During the past few days there has been lots more debate about Plan B restrictions as we edge closer to their review date on 26 January.
The Prime Minister has said he hopes England can ‘ride out’ the latest Covid wave without the need to extend the current Plan B restrictions.
Despite the fact the restrictions have been in place for several weeks now, a lot of the current discussions have included much debate over what the Plan B restrictions mean for individuals and businesses.
So, we thought it would be helpful to highlight some of the key things you need to know about Plan B.
What are the Plan B restrictions?
Plan B restrictions were introduced last month as part of new rules to limit the spread of the Omnicron virus.
People in England were asked to work from home again if possible and faces coverings were made compulsory in most public places as well as on public transport.
However, face coverings are not compulsory in pubs, restaurants or venues such as gyms where their use is considered to be impractical.
Individuals are advised to take lateral flow tests before entering high risk settings such as busy areas and some workplaces.
They must have been vaccinated – or have recently tested negative or be exempt – to gain entry to large events and nightclubs.
All school staff and secondary schools pupils must take two lateral flow tests a week and secondary school pupils have to wear face coverings in class.
What advice has been given to businesses?
Around the same time that the Plan B restrictions were introduced, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) released a new video to help keep workplaces safe from Covid-19.
The new video focussed on the need for businesses to ensure there is an adequate supply of fresh air – or ventilation – in the enclosed areas of their workplaces.
This requirement predates the onset of Covid-19, however the HSE is shining a light on the need for good ventilation now because we know it can help to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
This is because someone with coronavirus releases small particles of the virus when they breathe out.
Adequate ventilation reduces how much virus is in the air, so it reduces the risk of breathing in the virus.
Alongside its new video, the HSE has also produced a written guide which summarises the main actions companies should take to ensure that they have adequate ventilation.
In addition, the HSE has also pulled together a number of other resources to help businesses work safely during the pandemic.
This includes information on carrying out risk assessments, cleaning, hand washing and hygiene, talking to workers about preventing coronavirus, looking after home workers and protecting vulnerable workers.
Finally, the HSE has produced a guide for workers which summarises how they can help to reduce the threat of coronavirus and highlights potential issues they should raise with their employers if they are not being adequately addressed.
Do I still need to follow the Plan B restrictions?
Until we know the outcome of the review of the Plan B restrictions on 26 January they still need to be followed.
Having said that much of the advice and guidance that has been issued to workplaces to combat coronavirus would be applicable even if we were not in the midst of a pandemic.
The HSE may currently be highlighting the need for good ventilation because of coronavirus but this is something the law says employers need to provide in any case.
Likewise, advice about looking after vulnerable and home workers and hygiene measures will continue to be important even when the threat of coronavirus has diminished.
It makes sense for all employers to be familiar with this advice so they can protect their staff during the pandemic and beyond and thus safeguard the future of their businesses.
Where can I go for help?
Throughout the pandemic, our highly trained team of health and safety consultants has been visiting workplaces across the country to help them become Covid-safe.
With our help organisations have protected the health and safety of their staff, helped them to keep operating safely and prevented them from being prosecuted for health and safety failures.
We know that health and safety can be a daunting subject for lots of company owners and managers but it’s not something that any of us can afford to ignore.
So, if you want to make sure you have the best Covid-secure measures in place or you want to get on top of your health and safety requirements in general contact us today.
We’re so committed to helping workplaces protect their staff and themselves from prosecution that we even offer a free 30-minute health and safety review surgery to help organisations identify where they are performing well and where they might need more assistance.