Yesterday the Prime Minister announced the intent for Step 4 of the easing of lockdown restrictions to be decided on 12th July, and if a positive decision, to take effect from 19th July, referred to in the press of “Freedom Day”.
At the time of writing (6th July), it seems highly probable that our business can start functioning ‘normally’ again from 19th July.
19th July: Back in Business Day
Whilst we may be back in business from 19th July, we are mindful of our duty of care to our clients, our families and each other.
Whilst the “double jabbed” have a high degree of protection from serious COVID infection, that protection is not absolute.
Many of our clients (and family members) are rather mature and/or have comorbidities that expose them to continuing risk.
Our view is that we must continue to prioritise well-being and ensure that we do not act as coronavirus vectors as we start to interact with our clients again in real-world face to face settings.
We have tweaked our COVID Procedures to reflect ‘Freedom Day’ at which point the following amendments will come into force:
- Online and telephone support remain in place indefinitely.
- We will maintain flexible working patterns and locations.
- Client facing team members will regularly undertake self-administered lateral flow tests
- Client facing team members will ensure their NHS Track and Trace app (the NHS COVID-19 app) will remain on to notify of exposure risk.
- All team members will self-isolate if notified by the NHS app or NHS Track and Trace
- Masks will be worn upon request without hesitation
- Masks will be worn in indoor settings when the team member deems that the indoor space is inadequately ventilated
- “Hands, Face, Space” may have been superseded, but the spirit will still be applied.
- Meetings will not be attended by team members suffering from colds etc.
- Team members will postpone and leave meetings with any person who appears symptomatic of a cold etc
- Team members will have face visors available to wear if a client suffers from a hearing disability and needs to fully or partially lip-read.
We would ask all current and prospective clients to apply the same ‘COVID-Courtesies’.
In last nights Government briefing, it was voiced that come Freedom Day there will be an anticipated 50,000 infections per day. Subsequently, Professor Stephen Reicher, a member of SPI-B, the Government’s Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours, has warned that there is a “very real risk prospect” that by the end of July there could be nearly a million new infections per week. Professor Chris Witty spoke of a winter which is likely to be “very difficult” and the Prime Minister said the Government would “retain contingency measures to help manage the virus during higher risk periods, such as the winter”.
Make hay while the sun shines
Therefore, from July 19th, in anticipation that irrespective of any government intervention, the responsible thing to do is likely to limit our face-to-face activities significantly over the winter season until spring 2022, we shall prioritise physical meetings with clients who are not ‘digitally enabled’ and/or have higher COVID-19 risk factors, “making hay whilst the sun shines”.
One of the challenges we have faced over the last 18 months has been navigating the conflicts between the COVID-19 policies of the UK national government and the devolved governments. The proceeding narrative refers to England.
- Northern Ireland
We do not currently support face-to-face meetings in Northern Ireland.
Our current expectation is that the Scottish Government will move to COVID Level 0 (phase 4) on August 9th when most restrictions will be lifted other than a requirement to wear face masks in specified settings. We hope to be able to visit our Scottish clients during the summer.
The Welsh Government is expected to review COVID restrictions on July 15th. It is unclear what the outcome of that review might be. We are hopeful that we will be able to visit our Welsh clients over the summer.
Please do not hesitate to contact us should you require any clarification. We look forward to meeting with you soon!