The GGF provides an update and advice to Members following the Government COVID restrictions announcement on the 5th July 2021.
In summary on the 12th of July the Government will confirm if from the 19th of July the COVID restrictions can move into step four which for our sectors will mean business will start to feel like normal again. Some of the key points from the announcement are;
- All remaining limits on social contact (currently 6 people or 2 households indoors, or 30 people outdoors) will be removed and there will be no more restrictions on how many people can meet in any setting, indoors or outdoors.
- The legal requirements to wear a face covering will be lifted in all settings. To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, published guidance will advise that wearing a face covering will reduce your risk and the risk to others, where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet in enclosed and crowded spaces.
- Social distancing rules (2 metres or 1 metre with additional mitigations) will be lifted.
- It is no longer necessary for Government to instruct people to work from home. Employers can start to plan a return to workplaces
- Businesses must not require a self-isolating worker to come to work, and should make sure that workers and customers who feel unwell do not attend the setting.
- The Government will provide guidance on how businesses can reduce unnecessary contact in the workplace, where it is practical. Operators will still be encouraged to use outside space where practical, and to consider the supply of fresh air to indoor spaces
- The Government will provide advisory guidance on how people can manage the risks to themselves and to others. It sets out how the following behaviours are beneficial:
- Meeting in well-ventilated areas where possible, such as outdoors or indoors with windows open.
- Wearing a face covering where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet in enclosed and crowded spaces.
- Washing your hands with soap and water or using hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day.
- Covering your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze.
- Staying at home if unwell, to reduce the risk of passing on other illnesses onto friends, family, colleagues, and others in your community.
- Considering individual risks, such as clinical vulnerabilities and vaccination status
It is also hoped the whole of Scotland can be placed into its lowest level of restrictions – Level 0 – on 19th of July however the Government aim to lift the legal restrictions by 9th of August.
The Welsh Government has yet to reveal new information but is expected to make an announcement on 15th/16th July.
Northern Ireland have indicated they intend to follow England however this is yet to be official confirmed. The regulations were due to be reviewed on the 8th of July. However guidance from the NI Government is that workers should continue to work from home where and when they can and employers that require staff to come into the workplace must complete a mandatory risk assessment.
Republic of Ireland
Since 5th of July, the following measures apply:
- numbers permitted at outdoor events are increased, to a maximum of 200 attendees for the majority of stadia, and to 500 for stadia/venues with capacity greater than 5,000, with appropriate protective measures,
- there should be no limit on the numbers of people that can visit together once they are all fully protected by vaccination or have had COVID-19 infection in the previous nine months
- the number of mourners permitted at funerals continues to be limited to 50, regardless of size of the venue. Attendance at wakes in private homes and at funeral homes is for family only. Related family gatherings should strictly adhere to prevailing public health advice on household mixing, including visitors to your home and indoor and outdoor dining.
- in line with current advice, unvaccinated households may have visitors from one other unvaccinated household
- people should continue to work from home unless necessary to attend in person
The Government announced that the next phase of reopening will be based on a cautious approach with an emphasis on lower-risk activities, following advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) that the incidence of the Delta variant in Ireland poses a significant risk, particularly to those who are not yet fully vaccinated.
Advice for Members
Pending confirmation from the UK Government on the 12th July, nothing changes in England until at least the 19thof July. The other nations vary slightly therefore for all Members it is vital that we continue to operate under the COVID guidance, work from home where possible and manage a COVID secure workplace.
James MacPherson, Health Safety and Environment Manager said, “Even though living with COVID is becoming part of our life it is positive and encouraging to see this potential lifting of restrictions. How things will pan out is heavily dependent on the direction of the health statistics and the guidance that may still be issued. Whilst the legal restrictions are lifted all Members have an existing legal duty to protect employees and others (visitors, clients etc) from harm. Therefore companies will still have to understand the guidance, assess the risk and manage it from their assessment. This means that COVID secure workplaces are not a thing of the past, we still have to manage this risk.”
The GGF will be monitoring the government guidance and update members accordingly. If you need any further support please contact the GGF firstname.lastname@example.org