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What is Plan B and What Does it Mean For Workplaces?

covid
29 October 2021 | Updated 01 November 2021
 

Detailed in the UK Governments Autumn and Winter Plan, option B could see the re-introduction of masks and other restrictions. What does this mean for the newly regenerated office environment, and how can FMs balance the safety and functionality of spaces?

 

The Autumn and Winter Plan

 

Though incidence subsequently declined sharply to a low of 23,002 cases a week on average by the end of July, cases have since been gently rising, and are significantly higher than at this point last year.

The return of students to schools and universities and workers to workplaces after the summer holidays is likely to put further upward pressure on case numbers. The latest data from Scotland suggests that, in addition to increased infections following the lifting of most restrictions, there has also been an impact from the return to schools and workplaces.

Over autumn and winter, the government will aim to sustain the progress made and prepare the country for future challenges, while ensuring the National Health Service (NHS) does not come under unsustainable pressure.

The government plans to achieve this by:

  • Building our defences through pharmaceutical interventions: vaccines, antivirals and disease modifying therapeutics.
  • Identifying and isolating positive cases to limit transmission: Test, Trace and Isolate.
  • Supporting the NHS and social care: managing pressures and recovering services.
  • Advising people on how to protect themselves and others: clear guidance and communications.
  • Pursuing an international approach: helping to vaccinate the world and managing risks at the border.

 

The Contingency – Plan B

 

Thanks to the success of the vaccination programme, it should be possible to handle a further resurgence with less damaging measures than the lockdowns and economic and social restrictions deployed in the past. The Government would provide prior notice as far as possible to the public and Parliament ahead of implementing any necessary changes in a Plan B scenario.

The government’s Plan B prioritises measures which can help control transmission of the virus while seeking to minimise economic and social impacts. This includes:

  • Communicating clearly and urgently to the public that the level of risk has increased, and with it the need to behave more cautiously.
  • Introducing mandatory vaccine-only COVID-status certification in certain settings.
  • Legally mandating face coverings in certain settings.

The government would also consider asking people once again to work from home if they can, for a limited period. The government recognises this causes more disruption and has greater immediate costs to the economy and some businesses than the other Plan B interventions, so a final decision would be made based on the data at the time.

 

What Does This Mean for Workplaces?

 

For most places of work, this will mean a return to the safeguarding measures that were seen when lockdown easing was introduced earlier this year. Specifically, this will focus on hygiene such as cleaning and masks, distancing such as one way systems and metered rules, and then infrastructural or social protection such as staggered office entry times or capacity regulation and HVAC reliance – this will also include other methods that are still implemented on some level to reduce anxiety at this point. Recent reports of false-negative test results have highlighted the need to be vigilant with these practices regardless of test and trace protocols.

Ventilation and indoor air quality was found to be one of the most important tools in fighting the spread of COVID-19, and technology to sterilise the air in our spaces have become important for confidence in many office environments this year. When it comes to air purification systems, the ability to demonstrate tangible results and air quality data is what sets EnviroKlenz apart. EnviroKlenz’s Air System Plus and its three-stage filtration process has been deployed in various settings, resulting in quantifiable air quality results, as seen in the video below.


 

 

In May 2021 we published the views of four different industry experts on the physical and cultural trends they predict within businesses when offices begin to open up once more. These certainly rang true for the common trends in adaptation and well highlighted ten key points for focus in achieving safe, modern office operation.

Under Plan B, the Government expects that mandatory vaccine-only certification would be introduced for visitors to the following venues:

  • All nightclubs.
  • Indoor, crowded settings with 500 or more attendees where those attendees are likely to be in close proximity to people from other households, such as music venues or large receptions.
  • Outdoor, crowded settings with 4,000 or more attendees where those attendees are likely to be in close proximity to people from other households, such as outdoor festivals.
  • Any settings with 10,000 or more attendees, such as large sports and music stadia.

There are some settings that will be exempt from requirements to use the NHS COVID Pass, including communal worship, wedding ceremonies, funerals and other commemorative events, protests and mass participation sporting events.

Employment law and health and safety service provider Croner has produced a guide on managing a variety of conduct issues in the post-COVID workplace, exploring the most common COVID-related disputes.

 

Picture: a COVID-19 graphic.

Article written by Bailey Sparkes | Published 29 October 2021

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