Coronavirus/COVID-19 measures (UK)

UPDATE : the general guidance for employers, employees and business includes these additional stipulations –

• businesses and workplaces should encourage their employees to work at home, wherever possible

• if someone becomes unwell in the workplace with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they should be sent home and advised to follow the advice to stay at home

• employees should be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds more frequently and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues

• frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products

• employees will need your support to adhere to the recommendation to stay at home to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) to others

Last week saw a raft of measures and the first legislation compelling action. These are compiled online – here.

Of particular note to this Blog are –

(1) the mandated closure of some workplaces and all workplace canteens where food is sold – here plus law on the matter here (England) and here (Wales)

[note the workplace canteen exceptions in the law]

(2) the definition of key worker – found in the guidance for schools closure – here

(3) the definitions of “self-isolating”, “social distancing” and “shielding” and the cohorts these apply to

“Self-isolating” – here

“Social distancing” – here

“Shielding” – here

(4) the relaxation of drivers’ hours (I blog posted about this last week) – here

(5) changes to Planning Inspectorate site visits, appeals, inquiries and events – here

(6) changes to Courts and tribunals planning and preparation – here

[note there are also changes to HSE and Environment Agency, and other regulator, site visits etc which are published in their own online web resources]

(7) general guidance for employers, employees and businesses – here

(8) guidance on the cleaning of workplace surfaces – here

(9) shipping and sea ports guidance – here

(10) restriction of non-essential rail travel – here

[note the London Mayor has announced reductions in TFL transport and transport in London, including by driving, should be for essential travel only]

[transport by driving outside of London should also be essential travel only]

The advice for anyone in any setting is to follow these main guidelines.

1 The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of a new continuous cough and/or high temperature. If you have these symptoms, however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house for 7 days from when your symptoms started. You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.

2 Wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, or after being in public areas where other people are doing so. Use hand sanitiser if that’s all you have access to.

3 To reduce the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue, and throw the tissue in a bin immediately. Then wash your hands or use a hand sanitising gel.

4 Clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people.

Temporary Guidance re Drivers (COVID-19 UK)

UPDATE : the government instructions (dated 20 March) are here

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) bulletin service issued a notice re drivers on temporary arrangements for hours of work and access to welfare facilities – here

(1) All drivers must have access to welfare facilities in the premises they visit as part of their work.

More information is here

(2) The Department for Transport (DfT) announced a temporary and limited relaxation of the enforcement of drivers’ hours rules in England, Scotland, and Wales for the drivers of vehicles involved in the delivery of:

• food

• non-food (personal care and household paper and cleaning)

• over the counter pharmaceuticals

Driver safety must not be compromised, and they should not be expected to drive whilst tired.  Employers remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees, other road users, and anyone involved in loading and unloading vehicles.

Further information is here

Freight transport COVID-19 guidance is here

International Road Haulage (UK Brexit)

The UK Road Haulage Association (RHA) expects no cabotage from 1st January 2021. It recommends UK firms start preparing for the ending of cabotage from January 2021.

The RHA has updated its Brexit Operator Checklist – here. Please review.

Whilst some aspects are listed as “subject to negotiation”, a number of line entries in the Checklist are now more specific. This reflects announcements made by the UK Government and the EU Commission.

EU Fuel VAT reclaim (UK Brexit)

Exit day is 31st October

This Blog does not cover Customs and Excise. The information below comes from the Road Haulage Association (RHA) – here.

UK based International Operators will still be able to claim refunds of VAT on fuel bought in EU member states.

Follow the processes for non-EU countries to do the claim.

EU information is here.

Check with individual EU countries.

Some EU countries may require the appointment of an in-country tax representative to obtain the refunds.

International Road Haulage (UK Exit)

Exit day is 31st October 2019

Whilst the UK is in the EU, road transport continues as usual. Once the UK leaves the EU, road transport to and in the EU will be subject to new arrangements.

International ECMT permits were oversubscribed in the first round, accordingly the UK opened a new round of ECMT permit applications in March 2019 –

The government has secured additional ECMT permits at the ECMT Road Transport Group meeting. These include both Euro V and Euro VI permits. There are now:

• 1,320 annual Euro VI permits

• 290 annual Euro V permits

• 3,744 short-term Euro VI permits (valid for 30 days)

• 1,080 short-term Euro V permits (valid for 30 days)

Annual permits cover all journeys made using the permit between 1 January and 31 December 2019. Monthly permits are valid for all journeys within 30 days of the start date listed on the permit.

UK hauliers will be able to carry on doing work to and from the EU, after the 31st October 2019 for a short time, under the EU Contingency law enacted (see diagram). This law allows UK registered operators to carry out road haulage to EU member states until 31 December 2019. The new rules were approved by the EU Parliament and Council in March and allow most journeys without a permit until 31 December 2019:

• travel to any EU member state (empty or laden) and return (empty or laden)

• a limited amount of ‘cross-trade’ or ‘cabotage’ work

• the EU law does not allow permit free access to non-EU countries – an ECMT permit will be required (after Exit) to transit EU member states to a 3rd countries such as Switzerland or Turkey.

I will update this post or issue a new Blog post when the arrangements for 2020 are announced.

Enquiries should be made to the UK Department for Transport.

Road Haulage (NI Brexit)

UPDATE : the EU Council has now agreed its position on basic road connectivity – here.

There is uncertainty in the haulage industry about what will happen at EU borders if the UK leaves without a Brexit deal next month.

Back in November, the UK Government issued guidance to UK hauliers stating that they “might need ECMT permits to transport goods in the EU and European Economic Area (EEA)” if there is no deal by 29 March.

The European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) permits can be used in a list of 43 countries which have signed up to the international arrangement.

The deadline for 2019 applications expired on 18 January 2019 and on Saturday night, many hauliers were informed on whether or not they were successful. I posted earlier about the deadline.

ECMT permits were over-subscribed and allocated on a points-based system, with higher scores awarded to firms who make a larger number of journeys into EU member states.

It would appear the Department for Transport (DfT) did not take into account journeys to the Republic of Ireland from Northern Ireland operators, whereas English, Scottish or Welsh hauliers were credited with their journeys to the Republic of Ireland.

Just over 1,200 permits were available for the UK as a whole and it is likely only 60-70 were made available to Northern Ireland firms.

In its guidance issued last year, the Government said it expected that Northern Ireland hauliers “will not need an ECMT permit” to drive to or through the Republic of Ireland.

It stated it would not require Republic of Ireland hauliers to have ECMT permits to operate in Northern Ireland.

It added that the UK was seeking a reciprocal agreement from the Irish government to allow Northern Ireland hauliers to travel across the Irish border without a permit.

I posted earlier that the European Commission (in its Contingency Plan) has proposed legislation that would allow UK hauliers basic rights (on a reciprocal basis) to conduct operations to, from and through the EU for a limited period of nine months after exit, if there is no deal.

“The Commission’s proposal will need to be agreed by the Council and European Parliament, and is being considered by both institutions urgently.” (UK Transport Minister, by statement last week)

The minister said he laid legislation before Parliament last week to provide for that access. [this will be included in the Brexit Law List, added to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Law Checklists]