Dear Members and Customers
As you will be aware, the new COVID-19 variant Omicron has emerged and governments around the world are taking measures as its related risks are unknown. A growing number of cases are being detected, with signs of community transmission.
Some countries have either banned arrivals from the UK and/or have added the UK to the quarantine list. The UK Government has reinstated mandatory masks in various settings in England from tomorrow and will require anyone travelling from abroad to take a PCR test. Measures will be reviewed in 3 weeks, or likely sooner as more information unfolds.
Why is this such a concern?
This variant is a significant development because of the level of mutation and what we don’t know about it – crucially, whether the vaccines are (as) effective, who it particularly affects and how. We know that it is highly transmissible and a growing number of cases are being reported every hour.
What are we doing?
As we have throughout the pandemic, we are taking a measured risk-based approach, with the information that is available to us and keeping a very close eye on developments. The health and safety of people is paramount and in line with the swift measures we took successfully in Jan/Feb 2020 we will be taking the following steps with immediate effect:
- All planned overseas business travel from the UK will be cancelled or postponed until further notice
- All UK and international face-to-face deliveries will be switched to remote / live online, or postponed if necessary (other than in India)
- All UK and international client face to face meetings suspended until further notice (other than in India).
- As at time of writing, there are no identified cases of Omicron in India and face to face service delivery is continuing. We are closely monitoring the situation and this may change.
Why we are taking this approach?
As an employer, and as British Safety Council, both the law and our ethics require us to carry out a risk assessment and put measures in place that are appropriate to protect the risks we have identified.
All measures are temporary, we will continue to monitor information, assess risks and adapt our activities accordingly.
We are acutely aware that people are concerned for loved ones, particularly those who are vulnerable, in their own countries and those in countries more affected, where healthcare systems and vaccine roll outs (if helpful) are not as advanced. We also know that people are anxious about any potential escalation of measures including isolation, school closures etc. We are proactively supporting people where we can.
This is not a position we wanted to find ourselves in, however, drawing on our experience and knowledge we will continue to work with members and customers to support your efforts and continue to deliver the services that you need, want and expect from us. If you have any questions or concerns, please do talk to your account manager who is fully equipped to work remotely.