Today the Scottish First Minister (SFM) published the findings of a review by the COVID-19 Advisory Group on the 2 metre physical distancing rule. Their advice makes clear that the fundamental science around distance and transmission remains unchanged and that risk increases with proximity to an infected individual.
‘The risk of transmission will be increased if the physical distancing recommendation is reduced to 1 metre from 2 metres. This is not only because of the increased risk of direct transmission from respiratory secretions, but also because of increased surface contamination that would occur in indoor environments with higher occupancy.’
However in her update the SFM recognised that there is also a need to take into account the four harms as set out in our Framework for Decision Making. The framework made clear that, after the necessary condition of suppressing the virus has been met, decisions can be taken which seek to minimise overall harm viewed across health, the economy and broader society. What this means is that policy decisions are required that balance any increased transmission risk from changing the 2 metre requirement, given the current status of the epidemic, with the reduction in other harms that would stem from such a change to the 2 metre requirement.
‘In balancing these considerations, a value judgement must be taken as to whether reducing the physical distancing to 1 metre is a tolerable risk. If this is a policy decision, it must be accompanied by clear guidance on spacing in any indoor environment, emphasis on surface cleaning, hand hygiene and cough etiquette. Messaging must be clear that the virus is still present and a continued threat.’
In Scotland’s route map through and out of the crisis: Update on approach to physical distancing in light of advice from the Scottish Government COVID-19 Advisory Group, Published on 2 July 2020 the SFM sets out plans for exemptions and appropriate mitigations in certain sectors as Scotland moves to Phase 3 of the National Routemap (at present these do not include construction and will not impact on Construction Scotland’s Site operating procedures or additional guidance produced by the CICV Forum in Scotland).
Update on Application of Building Regulations to Adaptations in Scotland
An update was also published yesterday from from Stephen Garvin, Head of Building Standards Division, on the Application of Building Regulations to Adaptations.