Covid Scotland: Work related contacts double despite work from home guidance

The number of work related contacts people in Scotland are meeting face to face has doubled in the past two weeks, a Scottish Government publication on Covid has revealed, despite the guidance remaining to work at home where possible.

People are meeting work contacts more than they were previously.
People are meeting work contacts more than they were previously.

The data from the weekly Coronavirus (COVID-19): modelling the epidemic report from the Scottish Government said that the average person had 5.1 daily contacts between 4 and 10 November. All age groups had increased the number of people they had close contact with, it added, driven by a rise in the number of people meeting for work reasons.

The largest increase was reported by the 18-29 age group, increasing overall contacts by 44 per cent.

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However, contacts within the home and other settings not related to work or school have remained at a similar level over the same period.

The proportion of individuals visiting a healthcare facility increased from approximately 22 per cent to 26 per cent while individuals visiting a pub or restaurant decreased from 49 per cent to 44 per cent in the last two weeks.

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The proportion of contacts reported to have been indoors only has remained at similar level to two weeks prior, currently at 69 per cent, while the number of people wearing a face covering where they have at least one contact outside of the home remains at a similar level to two weeks prior, at 83 per cent.

Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Economy, Liz Smith said: “Scottish businesses have faced 18 months of hardship, and are now desperate to get back to normal. Working from home has been one of the most effective measures for cutting Covid transmission, but for many people homeworking is simply not possible or sustainable.

“The SNP have turned a blind eye to the economic damage and harmful inequalities caused by ‘work from home’ requirements, for months. Their Business Ventilation Fund, to make workplaces safer, was expected to start making payments by November, yet applications won’t even open until Monday.

“The onus is on the SNP Government to ramp-up efforts to ensure a safe return to in-person working, as we learn to live with this virus.”

Scottish Labour’s Health and Covid Recovery spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “These alarming figures need to be a wake-up call for the SNP. After months of mixed messages and inconsistency it is little wonder that covid in workplaces is getting out of control.

"The SNP need to get enforcement right and support businesses to keep our workplaces safe.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Our guidance remains that people should continue to work from home when it is practical to do so and we would continue to ask employers to look at whether workers can be supported to do more work from home over the winter period.”

The report also showed that the number of new daily infections for Scotland is estimated as being between 86 and 112 per 100,000 people, while the R number is between 0.9 and 1.1.

It said that 10 local authorities – Angus, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries & Galloway, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Falkirk, Fife, South Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire – are expected to exceed 300 cases per 100,000 people. There are no local authorities which are expected to exceed 500 cases per 100,000.

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