Boris’s message of staying alert instead of staying at home seemed clear to me, but who knows whether this is the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end?
What is clear is that the political blame game has well and truly started. We started with virtually all the opposition parties and media supporting the Government’s handling of the crisis, but they have now moved from ‘we are all in this together’ to opposing and criticising every move the Government make or have made.
There has also been media commentary as to who has had a ‘good’ crisis with Chancellor Rishi Sunak the ‘star performer’, although that may be short-lived when he has to balance the books. The jury is out on Boris, whilst others are possibly looking to make names for themselves: Matt Hancock, Sir Keir, Nicola Sturgeon and the bloke who runs Wales (who has obviously failed).
Many feel that the mainstream media haven’t had a ‘good’ crisis. Most people I speak to have had enough of the same old doom-mongers asking the same old questions at the daily briefings. Having called for everything to be closed down from their nice secure jobs, they now seem surprised as the damage to the economy becomes more and more apparent and will no doubt complain about why it has been allowed to happen.
It is clear the economy will be damaged, although only time will tell the extent. There are likely to be many more losers than winners, but some will have done well from the crisis and I hope that the compensation industry does not emerge as a winner.
No one would disagree with compensation for those working in high risk areas without adequate PPE and the Government has already announced compensation for NHS workers who have lost their lives during the crisis, although whether £60,000 is enough has obviously been questioned.
However, businesses now face the dilemma of a return to normality, whilst also looking after staff. There has always been the normal duty of care to protect people from harm, but now with the added complications of social distancing and the need to account for those who are either vulnerable themselves or have vulnerable relatives.
Whilst Employers and Public Liability insurances will provide cover, insurers will expect compliance with the Coronavirus advice and guidelines issued by the Health and Safety Executive and that risk assessments are undertaken, health and safety policies updated etc. For claims to be successful, a claimant would need to prove that the virus was contracted at work and that the business was negligent, so it is vital all preventative measures taken should be documented and staff required to sign that they have received training/PPE etc.
With so many aspects about the virus still unknown, you would hope that compliance with the current guidelines would be sufficient protection for businesses, however there is always the suspicion that by the time legal cases are brought the ‘benefit of hindsight’ will be used against companies and applied retrospectively. I am sure it won’t be too long before we get ‘did you catch COVID-19 at work’ adverts.