On 5th July 2021, the Prime Minister announced that there would be a lifting of restrictions on 19th July 2021 in England. With this comes a lot of controversy. Some people are excited to be able to return to their normal way of living, whereas others are concerned and anxious about what things will look like going forwards.
Not everyone has or can have the vaccine, and there are even people who have had the vaccine but have little to no immunity from it as a result of a medical condition. Understandably, people in this category have concerns about their safety.
The Government have told us that they are going to expect us all to make “informed decisions”. But what does this actually mean? In England from 19th July it means:
- Wearing masks will no longer be a legal requirement;
- All businesses can reopen and normal service can resume (table service is no longer necessary);
- Business can introduce their own rules, requiring people to have an NHS COVID Pass to prove vaccination or immunity status;
- There are no longer limits on the amount of people who can meet indoors or outdoors;
- Social distancing rules will be removed;
- People will no longer be instructed to work from home;
- It’s no longer a legal requirement for people to check in when they go to venues;
- From 16th August, people under 18 and those who are fully vaccinated will not need to self-isolate if they come into contact with someone with COVID, as long as they have a negative test;
- People can chose to limit their contact with people they don’t normally live with;
What do we need to keep doing?
Legally, you still need to self-isolate if you are told to by NHS Test and Trace or if you test positive for COVID-19.
They also recommend:
- Stay at home if you are unwell, to avoid passing on any illnesses;
- Washing your hands with soap and water regularly;
- Meeting in well-ventilated areas, or sitting outdoors;
- Covering your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze;
- Wearing a face covering when you’re in enclosed / crowded spaces or meeting with people you don’t normally come into contact with; and
- Have consideration for individual risks (people who are clinically vulnerable or have not been vaccinated).
Although the Government are lifting restrictions and no longer making things a legal requirement, it doesn’t mean that COVID-19 has gone. Their new method of dealing with things involves moving the responsibility from them onto each individual person.
They talk a lot about using a common sense approach.
How does this affect my business?
In terms of work, on 19th July in England, things can now legally go back to how they were before the pandemic. But, rushing straight in and doing this may not be the best idea. While from a H&S point of view, you can. Morally it isn’t a good idea. As we said earlier in the article, there will be people who work in your business who aren’t able to have the vaccination or may not be responding to it and they may have concerns about their safety at work.
What should I do?
The first thing you should do is speak to your staff and find out how they feel about the restrictions being lifted.
While some members of staff may be fine about not wearing face masks and sitting closer to their colleagues, not everyone will have the same opinion.
When the laws change, it means that COVID-19 is no longer a H&S issue.
What do we recommend?
While working from home will no longer be a requirement, we’d still recommend you allow this. Not only does it help with reducing the amount of people you have in one place, but it also helps with morale and reducing carbon emissions.
Removing the extra space between your employees will ultimately mean you can get more in the workplace, but if we’ve learned anything over the last 15 months it’s that working from home actually does work.
Checking temperatures and keeping lists of who is in the workplace and when, will help you if anyone does get a positive test.
Face masks, while no longer a legal requirement, are a good line of defence for COVID-19. If you wish to introduce this as a company policy, you can. Just make sure that there are allowances for people who have been exempt from wearing one when it was a legal requirement.
Are you experiencing issues in your business as employees are returning to workplaces? Do you need assistance with a new Flexible or Hybrid Working Policy?
Why not email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us for a chat on 03300414589