The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) issued a statement on 15 July regarding its Site Operating Procedures and the government's lifting of Covid-19 restrictions from 19 July.
It says: "The Site Operating Procedures and Branch Operating Procedures have always reflected the latest Government guidance. Whilst Covid-19 remains widespread across the UK and will need to be managed for some time to come, the lifting of the remaining legal restrictions, including social distancing requirements, from 19 July 2021 means the CLC guidance will no longer be current."
However, it says the Site Operating Procedures and the Branch Operating Procedures will remain available as reference documents. And the government points out that we are still in the third wave of the pandemic with cases rising, so care should be exercised and social distancing and masks are advisable where people come together. Some firms are still insisting on it.
On Monday 19 July, the government said infections had increased 41% in the past seven days to 322,170 with deaths up 48% to 296.
Anyone who comes into contact with someone who has Covid-19 is currently still required to self-isolate for 10 days, although that requirement is scheduled to be dropped on 16 August for those who have been vaccinated or are under 18, and have tested negative.
In the meantime, self-isolation absenteeism is already becoming a problem as the NHS app sends out what has been dubbed a 'pingdemic' of messages on people's mobile phones telling them to self-isolate because they have spent time in the company of someone who has the virus.
The CLC announcement about its Site and Branch Operating Procedures followed the publication of the results of a survey by BuildUK among its contractor members. That in turn followed the announcement by the Prime Minister on Monday, 12 July, saying restrictions would be lifted but "caution is absolutely vital". 89% of BuildUK respondents said they would maintain social distancing on at least some of their sites after 19 July.
There were also 59% who said they would continue to require masks to be worn in common areas and welfare facilities and 41% said they would maintain Site Operating Procedures in full until at least 16 August, when the requirement to self-isolate for those who have had close contact with anyone who has Covid-19 will be revised for those who have had both doses of the vaccine or are under 18. They will be required to take a test, but as long as it is negative they will not have to isolate. If it is positive they will still be required to isolate for 10 days.
In offices, 81% of the contractors said they would maintain some kind of social distancing although only 46% said they would require masks to be worn in common areas.
The CLC Site Operating Procedures and Branch Operating Procedures played an essential role in enabling the industry to continue working safely after the initial lockdown in March last year when most sites closed. In May, the government said construction should continue working and follow the CLC Site Operating Procedures. They were adopted on better than 99% of sites and ensured consistency across the supply chain.
Now, the CLC guidance on the use of face coverings in construction has been updated in line with the latest Government guidance, which says face coverings should be worn in crowded and enclosed spaces when people mix with others they don’t normally meet.
While the CLC says it would be inappropriate for it to seek to impose on the industry any requirements over and above those set out by the Government, it recognises that businesses across the supply chain have welcomed the consistency that the CLC guidance has provided. People might choose to, or be asked to maintain elements of social distancing for the time being, in which case the Site Operating Procedures and Branch Operating Procedures should continue to be followed.
The CLC guidance may also assist in carrying out risk assessments as working arrangements are reviewed and revised. And the CLC advises that any changes to social distancing measures are discussed with the workforce.
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