Important message from Rupert Suckling

Dear Business Owner,

The Government has announced that from Monday 19 July 2021 England is to move to Step 4, the final milestone in the roadmap out of lockdown.

This means that the four tests for easing Covid-19 restrictions have been met, namely:

• The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully

• Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated

• Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS

• Assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.

For businesses this means:

• All remaining closed businesses and venues such as nightclubs and adult entertainment venues will be able to reopen.

• All capacity limits at sporting, entertainment, or business events will be lifted.

• Hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants and bars will no longer be required to provide table service or follow other social distancing rules.

• All businesses should follow the principles set out in the working safely guidance (see link below).

Whilst the Government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can, the Government would expect and recommend a gradual return over the summer.

Employers will still have a legal duty to manage risks to those affected by their business. The way to do this is to carry out a health and safety risk assessment, including the risk of COVID-19, and to take reasonable steps to mitigate the risks you identify. Working Safely guidance sets out a range of mitigations employers should consider including:

- cleaning surfaces that people touch regularly;

- identifying poorly-ventilated areas in the venue and taking steps to improve air flow;

- ensuring that staff and customers who are unwell do not attend the workplace or venue;

- communicating to staff and customers the measures you have put in place.

• Organisations in higher risk settings are encouraged to use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry, in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19. This will especially be the case in large crowded settings where people are likely to be in close proximity to others outside their household.

• Organisations should ensure they are in compliance with all legal obligations, including on equalities.

• Businesses are also encouraged to continue displaying QR codes for customers wishing to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app, or to continue collecting customer contact details to support NHS Test and Trace, however this will no longer be a legal requirement.

The Government’s Working safely guidance provides important information for a number of sectors including: construction and other outdoor work, event and attractions, hotels and guest accommodation, offices, factories and labs, restaurants, pubs, bars, nightclubs and takeaway services, shops, branches and close contact services.

Please note that at the time of writing, Dan Jarvis, the mayor of the Sheffield City Region, has announced that face coverings will be remain mandatory in bus stations and transport interchanges across South Yorkshire.

Step 4 helps us to move towards fully opening the economy but with the pandemic still very much in existence, there remains a need for caution as restrictions ease. So, although there will no longer be legal requirements for such measures as wearing face coverings in certain place and social distancing, it is imperative that we all continue to take personal and community responsibility by making safer choices and balancing risks effectively. This is absolutely essential if we want to prevent a rising infection rate, increased hospitalisations or long Covid, to keep our businesses open and delivering services.

It is important to remember that not everyone will be comfortable with restrictions easing, so please be mindful of this and respectful of other people within our communities who may feel anxious about the changes ahead.

Our rates of Covid-19 infection are the highest they have been in the entire pandemic and although the vaccination programme has weakened the link between infection, hospitalisation and death it’s not broken completely.

Therefore, my advice as Director of Public Health for Doncaster is that we need to proceed with caution. Please consider the following important measures that will help look after ourselves as well as those around us:

• If we have one of the symptoms of Covid-19 we need to self isolate and get a PCR test

• If we are a close contact of a case we still need to self isolate for 10 days

• We should continue to wear face coverings to protect others and particularly when accessing health care, in indoor crowded spaces and communal areas.

• We should continue with good hygiene practices including regular hand washing and using hand sanitiser

• We can reduce our risk further by keeping our physical distance

• And those over 18 should take the vaccine as soon as possible unless there are medical reasons not to do so.

You can find more information about what the Step 4 changes mean here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-summer-2021-roadmap/coronavirus-how-to-stay-safe-and-help-prevent-the-spread

Please remember that Doncaster Council is here to help if you need any further support or advice. We have a range of resources on our website, including business support information, so please visit: www.doncaster.gov.uk/covid.

The pandemic is not over and we must still do all we can in the coming weeks to help reduce the spread of Covid-19 in our community.

I thank you for all you have done over what has been a challenging 16 months for businesses in our borough but let’s continue to make a difference and Do it for Doncaster.

Kind regards, Dr Rupert Suckling Director of Public Health GMC 3664801

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