The announcements at the start of this week focused mainly on the social aspects of society with one of the headlines in the Prime Ministers statement being that “we are not issuing a general instruction to stay at home”. However, the official Government web-site advice (see https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-guidance-launched-to-help-get-brits-safely-back-to-work which has not been updated since May) for some time has been to “work from home if you can” and this was not altered despite some relatively recent announcements encouraging people to return to offices.
We have been asked by BEIS to pass on a range of information, not all of which is really relevant to engineering businesses, but the headlines include:
- The advice now is that office workers who can work from home should do so but in key public services - and in all professions where homeworking is not possible - people should continue to attend their workplaces. The PM’s speech, which you can access at https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-commons-statement-on-coronavirus-22-september-2020, specifically mentioned retail and construction but it is obvious that this also applies to many people in the manufacturing sector and not just those on the shop-floor.
- There was also a reference to fines of up to £10,000 for “businesses breaking Covid rules”; this seems to apply mainly to hospitality business who don’t enforce social distancing and/or keep records for track and trace but could also apply to companies who require staff to be in office or other work spaces where appropriate social distancing (or mitigating) measures are not in place.
- In addition, employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.
- Businesses must remind people to wear face coverings where mandated - this includes work places where social distancing is not possible.
You can get a summary if what has changed based on the announcements this week from the web-site at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-what-has-changed-22-september.
One other small reminder with respect to travel quarantines; there is still no change in the quarantine requirement for people entering Ireland from Great Britain. BEIS confirmed at the end of last week that “Ireland requires UK arrivals to self-isolate but not those entering from Northern Ireland.” You can check the countries that are and are not included in the travel corridor scheme at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-corridors - there are some changes that take effect on Saturday 26th September.