At the Government’s recent press conference, the UK’s top scientist, Sir Patrick Valance, warned that the new strain of coronavirus is now “everywhere” in the country and the likelihood is that more areas will be moved into Tier 4 in the next few weeks. The Welsh Government has also put in place a Level 4 lockdown. He said: “The evidence on this virus is that it spreads easily. It’s more transmissible. We absolutely need to make sure we have the right level of restrictions in place”. According to scientists this ‘new’ variant is up to 70% more transmissible than earlier strains. Sir Patrick said that there was no evidence that this variant was any more deadly than the original strain but it’s being tested in Porton Down now.

In response to this new scientific data and the potential increase in cases, Lloyds originally said: “Our overall approach to our ways of working and policies remain the same”. That was an irresponsible reaction and one which would have put customers and staff at greater risk. The bank has now changed it approach but we think its Covid strategy needs to go further and for longer than 11th January. In large parts of the country things have closed down and the rest of the country is likely to be shut down in the next few days. We are all being told to reduce our social contacts in order to stop the spread of the new strain of the virus.

Lloyds should go back to the original lockdown measures and reduce its opening hours and offering to basic services only. There should be no local exceptions. And “basic” means “basic”.

We understand that many branches are now “Covid-secure” but when the virus is much more transmissible, the bank has a responsibility to discourage customer visits and limit staff time away from home. And the only way of doing that is by reducing opening times and limiting what customers can do. It’s only until the completion of the Government’s vaccine roll-out.  If this new virus gets out of control, then the bank will be forced to do it anyway.

The bank’s new policy is not even a day old and we have members in Tier 4 branches which have had a positive Covid case are being sent to work in other branches whilst the bank carries out ‘deep cleans’. In the current environment, those staff should be sent home to isolate. Sending staff to work in other branches and potentially spreading the virus seems highly dangerous.

Members with any questions on this should contact the Union’s Advice Team on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1).

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