The government is coming under mounting pressure to introduce plan B as the rates of Covid-19 continue to rise.
Since the easing of restrictions took place, there has been a drastic increase in the number of confirmed positive cases of covid-19 within the UK. The statistics published by the government show that the number of positive cases has reached between 35,000 to 40,000 in October, with the peak being just over 52,000.
Despite the number of positive cases confirmed, the number of Covid deaths has remained low, in comparison to previous peaks of infection. This may be due to the successful vaccine rollout that has now reached 79.5% of the population having received their second dose.
What is the Covid Plan B?
Despite the low death rates, the government is under mounting pressure from a number of experts to stop the spread and reduce the strain on the NHS. The NHS Confederation and British medical association called on the government to roll out ‘Covid Plan B’ and tackle the rise of cases being seen.
In September the government laid out their winter plan for managing Covid-19. In this announcement, the government laid our two directions available to them, which would be chosen depending on the situation.
The current plan the government is following is plan A. Under plan A there is a focus on encouraging the population to be tested regularly whilst the vaccine rollout continues to ensure the population remains protected.
The government’s plan B takes a more impactful approach. The government would look to reintroduce the measures that have previously been in place in order to control the transmission rates. In addition to this, plan B aims to reduce the economic and social impact of a full lockdown. Plan B will include the following measures;
- Compulsory face coverings in certain situations
- Employees to work from home if possible
- Mandatory vaccine-only Covid status certification
- Communication any increased risk to the public
If introduced, the government’s Plan B would only apply to England as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland currently make use of their own restriction measures.
Is the Covid plan B likely to happen?
Many experts have had their say on whether they believe the government will implement further restrictions. Alan Lewis, partner at Constantine law, stated that he believed plan B will be put into action in the next 4 weeks “to avoid unsustainable pressure on the NHS”
Ann Francke, CEO of Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has acknowledged the strong calls to the government to introduce the plan soon. “This is a fast-moving scenario with too many changing variables to make predictions meaningful.” Francke added, “If the past 12 months has taught us anything, it’s how difficult it is to predict how our Covid situation will develop.”
The government have been very adamant that they are not considering introducing further restrictions, but a spokesperson has said if it was to happen, it would take effect quickly.
What are the risks for employers?
The general consensus from experts is that the transition to remote work may pose a risk to employers. However, those who are prepared and have worked remotely in some capacity due to the pandemic may be able to cope well with the transition
Firms will likely have to return to remote working measures if the plan is introduced. Many businesses will have moved to a remote working style in some capacity over the last 18 months, and therefore the transition should not be too risky for these employers. However, Ann Francke has warned employer who has not prepared for a return to remote work may risk losing staff to other employers as employees may have few patients due to the competitive job market currently in place.
The main advice experts are giving to employers is to plan for the introduction of more restrictions. Employers are encouraged to ensure a smooth transition to remote work can be reached and those that are unable to work remotely must implement measures to ensure the safety of their employees.
Ryan Exley, content developer at the institution of occupational safety and health (IOSH) believes that in practical terms, employers must ensure looking after employees is a priority. Exley said, “Businesses in the UK shouldn’t just wait to see if the government implements plan B, they should be regularly reviewing their Covid safety measures to ensure they continue to be effective and taking action to amend these where necessary.”
How can we help?
OneHR can help employers ensure their staff remain safe and healthy during the implementation of further Covid restrictions, should this be the direction the government take.
OneHR offers safe and secure document storage for employers to store any vital information. This could be helpful for employers during the implementation of further restrictions as employers will be able to store any information around risk assessments for remote workers, or workplace Covid measures should employees be unable to work from home. This ensures employers can ensure they are keeping their employees as safe as possible.
If you have any further questions or queries about the content above or would like to request a demo for oneHR, please don’t hesitate to contact the oneHR team today.
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