WHITE Van Man, construction workers, cabbies and other Brits who work in their vehicles will be hit with restrictive new guidance that states only one person can sit in the front seats.
Employers will be sent a diagram of how workers should operate in their vehicles in order to protect themselves and prevent spreading coronavirus.
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The new advice is mainly aimed at workers who drive vehicles on construction sites but also aimed at truckers, the logistics industry, White Van Man and taxi drivers.
Drafts of the Government guidance shared with industry leaders earlier this week says only the driver should sit in the front. It advises only having a maximum of two people in each vehicle.
But this rule can be relaxed if the passengers are from the same household. A source who has seen the diagram says it shows the passenger sitting in the back seat on the opposite side to the driver.
The advice says vans that don’t have seats in the back should try as far as possible to keep just one person in the front seats, with other workers encouraged to drive in separate vehicles.
For vehicles with three seats in the front, the passenger must sit on the far-side passenger seat to keep maximum distance from the driver, leaving the middle seat free.
RESTRICTIVE NEW GUIDELINES
The prohibitive new guidelines will place extra hurdles on already-hard pressed white van men who have been among the worst hit from the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
But the new measures will also hit taxi drivers, who will not be able to fill a five-seater car with four customers under the new plans. The fresh advice will also affect delivery drivers and distribution centres.
It comes in government documents that set out how workplaces should reopen when social distancing rules start to be relaxed later this month.
Boris Johnson will outline the plans on Sunday, before the detailed guidelines being sent to employers next week.
Work vehicles will have to be frequently cleaned, while hand sanitiser must be provided to employees for when they board and disembark vans, cars and trucks.
The guidance also encourages workers at distribution centres and depots not to interact with the driver and keeping vehicles well ventilated.
The draft documents sent to industry groups earlier this week contained three diagrams showing how people who work in vehicles should operate in a Covid-friendly environment, with red round stickers indicating where workers should sit.
The first diagram is for drivers who have back seats such as cabbies. It has a red circle in the driver’s seat and another red circle on the rear, far-side passenger seat.
The next two diagrams apply to vehicles with only front seats. The first is a van with three front seats, with the red stickers on the driver and far-side passenger seat. The third is for a van with only two front seats, with just the one red sticker on the driver’s seat.
Meanwhile the Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted that schools may not be fully back up and running before September.
NO INTERACTION WITH DRIVERS
He said that while Covid-19 doesn’t have a very big impact on the health of most kids, schools and colleges “proved to be a real spreader” of the virus. And he warned it is “too soon” for classrooms to reopen.
Asked if most kids will have to wait until September, he told Sky News: “It is just so important that we get the rate of new transmissions of the disease down. And if there is something we can do before then then we will. But I can’t make any promises.”
He added: “I understand the frustration at people wanting to know the answer – will it be June will it be September, for what age groups as well, because other countries have taken different decisions for different age groups. We just don’t yet have the data.”
He said ministers hope to flesh out their plans for schools in the next few weeks. But Mr Hancock faced angry criticism from former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption, who said h was “fed up” with being told what to do by the Health Secretary.
Lord Sumption, who sat in the Supreme Court until 2018, was talking after Matt Hancock said it was the public’s duty to download the NHS coronavirus contact tracing app.
He told Radio 5Live: “I’m fed up with being told by the Health Secretary what my duty is. My duty is to comply with the law. And that I will continue to do. As to everything else I will decide for myself if it is a sensible thing to do. And it sounds like it is.”
Asked by presenter Emma Barnett if he would visit a pub if it was open tomorrow he said: “Personally, if tomorrow morning pubs were opened, I would go to a crowded pub absolutely straight away, although I am in a vulnerable group.”
Senior Tory MPs yesterday called on Boris Johnson to ask Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to restore public transport capacity in the capital, to allow her constituents to “travel safely” and “keep as much of the economy going as possible”.
Mr Johnson replied: “She’s absolutely right that a crucial part of our success now in getting transport to run safely will be running a bigger and more expansive Tube service so that people can observe social distancing.
“We’ll certainly be working with the mayor to try to achieve that, though there must be – and we’ll come to this on Sunday and next week as well – mitigation to help people, for those reasons of social distancing, who cannot use mass transit.
“There’ll be a huge amount of planning going into helping people to get to work other than by mass transit, and this should be a new golden age for cycling.”
The diagram – titled ‘Example of seating arrangements to maximise safety of people’ – is mainly targeted at those who drive vehicles on site, moving stock around buildings and venues.
It does not specifically mention taxi drivers, although industry experts said similar guidance was likely to apply. Other types of workers referenced in the document includes couriers, transit and delivery drivers.