New official site operating procedures say face coverings should still be worn in enclosed areas
Industry leaders have urged construction firms to continue asking their staff to wear face coverings 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 CLC has said that face coverings should continue to be used despite them 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 group added that it strongly recommends practices included in previous versions of its site operating procedures (SOP) should 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.”
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.