New COVID-19 rules explained for the industry
Earlier this week English, Scottish and Welsh governments announced new measures to suppress a second wave of COVID-19. So far the measures are relatively minor compared to earlier in the year with no significant changes for the landscape industry.
Members are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the changes below and are reminded that alterations to working practices may be introduced at short notice depending on the development of the virus spread during autumn and winter this year.
The 6-person rule
In England and Wales, individuals visiting friends and family with whom they do not live with can now only meet in groups of 6 or less, indoors or outdoors.
In Scotland, from Wednesday 23 September 2020, the restrictions go slightly further and prohibit individuals from meeting people from any other households in your own home or another person’s home.
These restrictions apply to social contexts only and do not apply to work environments in Scotland, England or Wales. This means businesses can remain functioning and tradespersons of any discipline can go into a house without breaching the limit if they are there for work purposes.
Going to work
None of the devolved administrations requires any landscape or construction-related business to close in light of the new measures.
The most significant difference to note regarding work is the U-turn on home working in England. Plans to encourage workers back into offices have been temporarily suspended and employers are expected to make provision for home working as was the case earlier this year. Home working is likely to be supported by all devolved administrations for the rest of the year, where possible.
Whilst employees who cannot work from home (i.e. site-based or transient workers) can continue working from site, employers in all 4 nations are reminded of their obligation to carry out a risk assessment and ensure workplaces (including worksites) that remain open are ‘COVID secure’.
COVID secure refers to the implementation of measures by an employer which seek to reduce the risk of transmission as far as is reasonably practicable. A more detailed explanation can be found on the Government website.
Employers are also reminded of their responsibility to ensure employees at higher risk are given extra consideration when implementing COVID-19 secure measures.
The Welsh government now requires face coverings to be worn in all indoor public places for both customers and staff working in those indoor public areas. Significantly, this also means face coverings must also be worn in public areas within buildings that are otherwise closed to the public -for example, a reception area of an office building.
England and Scotland's governments do not require face coverings to be worn in public areas within buildings that are otherwise closed to the public, but members are reminded some clients may require face coverings to be worn as per their own risk assessment.
Collecting contact information
Only premises that require customers and visitors to spend an extended period in one place and potentially come into close contact with people outside of their household will be required to collect contact information. Offices do not fall into this category. This rule applies to all devolved administrations.