When can I return to work and what are the new workplace social distancing rules? – The Sun


BRITS have been in lockdown since March 23, with many being told to either work from home or not work at all.

But firms are starting to loosen their restrictions and open their doors once again – but coronavirus could make the return to your workplace very different with proposed social distancing rules.

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When will I be able to return to work?

This will differ for everyone depending on the sector that you work in.

For key workers like NHS staff, supermarket employees and delivery drivers, they have continued to work throughout the lockdown to bring essential services to the British public.

Some firms, including cafes and restaurants like KFC, Burger King and Costa Coffee have already begun reopening their stores, largely on a trial basis.

Meanwhile, hairdressers could be closed until late 2020 and pub workers face not being able to return until Christmas time.

But much of this will depend on when the lockdown will come to an end, with another review set for May 7.

What are the new workplace social distancing rules?

Whether you work in a shop, a restaurant or an office, workplaces will not be the same for some time.

A number of social distancing rules will be put in place for when you return.

These include:

  • Employers will be asked to stagger working hours for staff to limit the number of people on public transport
  • Handwashing kits are to be introduced at entry and exit points
  • Regular cleaning of worktops
  • One-way systems to be introduced in offices, bus stops and train stations
  • Face-to-face meetings only allowed if absolutely necessary and to be time limited
  • Stationary not be shared, even pens

For offices, specific rules will include:

  • Screens between desks
  • Staff sitting back-to-back
  • Ban on hot desking (multiple workers on one physical workstation)
  • Ban on sharing equipment

In shops, among the measures are:

  • Only a limited number of people will be allowed in at one time
  • Tape will be placed on shop floors with two-metre distancing
  • Shops will follow those like supermarkets by introducing cashless payment only

For public transport, it will be difficult to implement strict social distancing rules, with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan revealing that they would only be able to allow 15% of its normal passengers.

But among the measures are:

  • Hand sanitiser to be installed on trains
  • Platforms and bus stops to contain two-metre markers
  • One-way systems will be in place

Employers have been told that their staff should work from home for the foreseeable future if they can.

How long will it last?

The Government have told industry groups that these social distancing rules in workplaces could last for six to 12 months.

The Sun learnt that there will be a "gradual winding down" after the winter.

This reflects the fears of the Government's medical advisers that coronavirus is seasonal and will spring back up later in the year.

An industry source said: "If it survives the winter, these measures will have to be in place longer."

But on a brighter note, an industry boss said: "The one positive is traditional flu cases will go down because you're socially distancing."

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