• Coronavirus/COVID-19: Guidance for Community Transport

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    • Coronavirus/COVID-19: Guidance for Community Transport

    As the Covid-19 pandemic shifts into a new phase, the UK is beginning to explore what ‘endemic’ Covid means for everyone. Governments across the country are trying to understand what living with this disease means for our citizens, in terms of ongoing protections, restrictions, testing and tracing transmission. 

    For the Community Transport sector, who have responded rapidly at every stage of the pandemic with care and a community focus, there is a balance to be struck in ensuring passengers are supported to travel safely and connect with their communities. While legislation and guidance may change, the need to protect the safety and wellbeing of staff, volunteers and passengers remains of the highest priority. 

    At CTA we recognise that this changing legal landscape may create further uncertainty for CT operators. As ever, local restrictions must be considered in the context of your own operation, staff, volunteers, and passengers, and consider your risk assessments so you can make a clear decision about what services you run and how you run them. Ultimately, it is up to you, in line with the restrictions where you are, to decide what measures you put in place to deliver your services safely. 

    What information are you looking for?

    At CTA, we’re here to help – below you can find the official guidance in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as other useful resources. As it has been throughout the pandemic, our Advice Service is also available for CTA members, so if there’s any information you need that we haven’t provided, or if you would like to talk through your organisation’s best course of action, please do get in touch with our team via  advice@ctauk.org.

    You can  can use the links below to jump to the specific information that you’re looking for.


    Where can I find the latest Government guidance?

    Click the links below to jump to the specific section:

    England        Wales

    Scotland        Northern Ireland

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    The Latest Guidance in England

    The government has published itsplan for living with COVID-19. 

    This means from 24 February: 

    • You will no longer be legally required to self-isolate if you test positive for COVID-19. New guidance will advise people who test positive to stay at home and avoid contact with other people. 
    • You will no longer be legally required to self-isolate if you are an unvaccinated close contact, and will no longer be advised to test for 7 days if you are a fully vaccinated close contact. New guidance will set out precautions for reducing risk to yourself and others. 

    COVID-19 remains a risk 

    COVID-19 will be a feature of our lives for the foreseeable future, so we need to learn to live with it and manage the risk to ourselves and others. 

    Understanding the risks of COVID-19 

    In general, the risk of catching or passing on COVID-19 is higher in crowded and enclosed spaces, where there are more people who might be infectious and limited fresh air. There are still cases of COVID-19 in England and there is a risk you could catch or pass on the virus, even once you are fully vaccinated.  

    Let fresh air in if you meet indoors. Meeting outdoors is safer 

    Meeting outdoors vastly reduces the risk of airborne transmission, but this may not always be possible. If you’re indoors, you should let fresh air in to reduce the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19. 

    Wear a face covering 

    Whilst there is no longer a legal requirement to wear a face covering, the Government suggests that you continue to wear one in crowded and enclosed spaces, especially where you come into contact with people you do not usually meet.  

    You are at higher risk of catching or passing on COVID-19 in crowded and enclosed spaces, where there are more people who might be infectious and where there is limited fresh air. 

    Travelling in the UK  

    All businesses should follow the principles set out in the working safely guidance. 

    Employers still have a legal duty to manage risks to those affected by their business. The way to do this is to carry out a health and safety risk assessment, including the risk of COVID-19, and to take reasonable steps to mitigate the risks you identify. The working safely guidance sets out a range of mitigations employers should consider including: 

    • identifying poorly ventilated areas in the venue, for example by using a CO2 monitor, and taking steps to improve air flow in these areas 
    • ensuring that staff and customers who are unwell do not attend the workplace or venue 
    • providing hand sanitiser to enable staff and customers to clean their hands more frequently, and cleaning surfaces that people touch regularly 
    • communicating to staff and customers the measures you have put in place 

    Settings in which face coverings are required must display signage or take other measures to ensure customers are aware of the requirement to wear a face covering on their premises where there is no applicable exemption or reasonable excuse. 

    Useful Links from the UK Government

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    The Latest Guidance in Wales

    Following the period of heightened restrictions over the winter brought about by the Covid-19 Omicron variant, Welsh Government have now returned Wales to alert level 0. This means:  

    • Businesses, employers and other organisations must continue to undertake a specific coronavirus risk assessment and take reasonable measures to minimise exposure to, and the spread of, coronavirus. 
    • Everyone must follow self-isolation rules and guidance.  
    • Adults and children over 11 must continue to wear face coverings on public transport, in retail and in hospital and/or care settings, unless they are exempt. People are ‘strongly advised’ to wear a mask in all indoor public places regardless of the law. 
    • All businesses and premises can open
    • People should still work from home wherever possible. 

    From 18 February there is no longer a legal requirement for individuals to prove their vaccination status using the domestic COVID pass or to provide proof of a recent negative lateral flow test or medical exemption to gain entry to certain events and venues in Wales. However, businesses and settings can still consider requiring the use of the COVID pass or proof of a negative test as part of the reasonable measures to minimise the risk of coronavirus. 


    The Latest Guidance in Scotland 

    The Scottish Government has set out a new staged approach to easing protective measures that will help Scotland manage and recover from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  The Scottish government’s new strategy is based on three levels of threat from Covid – low, medium and high. The threat has been reduced to medium for now, although this is expected to be reduced to low in the period ahead. 

    The remaining legal protections that are to be lifted, are as follows: 

    From 28 February 

    • Scotland’s Covid vaccination certification scheme will no longer be legally required, although businesses and venues can still keep using it if they want 
    • Secondary school pupils will no longer need to wear masks in the classroom  

    From 21 March (subject to the state of the pandemic) 

    • Masks will no longer be legally required on public transport and indoor venues, although their use will still be “strongly recommended” 
    • Businesses, places of worship and service providers will no longer have to follow government guidance on measures (such as maintaining a particular distance) to avoid Covid  
    • There will be no requirement for businesses and service providers to keep customer contact details 
    • Access to lateral flow and PCR tests will continue to be free of charge 

    People who test positive for COVID-19 will continue to be asked to self-isolate to reduce the risk of infecting other people. Any changes to the recommended period of self-isolation will be considered on an ongoing basis. Contact tracing and advice to contacts also continues at this point, as does support for those advised to isolate. 

    More details of how testing will work and the future of the test and protect programme will be issued in March. 

    Covid is still with us and we must remain vigilant and prepared for the threats it poses. Whilst the new framework marks an end to legal restrictions, it relies instead on sensible behaviours, adaptations and mitigations. The public are asked to continue to look out and after each other and to continue to test regularly as required, get vaccinated and wear face coverings where appropriate. People and organisations are asked to continue to take basic, sensible steps to reduce the risk of and harm from COVID-19. 

    As there is still not a specific section of guidance from the Scottish Government on community transport, we would suggest that community transport providers continue to adhere to your risk assessments and continue to take basic, sensible steps to reduce the risk of harm from Covid-19 to ensure that the most vulnerable members of our society are protected. You can find out more about the changes at: Coronavirus (COVID-19): Scotland’s Strategic Framework update – February 2022 – gov.scot (www.gov.scot) 

    Face Coverings 

    The Scottish Government has confirmed that the use of face coverings on public transport and in indoor public places is “strongly recommended”. Community transport operators should continue to ensure that volunteers, drivers, and passengers wear face coverings unless they are medically exempt. 

    Social Distancing 

    Whilst social distancing is no longer a legal requirement, we advise you to keep updating your risk assessments to follow the evolution of the pandemic and associated guidance. 

    Mitigation Measures 

    This will include continued hygiene measures, such as regular hand washing and surface cleaning, improving ventilation, and wearing face coverings when and where appropriate. We therefore advise that community transport operators continue to refer to their risk assessments to ensure that you minimise risks for your staff, volunteers, drivers, and passengers and implement any necessary mitigation measures as necessary. 

    Useful Links from the Scottish Government

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    The Latest Guidance in Northern Ireland 

    COVID-19 is still circulating within the community. It is still possible to catch and spread COVID-19, even if you are fully vaccinated. 

    Following this guidance will help you to understand situations where there is a greater risk of catching or spreading COVID-19 and the steps that you can take to stay safe and protect others. 

    By making safer choices and following public health advice, you can help lower the spread of COVID-19 in the community. 

     

    The health minister for Northern Ireland Robin Swan, has revoked remaining Covid-19 restrictions, so rules that were formerly legally binding, such as wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces, are now guidance. 

    This means that while people are encouraged to follow restrictions, they will not face any punishment for not doing so. 

    However, individual businesses are still able to ask customers to follow certain rules. 

    The work from home guidance will continue to remain in place.  

    People who test positive for COVID-19 will continue to be asked to self-isolate to reduce the risk of infecting other people. Any changes to the recommended period of self-isolation will be considered on an ongoing basis. Contact tracing and advice to contacts also continues at this point, as does support for those advised to isolate. 

    There will be no moves to reduce or remove the current Covid-19 test and trace programme in Northern Ireland the Health Minister stated on the 24th February 2022 without further evidence.  

    Risk Assessments  

    Risk assessments should be continued to be used to identify sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace and the service you provide. Your risk assessments will help you decide whether you have addressed all necessary points. Risk assessments should be produced in consultation with staff and trade unions and carried out for different components of the organisation including services, workplaces and job roles. We recommend that you use this guide to ensure that your risk assessments address the risks of COVID-19.  

    Review your risk assessments regularly to ensure they remain relevant and appropriate under changing circumstances. Risk assessments should be reviewed when there are changes to the operating environment, such as increased passenger volumes or situations where the risk of transmission is increased. 

    Social Distancing  

    Guidance published by the Department for Infrastructure states both staff and passengers should keep one metre distance from others where possible. If it is not possible to keep a one metre distance, suitable mitigation measures must be used to reduce the risk. in which case other mitigations must be in place. ’These mitigations include properly ventilating vehicles, the regular cleaning and disinfecting of vehicles, and hygiene measures such as hand washing. 

    Face Coverings 

    The current guidance is that face coverings is strongly encouraged to be worn in enclosed public spaces including buses and public transport.  

    Community Transport operators must therefore continue to ensure that passengers, drivers, and passenger assistants continue to wear face coverings on vehicles. The requirement to wear face coverings will likely stay in place for the foreseeable future. 

    Car Sharing 

    The current public health advice is that everyone should: 

    • work from home if they can 

    and 

    • limit contact with other people 

    Much of the advice for anyone using public transport also applies to anyone who must continue car sharing at this time: 

    • wear a face covering to protect others, unless exempt from the law and/ or have a reasonable excuse 
    • avoid physical contact 
    • try to face away from other people 
    • keep the time spent near others as short as possible 
    • If car sharing, as well as wearing a face covering, good ventilation in the car will be useful – particularly by keeping a window open. 
    • Contact areas such as door handles (inside and out), seat belts and so on should be cleaned or sanitised after each journey. 

    It is recommended that: 

    • any sharing is with the same people each time 

    and 

    • people in the vehicle keep as much social distance as possible 

    Useful Information from the NI Executive

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    Other Resources and Guidance


    Vaccinations

    With the COVID-19 vaccination programme now fully rolled out across the country, many community transport providers are getting involved with making sure that members of their community can access both doses of the vaccine and boosters. There are also questions about volunteers and members of staff getting vaccinated, as well as what implications passenger numbers have on vehicle capacity. 

    For all our guidance on vaccinations, click here.

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    Risk Assessment and Risk Management

    When you make any decision about the coronavirus mitigation measures you’re putting in place on your services it’s important to make sure that you have a comprehensive risk assessment in place. With the support of CTA members from across the UK, CTA have produced community transport specific templates and resources relating to COVID-19 risk assessments which CTA members can download from ctauk.org/advice-resources/risk-assessment-and-management.

    If you’re not a CTA member, you can still download our ‘How To’ guide for risk assessments, as well as a COVID-19 specific risk assessment template below.

    Download our risk assessment ‘how to’ guide here

    Download our COVID-19 specific risk assessment template here

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    Restarting Services

    The COVID-19 pandemic has posed significant challenges for all community transport providers. While some have been able to adapt their services to the changing landscape, many have had to scale back their services or even shut altogether. We’ve put together a checklist intended for community transport operators that are restarting their services or have recently done so.

    Download our restarting your services checklist here.

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    Funding Resources

    Funding is more important than ever for community transport providers as we continue to recover from Covid-19 and restart services. This page contains links to a number of different sources of funding and information. Given the uncertain situation that we are still in, many funders are continuing to adapt their priorities and funding programmes to respond to the emerging needs of communities. Before committing your time and effort to apply to a particular fund, you will need to carefully check the eligibility criteria, funding aims and if there are any deadlines.

    Go to our information on funding resources

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    The CTA Advice Service

    CTA Advice Service: The CTA team are currently working remotely, so to ensure you speak to the right person first time, please email advice@ctauk.org to receive a call back for advice and support. Our advice service operates 10-4pm Monday-Friday.

    Advice Service Drop-in: every Friday, the CTA advice team hold an online drop-in session for members to talk to us, and each other, about their ideas, concerns and questions. It’s a great way to get to know the CTA team and your fellow community transport providers – so if you’d like to book onto the next meeting, you can book your place at ctauk.org/events, or email advice@ctauk.org, and we’ll send you a link.

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