The second wave is well and truly here and crucial to what happens next will be all “our behaviours”. Large parts of the country are now under local lockdowns and the likelihood is that we will all move up the three-level scale at different times. There is every possibility that there will be a national lockdown of at least a few weeks, and possibly longer if the infection rate continues to grow. Wales is going into a national lockdown from Friday, 23rd October to 9th November.
The bank’s Covid-19 strategy scale and approach to local lockdowns needs to be adapted to reflect the reality of what’s happening across the country now. That strategy was designed to reflect the fact that “the UK continues to reopen”. In large parts of the country things are closing down and people are being told to reduce their social contacts in order to stop the spread of the virus. In Scotland people are being told to avoid local transport. In its advice to the Government, SAGE said: “Reduction in prevalence is achieved by reducing the connectedness of the population. Transmission within households is efficient, so reducing the connectedness requires reducing interactions between households that occur via contacts made in education, work and social/leisure activities.”.
The bank’s strategy scale needs to reflect that reality. The bank says: “Our primary focus is safety of our colleagues and customers”. If that’s the case, then the bank should be doing everything possible to reduce connectedness. In those areas that are in Tier 3 in England, which is just Liverpool and Lancashire at the moment, and the 18 local council areas in Scotland that are subject to local restrictions, Lloyds should go back to reducing opening times and offering basic services only. We understand that many branches are “Covid-secure” but in those specific areas the bank has a responsibility to discourage not encourage customer visits. And the only way of doing that is by reducing opening times and limiting what customers can do. It’s only for a few months. If the virus gets out of control, then the bank will be forced to do it anyway. Equally, the bank’s policy of allowing local management to decide these issues is unacceptable.
Members with any questions on this should contact the Union’s Advice Team on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1).