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Johnson's plans to end compulsory face coverings ‘premature,’ unions say

UNIONS called new plans to end compulsory face coverings “premature” today after Boris Johnson announced a lifting of all Plan B restrictions. 

The Prime Minister said that the omicron wave appeared to have peaked, and announced an end to mandatory Covid passes and the wearing of masks.

There would also be an end to work from home guidance and care home restrictions.

People who test positive for Covid will still have to isolate but the PM hoped there will “soon be a time” when this is not required.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Face coverings have been proven to reduce the spread of Covid.

“Making them optional on public transport and in shops at this stage in the pandemic is premature and will put workers at risk.”

Ms O’Grady urged employers to work with staff and unions to “carry out proper risk assessments and improve ventilation.”

She added: “The government is asking people to return to workplaces but is offering them little or no financial support if they become ill.

“Sick pay must be raised to at least the rate of the real living wage and available to all.”

Education unions also expressed their concerns over the lifting of the restrictions.

National Education Union joint general secretary Dr Mary Bousted worried there was a danger of lifting restrictions in schools too quickly.

She said: “We are concerned to see what the rate of Covid-related absence is when figures are released next week.

“The danger is that we lift restrictions too quickly before the effects of returning to school are clear.

“This will result in more education disruption, which is extremely worrying — particularly for pupils taking national exams this year.”

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes backed a call from London Mayor Sadiq Khan that face coverings should remain compulsory on Transport for London services.

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