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News Report Page 6 of 17
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Work from home guidance ends in England

THE Prime Minister has abruptly ended work from home guidance in England, thanks to the progress we've all made we will be lifting the Plan B measures and returning to our original Plan A. He has also announced that, from the 20 January 2022, face masks will not be required in classrooms. From the 27 January 2022, face masks will no longer be needed in any public places either. So, what does that mean for your business? Technically, you can start bringing your staff back to work immediately. Which is great news if you're keen to get your people back into the workplace. But as always, it might not be so straightforward. And you probably have a lot of questions about the right approach to take... Questions like how much notice is reasonable? What if staff want to continue remote working? And, what do I do if an employee refuses to come back? Also, are you covered if all your staff go off due to illness?

In a press statement sent to us from the Department of Health and Social Care said:- "This is a moment that we can all be proud of. The culmination of a brilliant national mission that's helped us to withstand the Omicron wave and restore more freedom to this country. It's a reminder of what this country can accomplish when we all work together."

The UK's Health Secretary, The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP tod the press that:- "Since we announced Plan B, 15 million people have stepped forward to get their boosters. We've smashed records again and again, including a record 1.06 million UK vaccinations in a single day. We've also massively expanded our capacity for testing, and we expect to have some 400 million lateral flow tests available this month alone; that's quadruple our pre-Omicron plans. On top of this, we've secured even more antiviral and treatments, and deployed them directly to those people with the highest risk. Thanks to this huge collective effort, we're more boosted than any large country in Europe, we've created the largest testing programme of any country in Europe and we've procured the more anti virals than any country in Europe. That's why we're the most open country in Europe, and today we announced how we have announced plans to go even further. Our plan was to use the time that Plan B gave us, to give ourselves extra power in our fight against Omicron. This plan has worked, and the data shows that Omicron is in retreat. Today's ONS data shows a fall in infections, including in older age groups. Hospitalisations have also fallen over the past week, and the number of Covid patients in intensive care beds is now at the same level as it was back in July. I've always said that we'd open up the country as soon as the data supports it, and earlier today that's why we announced three important changes as part of our return to Plan A.

1st, starting immediately, the Government is ending the guidance on working from home, and I know that many people have already been starting to talk to their employers about arrangements to return safely to work.

2nd, from the start of next Thursday, mandatory certification based on vaccines and tests will end, but of course, organisations can still choose to use the NHS Covid Pass voluntarily.

3rd, also starting next Thursday, we'll no longer legally mandate the wearing of face masks. But we suggest that they are worn in enclosed, crowded places, especially where you come into contact with people who you don't normally meet.

These changes will take effect even sooner in classrooms, where we will no longer require face coverings from tomorrow, and the Department for Education will shortly remove the guidance on their use in communal areas. As well as these changes, we're also exploring where else we can ease restrictions. We're looking to replace legal requirements on self isolation with advice and guidance and in the coming days I'll be setting out our plans to further ease restrictions on visits to care homes. The steps that we've announced represent a major milestone. But it's not the end of the road, and we shouldn't see this as the finish line. Because we cannot eradicate this virus, and its future variants. Instead, we must learn to live with Covid, in the same way that we've learnt to live with flu, and we'll be setting out our long term plan for living with Covid19 this Spring. We must stay vigilant, and be mindful that there could be bumps in the road ahead. Although we've worked hard to make sure the NHS will be ready and resilient, building Nightingale surge hubs, and signing new deals with the independent sector, it is still facing significant pressure this winter. Even before the Omicron wave we had a Covid backlog of elective care, and now unfortunately that Covid backlog will be larger still. So we must proceed with caution. A Pandemic is a marathon not a sprint. Even on this day of progress, I'd urge everyone to think about what they can do to keep the virus at bay. Whether it's washing your hands, letting in fresh air, or getting tested and self isolating if you test positive. But the best step that we can all take is to get vaccinated. It was the jabs that have got us this far, and the jabs can keep us here too. I'm so grateful to all the staff and volunteers and the military, everyone who made the rollout a reality, and to everyone who stepped up to get your jab. We asked you to come forward, and you did, in your millions, and it's because of you that we've been able to take these steps today. But for as long as there are people who haven't been protected, we know that our defences aren't as strong as they should be, and the NHS will be under more pressure than it should be. So please: if you haven't had your:- 1st, 2nd or 3rd jab, it's time to come forward. Help us to keep this success story going, and protect the incredible progress that we've all made."

We would love to hear your thoughts on this. Please email our Newsroom, via:- News24@SouthportReporter.Com and let us know.

Amendments to the redesign of 1 of Liverpool's major roads are being proposed to City Councillors

IN the new amendments being proposed, buses could be given the green light to travel in both directions, on Lime Street, if this latest proposal is approved by City Councillors at next week's Environment and Climate Change Committee, on Tuesday, 25 January 2022. The Council's Highways and Transportation team were tasked with undertaking a review of the Lime Street scheme, following the original contractor going into administration last Autumn.

The alteration will also include enhanced pedestrian crossings, improved:- cycle facilities, secure cycle parking, a bus stop outside Lime Street Station, disabled parking facilities and the introduction of a 20 mph zone together with access only restrictions on Lime Street, between Queens Square Bus Station and London Road.

The road has already been narrowed from Lime Street Station up to the Adelphi Hotel, and no further changes are planned. The Lime Street scheme had originally included:- a new water feature at the Northern end of St George's Hall, but it is now being proposed that this feature should be removed, to allow for the reconnection of the historic Steble Fountain at the southern end of the Grade I listed venue.

The select committee will meet to scrutinise the new proposals, which will require an additional ₤1.5m due to the pre-Christmas safety works which were necessary to be undertaken when the contractor went into administration. After the select committee, the proposals will then go to the Council's Cabinet meeting on Friday, 4 February for final approval.

If approval is granted, contractors will be engaged to complete the scheme. The resurfacing works, which will see the installation of a cycle lane, will then go out to tender. It is expected all works will be complete by summer.

Councillor Dan Barrington, Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change, said:- "The Lime Street scheme has generated quite a few problems, not least the collapse of the original contractor and we apologise for the delays and disruption this has caused. However, this gave us the opportunity to revisit the design of the scheme especially the biggest complaint we were receiving; the removal of access for buses at Brownlow Hill. I'd like to thank the officers and the engineers for their hard work in this proposed redesign. It's a good compromise and one which ensures the overall aims of improving the Lime Street experience, without hurting bus users on certain key routes. I look forward to the discussion at select committee, where members will be able to hear and test the thinking behind these revisions. Once everything is agreed, and the works are finally completed one thing is for certain; Liverpool City Centre will have a gateway it can be proud of."

The Lime Street scheme, which also includes:- a widening of St George's Plateau, is part of the Liverpool City Centre Connectivity programme. The LCCC programme has already delivered upgrades to key roads such as:- The Strand, Dale Street and Victoria Street and has created a dedicated new bus hub and coach park.

Works on the southern section of The Strand are expected to begin in the summer, with similar works programmed for Tithebarn Street and Water Street which will see the creation of more cycle lanes to connect to The Strand.

A key focus of the LCCC programme, which is part funded by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, is to improve accessibility for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport with the aim of improving road safety, congestion and air quality levels in the City Centre.


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