Buildings must be redesigned to contain the Covid and future pandemics, experts have warned

There was already fear that a country used to working from home would turn its back on suits and ties.

Now that the pandemic has allowed office workers to wear T-shirts and shorts to allow for better ventilation in the workplace.

Staff may also be allowed to wear woolen sweaters or hoodies in winter.

Leading engineers have suggested that office dress codes could become much less strict due to the new post-covid importance of keeping windows open, potentially making air conditioning less effective so that workplaces are warmer.

The authors of a report on reducing infection in buildings, commissioned by Chief Scientific Adviser, Patrick Vallance, advocate opening windows while advising against some aggressively advertised “air-purifying” devices.

They say building owners need more guidance on ventilation, and have also called for more research into whether hand dryers increase the risk of infection.

Workers in England could be told to ditch formal office wear so they can cope with year-round windows to limit Covid transmission

Record 500,000 Britons sentenced to self-isolation as union warns factories ‘about to close’ with 900 Nissan workers forced to stay at home

A record half a million Britons were told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid app last week amid mounting concerns over the chaos caused by the ‘pingdemic’.

Unions have warned factories across the country are about to close, with the app urging tens of thousands of workers to quarantine at home.

Up to 900 workers at car giant Nissan’s flagship plant in Sunderland must self-isolate, it was claimed today.

About 10 percent of the staff at the Japanese car company’s manufacturing site in Sunderland were pinged by the app.

People told by the app to isolate are not legally required to do so as their identities are not tracked by the software.

But there are fears the software could cripple the country’s already fragile economy this summer when restrictions are lifted completely.

Companies demanding a rethink of the rules have warned that supermarket shelves could remain empty if tens of thousands of workers are told they will have to self-isolate in the coming weeks.

It is also feared that piles of waste could pile up on the street. Some Liverpool waste collections have been canceled as of next week as too many staff are isolated to run the service.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick admitted today that Number 10 was “concerned” about the number of people who may need to self-isolate because of the app.

Official figures released today show that the contact-tracking app sent out 520,000 self-isolation alerts last week.

Professor Shaun Fitzgerald, research director of the Center for Climate Repair, Cambridge University, and one of the authors of the report, told journalists: ‘This is really important, that you encourage dress codes, not just for winter, but to adapt to to the environment you participate in.

‘Because if you even let people dress in shorts and T-shirts in the summer, it can make an environment more pleasant.

‘Unfortunately, one of the temptations, especially in buildings with casement windows and these split air conditioners, is that if you want a nice comfortable environment in a heat wave, you have to close the windows and turn on the air conditioning.

‘We don’t recommend that. We recommend having copious amounts of fresh air in a pandemic situation, as much as you can tolerate, and basically that will mean the air conditioning system won’t be as effective, so you’re going to look at different ways to stay comfortable and cool. ‘

dr. Hywel Davies, technical director of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, who also contributed to the report, suggested that in the winter, staff might wear wool sweaters or hoodies or sit away from open windows.

UK lockdown rules will end on Monday, with many workers expected to return to the office.

That makes the report on healthy buildings, conducted by a National Engineering Policy Center working group, led by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), timely.

Professor Peter Guthrie, vice president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said the focus on ventilation in most buildings was ‘lax’.

Part of the problem is that people concerned about the coronavirus may be more reassured by seeing hand sanitizer stations, one-way systems and clean surfaces than hearing an invisible ventilation system working properly – despite its importance in stopping the spread. of the virus through the air.

The report warns that technological solutions are not a ‘silver bullet’, with a lack of evidence for some ‘air-purifying’ solutions, which can release chemicals into the air that can cause respiratory and skin infections.

However, touch-free doors and elevator buttons can be helpful, as can digital apps and carbon dioxide monitors that can help understand how well ventilated a building is.

Engineers looked at hospitals, care homes, hospitality, schools and public transport and want companies to be encouraged to improve ventilation, which could mean cutting VAT.

The main recommendations are that governments develop the necessary skills, commission research to better understand the risks in buildings, and balance climate change goals such as Net Zero with the importance of infection control.

dr. Davies said: ‘Clear communication about ventilation is essential – we need to support owners and operators with clear and simple guidance, emphasizing the importance of improving ventilation while maintaining wider good infection control practices.’

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