Statement comes amid confusion over government’s guidance on easing covid-19 restrictions
Construction industry leaders have urged firms to continue asking their staff to wear face coverings in certain settings amid confusion over the government’s guidance on relaxing covid-19 restrictions.
The government has said that personal protective equipment (PPE) should not be used to protect against covid-19 unless in a clinical setting or responding to a suspected or confirmed case of covid-19.
But it has also said that it “expects and recommends” that people continue to wear face coverings in crowded, enclosed spaces after restrictions ease next Monday, particularly in indoor areas where people may come into contact with people they do not normally meet.
The Construction Leadership Council (CLC), which works with industry and government, has said that face coverings should continue to be used despite no longer being a legal requirement from 19 July.
It said in a statement: “Where workers on site are not required to wear respiratory protective equipment and their workplace (which may include welfare and changing facilities, site offices or site meeting rooms) is crowded and enclosed and they come into contact with others they do not normally meet, their employer should make face coverings available and it is expected and recommended that they should be worn.”
The guidance could be interpreted to include architects on site visits or in crowded work situations such as meeting rooms.
This week Buildng Design revealed that Zaha Hadid Architects is quitting its Victorian headquarters after 38 years because its layouts were not flexible enough to handle post-pandemic working requirements.
The CLC said it strongly recommended work practices included in previous versions of its Site Operating Procedures (SOP) to be retained, including improving site organisation, ventilation, welfare facilities and communication.
The SOPs have been used on more than 99% of sites in the UK during the pandemic.
The CLC said that while it would be “inappropriate” for it to impose on the industry requirements over and above those set out by the government, it recognised that businesses have “welcomed the consistency” that its guidance has provided.
It added: “They may choose, 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.”
>> Also read: Pandemic forces Zaha Hadid Architects to call time on historic Bowling Green Lane home
The government will still require close contacts of people in England who have tested positive for covid-19 to self-isolate will remain in place until 16 August.
From that date onwards, close contacts will not have to self-isolate if they have received both doses of the vaccine or are under 18.
They will be advised to get a PCR test and if it is positive then they will still need to self-isolate for 10 days.