The problem is not limited to workplaces. Families traditionally travel long distances to spend the holidays together. But what are the implications of COVID-19’s omicron variant for holiday travel?
Just as people worldwide were finalizing their end-of-year holiday plans, the coronavirus threw another curveball. Omicron emerged as a variant of concern, designated by the World Health Organization (WHO). With the new variant came new uncertainty about infection rates, the seriousness of the disease, and how best to protect people.
As the holiday season approaches fast, governments and employers are racing to update their travel guidance to protect citizens and employees alike. So far, medical experts are still considering the impact of omicron. It is simply too early to say whether this new variant will supersede its still-dominant predecessor Delta.
Consequently, guidance for travelers, employees, and contractors continues to change almost daily. The information is confusing and hard to keep up with for anyone planning to travel.
As information about the severity of the omicron variant is starting to become available, here are some of the essential questions employers and HR professionals need to ask themselves over the next few weeks:
The answers to the first three questions are still emerging as scientists gather more information. The picture may well change during the second half of December. When most people return from their holiday break in January, employers and HR teams should answer more precisely.
As researchers and doctors understand the implications of the omicron variant better, they will be able to establish the efficacy of the vaccines against this variant. Evidence from the UK suggests that two vaccinations do not protect from COVID-19 infection. Anecdotally, there are also reports that those who have had booster shots may still become infected. However, vaccinated people remain better protected from severe disease and hospitalization.
We have saved the most crucial question of those five for the end.
The HR team is responsible for the employees’ safety for now and in the future.
Following public health guidance is one option. However, government guidelines tend to be generic and do not offer a solution tailored to the needs of your business. Proactive HR teams can achieve more by analyzing their company’s situation and adopting a more customized approach.
One of the keys to keeping employees and teams safe is testing for COVID-19. If you do not know whether you, your team, or a family member is infected, it is impossible to protect others. Remember, not everyone who becomes infected with COVID-19 develops symptoms. That means it is impossible to say for sure if someone has the virus just by looking at them.
At the same time, anyone who has the virus – with or without symptoms – can transmit it to others. You and your colleagues may feel excellent but still create an omicron outbreak in your local area.
The only way to know whether someone has coronavirus is by testing. Regular COVID-19 testing is neither forbiddingly expensive nor disruptive to your company’s day-to-day workflow.
Testing starts with self-assessments employees can carry out at home. Solutions like the COVID-19 testing service from TrueCare™ include an easy-to-use app that allows employees to monitor themselves for symptoms even before leaving their homes.
Adding to your team’s safety is comprehensive onsite testing when staff return after the holidays.
Despite changing guidance and restrictions for travel, employers and HR staff need to assume that their teams have traveled and socialized more than they do outside of the holidays.
Onsite testing starts with temperature checks carried out by a qualified and licensed healthcare professional. You do not have to hire a medical team – TrueCare™ supplies staff, personal protective equipment as required, and any other medical gear, including test kits.
If you are looking after a large business with multiple locations, a dedicated operations manager will ensure your testing smoothly. Of course, our team will dispose of any medical waste responsibly.
How would you like to start the holidays with the peace of mind that your team can return to work safely after their break?
By connecting with a strong partner and making arrangements now, you will have less to worry about. Even though no one has all the answers to the questions above as yet, you can be sure that you have access to the latest, most accurate scientific information to keep you and your team safe.
TrueCare™ is a nationwide Health & Wellness platform for families and businesses providing end-to-end solutions for COVID-19 testing, screening, vaccination, home care, and corporate well-being services.