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Every time I hear the term ‘Freedom Day’ I think of Bill Pullman’s speech in Independence Day. Google the YouTube clip - a lot of the words are surprisingly apt. But the 19th July in the real world was, thankfully, less dramatic. A trip to the town centre was little changed from the day before. Many businesses have decided to keep in place most, if not all, of their COVID measures and there are still a lot of individuals choosing to wear masks, even if not asked to by the premises they’re visiting.
So what has changed?
Essentially, new Regulations came into force at 11.55pm on 18 July 2021 that revoked previous regulations, the key implications being (in England):
- Venues which had to remain closed can now open – so places like nightclubs are back
- Legal capacity limits at all events and venues are gone
- Face coverings no longer have to be worn on public transport or indoor venues
- Social distancing between tables at places like restaurants and pubs is no longer a requirement
- Venues are no longer required to ask visitors to check in for test and trace purposes
- The rule of 6 is gone
- People are no longer required to work from home where they can
Essentially, the remaining legal restrictions are around testing, isolation and quarantine.
BUT – the government has clearly stated that it encourages individuals and businesses to continue pretty much all of the measures they’ve repealed. They want us to take responsibility - only gradually return to work, carry on wearing masks in crowded settings, keep social contact to a minimum, still use the NHS app and access all of the fresh air as much as possible.
In their guidance, the government is also reminding employers that they still have a legal duty to manage risks to those affected by their business. This leaves many businesses in a quandary – lift the restrictions that have been damaging your business whilst simultaneously increasing your risk exposure? Or keep your restrictions in place and continue to see the impact on your bottom line?
Of course, in reality, it will be much more complex than that and there will be lots businesses can do to manage their risk AND focus on rebuilding any damage done over the last 18 months or so.
Advice from our safety experts
Our Safety experts are advising employers to re-visit their risk assessments and think carefully before dropping all the controls that have been in place over the last year or so.
Whilst there might be some measures you want to relax to help your business to realise its full potential, you still have a duty of care to employees and others that come into contact with your business.
You’ve probably invested a lot of time and money into your risk management measures, and by now the practices individuals have had to adhere to, like mask wearing, have become habit. You can capitalise on that habit forming repetitive behaviour and help to protect your workforce, customers, visitors as well as the risk your business might otherwise be exposed to.
Did you know – it can take anywhere from 2 to 8 months to form a habit, on average, it takes 66 days
If you need further support we can help employers with HR support and our expert safety team can provide support with a variety of risk assessments
Please get in touch for a friendly chat about your needs