The UK Government has delayed the full lifting of COVID restrictions in England by four weeks, at Step 3 of the roadmap, amid rising infection rates as the new Delta COVID variant spreads.
After two weeks, the government will review the data to see if the risks have reduced. It is expected that England will move to Step 4 on 19 July. The Scottish and Welsh Governments are reviewing their planning for the lifting of restrictions, which may also be delayed.
The HSE advise that businesses need to continue to have COVID-secure measures in place that are in line with the latest Government guidance. Currently, workers should continue to work from home if possible.
It is stressed that, at this stage, it is vital that businesses do not become complacent and that they continue to have measures in place to manage the risk from Coronavirus and ensure workers are following them.
The HSE is working with local authorities to carry out spot checks and inspections on businesses. These are taking place in all areas, to check that businesses have COVID-secure measures in place to keep workers, visitors and customers safe.
What happens during spot checks and inspections?
The HSE calls and visits businesses to check the COVID-secure measures they have in place and provides guidance and advice if required. Where businesses aren’t managing the risk, action will be taken. This can range from the provision of specific advice, issuing enforcement notices and stopping certain work practices until they are made safe. Where businesses fail to comply, this could lead to prosecution.
Angela Storey, Director of Transformation and Operational Services at HSE, said: “The UK government has confirmed a four-week delay to the lifting of restrictions, as the Delta strain of COVID-19 becomes the dominant variant in England, with infection numbers rising across Britain.
“Whilst we recognise that this news will come as a disappointment to a number of businesses, especially those in the hospitality sector, businesses must continue to have measures in place to manage the risks, to help protect the health of local communities as well as to support the local and national UK economy.
“We will also continue to work with local authorities, checking that businesses have COVID-secure measures in place, and providing guidance and advice where needed.
“As we continue to carry out spot checks and inspections our support of cross-government work remains. We are committed to helping employers and employees as they work through the pandemic.
“All workplaces are in scope for spot checks which means businesses of any size, in any sector can receive an unannounced call or visit to check they are COVID-secure.”
HSE June 2021