Headline
Latest Brief from the Chief: COVID-19 Update - 15 July
Date
Wed, 15 Jul 2020
Description

Dear colleagues,

Last week marked a big milestone in the country's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with further easing of lockdown restrictions coming into effect on Saturday, 4 July and enabling the council to re-open 47 public-facing sites on Monday, 6 July and, from 25 July, we will also be able to open our leisure centres.

From customer service centres to visitor attractions and from Goole to Bridlington, the 47 sites represent a wide range of service areas and cover the whole East Riding, so I'm sure you can appreciate the amount of work which has gone in to making the physical buildings, the working practices and the customer inter-actions as COVID-safe as possible.

It's been a tremendous effort, involving lots of hard work and lengthy planning from many teams within areas such as culture and customer services and registration and celebratory services, and I thank everyone who has played a part. While we are now able to reopen the physical buildings this does not mean that work stopped over the past three months - we have run virtual CSCs, remote exercise classes via YouTube, redeployed staff to the community hubs and so much more.

Thank you to everyone - you have been a credit to the East Riding, whether out in the community, working at your kitchen table or redeployed.

The Workplace Reintroduction Group provided a lot of support to those establishments that are reopening and continues to be extremely busy in planning how some staff can safely return to work at the Goole Town Offices, Bridlington Town Hall and County Hall in Beverley.

This group will be making sure that all measures and working arrangements which are put in place follow public health guidance. The necessary ICT work alone is a massive task and it will take a considerable amount of time to connect office staff back to the council's technology infrastructure.

However, the group has already completed a large amount of work "behind the scenes", including:

  • Surveys of the three main corporate buildings in Goole, Bridlington and Beverley with desk layouts of all offices.
  • Identification of maximum occupancy levels to comply with safety guidance.
  • Identification of desks / workstations which can be used in order to comply with safety guidance.
  • Identification of one-way systems to include entrances and exits, with appropriate signage, and arrangements for use of kitchens and toilets.
  • Establishment of service area representatives to work with the group.
  • Creation of a risk assessment template for services.
  • Site visits and surveys of depots to advise managers about safety measures.

Other factors such as fire safety, first aid provision and cleaning practices are also being considered as well as office occupancy levels. Only when the working group is satisfied that the planning has been completed and suitable measures are in place will staff be allowed back into our corporate buildings. If staff can work from home, please continue to do so.

The group is working towards a provisional date of Tuesday, 1 September for this to start to happen but it will be a phased approach and you will all be kept informed of progress in the meantime. Some teams have already returned to offices where there is a business need to do so and are working safely within council buildings.

Given the current rules, we will not be able to accommodate all office staff in their normal work places from 1 September and we will need to look at staggered patterns of work and creating 'bubbles' within teams.

Some office staff might not return to their normal work places for a while after that date because some might continue to work remotely with their managers' approval and others, for operational reasons, may be able to return earlier - but this would only be when the appropriate measures are in place and after discussions with the staff in question.

Any staff who feel they really need to work from an office - whether for operational or health and wellbeing reasons - should speak to their line manager initially and then their head of service should liaise with the Workplace Reintroduction Group to consider the request.

We also expect staff, who may be required to return to the office, to take individual responsibility for helping to keep our buildings COVID-safe, through good hygiene practices such as thorough and regular handwashing, following social distancing guidance and being diligent when using shared facilities, such as kitchens, and only using their own desk and adhering to clear desk policies.

For people who have been home working since 23 March, when you do come back to the office, whenever that may be, what you will be coming back to will be a different place, with different ways of working.

When we do open the doors to more staff in our three main corporate buildings, there will be lots of support available and you will have lots of guidance about the procedures for entrances and exits, one-way systems, maintaining social distances in offices, how to use communal areas, such as kitchens, and procedures for fire alarms and first aid treatment.

We will continue to keep all our working practices across services under review as guidance is updated. New guidance is being brought out on a daily basis which effects the way we deliver our services. Never has it been so true that the only constant is change.

Thank you for your continued support.

#TogetherEastRiding

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