Staff Update 7th September 2020


To:All Staff
From:Andrew Hulcoop
Date:7th September 2020

It was my intention to write to you at the end of the month to give you an update on how the business has performed since reopening on 1st June. Unfortunately, a number of events have now caused me to write to you immediately.

In much of my previous COVID-19 correspondence I spoke about protection of the core being a key objective. Unfortunately, it’s clear that this key objective isn’t one that is shared by all with some preferring instead to disobey the government guidelines and behave as if nothing has happened.

I’ve been made aware that during the last 7 days there are several instances where a number of employees have socialised over dinner in numbers of up to 10 and from far more households (or social bubbles) than the government guidelines. Not only have some been celebrating and socialising outside of the government guidelines but a lot have been sharing cars with whoever and whenever they please and have not given a second thought to the guidelines.

Unfortunately I have to advise you that two members of the team have been tested positive for COVID-19.  Following contact from the press this afternoon for comments, please refer to the statement below for full information.

As a result of non-adherence to the government guidelines we have a number of people who are self-isolating and currently awaiting test results. Whilst this is a relatively small number, if any of these people test positive then the net starts to get a lot larger and before we know it, we aren’t then able to operate the business.  We can confirm all of the test results undertaken as part of track and trace programme have all come back negative, albeit we are still waiting for the final ones to be confirmed.  If none of these people test positive, that doesn’t make it ok. It’ll mean we have been extremely lucky and I’m absolutely not in favour of running the business on luck. Those who are having to self-isolate are doing so under SSP, which currently pays less than £20 per day.

The business has spent thousands of pounds trying to ensure the safety of both our employees and our customers and yet through the social behaviour of some, the business is now at huge risk. A risk that ultimately may affect a vast number of your colleagues, many of which I’m sure have adhered to the government guidelines.

The Management Board have all worked incredibly hard and as a business we have become fully operational a lot quicker than many of our colleagues. The redundancies suffered have been far less than many other similar businesses and I think the behaviour and vision of the Management Board has helped to protect many jobs and saved us adding to the mounting number of national job losses.

I’m sure many therefore won’t be surprised when I say that the behaviour of a few has left me feeling extremely disappointed and let down.

We have been in touch with Public Health England and have late this afternoon, had a response from them, which has suggested no further action from us at this stage.  However this will change if any of the results that we are awaiting prove positive.  The response from PHE is testament to the effort that has gone in to making the business environment as safe as possible for our staff and customers alike. 

We will communicate over the next few days as to the result of the awaited tests.   Writing such letters is a complete waste of my time; time that is far better spent on the future strategy of the business which will drive continued success which is beneficial for us all!

The government guidelines are widely available and preached most evenings on the News, they are not a secret and they are there for the good of not only you, but the country as a whole. If in doubt of what you should or should not do, I suggest you refer to the government website but below are a few specifics that have been copied and pasted from the Government site.

You should only meet people you do not live with in 3 types of groups:

  • you can continue to meet in any outdoor space in a group of up to 6 people from different households
  • single adult households – in other words adults who live alone or with dependent children only – can continue to form an exclusive ‘support bubble’ with one other household
  • you can also meet in a group of 2 households (anyone in your support bubble counts as one household), in any location ‒ public or private, indoors or outdoors. This does not need to be the same household each time

In order to keep you and your family and friends safe, it remains very important that you stay alert when meeting family and friends.

You should:

  • only socialise indoors with members of up to 2 households ‒ this includes when dining out or going to the pub
  • socialise outdoors in a group of up to 6 people from different households or up to 2 households (anyone in your support bubble counts as one household)
  • not hold or attend celebrations (such as parties) where it is difficult to maintain social distancing and avoid close social interaction – even if they are organised by businesses and venues that are taking steps to follow COVID-19 secure guidelines
  • only stay overnight with your household (including your support bubble) and one other household
  • limit social interaction with anyone outside the group you are attending a place with, even if you see other people you know, for example, in a restaurant, community centre or place of worship
  • try to limit the number of people you see, especially over short periods of time, to keep you and them safe, and save lives. The more people with whom you interact, the more chances we give the virus to spread

Travelling to meet people

You can travel to meet people irrespective of distance. You may use public transport but should consider cycling, walking or driving wherever possible.

You should not travel with someone from outside your household or your support bubble unless you can practise social distancing, for example by cycling.

You should try not to share a vehicle with those outside your household or support bubble. If you need to do this, try to:

  • share the transport with the same people each time
  • keep to small groups of people at any one time
  • open windows for ventilation
  • travel side by side or behind other people, rather than facing them, where seating arrangements allow
  • face away from each other
  • consider seating arrangements to maximise distance between people in the vehicle
  • clean your car between journeys using standard cleaning products – make sure you clean door handles and other areas that people may touch
  • ask the driver and passengers to wear a face covering

As a result of what has happened and until further notice there is to be no travelling between sites unless specifically authorised by Karen, Paul, Peter or me.

We all know the rules on social distancing and I expect these to be fully adhered to throughout the business. Distancing guidelines that have been communicated within the business are there for the benefit of all.  Unfortunately these are not being adhered to all of the time by all of the people and we need to get serious about this.  If you cannot adhere to the guidelines than we have no option but to send you home without pay.   

I make no apology for the tone of this letter except to those who are adhering to the rules, I am however, so very disappointed to be writing such a communication.