I thought I would write to you and let you know what a depressing, despondent, totalitarian, dystopian nightmare you have made visiting XXXXXX shops into.
Before it was a place my wife enjoyed spending hours at browsing the shops and having lunch with friends.
After yesterday’s experience, until everything returns back to normal without restrictions, then I doubt we will be visiting again it was what can be described as such a bloody awful experience.
In every window was at least one sign with a XXXXXX logo in the top right hand corner about wearing masks. On only one did it mention or have reference to a valid and acceptable exemption under the law and this was added on by hand and this only said “under 11s exempt”.
In the relevant legislation there are a lot more exemptions than just this one and ignoring them means that your tenants, yourselves as all the signs are from your management team, and the staff on a personal level are open to prosecution under the disability discrimination legislation which can lead to fines of £5000 for the company plus costs and £9000 plus costs from the individual staff as they are personally responsible.
Further information can be found here for your management and legal teams as they seem to be particularly uninformed in this matter judging by the wording of your notices displayed in every unit:
In addition to this you do not make it clear that masks are not the only option, any face covering that covers the nose and mouth is acceptable.
You also do not make it clear that the face coverings are ONLY required in enclosed areas, the outside areas are not included in the legislation so why are there no notices in the walking areas stating “face coverings NOT required” in this area?
There are many signs that state “social distancing 2 m” or similar. This is only guidance and the Government has stated on many occasions that guidance and guidelines are not law nor are they enforceable. Social Distancing has NO legal standing in England.
Any please, do not insult my intelligence on this matter by trying to suggest otherwise.
Over the past few months I have been in communication with 3 local councils in this area and have it, in writing, that the above is correct and that they have no power or authority to insist on restrictive operating practices using the Health and Safety legislation that they quote as being relevant.
However, the responsibility for any risks assessments for their particular business and employees lies directly with the individual tenants.
"Q - With this in mind, please state what piece of legislation or legal basis your are using to force retailers and other businesses to abide by social distancing “guidelines” as if it has force of law? A - Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999."
Another council actually removed their pre-opening checklist from their website due to the legal problems that would arise if a premises used “I followed their checklist” as a defence.
I can see how some areas of the checklist may need further clarification and will be updated. The checklist has now been taken off the County’s website.
They only have powers over individual persons and individual premises under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 and they have not been following this as the protocols involved are very lengthy and also means that the local authority must pay compensation to cover their losses due to the imposed restrictions.
This is why council have not used this legislation but overstepped their powers by making businesses follow something that has no legal standing voluntarily. A few weeks ago central Government actually released a new framework to address this matter and in it it actually states:
"use their existing powers (under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984) “
"Public Health (Control of Disease Act) 1984 [sections 45G, 45H and 45I]: local authorities can make an application to a Justice of the Peace in the Magistrates’ Court to impose restrictions or requirements to close contaminated premises"
Under the Health and Safety legislation, councils do not have the power to enforce restrictions on operating as this falls within the remit of the Health and Safety Executive, the responsibility for instigating any necessary measures falls onto the individual premises owner/operator and as long as they do a risk assessment, do their own research and keep a record of why they think their mitigations, if any are required, are reasonable this is totally acceptable.
As the Government cannot supply any definitive science, cannot or will not supply their risk assessments that they have used to base any legislation on and bearing in mind this lack of supplied information is what non-enforceable “guidance” is based on then any risk assessments based on this guidance are not acceptable as it has no evidence to support the conclusions.
From correspondence that shows no risk assessment no science provided for the pre-opening checklists and risk assessments etc:
Q - Was a risk assessment used to generate the guidelines you issued? Please supply the risk assessment. A - No risk assessment produced. and Q - What “science”, Government backed or independent, was researched to generate the risk assessment on which the checklist is based if the answer was “yes” to point 2? Please supply the research and the evidence. A - Please follow the link below: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/risk-assessment.htm.
For example doing a risk assessment for social distancing. I know it is based on absolutely NO scientific evidence whatsoever and certainly no research has shown it to be effective in controlling the spread of viruses. Professor Robert Dingwall, who is a member of NERVTAG, admitted it was “conjured out of nowhere”.
It will be interesting how to justify any social distancing measure as part of a risk assessment when there is no evidence whatsoever that as a “safety measure” it actually has any effect on keeping people “safe”.
A business owner or operator cannot use the defence “I was following guidelines 100%” or “my landlord ordered me to do this” if there is an incident and they end up in court on a HSE charge. Will XXXXXX have a representative in the court and dock with them as co-defendant as it was their guidelines or instructions the tenants were following? It is the tenant's business/premises/operations and they should have performed their own risk assessment using their own research and they should have realised the guidelines were inadequate/irrelevant or inappropriate for their operations because if they were sufficient then the “incident” would not have happened or been mitigated. Remember the phrase ALARP - as low as reasonably practicable - that is common in HSE legislation. This means exactly what it says, steps are taken to mitigate and lower the risk “as reasonably practicable”. This does not mean bankrupting the business/individuals/the country to try and stop something that has low or insignificant risk (Covid-19 was downgraded from HCID status on March 19th 2020) and as a virus cannot be stopped anyway. Research the Covid-19 data independently and draw your own conclusions on how much of a significant risk it is. I was going to put it here but as my conclusions may be tainted by my opinions it is better that you do the research yourself but fi you would like some pointers I am more than willing to give you some links to draw your own conclusions from.
Over 2000 years of dealing with influenza type illnesses has shown that they cannot be stopped, only slowed slightly, and that the most effective measures are:
1 - hand cleaning
2 - cough/sneeze etiquette. Use a clean handkerchief. Do it into your elbow then change clothes at earliest opportunity. Wash hands immediately if you cough/sneeze onto them.
3 - Stay in bed for a couple of days if you feel unwell.
This has been proven to work in 2020 as this was the original SAGE advice to the Government (and which Sweden and Belarus have followed throughout) and which the UK was following at the beginning of March 2020 and has recently been shown to be the correct advice because on the 21st July 2020 the Chief Medical Officer of England, Dr Chris Whitty, appeared before a Parliamentary select committee for health and social care.
Under questioning he stated the following on record:
"If you look at the R, and the behaviours, quite a lot of the change that led to the R going below one occurred well before, or to some extent before, the 23rd, when the full lockdown started." This, in effect, means that “the virus” infection rate was dropping drastically BEFORE the incarceration of the population started and that the existing precautions - wash hands properly, coughing etiquette, stay at home if you feel ill - were effectively controlling the spread of “the virus”. It also means that the peak of the infections occurred PRIOR to the population incarceration commenced and as the average time from catching “the virus” to death has been widely stated as 23 days with the peak numbers of deaths occurring approximately 10-14 days from commencement of the incarceration it means that the imprisonment of the population and destruction of the economy has had NO effect whatsoever.
Also as part of a risk assessment an important document is the WHO publication from 2019 that has never been superseded or withdrawn titled “Non pharmaceutical public health measures for mitigating the risk and impact of epidemic and pandemic influenza” and which clearly states:
"The evidence base on the effectiveness of NPIs in community settings is limited, and the overall quality of evidence was very low for most interventions. There have been a number of high quality randomized controlled trials (RCTs) demonstrating that personal protective measures such as hand hygiene and face masks have, at best, a small effect on influenza transmission” "Travel-related measures are unlikely to be successful in most locations because current screening tools such as thermal scanners cannot identify pre-symptomatic infections and afebrile infections, and travel restrictions and travel bans are likely to have prohibitive economic consequences.”
" There is also a lack of evidence for the effectiveness of improved respiratory
etiquette and the use of face masks in community settings during influenza epidemics and
" Quality of evidence
There is a very low overall quality of evidence on whether avoiding crowding can reduce
transmission of influenza.”
At best, you have been badly advised by your top management and legal teams at all levels.
At worst you are a willing participant in deliberately misleading the people who visit XXXXXXX into following guidance that is neither law nor enforceable or is blatantly discriminatory.
Please pass this onto XXXXX Garden Centres as well as I have now visited 2 of their sites in recent days and they have both been miserable experiences as well as they are following the same systems you are.
And please, do not insult me by sending me a standardised form response mentioning "following government guidance" and so on, I have shown you above this is total nonsense.
Either ignore me or supply a reasonable, measured response as to what actions you will be taking to remedy the situation, avoid falling foul of the disability discrimination laws and to improve the experience of visiting so that it is welcoming once again.