With the government easing lockdown restrictions, the question on most people’s mind is what back to work will look like for the UK post lockdown. Well, we know one thing for sure – things are not going to get ‘back to normal’ – not very quickly anyway.
Let’s try to look on the bright side though – at least you are now allowed to leave the house and do some of the things you’ve been missing out on for the last couple of months.
The government published their 51-page “plan to rebuild” document which many hope will provide more clarity – the Prime Minister even makes it clear in the foreword that the intention isn’t for a “quick return to ‘normality’” but more to give people “hope that we can rebuild; hope that we can save lives; hope that we can safeguard livelihoods”.
As it’s not crystal clear how it will all play out though, here are a few things to expect when you’re going back to work…
Who Will Be Allowed To Leave Their Homes To Work?
In terms of working arrangements, those workers who CAN work from home will be expected to continue doing so, and those who cannot will now be allowed to leave their homes to work.
This includes people working in Food Production Industries, Distribution, Logistics, Scientific Research Labs, Manufacturing and Construction.
The only people who will not be allowed to go back to work for now (until around June), are folks working in the non-essential retail and hospitality sector.
Redesigning Of Workplaces
You should also expect adjustments and re-arrangements of workspaces. This is in accordance with the government’s COVID19 measures which instruct employers to rearrange and re-design the work environment in order to meet the 2 metres social distancing rule.
This will be made possible by adopting strategies such as:
- changing break room seating arrangements,
- introducing one-way systems,
- staggering start times.
- provision of more exit and entry points.
In situations where the two-metre social distancing rule is not possible, you should expect changes such as; introduction of fixed teams or shift patterns, adoption of physical barriers in common or shared workspaces, and other changes in seating arrangements e.g. staff working in the same room facing away from each other.
Cleaning Of Workplaces And Risk Assessments
Another thing to expect is frequent cleaning and decontamination of the workplace – especially objects that are considered to have ‘high contact’ such as keyboards and door handles. This will help stop the possible spread of microorganisms, particularly Coronavirus. Additionally, hand sanitisers and hand-washing facilities will be provided in all entry and exit points.
You should also be prepared for far more questions!
COVID19 Risk Assessments are expected to be carried out by all employers in collaboration with unions and workers, which will help in developing workplace guidelines and procedures.
Note that, anyone showing COVID19 signs and symptoms will be expected to self-isolate immediately and follow isolation and social distancing protocol.
What To Expect On Travel
Where travel is concerned, workers including those working in crucial or essential services, are advised to avoid public transport if possible and instead take other options such as walking, cycling or driving.
For those who absolutely have to use public transport, you will be expected to strictly observe the social distancing rules.
In addition, the government is working to increase funding and develop new guidelines to support councils, build cycle lanes, widen pavements and close a number of roads from traffic, except buses.
As for international travellers coming back home, you will be expected to self-isolate for at least 14 days and if you are not able to (because of financial or other reasons), you will be taken to the government quarantine facilities. You will also be expected to provide your accommodation and contact details to the authorities. You will also be required to download and install the NHS contact tracing app.
Protecting The ‘T’ Zone (Eyes, Nose and Mouth)
Another thing to be prepared for is wearing face masks and other facial coverings especially in areas where social distancing is not possible e.g. in public transport, supermarkets and some shops.
Cloth face masks are good enough in some facilities – though they don’t entirely
protect the wearer from contracting the virus they do offer some protection
from spreading it others especially if they are asymptomatic.
If cloth masks don’t offer sufficient protection for your workplace, or you need to discuss PPE kit at all, get in touch with our team who can have protective equipment on their way to you asap.
You are also advised not to use respirators and surgical masks as these should be left for workers such as health care workers who require personal protective equipment (PPE) for their day to day activities.
It is important to note here that it is not advisable for children two years and under to wear face coverings as they may not be able to use them as required. This also applies to unassisted primary school children as well as those with respiratory-related problems.
Don’t forget to wash your hands and sanitise before donning and removing your face masks too.
Working In Public And Meeting People
When it comes to meeting people, you’ll only be permitted to meet one person outside your household but at a distance of 2 metres from each other i.e., if you are a personal trainer, you can carry on with your face to face training sessions in open parks.
For those of you who eat, sleep and drink fitness, the good news is
that you can exercise outdoors as much as you want.
This also applies to those games where social distancing can be observed e.g. tennis, fishing and golf.
Unfortunately, there are many other sports that you will still be prohibited from participating in – albeit temporarily – and these are mostly team sports. You will also not be able to access your favourite outdoor gyms, playgrounds and ticketed outdoor places.
Re-opening Of Non-Essential Retail Shops
If everything goes according to plan i.e. no increase in the number of new COVID 19 cases, the plan is for the non-essential retail sector to re-open in June. This, however, will not apply to personal care services and the hospitality industry as they will have to wait a bit longer.
Additionally, you can also expect the re-opening of public transport in June though under stringent measures. Other activities that can potentially be allowed to go on during this period include an increased number of contacts (social grouping) and gatherings in somewhat larger groups such as is the case in small weddings. Note that this is subject to a reduction in the number of new COVID19 cases.
In summary – there is still a myriad of things that could change post lockdown as the government tries to gradually get things back to normal. This won’t be easy but if each one of us continues to act responsibly, then things might go back to normal in July or August.
Who’s to say if that will actually happen given the number of dependencies and variations at play but if not, then we could be in for even more stringent measures.
If you need to equip your teams with protective equipment in any way, get in touch as we’re here at the ready to get you kitted out and keep you safe in the upcoming re-opening of the country.