What does Freedom Day mean for employers?
At 11.55pm on 18 July 2021, new Regulations came into force, revoking previous COVID-19 Regulations in England. The 19th July was dubbed ‘Freedom Day’ but a trip to the high street was little changed from the previous day.
So what did change?
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 only remaining legal restrictions are around testing, isolation and quarantine.
However, 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has clearly stated that it encourages individuals and businesses to continue pretty much all of the measures they’ve repealed.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.
What the guidance says
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.
What our safety experts are advising
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.
Speak to an expert
Need help navigating safety and employment law issues faced as a consequence of lifted guidance? Whatever your situation Primed can help – Primed Premium gives you unlimited telephone and email advice from our employment, HR & Safety experts for an affordable monthly fee whilst Primed gives you access to extensive online resources and template documents to help you manage your team.