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COVID-19 update: Our response to government announcement on 5 July

Shield

We are writing following the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday that the government intend for most COVID-19 restrictions in England to be lifted from Monday 19 July. A final decision about whether Step 4 of the roadmap will go ahead as planned will be announced on Monday 12 July.

National restrictions

The Prime Minister confirmed that the government are planning for the following from Monday 19 July:

  • All remaining limits on social contact (currently 6 people or 2 households indoors, or 30 people outdoors) will be removed and there will be no more additional COVID-19 legal restrictions on how many people can meet in any setting, indoors or outdoors.
  • The legal requirements to wear a face covering will be lifted in all settings. To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, published guidance will advise that wearing a face covering will reduce your risk and the risk to others, where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet in enclosed and crowded spaces.
  • Social distancing rules (2 metres or 1 metre with additional mitigations) will be lifted. The government advise that you should continue to consider the risks of close contact with others, particularly if you are clinically extremely vulnerable or not yet fully vaccinated.
  • It is no longer necessary for the government to instruct people to work from home. Employers can start to plan a return to workplaces.

A full summary of the proposed changes from 19 July is published on the government website.

Working on campus

This update from the government is welcome news for us as it means we can proceed with our plans to facilitate a phased transition to support more colleagues to return to work on campus this summer.

As previously published on the Staff Portal, we do not expect a sudden change to working arrangements from 19 July and you should wait until you have heard from your line manager before returning to work on campus.

We will be supporting Heads of School and Functions to make decisions about how best to manage this transition to increased working on campus based on local priorities and space, with Risk Assessments in place.

Health & Safety measures on campus

We have always said that protecting the safety of our community is our top priority and, at times, we have implemented additional control measures beyond those required or recommended by the government.

As such, we are currently undertaking a review of our current control measures this week following the announcement yesterday, including relating to social distancing and face coverings, and to finalise our approach we will initially take after 19 July. In making these decisions, we are mindful that case numbers in Reading remain high, as well as the fact that many of our students have not yet received their first dose of the vaccine.

We will share further information early next week (w/c 12 July).

Meetings

All meetings should continue to be held online in the first instance, until at least the start of the autumn term. A sub-group of the MRT has been convened to explore how we may be able to safely facilitate in-person meetings, where there is a particular need or requirement to do so. We will keep you updated when we can share more.

Regular lateral flow testing

We are still encouraging colleagues and students to take a lateral flow test twice a week, even those who have been vaccinated. Home test kits are available to collect from the Library Café between 10:00 and 16:00 on Mondays and Thursdays. Anyone in England can also pick up home test kits from their local pharmacy, or order kits for home delivery from the NHS website. 

Check your equipment before return to campus

When planning a return to working on campus, it is essential to consider your devices like PCs and laptops in any discussions with your line manager.

Given the length of time these devices have not logged on the University’s network, it is possible there may be some login issues that could interfere with your work. This could affect PCs on campus that have been switched off for more than three months, as well as University laptops that have not connected to the VPN or accessed Eduroam for more than three months.

More information and advice from colleagues in Digital Technology Services (DTS) can be found on Returning to Campus: PC and Laptop checks.

Vaccination programme in the UK

We strongly encourage all members of our community to have the COVID-19 vaccine when you are offered the opportunity. Booking is quick and easy on the NHS website.

Please continue to exercise judgement and care with regards to your own health and safety, and those around you. Many colleagues and students may continue to take additional precautions to protect themselves and others, and we ask everyone to be respectful of these choices.

Please keep an eye on your email and the Staff Portal for any important updates. We will also keep the Staff Portal COVID-19 FAQs updated with the latest information and advice.  

If you have any queries, please speak to your line manager in the first instance.

 

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