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Businesses fear new wave of Covid as government leaves mask rules in stores and workplaces Business News

Boris Johnson has dubbed July 19 ‘Freedom Day’ – the time when restrictions in place to slow transmission of the coronavirus will end. But the government’s mixed messages and emphasis on individual responsibility have left companies with major concerns about the safety of staff and customers, as well as the health of their businesses.

Business leaders fear the abrupt end of restrictions will further fuel the current wave of infections, meaning employees will have to self-isolate. Worse still, the prospect of new confinement. Meanwhile, unions have warned employees can face abuse or violence when trying to encourage customers to maintain social distancing or wear a mask.

This week, as the number of Covid-19 cases continued to skyrocket, ministers backed down on their earlier reopening message that all restrictions would be removed.

While people in England will no longer be legally required to wear a mask, the government now says it “expects and recommends” that face coverings be worn in crowded and closed public spaces. In Scotland and Wales face coverings will remain mandatory.

The ad only left retailers, bar managers and other business owners five days to prepare.

Recently released guidelines call on retailers “to consider encouraging, for example through signage, the use of face coverings by workers, particularly in interior areas where they may come into contact with people they know. normally do not meet ”.

Professor Denis Kinane, immunologist and chief medical officer at testing company Cignpost Diagnostics, criticized the government’s approach.

“In the absence of mandatory measures, the government essentially leaves it to the employer, and to some extent to the employee, asking them to choose their own level of precaution and to do their own risk assessment,” did he declare.

“At the moment, we are seeing a strong upsurge in positive cases through Cignpost and so I am not comfortable with the government’s repeal of the responsibility for giving advice.”

This upsurge presents a risk for companies. Half a million people have been ‘polled’ by the NHS app over the past week and told they need to self-isolate – the highest weekly number yet. The Unite union has issued a warning that factories may have to close because the number of people who self-isolate are causing “damage” to production lines.

Assistant Secretary-General Steve Turner said he had received “extremely disturbing” reports from members. “It is no exaggeration to say that factories are about to close and that at some sites hundreds of people are off work,” he said.

More than half (53%) of UK small business owners believe it is too early for restrictions to be lifted and the country may be forced into another foreclosure, according to a survey by insurer Simply Business.

As often during the pandemic, hotel companies will be at the forefront of the latest changes. The industry has generally welcomed the end of the restrictions, which will allow pubs, bars and restaurants to operate at full capacity again and bring in much-needed cash.

However, these plans are compromised if staff come into contact with others with Covid-19. Gordon Stott, a chief of the Purefoy Arms in Hampshire, said his team were concerned about being ordered to isolate themselves from staff.

“We will stick with masks until all staff are double vaccinated,” he said. “We are less afraid of getting sick than of having to shut down!”

Cathy Frost, owner of Panoramic 34 restaurant and bar in Liverpool, said she would keep all measures in her current Covid-19 risk assessment in place for now.

“We are pleased that the government is easing restrictions to allow hospitality a chance to resume somewhere close to normal service,” she said.

“While giving the public more freedom and letting them take some responsibility, we will continue to test our entire team every week and encourage them to take advantage of the immunization program. “

The Small Business Federation said businesses are working hard to update their plans in time for Monday.

“We urge buyers and partygoers to follow each company’s unique house rules when they are on the go starting Monday,” he said.

The lack of clarity on the guidelines prompted supermarket bosses to publish their own statements on their respective rules. They indicate that “Freedom Day” may be more like the status quo than the name suggests.

Sainsbury’s said it would continue to limit the number of customers in stores and advise customers to wear masks. Staff and customers at Waitrose, John Lewis, Aldi, Lidl and Tesco have all been urged to continue wearing masks.

The Usdaw union has warned that the policy is confusing and could put workshop workers at risk of violence, abuse and threats, as the restrictions no longer have the force of law.

In the end, the director of …

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Source: www.independent.co.uk
This notice was published: 2021-07-15 21:04:22

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