As we entered 2021, people were looking forward to a better year and less talk of Covid-19. Sadly at 8pm on the 4 th of January, we were all brought back down to earth with a bump, as the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson broke the news of lockdown 3.0 following the other devolved nations, effectively taking the whole of the UK into Tier 5, starting immediately and becoming law, sometime on Wednesday, once voted on by Parliament.
So, what does this latest lockdown mean for business?
Certain businesses must close immediately, a full list can be found here: –
If you have to temporarily close your business, you should follow guidance previously issued for temporary closure and arrangements for re-opening the premises, for many organisations, they have done this once already and can just review and update existing documentation
Other businesses can remain open and can be found here: –
Where a business can remain open and trading, they should ensure that they are following all previously issued documentation relating to working safely during COVID-19 / Coronavirus.
Firstly, employers need to be going back to basics. Approximately 1 in 3 people who have
coronavirus have no symptoms and could be spreading it without realising it.
All employers need to ensure that all staff are aware of – Hands, Face, Space and must be actively
encouraging staff to:
- Hands – wash their hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds or sanitise their hands on a regular basis 4 + times a shift.
- Face – not all employees have to wear a face covering while at work, however in an indoor setting where social distancing may be difficult, and where they will come into contact with people they do not normally meet, it can be used as a mitigation control to reduce the chances of transmission.
- Space – Everyone should stay 2 metres apart from people they do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings). Employers should ensure managers monitor distancing and actively enforce it, within their spheres of influence.
Employers must be reviewing their COVID-19 secure risk assessments; the new variant of the virus is a significant change as it is up to 73% more infectious than the original virus.
Employers need to be reviewing their monitoring arrangements and ensure they are proactive in identifying issues and not reactive, picking things up after they have gone wrong. The new variant is more transmissible, and monitoring needs to be picking up problems faster than before as a single infection, could rapidly become a reportable outbreak.
As we all know, many people do not believe in the coronavirus or COVID-19 for all manner of reasons and while employers may have ignored or tolerated individuals like this within their workforce in the past, consideration must now be given to actively enforcing the rules and where necessary, applying disciplinary arrangements to those putting others at risk.
Since the summer the government have been encouraging employers to allow employees to work from home, where possible until the spring, the new lockdown arrangements have strengthened this requirement, now requiring employers to and discuss their working arrangements with their employees and take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.
This is a step away from previous requests to allow home working, specifically telling employers to make it happen, not where reasonably practicable, but to take every possible step. This could be providing high speed internet access via landline and wifi hotspots, soft telephone solutions or mobile phones as well as additional laptops or tablets for work purposes.
There may still be welfare issues to take into account, meaning an employee cannot work from home, however the office may not be the best place for them to be, so other solutions such as temporary, flexible or full furlough may need to be considered.
Shielding has restarted and those with the following conditions must not attend work, so employers will need to decide what to do to support them via home working, suspension on full pay* or furloughing where appropriate:
People at high risk (clinically extremely vulnerable)
You may be at high risk from coronavirus if you:
- have had an organ transplant
- are having chemotherapy or antibody treatment for cancer, including immunotherapy
- are having an intense course of radiotherapy (radical radiotherapy) for lung cancer
- are having targeted cancer treatments that can affect the immune system (such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors)
- have blood or bone marrow cancer (such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma)
- have had a bone marrow or stem cell transplant in the past 6 months, or are still taking immunosuppressant medicine
- have been told by a doctor you have a severe lung condition (such as cystic fibrosis, severe asthma or severe COPD)
- have a condition that means you have a very high risk of getting infections (such as SCID or sickle cell)
- are taking medicine that makes you much more likely to get infections (such as high doses of steroids or immunosuppressant medicine)
- have a serious heart condition and are pregnant*
- have a problem with your spleen or your spleen has been removed (splenectomy)
- are an adult with Down's syndrome
- are an adult who is having dialysis or has severe (stage 5) long-term kidney disease
- have been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, based on clinical judgement and an assessment of your needs.
Remember, you are not alone with Park City at your side, we always available and we are stronger together.
We have also included the link to the latest England Lockdown: Stay At Home posters, these are a series of posters displaying information about the National Lockdown in England.
Follow the link and print and display in the workplace.
Tim Price Park City.