Covid security advice to businesses in England criticized as ‘a recipe for chaos’ | Health policy

Government advice on how businesses should ensure the safety of customers and staff following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions in England on July 19 has been called a ‘recipe for chaos’ as ministers have confirmed that the wearing a mask would not be a legal requirement.

Guidelines released on Wednesday, it is up to stores, offices, events and venues to decide what security measures to implement.

The guide for businesses sets out six priorities: strict cleaning regimes, keeping people with symptoms away, adequate ventilation, the ability to check in through the NHS app, good staff training and completion of risk assessments.

While the government “expects and recommends” that people wear masks in crowded areas, it will not be mandatory.

In the absence of mandatory measures, the guidelines place particular emphasis on good ventilation, including the use of carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors. It will be up to companies to decide whether they will ask staff and customers to register with the NHS app, practice social distancing or use face masks.

Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the TUC, said the guidelines were a “recipe for chaos and increased infections” and had been released in the short term without proper consultation with unions and employees.

“Wearing face coverings should remain a legal requirement on public transport and in shops – it is not a matter of ‘personal responsibility’, nor should it be left to individual employers to decide,” she declared.

Labor tried to get an urgent parliamentary question on the guidance after Ed Miliband, the shadow secretary for affairs, said companies had “been faced with confused and conflicting advice, with ministers dodging to do so. what was needed and charging the responsibility of UK companies “.

A high-level union source said there had been “zero” consultation on safe working advice, unlike the approach at the start of the pandemic.

“It is not the business secretary but number 10 who is running all this because of the management of the party,” they said. “The vast majority of employers want to do the right thing, but there are some who will play quickly and freely with worker safety.

Authorities on Wednesday released sector-by-sector advice for a “gradual return” to the workplace for those who worked from home, as well as specific advice for places where large numbers of people congregate, such as sports stadiums and clubs. pubs.

Personal contact in offices should be reduced by grouping staff into teams, using screens or barriers to separate workers and reducing hot-desking where possible, the guidelines say.

Pubs, restaurants and nightclubs are advised to use CO2 detectors to monitor ventilation and to use mechanical units or open corner doors whenever possible. Models that allow users to monitor exact CO2 levels typically cost £ 250 or more.

For catering, guidelines recommend the use of disposable condiment racks, contactless payment and ordering through apps, limited use of self-service, and not leaning on countertops.

Hotels are advised to ask all guests who need to self-isolate to remove their own beds or clean their own rooms to avoid contact with cleaning staff.

The Usdaw traders union criticized the government for leaving it up to stores to decide what to ask customers. Union general secretary Paddy Lillis said the guidelines “don’t provide any insurance for staff or employers. It’s a mess. Protecting retail workers by wearing face coverings and maintaining a social distance in high-traffic public spaces such as shops should be strengthened by law. ”

Retailers, including bookseller Waterstones and jeweler Beaverbrooks, said they would ask staff and customers to wear masks.

Guidelines for large events such as music festivals or sporting events focus on preventing congestion in areas such as queues and turnstiles by deploying more stewards or using methods such as as the staggered entry.

Organizers could ensure events are zoned, guidelines suggest, with entrances and facilities such as bars or restrooms assigned to guests based on their zone to avoid an over-mixing of people.

While face masks will no longer be mandatory on public transport, Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said he “expected and indeed wanted” that some train, bus and rail companies would insist on that commuters and travelers wear them.

The minister said he supported a move by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to keep masks mandatory on public transport in the capital. Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, said masks would be needed on the Metrolink tram service.

Mayors in other parts of England, including Andy Street in the West Midlands, do not have the power to make masks mandatory, but have urged passengers to wear it. In West and South Yorkshire, face masks will be mandatory at bus stations and interchanges, but mayors cannot make them mandatory on buses or trains.

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