COVID-19 Workplace Testing Programme (UK)

The Government has announced it will make rapid home testing available for all businesses with over 10 employees who cannot offer on-site testing.

Businesses must register interest by 12 April to access free tests.

Details

From 6 April, the workplace testing programme will supply home test kits to companies with over 10 workers where it is not possible to set up testing on-site, due to a lack of space or because companies operate across multiple sites.

Businesses are encouraged to register before 12 April in order to access free tests until the end of June, even if they’re not yet open or are not able to start using the tests straight away.

As well as reporting their result directly to the NHS, employees should advise their employer of a positive result and take a confirmatory PCR test. Employers will retain an important role in encouraging their employees to take and report the results of their test.

Employers with fewer than 10 people can alternatively access regular testing through the community testing programme, which is now offered by all local authorities in England. Work is also underway to allow staff of small businesses to order tests online to be sent to their home.

Further details are here.

COVID-19 Employer Testing Duty (UK)

Employers employing more than 50 employees (including agency workers), are required to take reasonable steps to facilitate employees to take COVID-19 tests when they travel across international borders.

DHSC guidance stipulates ‘reasonable steps’ to facilitate the taking of tests might be:

• establishing workplace coronavirus (COVID-19) testing or providing employees with home testing

• supporting access and signposting employees to testing outside of the workplace.

Further (extensive) details are here.

Workplace testing (UK-Covid)

Some employers and third-party healthcare providers may want to introduce their own internal testing programmes outside of NHS Test and Trace.

NHS Test and Trace is for those who display symptoms of COVID-19 or who have been advised to take a test by a medical practitioner or public service. Employer and third-party healthcare providers wishing to provide a test to staff must not advise individuals without symptoms to get a test from the limited supply offered by the NHS Test and Trace service, but may offer alternative private provision.

The government first published guidance on 10 Sept 2020.

The guidance was updated several times since, and on 26 Feb 2021 was updated –

Updated to reflect the ongoing evolution of private-sector testing. In particular, updated advice in relation to lateral flow device (LFD) testing, routes to access testing, and a more comprehensive supplementary annex for employers and third-party providers wishing to offer workplace testing for asymptomatic employees.

The guidance is here.

Note CE marking is replaced by UKCA marking. Information on UKCA marking is here.

Existing CE marked goods may continue to circulate on the GB market in 2021 under transitional arrangements.

CE marked goods may circulate in Northern Ireland under the Protocol, UKCA goods must be marked UKNI in the Northern Ireland market (see the UKCA marking link).

Self-Isolation Guidance for COVID-19 Contacts (England)

I posted earlier this morning about the new legal duty to self-isolate that applies in England.

In addition to updated Guidance for households, linked to that post, Public Health England has also issued Guidance for COVID-19 Contacts (who are not Household Members) – here.

Note the new law sets out legal duties for notified persons – these are the person who tested positive (and that person must supply the names of their household) and their contacts meeting the definition of having been in close contact. The law does not set out legal duties for household members. In practice, household members and close contacts might be difficult to distinguish.

Guidance now exists for

– Households – here.

– Contacts – here.

Public Health England definition of ‘contact’ is not the same as ‘close contact’ set out in the England self-isolation law.

If you are a contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, then you will be notified by the NHS Test and Trace service via text message, email or phone. If you are notified, please follow the guidance in this document closely.

If you have not been notified that you are a contact, this means you do not need to self-isolate and should follow the general guidance, for example, social distancing, hand-washing, and covering coughs and sneezes.

New Legal Duty to Self-Isolate (England)

From 12am this morning, 28 September 2020, a new legal duty exists to self-isolate if notified (by persons identified in the legislation) as being a person who has (a) tested positive for COVID-19 after 28 September 2020 or (b) had a close contact after 28 September 2020 with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.

The notified person must self-isolate (for the period and as stipulated in the Legislation), and must also notify each person living in his/her household. The Legislation does not set out legal duties for household members.

The Legislation – The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self- Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 1045) – is here.

Close contact means –

(1) having face-to-face contact with someone at a distance of less than 1 metre,

(2) spending more than 15 minutes within 2 metres of an individual,

(3) travelling in a car or other small vehicle with an individual or in close proximity to an individual on an aeroplane.

Please note the duties on Employers.

The Stay at Home Guidance is also updated 28 September – you will see this has instructions for household members. The status of the document is Guidance. The document is here.

COVID-19 Working Safely Guidance Updated (England)

Following press announcements yesterday and the day before, the government’s Working Safely Guidance (England) is updated to reflect a change to the 2m rule (to allow a lesser distance) and add guidance on support bubbles.

Information on the updates that have taken place to the Working Safely Guidance (England) and access to the updated documents is here.

Note : physical distancing of 2m continues to be applied in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

COVID-19 Aviation Health & Safety Protocol (EU)

On 15 April 2020, the European Commission, in cooperation with the President of the European Council, put forward a Joint European Roadmap setting out recommendations on lifting COVID-19 containment measures. I Blog posted about this at the time.

As called for in the Roadmap, on 13 May 2020, the Commission put forward further guidelines on how to progressively restore transport services, connectivity and free movement as swiftly as the health situation allows it, while protecting the health of transport workers and passengers. I also put a Blog post about this.

The Commission Communication mandated EASA (the European Union Aviation Safety Agency) and ECDC (the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) to issue jointly more detailed technical operational guidance for the aviation sector.

This document is here.

As the document itself says –

The purpose of this aviation health safety protocol is to provide guidance to airport operators, aeroplane operators and national aviation authorities, as well as other relevant stakeholders, on how to facilitate the safe and gradual restoration of passenger transport. This is subject to the deployment of proportionate and effective measures to protect the health of aviation personnel and passengers, by reducing the risk of SARS- CoV-2 transmission in the airport and on board aircraft as much as practicable.

COVID-19 Restrictions Changes (UK)

In the past days, a number of UK jurisdictions have changed their Restrictions law. This is in order to relax some of the lockdown measures.

The new amendments will be loaded today into the COVID-19 Law List in Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists – the COVID-19 Law List is found on the top right accessed from the OHS topic page. [UK and Ireland systems]

As this emergency situation continues, we will be bringing forward COVID-19 Law Checklists (UK jurisdictions). I will advise nearer the time when these will be available.

COVID-19 Workplace Guidance (England)

Yesterday (25 May) saw the key Working Safely guidance for different workplaces (issued 11 May) updated to reflect industry feedback and to expand coverage of non essential retail categories ahead of planned opening.

On the 19 May, the 5 steps for businesses to take were added – here. Please note (as I posted before, check back on my Blog, the risk assessments of larger businesses must be published on their websites).

You should share the results of your risk assessment with your employees. If possible, you should consider publishing it on your website (and we would expect all businesses with over 50 employees to do so).

Notice that should be displayed in the workplace – here.

The Working Safely Guidance link is here.

Please note the links to the guidance issued in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where the timetable of non-essential business re-opening differs.

Non-essential retail in England will re-open in June, as set out in the PM timeline issued yesterday 25 May –

• Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June, as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers. As with garden centres, the risk of transmission of the virus is lower in these outdoor and more open spaces. Car showrooms often have significant outdoor space and it is generally easier to apply social distancing.

• All other non-essential retail including shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets, will be expected to be able to reopen from 15 June if the Government’s five tests are met and they follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines, giving them three weeks to prepare.

Certain businesses and activities must remain closed – see here. This is underpinned by enacted law.