Latest Coronavirus Information

UPDATE 31 JULY

SOCIAL DISTANCING: FURTHER LOCAL LOCKDOWNS COME INTO FORCE IN THE NORTH OF ENGLAND

The Government has announced changes to rules on gatherings in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and East Lancashire after increase in Covid-19 cases. Applicable to areas including; Pendle, Hyndburn, Burnley, Rossendale, Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees as well as Leicester City, it means people in these areas will not be permitted to mix with other households (apart from those in their support bubbles) in private homes or gardens.

Currently there are no proposals for restrictions on food service – bars and pubs are permitted to remain open but two households cannot go together.

As it stands – there are no restrictions applicable to the workplace – although employees car sharing may be affected.

Businesses operating in this area should however ensure that staff are aware and observing these restrictions to minimise the risk of outbreak in their facilities.

A reminder of workplace guidance:

  • Maintaining social distancing within workplaces remains crucial, the Government and local authorities will not hesitate in enforcing local lockdowns if COVID-19 spikes are detected by the Track and Trace system (eg. Leicester), or close businesses who have large numbers of employees exhibiting symptoms. Following the workplace guidance and separate Guidance for food businesses on coronavirus remains the best way for businesses to protect themselves and their employees.
  • Updated Government guidance is expected from 1st August, which is likely to include giving businesses more discretion to bring staff back to workplaces if it is safe to do so.

TRADE CREDIT INSURANCE DETAIL RELEASED

The Government has finally released details of the Trade Credit Reinsurance Scheme. Designed to ensure that credit insurance and credit limits are maintained during the pandemic, the scheme is open to all eligible insurers operating on the UK market. The announcement includes details on the rules for credit insurance, including who can apply and how. Crucially the scheme is for the insurance companies themselves and not open to individual businesses. If you feel that your coverage has been withdrawn unfairly you should contact your previous insurer about reinstatement, or look to arrange new cover under the same conditions as your previous coverage. Detail on the scheme can be found here.

BOOKING PROCESS FOR COVID-19 TESTS GOES DIGITAL

The Department of Health and Social Care has now digitised the process for booking Covid-19 tests. The portal enables individuals to book a test themselves, accessible via https://self-referral.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/ Alternatively, employers can refer staff using an employer portal. Accounts for this portal can be requested by emailing portalservicedesk@dhsc.gov.uk.

UPDATE FROM COLD CHAIN FEDERATIONS PRIMARY AUTHORITY PARTNERSHIP: AGENCY STAFF

There have been queries raised about the training and control over agency staff operating during the pandemic.  In particular, issues are arising in some sites around lack of control over where agency staff have been working in the previous couple of weeks, transport to and from the distribution centres (shared cars, minibuses etc) and also where staff members are sharing HMO style accommodation this is leading to an increase risk of transmission between the work force.  This may be a particular issue if the staff are coming in from areas with a higher rate of infection (eg- Leicester, Luton and some areas especially around the Manchester area).

Businesses should ensure they consider this risk in their Covid-19 risk assessments. Additional controls some businesses have introduced include specific training on COVID secure working, keeping additional information about where agency staff are deployed on the site to assist test and trace, daily declarations of fitness to work, additional onsite checks to ensure that controls are being implemented properly and reminders to continue to distance during meal and smoking breaks.

PRAISE FOR COLD CHAIN BUSINESS’S RESPONSE TO COVID OUTBREAK

The Cold Chain Federation’s Primary Authority colleagues at Slough Borough Council have fed back a report of a recent Covid-19 case in a manufacturer/cold-store.  The outbreak control team commented that the response from the business was key in controlling the outbreak.  They had a robust risk assessment, good business continuity plan which had already considered the impact of a COVID outbreak, they communicated effectively with the outbreak team and their staff and they rapidly embarked on whole workforce testing which allowed the identification of  several asymptomatic cases who (if undetected) would have probably gone on to spread further cases.

GOVERNMENT SEEKING SUPPORT FROM BUSINESSES TO HELP RESPOND TO CORONAVIRUS

Business which can provide products and services, such as medical equipment, hotel rooms, transport and logistics, and expertise, can offer their assistance to government through here.

FURLOUGH CHANGES FROM 1st AUGUST

From the 1st of August, the next stage of coronavirus retention scheme (furlough) relaxation comes into effect. During August, the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 for the hours an employee is on furlough but employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions for the hours the employee is on furlough.

  • A reminder that employers will be paid £1,000 per employee that is brought back to work off furlough. The payment will be made in February 2021 if the employee has returned to work and earned more than £520 per month in each of the three months between 1st November 2020 and end of January 2021. Exact details of how to claim this payment are still to be announced.

‘EAT OUT TO HELP OUT’ BEGINS IN AUGUST

In an attempt to stimulate food service, the Government’s scheme to encourage people to return to restaurants begins on the 1st August. Government will refund 50% of the cost of food (up to max of £10 per person) at restaurants, cafes, pubs and other food establishments for anyone purchasing an ‘eat-in’ meal – Monday to Wednesday for the month of August.


UPDATE 27 JULY

FURTHER CHANGES TO SOCIAL DISTANCING MEASURES

From Friday 24th July, face coverings are compulsory for customers in shops in England. This includes enclosed public spaces such as supermarkets, shopping centres, banks and takeaways. Masks are not mandatory in indoor venues that have other safety measures in place (eg. pubs/restaurants) and Public Health England have confirmed that this does not apply to delivery drivers. Face coverings are already mandatory in Scottish shops, but not currently in NI or Wales. The guidance for businesses remains unchanged – face coverings are not mandatory, however the Government’s workplace guidance details how businesses should support their workers if they choose to wear one – employers must be sure this does not inhibit other COVID precautions or workplace risks, such as restricting communication between colleagues.

  • Maintaining social distancing within workplaces remains crucial, the Government and local authorities will not hesitate in enforcing local lockdowns if COVID-19 spikes are detected by the Track and Trace system (eg. Leicester), or close businesses who have large numbers of employees exhibiting symptoms. Following the workplace guidance and separate Guidance for food businesses on coronavirus remains the best way for businesses to protect themselves and their employees.
  • Updated Government guidance is expected from 1st August, which is likely to include giving businesses more discretion to bring staff back to workplaces if it is safe to do so.
  • On the 17th July, the Government announced that businesses events and conferences will be permitted to resume from 1st October provided rates of infection remain at current levels.

FURLOUGH CHANGES FROM 1ST AUGUST

From the 1st of August, the next stage of coronavirus retention scheme (furlough) relaxation comes into effect. During August, the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 for the hours an employee is on furlough but employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions for the hours the employee is on furlough.

  • A reminder that employers will be paid £1,000 per employee that is brought back to work off furlough. The payment will be made in February 2021 if the employee has returned to work and earned more than £520 per month in each of the three months between 1st November 2020 and end of January 2021. Exact details of how to claim this payment are still to be announced.

To recap, other job related announcements made in the Chancellor’s summer statement included:

  • Kick start job scheme – 100% funding (NMW + NICs + pension) for any 6 month placements provided to a 16-24 year old previously on universal credit
  • Traineeships – Employers will be paid £1000 per employee given work experience
  • Apprenticeships – Employers will be paid £2000 per new recruit (under 25) into an apprenticeship, £1500 per over 25 year old.

TRADE CREDIT INSURANCE AND HGV MOT CONCERNS REMAIN

We remain deeply concerned that the Trade Credit Reinsurance scheme, announced by Government in June has not yet been implemented due to EU objections. Although claims will be backdated until April 2020, businesses are suffering from reduced, or cancelled coverage which is causing cashflow difficulties. Along with other trade associations, we are pushing for Government to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.

There remains a risk that following extensions to HGV MOTs until the Autumn that testers will struggle to cope with the increased demand for testing in September/October. We are assured by Government that they are aware of this issue and are working on measures to reduce the demand on businesses and MOT testers in during these months.

‘EAT OUT TO HELP OUT’ BEGINS IN AUGUST

The Government’s scheme to encourage people to return to restaurants beings on the 1st August. Government will refund 50% of the cost of food at restaurants, cafes, pubs and other food establishments for anyone purchasing an ‘eat-in’ meal – Monday to Wednesday for the month of August. This policy is an attempt to stimulate food service, but whether it succeeds in increasing footfall to these premises and if this impact will be positively felt by those cold chain businesses delivering food service remains to be seen.

DRIVING TESTS FOR HGVS

Food distribution businesses have been able to apply for emergency driving tests throughout the pandemic, however tests have resumed for all HGVs in England from the 13th July. They have not yet resumed in Scotland, but in Wales, will resume on the 3rd August. Further information on driving and theory test resumption, including how to book, can be found here.


UPDATE 08 JULY

CHANCELLOR STATEMENT – ECONOMIC STIMULUS

The Chancellor delivered a ‘Summer Statement’ to the House this afternoon. He made the following key announcements:

  • the Coronavirus Job Retention (Furlough) scheme will come to an end in October in line with the policy statement made at start of July.
  • Job Retention Bonus – employers will be paid £1000 per employee that is brought back to work off furlough. The payment will be made in February 2021 if the employee has returned to work and earned more that £520 per month in each of the three months between 1st November 2020 and end of January 2021.
  • The rate of VAT will be cut to 5% for food and non-alcoholic drinks in food service premises and for all accommodation and admissions to attractions from 15 July 2020 to 12 January 2021
  • ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ Government will refund 50% of the cost of food at restaurants, cafes, pubs and other food establishments for anyone purchasing an ‘eat-in’ meal – Monday to Wednesday for the month of August.

Other jobs related announcements include:

  • Kick start job scheme – 100% funding (NMW + NICs + pension) for any 6 month placements provided to a 16-24 year old previously on universal credit
  • Traineeships – Employers will be paid £1000 per employee given work experience
  • Apprenticeships – Employers will be paid £2000 per new recruit (under 25) into an apprenticeship, £1500 per over 25 year old.

To help stimulate the property and construction market he has signalled the temporary removal of stamp duty for all new house purchases under the value of £500,000.

See all the details here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-plan-for-jobs-documents

This latest announcement is designed to try and help build employer and consumer confidence to accelerate the bounceback in the economy. It amounts to another major amount of public spending fuelled by public borrowing.  The calculation is that the faster the growth can be in this first recovery phase the better for getting back closer to where we were at end 2019.

Our hope is that the VAT cut and consumer incentives will provide a boost in demand in food service sector and that this will have a knock on effect on cold chain volumes. What this scheme does not include is any further direct financial support for logistics businesses. We will continue to press for this.

If you have any questions or feedback on how these measures impact on your business please get in touch.


UPDATE 03 JULY

CHANGES TO PUBLIC SOCIAL DISTANCING AND LOCKDOWN

On the 23rd June, the Prime Minister announced the easing of many lockdown restrictions in England which will take effect from Saturday July 4th. These include the reopening of tourism and crucially for the cold chain, the reopening of restaurants and pubs, albeit with social distancing still required.

In Northern Ireland, pubs restaurants and hotels will reopen on 3rd July with table service only and other distancing measures in place.

In Wales, some easing will come on July 13th, however this will be limited to outdoor serving for bars, restaurants and cafes only. Indoor services remain closed.

For Scotland, food service will return on July 15th, including indoor service, however with strict distancing measures still in place.

FLEXIBLE FURLOUGH BEGINS

From the 1st of July, changes to the Job Retention Scheme mean businesses can start to bring staff back to work on a flexible basis. Companies have the flexibility to decide the hours and shift patterns of their employees – with the government continuing to pay 80% of salaries for the hours they do not work. More information here.

SAFE WORKING GUIDANCE FOR FOOD BUSINESSES

As reported last week, in recognition of the announcement of lockdown easing, the Government has updated the working safely during coronavirus guidance for sectors including warehousing, offices and vehicles.

Public Health England and the FSA have now also released workplace guidance specifically for food businesses including warehouses in managing Covid-19. This is available here.

This builds on the previous workplace guidance for warehousing, including more detail on cleaning in communal areas such as locker rooms and canteens – there is also further advice on what to do if there are cases in your workplace. The guide is broken down into 5 sections:

  • What you need to know about Covid-19 and food
  • Prevention and management of outbreaks – the role of employers
  • Managing coronavirus cases in the workplace
  • Food hygiene guidance
  • Cleaning and waste disposal

It is recommended all businesses involved in food distribution read this guidance.


FOOD BUSINESSES – UPDATE 29 JUNE

Public Health England and the FSA have now released workplace guidance specifically for food businesses in managing Covid-19. This is available here.

On first review, this builds on the previous workplace guidance for warehousing, including more detail on cleaning in communal areas such as locker rooms and canteens – there is also further advice on what to do if there are cases in your workplace. The guide is broken down into 5 sections:

  • What you need to know about Covid-19 and food
  • Prevention and management of outbreaks – the role of employers
  • Managing coronavirus cases in the workplace
  • Food hygiene guidance
  • Cleaning and waste disposal

UPDATE 26 JUNE

CHANGES TO PUBLIC SOCIAL DISTANCING AND LOCKDOWN

On the 23rd June, the Prime Minister announced the easing of many lockdown restrictions in England which will take effect from Saturday July 4th. These include the reopening of tourism and crucially for the cold chain, the reopening of restaurants and pubs, albeit with social distancing still required. To facilitate these businesses, the 2m social distancing advice has been downgraded to ‘1m plus’, which has been widely interpreted in the press and media as meaning a return to near-normal conditions. The guidance however is clear that keeping a 2m distance is still the recommendation for reducing Covid-19 transmission and that 1m only applies where 2m cannot be maintained and must be accompanied by appropriate mitigation, such as avoiding face to face conversations and extra sanitisation.. The return of food service is welcome, but businesses and the general public must remain vigilant and adhere to social distancing guidelines or the risk of a second spike in cases could see the return of lockdown conditions.

UPDATED SAFE WORKING & HSE GUIDANCE ON RESTARTING PRESSURE SYSTEMS

In recognition of the announcement of lockdown easing, the Government has updated the working safely during coronavirus guidance for sectors including warehousing, offices and vehicles. The only significant update to this guidance is the introduction of ‘1m plus’ when other risk mitigations cannot be implemented. In reality, this is how the industry was already operating, with essential work still taking place if measures such as back to back working, smaller shifts etc were followed. Businesses are still expected to follow the 2m rule wherever possible and enforcement officers will expect to see robust evidence of operations which require workers to be less than 2m together.

The HSE have released new guidance for restarting workplace pressure systems safely, which may have been switched off during the coronavirus outbreak. If pressure systems have not been used for an extended period of time due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak they may become unsafe. The guidance has information about:

  • types of pressure systems
  • the examination period
  • safety issues to be aware of

NEW GUIDANCE FOR FOOD BUSINESSES (INCLUDING WAREHOUSES) EXPECTED

We are expecting the imminent release of new guidance from Public Health England on managing Covid-19 in food businesses. This is in response to the outbreaks at several meat processing plants and will provide guidance on enhanced cleaning protocols and managing seasonal workers. We will send this out to all members as soon as it becomes available.


TEST AND TRACE

The Government’s Track and Trace app has been delayed and is unlikely to be available until later in the year. The manual ‘Test and Trace’ system however, remains active.

This week, the NHS Test and Trace guidance for employers has been updated to more clearly explain where employers should go in the first instance if they are experiencing an outbreak in their workplace. If there is more than one case of COVID-19 associated with a workplace, employers should contact their local health protection team to report the suspected outbreak. Find your local health protection team. The health protection team will:

  • undertake a risk assessment
  • provide public health advice
  • where necessary, establish a multi-agency incident management team to manage the outbreak

The link to the guidance is here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-workplace-guidance. There will be further iterations to this guidance, and it will be republished with further updates in due course.

Defra have acknowledged that employers’ main concern is that Test and Trace will mean more of their workforce will have to self-isolate. It is important to note however that if a worker tests positive then co-workers will not automatically be deemed a contact and told to self-isolate. It is only if they have been in close recent contact (<1 metre for 1 minute, or <2 metres for 15 minutes) with someone who has tested positive. It is therefore crucial that employers implement social distancing wherever possible and follow the Government’s working safely guidelines. If workers are kept socially distant from one another then they will not be classed as contacts and will not need to self-isolate.

COVID-19 IN FOOD PROCESSING PLANTS

More than 100 people have tested positive in 3 meat processing factories which have subsequently closed in West Yorkshire (Kober), Anglesey (2 Sisters) and Wrexham (Rowan Foods).

We have no other information than what is reported in the media. However this type of incident is to be expected and if the reports are correct, the companies and site will be liaising closely with Public Health officials to take necessary steps to control it.  If you have loads to drop or collect at these facilities, and/or other links to the site, then hopefully you will have been contacted. If not, it is worth making contact to establish the situation and you should consider suspending visits to the site until you have had clarification of mitigation plans.  

This is also a reminder that we are still a long way from back to normal in how we operate our sites and it is vital all facilities are being run in full compliance with the guidelines and risk assessed plans.

COMPETITION LAW DEROGATION

In the early days of the crisis the government moved to provide certain protections from competition law for food retailers and logistics companies. CCF was involved in securing the extension of the provision to supply chain businesses. See details of the order and who has used it here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/competition-law-exclusion-orders-relating-to-coronavirus-covid-19

The Government is now reviewing whether the order is still required or can be removed. We are not aware of any initiatives taking place between cold chain logistics businesses that require the exemption and there have not been any formal notifications under the order.

If you have any views on the continued need for this provision please contact Shane, or else we will advise that the provisions are no longer required for our sector.

EMERGING FROM LOCKDOWN AROUND THE UK

This week has seen many ‘non-essential’ shops in England join those in Northern Ireland in being permitted to reopen, albeit with social distancing measures. Shops in Wales can reopen from Monday (22nd June) and Scotland is due to follow suit from the 29th June. From July we except to see restaurants and other food service establishments begin to reopen, although again there is likely to be differences in how this is managed across the devolved nations. How social distancing will be incorporated also remains to be seen and whilst we can expect some resumption in food service volumes in the near future, a return to full service remains some way off.


GB DRIVERS’ HOURS & SOCIAL DISTANCING

Drivers hours – end of GB drivers’ hours relaxation

As highlighted in last week’s update, the EU drivers’ hours relaxations has not been extended and ended on the 31st May. Therefore, applicable operations must revert back to the EU driver’s hours rules.

The GB drivers’ hours relaxation, however, was extended until Sunday 14 June 2020. The Government have now announced that it will not be extended further beyond this date. Therefore, anyone driving under the GB drivers’ hours must revert back to GB domestic rules from 23:59 on Sunday 14th June.

Further information on the end of the relaxation can be found here.

Social distancing in the workplace: 1m or 2m?

The Government’s workplace guidance continues to be the primary source for comprehensive advice on how businesses should undertake risk assessments for Covid-19 and adapt their procedures to minimise the transmission risk. The cornerstone of this guidance, as it has been throughout the crisis, is maintaining 2m between staff wherever possible.

This week we have seen growing calls for this policy to be amended, perhaps down to 1m. These calls have come mainly from the hospitality industry who will struggle to resume anything approaching normal service whilst 2m distancing must be maintained. Whether this change will actually happen and how it will be applied remains unclear, but on the face of it this is good news for the cold chain – the resumption of food service will be welcomed by those serving these industries.

However, any changes to distancing guidance may cause a headache for businesses who have implemented physical measures and procedural changes to their operations to ensure 2m distancing.

Ultimately if changes to the guidance are made it will be an individual businesses decision whether to continue with the procedures they have in place, or make wholesale changes again. With the uncertainty over Covid-19 2nd peaks and cautiousness amongst staff high, for some continuing with the procedures they have implemented over the past couple of months may be the most palatable option.

We will continue to monitor any potential changes in workplace guidance and what this might mean for the cold chain – if you have any specific concerns, get in touch with the Cold Chain Federation team.


BUSINESS SUPPORT & HAULLAGE UPDATE 5 JUNE

This week’s summary includes an update on support measures for businesses affected by Covid-19 and also a recap on the key relaxations for road haulage operators.

The Cold Chain Federation continues to represent your industry in discussions with Ministers and officials across Government and on the 4th June, our Policy Director, Tom Southall, represented the cold chain in a meeting with the Minister for Small Businesses, Paul Scully MP. During the call we were able to describe the impact of Covid-19 on cold chain businesses to the Minister and call for further support for our businesses, most notably the extension of business rate relief to include warehouses supplying the food service and to raise our concern that ending furlough support in October could have serious implications on our businesses in the likely event that certain food premises have not been able to fully reopen due to continuing social distancing measures.

As ever if you have any ongoing issues, or concerns, during the Covid-19 disruption, get in touch with Shane or Tom.

BUSINESS SUPPORT UPDATE

  1. Job Retention Scheme

In May, the Chancellor confirmed that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will continue until end of October, but with changes being introduced from July:

  • From July 1st businesses will be given flexibility to bring furloughed employees back part time. Businesses will be responsible for deciding the hours worked and paying their wages while in work.
  • From August, the Job Retention Scheme will be slowly tapered to reflect people returning to work. Confirmed changes include:
    • August: Employers will be asked to pay National Insurance and pension contributions for their employees
    • September: The Government’s contribution will drop to 70% and the cap reduced to £2,187.50. Employers will be asked to make up the 10% up to £2,500.
    • October: The Government’s contribution will drop to 60% and the cap reduced to £1,875. Employers will be asked to make up the 20% up to £2,500.
  • Further information is available here.

2. Trade Credit Insurance

Following repeated pressure from trade bodies including the Cold Chain Federation, the Government have finally announced that Trade Credit Insurance schemes will receive up to £10 billion of government guarantees. The Trade Credit Reinsurance scheme, which has been agreed following extensive discussions with the insurance sector, will see the vast majority of Trade Credit Insurance coverage maintained across the UK. The scheme is available on a temporary basis for nine months, backdated to 1 April 2020, and running until 31 December 2020, with the potential for extension if required. The press release can be found here.

3. Test and Trace

In May, the Government introduced the ‘Test and Trace’ system to try and track the spread of Covid-19. Whilst EMPLOYERS DO NOT HAVE A DIRECT ROLE IN THE SYSTEM, you should:

  • communicate info about the system
  • support any employee required to self-isolate
  • Support employees to get tested
  • offer sick pay for all days or offer leave as alternative
  • accept evidence presented by employee from nhs track and trace
  • support employees in contacting colleagues but you shouldn’t share personal contact details 

ROAD HAULAGE UPDATE & RECAP

1. Quarantine measures

On the 4th June, the Government announced their long awaiting and controversial legislation for requiring individuals returning to the UK from overseas (not including Ireland, IOM and the Channel Islands) to isolate for 14 days on their return (Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020).

The regulations will come into force in England from 8 June, but crucially Drivers of goods vehicles or public service vehicles and other employees of community licence holders for the international carriage of goods or passengers by coach and bus are exempt. Employees will however be required to:

  • provide journey and contact details, but will not need to self-isolate for 14 days.
  • Show that your travel is part of their job, for example a letter from their employer, a consignment note or operator’s licence. Attached to this email is a letter produced by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), intended to help employers support employees who qualify for exemptions from quarantine, including a suggested letter template.

The Regulations and exemptions will be reviewed every 21 days, with the first review taking place on 29 June. The Government is working closely with the Devolved Administrations, who will be introducing similar provisions in the coming days, to build a four nations approach. More information is available at: https://www.gov.uk/uk-border-control

2. Drivers hours

The EU drivers’ hours relaxations has not been extended and ended on the 31st May. Therefore, applicable operations must revert back to the EU driver’s hours rules.

The GB drivers’ hours relaxation, however, has been extended until Sunday 14 June 2020. More info here.

3. HGV MOTs

In March the Government suspended MOTs for HGVs for 3 months. These extensions are due to begin to expire on Monday 15th June and it is not currently clear if test centres will be able to cope with the extra demand. Industry bodies are working with Government to ensure MOT test centres are able to cope with this backlog. Further information on the relaxation rules for HGV MOTs can be found here.

4. Driver’s Medicals

The 12 month waiver on the D4 Medical Report for HGV licences was introduced in April, with the DVLA will now issuing a temporary one year (12 months) licence extensions if the following conditions are met:

  • the waiver only applies to drivers whose licences are due to expire or have expired since 1 January 2020; and
  • the driver must declare they are fit to drive when they apply for the one year licence and, like any other driver, must not drive if unfit and report any medical condition to DVLA in the usual way.

5. Driver CPD

In March, the DfT announced temporary changes to professional driver qualification requirements meaning that drivers whose CPC card expires between 1 March 2020 and 30 September can continue driving. The requirements are currently due to be reinstated on the 1st October, although this date will be reviewed. Driver’s will need to ensure their CPC is up to date by this date.


CORONAVIRUS BUSINESS GUIDANCE UPDATE

Following the release of the safe working during coronavirus guidance for businesses last week, which we discussed on the Cold Chain Federation’s Covid-19 briefing on the 15th May (available to watch back here), the Government has published some further FAQs on face coverings in the workplace which you can find attached. Section B looks specifically at food production/handling and whilst the guidance that face coverings are not legally required has not changed, there is some useful advice on undertaking Covid-19 risk assessments and managing employees who wish to wear a face covering in the workplace.

The Government (BEIS) are also running free webinars to talk through the  workplace guidance published last week aimed at workplaces in England if you require further guidance on this.

The webinars cover a range of different types of workplace settings which are allowed to be open. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of the guides/webinars as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe.

  • Wednesday 27 May, 11am: Factories, plants and warehouses – Guidance for people who run factories, plants and warehouses
  • Wednesday 27 May, 3pm: Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery – Guidance for people who run restaurants offering takeaway or delivery services.
  • Thursday 28 May, 11am: Shops and branches – Guidance for people who run shops, branches, stores or similar environments.
  • Thursday 28 May, 3pm: Vehicles – Guidance for people who work in or from vehicles, including couriers, mobile workers, lorry drivers, on-site transit and work vehicles, field forces and similar.
  • Monday 1 June, 11am: Construction and other outdoor work – Guidance for people who run outdoor working environments.
  • Monday 1 June, 3pm: Labs and research facilities – Guidance for people who run indoor labs and research facilities and similar environments
  • Tuesday 2 June, 11am: Offices and contact centres – Guidance for people who run offices, contact centres and similar indoor environments
  • Tuesday 2 June, 3pm: Homes – Guidance for people working in, visiting or delivering to home environments as well as their employers

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE GOVERNMENT FACE COVERINGS FAQ’S

As always if you have any queries on this, or any other issues you continue to face during the Covid-19 outbreak, please get in touch with the team.


MOVING TO PHASE 2: ‘SMARTER CONTROLS’ & THE ROAD MAP TO RECOVERY

In his speech on the 10th May, the Prime Minister outlined the cautious progress which has been made in battling Covid-19, most significantly falling infection and death rates and fewer critical care patients in hospitals. The Government and their advisors therefore see fit to begin to gradually relax certain restrictions put in place at the start of the outbreak and have outlined a roadmap for greater relaxing in the coming months. These will remain flexible and subject to change based on the 5 tests for easing, most notably avoiding a second peak and keeping the ‘R value’ of infection below 1.

Today the Government launched its Covid-19 recovery strategy. Detailing the progress of the virus and the entry into Phase 2 of the Government’s response (and eventually Phase 3 – vaccination and treatment), the following outlines the key points for cold chain businesses and our workforce. Phase 2 is described as ‘smarter controls’, allowing flexibility in the relaxation of social distancing, workplace closures and other restrictions. The roadmap for Phase 2 is in 3 Steps which include:

Step 1.

  • As well as other measures easing the lockdown outlined in the updated social distancing and ‘Staying safe outside your home’ guidelines, people should now go to work if they cannot work from home. They are advised to avoid public transport where possible when travelling to work and businesses will be required to follow the new ‘Covid 19 secure’ guidelines for workplaces coming later this week. This is likely to include measures such as no hot desking and greater spacing between workers. We do not currently expect this to result in significant changes to how we in the cold chain have been conducting business and protecting our staff over the last couple of months.
  • People are now being advised to wear face coverings in crowded places. This could escalate the debate about face coverings in the workplace – there could be similar recommendations in the workplace guidance where employees work in close proximity.
  • 14 days of home quarantine is likely to be shortly introduced from those coming into the UK from overseas. We understand HGV drivers will be exempt (unclear on seasonal workers) but this requires official confirmation.

There are 8 sectoral guides that are all available to download here – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

I draw your attention in particular to

Step 2.

The timing of entering Step 2 will depend on the progress of the virus after Step 1, but will include:

  • Some opening of non-essential retail workplaces no earlier than June 1st
  • Phased reopening of schools from June 1st
  • More social and family contact (likely to still require social distancing measures) no earlier than June 1st

Step 3.

The timing of entering Step 3 will depend on the progress of the virus after Step 2, but will include:

  • Remaining businesses (inc. hospitality) opening no earlier than July 4th

FURLOUGH

We are expecting an update on financial support from the Government to businesses during the Covid-19 outbreak later this week. Crucially we expect this to include detail on how the Government will end furlough payments. It is expected this could include measures such as reducing the rate of Government subsidy from 80% to 60% (likely to be from July onwards) and allowing part time work to ‘top up’ furlough payments. It is expected furlough payments will be further phased out throughout the summer, with some support until September. Some sectors may be wholly, or partially, exempt from this phase down – especially those unable to recover because of ongoing restrictions. The Cold Chain Federation will continue to ensure the Government understands the ongoing impacts of restrictions on the cold chain and push for our members to be included in any exemption.

We will continue to update you as new information becomes available, but if you have any questions in the meantime, please continue to get in touch with Shane or Tom.


ESSENTIAL WORKERS TESTING UPDATE 27/04/2020

The government has now issued some clearer and simpler guidance on how to access a Covid-19 test for your employees. Please see links to documents below.

FAQ’s for EMPLOYERS of essential workers

Essential worker testing information pack for EMPLOYERS

FAQ’s for ESSENTIAL EMPLOYEES

Letter from DHSC to Essential Worker EMPLOYERS

Employer Referral Portal User Guide – Essential Worker

Coronavirus testing of key workers in SCOTLAND FAQ’s

Introductory Note – UK Government testing in SCOTLAND

Guidance on the UK Testing programme in SCOTLAND


COVID-19 UPDATE 23/04/2020

Key Worker Testing

Testing for COVID-19 is being extended to include additional frontline workers who are symptomatic, and members of their household who are symptomatic. This will allow frontline workers to return to work if they, or members of their household, test negative for coronavirus.

You can find further information on who is eligible for testing on the Gov.UK page Coronavirus (COVID-19): getting tested. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested#list-of-people-being-tested

Referral for testing will be soon available through a digital portal which will allow employers to refer their staff. Eligible individuals will also be able to use the portal to self-refer for a test.


CCF COVID-19 GUIDANCE UPDATE 20/04/2020

Please find below a comprehensive summary of the latest guidance and advice. We also recommend you tune in to our latest Covid-19 briefing from Friday 17th for more in depth discussion on the current situation if you weren’t able to join us on the day.

Areas covered in this update include driver’s licencing and hours, Covid-19 testing, business support measure updates (including the Job Retention Scheme), PPE, social distancing, food safety, health and safety updates and information for those with an upcoming BRCGS audit.

As ever, if you have any feedback, questions, or any other ways you feel we can support you during this time, please get in touch.

DRIVERS

Medicals for licence renewal

After repeated calls from the Cold Chain Federation and other industry associations, the DfT have finally announced the temporary removal of the routine D4 medical for HGV and bus drivers to enable swift renewal of driving licences. As long as they are fit to drive, applicants will be able to apply for a 1-year licence without the need to provide further medical evidence. More info here

Relaxation of driver’s hours

The relaxation of driver’s hours rules has been extended until the 31st May 2020. More info here.

COVID-19 TESTING

To try and meet their target of 100,000 coronavirus tests by the end of April, the Government has announced that key workers are able to request testing for Covid-19 for their employees at regional testing sites. This includes ‘critical personnel in food and drink production’. Details here. The Cold Chain Federation is seeking clarity on the meaning of this loose definition. This issue is likely to feature heavily in the No10 briefing this afternoon.  While we await confirmation, members are encouraged to contact their local resilience forum, their associated national government department/agency, or the Department of Health and Social Care at opshub@dhsc.gov.uk. We would appreciate any feedback you receive from any application for testing.

BUSINESS SUPPORT MEASURES

Loans for businesses with a £45m+ turnover

On Friday, the Government announced a new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Supporting businesses with a turnover of £45m+ who are not eligible for previously announced packages (Covid Corporate Financing Facility and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme) it offers loans of up to £50m, also 80% guaranteed with a 3-year term. More info here.

Job Retention Scheme

The scheme is now live. employers can now go online to claim cash grants worth up to 80% of wages, capped at £2,500 a month per worker. Employers can apply for direct cash grants through HMRC’s new online portal – with the money expected to land in their bank accounts within six working days. More info here.

The scheme will be extended for an additional month to the end of June and the eligibility cut-off date for the scheme has been extended from 28th February to 19th March.

FOOD SAFETY

Bulk Freezing of chilled food

The Food Standards Agency have release guidance is for food businesses who wish to freeze food which was originally intended to be supplied and sold as ambient or chilled products. This guidance focuses on food safety and provides the main legislative requirements that must be met when freezing food. It is intended to outline general provisions that can be applied to individual circumstances. More info here.

The British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) also have produced similar guidance with their Primary Authority partner, available here.

PPE

Last week, Public Health England launched guidance and advice as part of their ‘PPE Hub’. The advice for industries outside of health care and social care remains the same – based on current evidence, there is very little scientific evidence of widespread benefit from PPE. Instead, practising good hand hygiene and social distancing is key to minimising the risk of infection.

The Cold Chain Federation will continue to monitor the situation on PPE closely – we discussed this topic in detail in our Covid-19 briefing on the 17th April.

SOCIAL DISTANCING

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has produced guidelines on how businesses must maintain social distancing and protect workers during the coronavirus outbreak. The guidance explains what employers must do in order to protect their workers and keep their businesses open. It covers:

  • social distancing (employers who have people in their offices or onsite should ensure that employees are able, where possible, to follow the appropriate regulations and/or guidance for England, Scotland and Wales on social distancing)
  • essential and non-essential work
  • safe in-work activity

Individual sector guidance has also been published by BEIS. Including a section for Logistics businesses, the guidance includes some additional suggestions for social distancing measures. More info here. This guidance was also discussed in the Cold Chain Federation’s last 2 Covid-19 briefings, available to watch back on our website.

EXAMINATION AND TESTING OF LIFTING AND PRESSURE EQUIPMENT DURING THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK

HSE has published advice to help dutyholders ensure their work plant and equipment remain safe to use during the coronavirus outbreak and businesses continue to adhere to LOLER and PSSR regulations.  View the guidance here. 

RIDDOR REPORTING

The HSE have announced more comprehensive guidance on RIDDOR reporting of Covid-19. The overall advice remains the same however and reports should only be made if:

  • an unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence.
  • a worker has been diagnosed as having COVID 19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. This must be reported as a case of disease.
  • a worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus.

More info and guidance here.

BRCGS SITE AUDITS

BRCGS have announced changes to their audit processes during the Covid-19 outbreak, removing the self-assessment and remote audit element from the certificate extension process.  For sites with restricted access during the outbreak, BRCGS will now allow the extension of certificate dates of sites up to a period of 6 months. The extension will be based on a risk assessment by the site’s current certification body and will be validated and verified through the exchange of relevant documents and an interview process. Once the site becomes accessible, the full onsite audit will take place as normal and a new certificate will be issued for a further 12 months. More info here.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

See CCF website for our latest Covid-19 webinar briefings or contact Tom Southall or Shane Brennan.


Government Advice

Your first port of call for up to the minute information on coronavirus should be the government’s website pages

Coronavirus (COVID-19): UK government response


9th April: Driving in France

We have had some clarification of the forms required for drivers travelling in France.

The new form announced for use from Monday 6th April (18.00) replaces the former one which was filled by the driver – but the second form: the professional travel waiver certificate (justificatif de déplacement professionnel) still has to be filled in and signed by the employer (i.e. the driver’s manager).

Original form in ENGLISH to be completed by the DRIVER

New form in ENGLISH to be completed by the EMPLOYER

The two documents must be carried by the driver and shown if requested by the French Police (PAF).

Some additional questions and answers:

How will people travelling get hold of these forms? Do they just print a copy off the web or do the operators have to provide them with one?

Port of Dover now have stocks, as do the ferry operators. Eurotunnel are contacting their customer base. The SE customs agents also have stocks. Normally, as for the previous form, a print out or even a hand written one (rewriting the sentences as the template) is sufficient.

Will the PAF hand out blank forms at the border if the people travelling do not have it already? Reason for asking is that most of the people who travel with the ferries at the moment have not booked in advance but are “turn-up-and-go” traffic who buy a ticket in the port i.e. they have no prior contact with them before travelling.

I’m not sure PAF will be distributing anything… but as mentioned above it can be done by writing on a blank document and there are stocks of them available.

For “goods carriers” – Will all freight drivers have to be stopped to show this document, and would the form be valid for a period of time or do they have to fill this in every time?

No compulsory stop but if they are stopped, then they will have to show the document. And to avoid any problem, the French think it’s better to have one (with the correct date) for each crossing.


Covid-19 – Drivers and Haulage Update

Here is an update of key information

  • DRIVER CPC – any driver whose DQC expires in the period from 1 March 2020 to 30 September 2020 can continue driving, but has to complete their 35 hours mandated training by 1st October 2020. However the government have said they will keep this under advisement. The Government is considering allowing drivers who have never had a CPC; or have an expired one; to drive in this period.

See details https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-temporary-changes-to-driver-cpc-requirements

  • DRIVER MEDICALS  – Shane Brennan CEO, Cold Chain Federation has spoken to Baroness Vere this afternoon and alongside colleagues stressed the importance of a suspension of the requirement for drivers to have up to date medicals. She assured us that the government is looking to do this, but they do not have the legal powers to just do so and can only say that they are looking for a solution but can’t be sure they will get to one or not.
  • Essential Workers clarification – the DfT have written to the transport industry providing further clarification that the government considers all those working in transport, drivers and those in ancillary roles as essential workers that should be allowed to carry out their work freely.

CCF continues to seek clarity on key issues of regulation and pressing for relaxations that make it possible for you to keep operations going.  

We are also working in co-ordination with the main haulage and logistics bodies to seek better targeted financial support to logistics businesses. Our top priorities are business rates relief on warehouses and transport depots and some form of instructed or underwritten deferral of leasing costs. We are acutely aware that time is of the essence with many businesses on the brink of running out of cash.


Covid-19 Cold Chain Briefing

Here are the slides from today’s Covid-19 Cold Chain Briefing

An open session in which Cold Chain Federation Chief Executive updates on the latest advice, guidance and developments related to the Covid-19 outbreak as it affects the UK Cold Chain. This is a session of relevance to any business interested in the cold chain.


Covid-19 Guidance for Food Businesses

Yesterday the Government published new guidance aimed at supporting food businesses to manage risks from Covid-19 whilst continuing to carry out their critical roles.

The Guidance can be found here – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-food-businesses/guidance-for-food-businesses-on-coronavirus-covid-19

In summary:

–            There is no current requirements for significant additional measures to ensure food safety, beyond the existing high standards maintained by UK food businesses (eg. HACCP).

–            Enhanced handwashing procedures should be implemented as per previous Government advice to all businesses.

–            The guidance also includes information on how to manage sick employees and implement social distancing measures in the workplace.

The full guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-food-businesses/guidance-for-food-businesses-on-coronavirus-covid-19


25 March: Recent Covid-19 Policy Updates

NEW MEASURES INTRODUCED SO FAR THIS WEEK

  • From the 25th March (today) companies have been granted the ability to apply for a 3 month extension for filing accounts during Covid-19. Guidance on how to apply for the extension can be found here.
  • Extension to MOT testing for 6 months for cars and light vans (up to 3,000kg) from the 30th March– it remains the vehicle owners duty to ensure the vehicle is ‘roadworthy’, garages are permitted to stay open for repairs during this time. More information is available here.
  • Further guidance released on business support grant funding to businesses –  setting out details of eligibility and delivery of the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF). More information here.
  • Updates to the existing guidance for businesses and employers on managing Covid-19, including added details about protection from eviction for commercial tenants and further guidance added about commercial insurance policies. See the suite of guidance here

NEW COLD CHAIN FEDERATION GUIDANCE NOTE FOR MANAGING VISITING DRIVERS

In response to recent reports of unsatisfactory treatment of drivers delivering critical consignments to warehouses due to the risk Covid-19 transmission, the Cold Chain Federation has worked with its members to produce guidelines on measures businesses can take to minimise the transmission risk to their staff whilst maintaining welfare standards for drivers. Please share with your staff/customers as appropriate.

UPCOMING EXPECTED ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Temporary changes to driver CPC requirements to minimise transmission risk during tuition and to free drivers up to fulfil deliveries.
  • Temporary changes to driver medical requirements.
  • Further information on how businesses can designate workers as ‘furloughed’ and a new support package for the self-employed.
  • Relaxation of competition laws across food supply chains (not just for retailers).

We will send details through of these and any further announcements as they are released.

As ever, please get in touch with Tom or Shane if you have any queries on the above, or new issues we can seek answers to.


24 March: BBC Radio 5 Live

Hear Shane’s interview at this link its a 02:08 to 02:11 in the programme.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000gmqk


23 March: Covid-19 Intelligence Exchange for the Cold Chain #2

Here are the slides from today’s Intelligence Exchange

Any business that operates temperature controlled storage or fleet in the UK, whether you are a member or not, is welcome to take part in our weekly sessions at 4pm every Monday for the duration of the interruption to normal business.

We are vetting the participants that register, so if you are not working in a company that operates cold chain haulage or storage, please do not attempt to register. We will do this because we want participants to know that our briefings are a safe space to share intelligence between operating businesses.

If you do not meet this criteria but have a question related to cold chain operations please message me and I will do what I can to help you. We are in this together and we must help each other wherever we can.


21 March: Transport & Driver Related Rules

Some further announcements have been made throughout today on transport and driver related rules.

DRIVERS HOURS

The derestriction of driver hours has been extended to drivers serving ALL sectors, removing any potential confusion over whether the goods you are carrying are covered in full or in part,

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/temporary-relaxation-of-the-enforcement-of-the-drivers-hours-rules-all-sectors-carriage-of-goods-by-road

The Department for Transport has also published guidance on how to use this derestriction The point is use it responsibly – which we all agree with I’m sure.

MOTS

DfT have also today announced a three month suspension of MOT testing and all HGVs will be granted a three month temporary exemption from the need to have a valid MOT.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/driving-tests-and-mots-for-heavy-vehicles-suspended-for-up-to-3-months-to-help-tackle-spread-of-coronavirus

DRIVING TESTS

Driving tests are suspended but DVSA will make provision to continue tests for critical workers (same list as schools)

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-driving-tests-and-theory-tests#book-an-emergency-test-if-youre-a-critical-worker

OPERATOR LICENSING AND OTHER MATTERS

An important advice note from the traffic commissioner on how it will handle issues or pressures on operators related to covid 19

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/874026/200320_Advice_note.pdf


20 March: Key Workers List Published

Communication to members from Shane

The Government have published the following guidance on ‘critical’ workers over night. See links:

It confirms that people working in food industry will be prioritised for education provision it defines this as:

Food and other necessary goodsThis includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines)

This is a broad definition in line with what we asked for. However it is not explicitly clear that it covers those contractors employed in essential maintenance functions that support the food industry. Government also clarifies in these documents that families qualify if only one parent or carer in the house is working in the industry.

It does not set out a process for individuals or schools on how to secure the provision (including how you prove you need it) or how schools can decide to accept the claim or not. We will press to see if further clarification will be provided on this in meetings today.

As the advice makes clear parents are asked to use this only if they absolutely need to and only on the days they absolutely need it. There are a lot of people working in the industries in this list, if evidence comes through from schools  that the numbers of children are too high for them to cope, then (a) headteachers/local authorities can close the schools that can’t cope themselves or (b) government will take action to limit the list.

As ever please let me have any questions or feedback


17 March: Temporary Relaxation of Drivers Hours Delivery of Essential Items to Retailers

Notification issued this afternoon by Department for Transport following industry representations We will follow up on issue of deliveries to hospitals, care homes and other priority needs.

CLICK HERE FOR NOTIFICATION


16 March: Covid-19 Intelligence Exchange for the Cold Chain #1

Here are the slides and notes from that session.

Any business that operates temperature controlled storage or fleet in the UK, whether you are a member or not, is welcome to take part in our weekly sessions at 4pm every Monday for the duration of the interruption to normal business.

We will be vetting the participants that register, so if you are not working in a company that operates cold chain haulage or storage, please do not attempt to register. We will do this because we want participants to know that our briefings are a safe space to share intelligence between operating businesses.

If you do not meet this criteria but have a question related to cold chain operations please message me and I will do what I can to help you. We are in this together and we must help each other wherever we can.

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