Latest Brief from the Chief: COVID-19 Update - 24 June
Wed, 24 Jun 2020

Dear colleagues,

Yesterday, the Prime Minister made a number of further announcements with regards to the easing of lockdown restrictions that will come into effect from Saturday, 4 July.

These new measures, including reducing social distancing from two metres to one metre where it is not possible to stay two metres apart, are in response to the continuing overall reduction of COVID-19 cases and deaths and will see even more of the country and economy, such as cafes, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, B&Bs and hotels, re-open in the coming weeks (in England) as part of a 'new normal'.

On Wednesday, 17 June, I discussed, broadly, the council's plans to support the East Riding to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. This can be read here.

Following on from what I outlined in my last column and in view of the Prime Minister's announcements, I just wanted to remind staff about current working arrangements and the work being undertaken to begin a phased approach for staff to return to our offices.

The council has established a Workplace Reintroduction Group, chaired by Ian Burnett, head of asset strategy, to look at how we might be able to bring office-based staff back to our buildings in a safe way and in adherence to all necessary public health guidance.

This group is working on arrangements now and is considering the various measures that will need to be in place in order to ensure our buildings are COVID-19 safe.

A lot of work will need to be undertaken and will include arrangements for fire and first aid provision, safe systems to support social distancing, including cleaning regimes, one-way systems and office occupancy levels, and consideration around shared spaces, such as kitchens and toilets.

Only when the group is satisfied that these measures are in place and working effectively will staff be allowed back into our corporate buildings.

The group envisages that this will not be before Tuesday, 1 September.

However, as this is a phased approach, some staff, for operational reasons, may be in earlier than this date but this will only be when the measures are in place and after discussions with the staff in question.

In previous columns, I have alluded to the inescapable truth that - until a vaccine is developed - we will have to live with the virus and mitigate against it, where possible.

This continues to be the case and, to that end, even when we can safely bring staff into the office, it is likely that this will mean reduced numbers.

We will therefore continue to support and encourage home or remote working, where it is possible to do so.

When the Workplace Reintroduction Group has finalised its plans, these will be communicated to staff via our internal communications channels - including The Grapevine, the intranet, ESS and MSS and email.

Line managers will also speak directly to staff about how the new arrangements will work.

For now, my message is simple, continue to work as you are until you are told differently!



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