Well, if we were looking for a silver bullet, it didn’t come.
The nation sat poised for this week’s Downing Street media briefing, outlining next steps for the battle against the COVID-19 coronavirus.
If we were hoping that the Government would be able to provide that elusive answer to solving the coronavirus problem, we’d be disappointed, but that’s hardly surprising, given there is no easy way out of this one.
However, while critics believe it doesn’t go far enough, we did get an action plan of sorts, an outline of a three-tiered alert system which is now being implemented in different parts of the UK, depending on what infection rates are in a particular area, at a particular time. We’ve seen Liverpool and surrounding area enter the Tier Three, ‘very high risk’ category, meaning people living there are now facing a lockdown akin to what we all experienced in March. Pubs and bars are being closed, unless they are ‘serving substantial meals’; households cannot mix indoors or outdoors and gyms, leisure centres, betting shops and casinos are also closing, though shops, schools and universities do remain open unlike before.
Other places including Nottinghamshire, Greater Manchester and parts of the North East are deemed ‘high risk’, or Tier Two, which means they are subject to additional restrictions similar to the local lockdowns we have seen in recent weeks, including a ban on mixing between households indoors, either at home or at restaurants and other hospitality settings, apart from people within your ‘bubble’.
Tier One, or medium risk, applies to the rest of the country, including East Yorkshire where we are based, and those of us in that category can pretty much continue as we were, with the ‘rule of six’ governing our indoor and outdoor meetings, working from home where we can, and pubs closing from 10pm.
In case you missed it, here is a summary of the three categories and what they mean:
Tier One – medium risk, applying to areas with the lowest levels of infection
- Pubs, bars and restaurants must close at 10pm
- A maximum of six people can get together, indoors or outdoors
- The rule of six (number of people who can meet up) applies both indoors and outdoors.
Tier Two – high risk, areas where infection rates are growing but not at such an alarming rate as Tier Three
- Different households must not mix indoors, while the rule of six still applies outside.
Areas in Tier Two are: Cheshire (including Chester), Greater Manchester: (including Bolton, Bury, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan, Salford, Rochdale, Oldham and Warrington), Derbyshire (including High Peak, Tintwistle, Padfield, Dinting, St John’s, Old Glossop, Whitfield, Simmondley, Gamesley, Howard Town, Hadfield South and Hadfield North), Lancashire (including Blackpool, Preston and Burnley), West Yorkshire (including Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale, Wakefield), South Yorkshire (including Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster and Sheffield), the North East (including Newcastle, South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland, Durham and Northumberland), the Tees ValleyM (including Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees, Darlington and Hartlepool ), the West Midlands (including Birmingham, Sandwell, Solihull, Wolverhampton and Walsall), Leicester (including Oadby and Wigston), and Nottinghamshire
Tier Three – very high risk
Only the Liverpool city region at the time of writing, though Essex had also applied to be added to the highest risk category due to transmission levels there.
Scotland is applying its own rules which include, until Sunday 25 October, only allowing pubs and restaurants to open indoors between 6am and 6pm, so long as they do not serve alcohol inside. Face coverings have to be worn in all shared indoor settings in Scotland, including work corridors and canteens.
The Elliott’s view
All-in-all, our opinion has not changed, and centres around a belief that, if each of us applies our own judgement and continues to try to do the right thing – not just for ourselves but also for those around us – we can’t go far wrong as a nation.
So, what are those things? Below is a reminder of the top five things we can all do, as individuals, to protect as many people as possible, and particularly the vulnerable among us:
- If in doubt, wear a mask whenever in an indoor space and within two metres proximity of others
- Wash your hands regularly, whenever you think about it and certainly whenever you’ve been outside or have touched items and surfaces that have been touched by others before you
- Sanitise your hands regularly, whenever it’s not possible to wash them. Most businesses are making plenty of sanitiser available, but it’s also a good rule of thumb to carry our own with us, just in case. And remember, it must be over 70 per cent alcohol to be effective against COVID-19
- If you’re ill, stay at home until it passes. While the COVID rules state that anyone with a temperature should isolate until tested, we think this is a time to make that great British stiff upper lip a thing of the past. We’re all used to soldiering on with coughs, colds and snivels, but this is not the time to risk it and it’s best to stay away from others for a short time if in any doubt at all
- Keep your distance. Wherever and whenever, ensure you give people a wide berth – at least two metres or one with protection is the rule of thumb.
At Elliott’s, we work with all manner of businesses and public sector organisations, advising them on how they can achieve COVID-security, and you can read more in our free guide. It centres on ensuring distancing; promoting mask-wearing and handwashing or sanitising; introducing one-way systems in high-traffic areas; allowing home working where possible and encouraging employees not to come to work ill.
We have all sorts of innovative solutions to help organisations achieve this, from individually-wrapped cutlery for catering outlets and work canteens, to screens for avoiding cross-contamination between work stations, and you’ll find plenty of inspiration within our range of product brochures.
However, as our Co-owner and Finance Director Janette points out, this is a point in the pandemic when individual responsibility is our most powerful weapon of all. “It feels, to us, as though we’ve reached a pivotal point in the fightback against COVID-19,” she said.
“It’s clear that there is no easy solution to this problem and we are all going to have to learn to live with the coronavirus threat for the foreseeable future.
“While it’s our specialism to help organisations in all sectors – from manufacturing to care provision and hospitality – achieve the highest possible hygiene standards and COVID-security, it strikes me that this needs to be supported by an individual sense of responsibility. We need to exercise heightened caution in our own daily lives, but also need to be thinking, all the time, about minimising the risk we pose to those around us.
“We live in a modern, fast-paced technological age where it’s become too easy to operate as islands. Coronavirus is forcing us to have a fresh sense of the collective good. And it’s not good enough to take the view that, if we’re not in a high-risk category, we can carry on however we wish.
“In reality, this virus is indiscriminate and can affect anyone, fit or not, older or younger. And even if it doesn’t affect us more severely, we have a duty to ensure we protect those it might.”
If you could do with some advice on what you can do to continue operating safely amidst the new government rules – and further changes which are no doubt still to come – don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via (01482) 327580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.