Following the statements issued by the Faculty of Public Health and the Association of the Directors of Public Health this week, CIEH has joined the call for some basic COVID-19 controls to remain in place after the 19 July to control the speed of the spread of the virus.
As cases continue to rise, especially with large attendances at sporting events this summer, there is a need for caution. CIEH advocates keeping facemasks mandatory on public transport and in certain indoor settings, such as GP surgeries.
In a poll of CIEH members working across the country 65% said that they did not currently support the full lifting of restrictions in England on 19 July, whilst 92% said that some form of control measures, such as social distancing or mask-wearing, should remain in place after that date.
CIEH is also calling for clear guidance and clarity from the UK Government on how businesses should be managing risk of COVID-19 going forward. COVID-19 remains a ‘significant’ health and safety risk in workplaces, according to the Health and Safety Executive, and businesses have a duty to put in place measures to minimise risks as much as possible for their employees and the public. Regulators working for local authorities also need clearer guidance on when a business should be continuing to impose some restrictions or controls to manage the risk of COVID-19 spread.
Gary McFarlane, CIEH Director, said:
“Ahead of the UK Government’s expected announcement on the end to all restrictions in England from 19 July, the escalating number of COVID-19 cases remains a real concern. We are therefore joining other public health bodies in calling for keeping a few of the basic safety measures, such as face masks on public transport, to remain mandatory in order to keep risks and cases down.
Furthermore, our members have expressed concern at the lack of clarity about how the policy to use personal choice when deciding what protections to adopt will work within workplace settings. Businesses still have a duty to mitigate and manage risks and COVID-19 remains a “significant” risk in the workplace, to both members of the public and to employees, according to the Health and Safety Executive.
Further clear guidance on this topic would greatly help both businesses and enforcers post 19 July.
We are also concerned about the potential for differences across the UK that are beginning to emerge, with both Scotland and Northern Ireland indicating that they will be retaining these basic measures. Their removal in England will add further challenges. We are now joining with other public health bodies in calling for the UK Government to keep a few of the basic controls that will reduce risk of onward transmission, such as face masks in certain indoor settings in England.”