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Urgent warning to employers and businesses around high infection rates of Covid19 amongst staff

COVID-19 rates in South Wales are currently the highest in the UK. The risk of infected but asymptomatic people in the workplace is therefore high.

December 17th, 2020

In the last week, SRS has identified numerous clusters of COVID-19 in call centres, office blocks and similar work settings. On Covid Officesinvestigation, there are a number of issues common to these clusters, particularly around staff to staff infection and we want to warn and advise all such employers about these risks.

1. The greatest risk of infection occurs around meal breaks, coffee breaks, staff-room rests and staff social interaction, when COVID-19 precautions tend to be relaxed.Therefore, we strongly advise the following:

  • A clear message of “attending work to work, not to socialise”
  • DO NOT allow any Christmas Parties, social gatherings or shared food or buffets to occur in your workplace. Test, Trace, Protect judge the risk of any communal Christmas social activities in the workplace to be high with the present local rates of infection
  • Discourage staff from meeting together socially after work
  • Check your staff rooms and eating areas to ensure that there are no shared tables or seating, people are socially distancing, and stagger meal breaks if possible
  • Advise staff that car-sharing is a high-risk activity

2. Be very careful about staff who normally work from home attending the office on an occasional basis, or just for meetings. Such staff are often unfamiliar with the COVID-19 precautions in the workplace, less likely to remember to adhere to these at all times and are more likely to socialise with other staff when they attend the office then office-based staff

3. Face coverings are NOT a substitute for good social distancing, and should NOT be used instead of social distancing as the primary control measure. Informal face-coverings will NOT prevent an individual having to self-isolate if we identify them as a close contact of a case

We hope these practical advice points will help prevent your workplace suffering a cluster of COVID-19, and prevent the distress and severe impact such events have caused in similar centres/businesses. 

If you or your staff are concerned about COVID-19 compliance in your workplace or become aware of a cluster of cases please email covid-19exlocs@valeofglamorgan.gov.uk and we will contact you.