Safety at heart of campaign to reopen Greater Manchester economy

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham today joined business and transport leaders in launching a campaign to ensure that the city-region’s economy can reopen safely from coronavirus lockdown.

The Safely Reopening GM (opens new page) initiative is a coordinated campaign across Greater Manchester aligned with the reopening of non-essential retail on 15 June and a return to work for many more people. It is designed to ensure that employers and employees are aware of the information they need to work and travel safely during the continuing pandemic.

Delivered by the Growth Company in partnership with Transport for Greater Manchester and Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Safely Reopening GM continues to reinforce the protection of public health as a key priority, with companies urged to allow home working if possible and travellers encouraged to avoid all but essential use of public transport and to walk or cycle instead where possible.

Where home working is not possible, Safely Reopening GM will provide support and advice enabling employers to support staff in commuting and working safely.

Where homeworking is not possible, businesses and workers are being encouraged to:

• Only use public transport if necessary – walk, cycle or drive instead
• Get ready for mandatory face coverings* on public transport from June 15
To help with the return to work, a series of changes are being introduced across the transport network, including*:
• Increased Metrolink frequency – with mostly double services running every 10 minutes – from June 22
• Hand sanitiser dispensers placed at bus stations and interchanges by mid-June and assessing further roll out at key Metrolink stops
• Discounted travel for people working more flexibly and travelling less often
• Delivery of up to 200km of new, emergency active travel protected routes, traffic calming measures and increasing access to bikes – subject to confirmation of a £21.5m DfT funding bid.
• An expansion of GM’s bike loan scheme and relaunching of cycle training to provide people with the confidence and skills to commute by bike

Face coverings will be mandatory on public transport from Monday, 15 June, and it will be up to passengers to ensure they are wearing a face covering. To help people get used to the change and embed this new expected behaviour TfGM will be distributing a limited number of masks at staffed bus stations, interchanges and some Metrolink stops from Monday.

Employers are being urged to follow a set of Safely Reopening GM guidelines, including:

• Supporting home working wherever possible
• Where possible, only bringing a proportion of their staff back at one time and staggering the working day by allowing some staff to start earlier and others to finish later to ease the peak on public transport.
• Providing good hygiene facilities.
• Enabling social distancing and where operationally impractical employers should implement measures to lower risk of transmission e.g. providing PPE
• Boosting employee confidence by conducting and publishing a risk assessment
• Workplaces, especially Retail should boost confidence by displaying a notice visibly in their shop windows or outside their store to show their employees, customers and other visitors that they are implementing Government guidance
• Acknowledging the needs of individual employees, who may need to consider childcare or other responsibilities
• Promoting good mental and physical health

Introduction of staggered shift patterns and more flexible working arrangements are expected to improve work-life balance and boost productivity as business leaders begin the process of reopening the Greater Manchester economy.

Information supporting employers and employees in reopening the Greater Manchester economy safely is available via (opens new page) and will also be shared on social media using the #SafeGM hashtag.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, said: “Protecting public health remains our number one priority and Safely Reopening GM is a vitally important campaign as lockdown is gradually eased by the Government and people adapt to the realities of working at a time of pandemic.

“I want people to put safety first for themselves and others, wearing face masks in public spaces and ensuring that they are aware of what they need to do to halt the spread of Covid-19.

“Wherever possible, people should work from home. If working from home is not possible, ensure you are familiar with the information that will keep you and others safe. This will involve new work practices and behaviour and it is essential that everybody takes steps to ensure that they know what they need to do work safely.”

Mark Hughes, CEO of the Growth Company, said: “A coordinated and aligned approach to reopening the Greater Manchester economy safely is essential. Continuing the work started by the Growth Company’s #HereForBusiness campaign, we now want to provide businesses and individuals with the information and support they need to reopen and recover.

“We recognise that owners and managers of businesses have huge demands on their time and face significant challenges in the weeks and months ahead. The way through that is to innovate and rise up to the challenges they face and the Safely Reopening GM initiative is will be an important step in helping them to do that.”

* Exceptions include young children, people with breathing difficulties and people whose disabilities makes it difficult for them to wear a face covering.

Article Published: 10/06/2020 18:17 PM