16.These changes are intended to provide greater consistency between the Self-Isolation Regulations and the International Travel Regulations. They mean that a person who has been vaccinated outside the UK will be exempt from self-isolation if identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case if their vaccine status is recognised for the purposes of international travel rules. This exemption does not currently apply to contacts of a confirmed or suspected case of the Omicron variant.
17.This instrument amends the Face Coverings Regulations to expand the current legal requirement to wear face coverings in shops and on public transport to certain indoor settings in England, including, banks, cinemas, casinos, libraries, theatres, museums, places of worship, public areas in hotels and hostels, tourist sites, theme parks and inside a vehicle when having a driving lesson or test. People will not be required to wear face coverings in hospitality settings or gyms. The list of reasonable excuses for not wearing a face covering has been extended to include singing as part of a choir or during a service. However, those not wearing a mask who do not have a reasonable excuse can be refused entry to a location and may receive a fixed penalty.
18.The Regulations were laid at 5pm on 9 December and came into force just after midnight on 10 December 2021: we are unclear how the public were notified of those changes in the short time available. The previous Regulations were due to lapse on 21 December, but these Regulations extend the expiry date to 26 January 2022.
19.This instrument amends the International Travel Regulations to update pre-departure test requirements. All individuals aged over 12 arriving in England from outside the common travel area are now required to possess a notification of a negative coronavirus test. The obligation applies regardless of whether the individual qualifies as an ‘eligible traveller’, and the test must have been taken within two days of the scheduled time of departure to England (down from three days). Consequential changes are also made to update the wording to be used by operators to inform passengers of the pre-departure test requirements, and to correct errors in SIs 2021/1107 and 2021/1130. The instrument came into effect at 4am on Tuesday 7 December—before it was laid before the House.
20.This instrument makes provision in relation to three new local authorities which assumed responsibility for local tax collection fund deficits accrued by their predecessor authorities in 2020–21 following the economic impact of the pandemic. Specifically, the instrument enables North Northamptonshire Council, West Northamptonshire Council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to repay those deficits over the financial years 2022–23 and 2023–24 in the same way that their predecessor authorities would have done, rather than repay them over one year. The extended repayment period was introduced in 2020, as part of a package of measures to support local government during the pandemic.
21.These Regulations amend a number of previous instruments to require pharmacy contractors to participate in a pandemic response programme if requested to do so, and to defer the publication of the next pharmaceutical needs assessments to October 2022. They also lay the ground for ordering and distributing a potential COVID-19 antiviral medication in the community by means of vouchers. In addition, they address some discrepancies in the scheme for medical and maternity prescription charge exemption certificates that will enable the piloting and national roll out of a digital process.
10 Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020 ( as amended).
11 Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings) (England) Regulations 2021 ().
12 Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel and Operator Liability) (England) Regulations 2021 ().
13 Local Authorities (Collection Fund: Surplus and Deficit) (Coronavirus) (England) Regulations 2020 ().
14 Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, ‘Press Release: Comprehensive new funding package for councils to help address coronavirus pressures and cover lost income during the pandemic’ (2 July 2020): [accessed 16 December 2021].