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Working safely: controlling the spread of respiratory infections

There are no COVID-19 restrictions in the UK.

The Government has replaced specific interventions for COVID-19 with more general public health principles for reducing the spread of respiratory infections, including COVID-19, in the workplace.

Guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to the control spread of respiratory infections such as COVID-19 and flu in the workplace

There are no Covid restrictions in the UK at present, however, the Government has issued guidance for on how to reduce the spread of respiratory infections such as COVID-19 and flu in the workplace. Employers should continue to consider the needs of employees at greater risk from COVID-19, including those whose immune system means they are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19. The Government will consult with employers and businesses to ensure guidance continues to support them to manage the risk of COVID-19 in workplaces.


Employers and businesses should continue identifying poorly ventilated spaces and take steps to improve fresh air flow.

There is increasing evidence of the importance of circulating fresh air in reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Ventilation also helps with reducing transmission of other respiratory infections such as influenza, with some research showing that being in a room with fresh air can in some cases reduce the risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19 by over 70%. There are also potential wider benefits of good ventilation, for health, concentration, and lower absence rates. 

The Government is also carrying out further ventilation research and the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser has commissioned a report from the Royal Academy of Engineering on how our built environment could be made more infection resilient, to be published this May. The Government will carefully consider its recommendations, alongside the ongoing research.

Safer Behaviours

People continue to be advised that there are safer behaviours they can adopt to reduce the risk of infection. Precautions remain particularly important to those who are at higher risk if they catch COVID-19, although due to advances in vaccination and therapeutics, this group is now better protected. The majority of people previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable are now advised to follow the same general guidance as everyone else as a result of the protection they have received from vaccination.

Individuals can still reduce the risk of catching and passing on COVID-19 by:

a. Getting vaccinated;

b. Letting fresh air in if meeting indoors, or meeting outside;

c. Wearing a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces, especially where you come into contact with people you do not usually meet, when rates of transmission are high;

d. Trying to stay at home if you are unwell;

e. Taking a test if you have COVID-19 symptoms, and staying at home and avoiding contact with other people if you test positive; and

f. Washing your hands and following advice to ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’. 


Most people cannot get free COVID-19 tests. You can buy tests in shops but you cannot report the result to the NHS.

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