To mask or not to mask?

That certainly is the question on everyone’s lips today.

Yesterday marked the official end of COVID-19 restrictions in England – and a relaxation to different degrees in the rest of the UK.

However, at the same time, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is continuing to urge caution and various scientific advisors are sharing what seem – on the face of it – to be horrifying numbers regarding the potential rise in case numbers the removal of the COVID rules could bring.

There is also an ongoing debate about future isolation rules, with the potential, in August, to remove the rule that anyone who has been in contact with a positive case to isolate for 10 days.

The kinds of restrictions we’ve all become very used to, over the past year-and-a-half have now switched from ‘mandatory’ to ‘advisory’, putting the ball back in the court of organisations and individuals to make their own choices.

In light of such colliding messages, anyone responsible for staff and customers, in any organisation, could be forgiven for feeling confused as to what they should do for the best.

Numerous companies have been in the news for adopting their own precautions, from insisting that any employees working within their buildings must be ‘double-jabbed’, to maintaining mandatory mask wearing in high-traffic areas like shops.

‘Should I stop asking people to wear face masks?’, ‘do I need to encourage people to keep a two-metre distance?’ and ‘is it still necessary to take extra caution over my cleaning and encourage handwashing and sanitisation?’ are among the question we’re being asked on a daily basis at the moment.

And our answer, every time, is ‘why wouldn’t you continue to go over and above to keep your staff and customers safe, until the situation becomes clearer?’

After all, many people still feel uncertain and unsafe, and are looking for that extra element of reassurance from their employers and the organisations they deal with, that they will protect their wellbeing.

Our director, Janette Elliott, said: “There’s no doubt that the country is on a bit of a knife-edge at the moment, with cases rising dramatically and an estimated 25 per cent of employees currently isolating.

“While we all hope that the vaccination programme will prove to have broken the link between positive cases and hospital admissions, it makes sense for businesses and other organisations to continue to err on the side of caution, for commercial reasons as well as moral ones.

“We’re seeing even the most careful businesses, that have adopted a best practice approach throughout the pandemic, having to close due to COVID cases amongst their team or customers, and we know that they – like us – would urge others to take care.

“The disruption, worry and financial impact not doing so can bring is really not worth it.”

If in doubt, do nothing

If you’re unsure whether relaxing your procedures is the right thing to do or not, we’d say, simply, ‘don’t’. And here are five more pieces of advice:

  1. Homeworking: Continue to encourage members of your team to work from home if they can. This is a simple way of reducing mixing within your team and naturally results in social distancing, Many people are used to working from home and, in many cases, even more productive when doing so
  2. Don’t ditch the sanitiser: Continuing to make this available and encouraging staff and customers to use it regularly is a simple discipline that can protect organisations against all manner of viral illnesses, including COVID-19, so why wouldn’t you?
  3. Encourage mask-wearing: We believe this continues to make sense in high-traffic areas, and is a relatively simply thing to ask your staff and customers to do, which could make a big difference when it comes to how safe they feel as well as limiting potential virus transmission
  4. Cleaning remains key: Even in normal times, people want to frequent places that are hygienic and pleasant to be in, so we see no reason why any organisation should do away with the extra attention to detail they have been paying during the pandemic
  5. Only the best will do: In many ways, COVID has hammered home messages we’ve been sharing for many years, about the importance of using the right, professional-quality cleaning chemicals. Many organisations have now adopted those that comply with recognised antiviral and antibacterial standards, so we’d strongly urge carrying on in the same vein.

Janette concluded: “Overall, we’d suggest that anyone who’s unsure, step back and ask themselves, honestly, whether anything has really changed. If the answer is ‘no’, then we’d say ‘carry on as you are, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain’.

“Following hygiene best practice is always a good idea – both for safeguarding and enhancing your organisation’s reputation and to protect the people whose welfare you are responsible for.

“So, with that in mind, even when the coronavirus becomes – hopefully – a distant memory, we’ll be saying the same thing – as the saying goes, ‘prevention is better than cure’!”

If you feel now could be a good time to sense check the COVID-secure measures you have in place, you can read more in our guide.


If you would like some bespoke advice tailored to your organisation’s specific situation, drop us an email or call us on 01482 327580.

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