories, construction sites and local services such as hairdressers.
Criticism of the guidelines came as the prime minister was under increasing pressure to reverse his plan to end the legal requirement for masks.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said their use would be imposed on the capital’s public transport as a “condition of carriage”, in a decision backed by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
Labor mayors of the West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Liverpool City area, North Tyne, West England and South Yorkshire subways have also said they will demand or encourage the use of masks on their transport networks where their limited powers permitted.
But they warned that without an ongoing national mandate, there would be a “ridiculous offset” of rules across the country that would be “confusing” for passengers.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said: ‘We remain of the view that the best solution is for the government to maintain a face covering requirement on all modes of public transport and we call them, even at this point, to return to that position. ”
Masks should remain mandatory in Scotland and Wales.
Meanwhile, the government has announced that Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca will be added to the amber travel list due to an increase in coronavirus cases, just over a fortnight after going green.
The change for those returning to England, Scotland and Wales from the Spanish Balearic Islands will take place at 4 a.m. on Monday, potentially causing a rush for holidaymakers to return to avoid quarantine.
Young adults will be primarily affected as the change coincides with the end of the need to quarantine fully vaccinated UK residents and those under 18 on return from Amber List countries.
Bulgaria and Hong Kong will be added to the green list, meaning there is no requirement for return isolation for travelers, regardless of their vaccination status.
Croatia and Taiwan will be added to the “green watch list” which means no one needs to quarantine, but they risk turning orange.
The changes to the Balearics will primarily affect young adults as they are much less likely to have received both jabs and therefore will not benefit from the inbound exemption.
Figures from health agencies have shown that two-thirds of adults in the UK have received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.
But the government also reported the largest daily increase in coronavirus cases since January 15, when an additional 42,302 laboratory-confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK were announced.
As of Wednesday, 49 more people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the official total to 128,530.
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