We may not have an exact date yet, but the last of the UK’s social contact restrictions will soon be lifted. After more than a year of legal limits, Step Four of the government’s roadmap will be a big step indeed, allowing us to mix with any number of people, either indoors or out.
Although some rules around face coverings and social distancing rules may remain, this is our largest leap yet towards pre-COVID practices. But it’s by no means the end of the pandemic – and it would be a dangerous error to drop our guards.
For some time, spikes of the now-dominant Delta variant have cast doubt on the government’s recovery timeline. There is still plenty of the SARS-CoV-2 virus circulating in our communities, plenty of asymptomatic carriers, and plenty of people who could become seriously ill if infected.
It’s time to tread carefully. The rewards of society’s reopening bring new responsibilities – for individuals, families and employers. Twice weekly workplace testing helps businesses keep cases down (and staff confidence up) and fills critical gaps as other restrictions fall away. Because, while we’re making meaningful progress, we’re not out of the woods.
There are gaps in vaccine coverage
As of 11 June 2021, 70.3 million adults had received either their first or second COVID-19 jab. The programme is moving at pace and, in theory, all adults should be fully vaccinated by the end of this October. But not all adults can have the vaccine, and others refuse the shots or stop short at a single dose.
According to the ONS, worries about side effects, vaccine effectiveness and impact on long-term health are making 9% of adults hesitant to take up COVID-19 immunisation. So while vaccination is suppressing the spread of the virus, it’s not a failsafe against flare-ups. In a business, these pockets of vulnerability have a direct link to productivity, absence rates and employee trust.
The vaccine isn’t 100% effective
No vaccine is completely effective, even after two doses. Viral mutations – and individuals’ failure to follow through with a second jab – could also jeopardise immunity levels against highly transmissible new variants. A Public Health England paper revealed that ‘vaccine efficacy after one dose drops from 50% against the Kent variant B.1.1.7 to 33% against the India [now referred to as the Delta] variant’.
Scientists are urging people in areas of concern to continue social distancing, regularly test for the virus, and stay the course for their second dose. In The Guardian, Prof Paul Hunter from the University of East Anglia revealed that a second injection increased the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine to 88% and the AstraZeneca alternative to 60%.
Staff safety concerns could hold your business back
If you’re planning to bring your team back onsite once restrictions are lifted, it could be a tentative transition. Research from Chartered Management Institute shows that 78% of managers have experienced apprehension from employees about their return. Top concerns include workplace social distancing (59%) and using public transport (48%).
Regular screening using a new type of pain-free saliva-only lateral flow test brings you as close as possible to a COVID-free workspace. The innovative technology screens only for the live virus, detecting when colleagues are actively infectious. So there are no false positives from old viral material and zero working days lost to isolation when colleagues are no longer contagious.
By creating a digital testing record for every team member and linking it to your building’s access points, you can be sure you’re only allowing non-infectious staff through the door. You build a focused, trust-filled working environment for site-based employees – and put remote colleagues’ minds at rest when they’re heading to the office.
Try the KnowNowᵀᴹ test in your organisation – request a free sample kit
The KnowNowᵀᴹ test provides 99.9% accurate results within 15 minutes, using a single, non-invasive saliva swab. Created in the UK, the on-the-spot screening device identifies positive cases up to two days earlier than existing rapid antigen tests, allowing you to isolate infection risks before they cause disruption and downtime.
The test is safe, simple and comfortable enough for colleagues to stick to twice a week – so your company stays healthy, confident and in control.