» Coronavirus Outbreak – Updated 30/03/20
30 March, 2020
Latest Update - Posted: 30/03/20
As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, and with the number of those testing positive continuing to rise, we are continuing to monitor both Government advice and the overall situation on a daily basis. With reports showing that the crisis continues to escalate, and is expected to continue doing so for at least another month or two, it has been considered prudent by UKAS to extend the period during which UKAS will only be undertaking assessments remotely. Therefore, a decision has been taken to extend the date published in the previous news update from 31st May until at least 31st July 2020.
This decision covers conformity assessment bodies located overseas as well as in the UK, although it is likely that it will be some time after this date before such international work resumes: Remote assessments shall remain the primary option during this period.
UKAS will continue to closely monitor the situation and may revise this date as the progress of this pandemic unfolds.
Updated posted: 17/03/20
We are all aware of the restrictions that the Coronavirus pandemic is placing on our businesses and personal lives. Over recent days it has become apparent that individual organisation and government policies on the restriction of travel and the need to protect the health and safety of individuals mean that UKAS cannot continue our assessments in their traditional form. However, it remains important that the trust and confidence that accreditation provides to the marketplace is not unduly diminished during these challenging times.
To ensure that UKAS continues to provide an appropriate level of trust and confidence to the marketplace, with immediate effect UKAS will be conducting all our assessments remotely. This will be the case until at least 31st May 2020. This duration will be subject to ongoing review and may be updated as the situation develops.
During this time, priority will be placed on maintaining the accreditation of our customers, therefore priority will be given to surveillance and reassessment visits. Regarding extensions to scope and initial assessments; some extensions to scope can be effectively conducted remotely and these will be unchanged. However, whilst more complex extensions to scope or initial assessments may have some aspects conducted remotely it is unlikely that UKAS will be able to assess and grant accreditation for any new or significantly changed activities during this period. (Note: Exceptions can be made for critical activities – for example those related to addressing Coronavirus)
It is our expectation that assessments will be conducted remotely during this period as cancelling or delaying assessments will not enable UKAS to maintain a level of trust and confidence to the marketplace. Remote assessments are likely to form a part of the planned assessment activity and there will be a need to complete assessments once travel restrictions are lifted. In the main, remote assessments will be conducted via web-meetings, remote document review and remote viewing of live streams for witnessing. At the most basic level this will comprise a telephone call and remote review of documents.
If your organisation is scheduled to have an assessment before 31st May 2020 then your Assessment Manager will soon be in contact with you to discuss how the assessment can be conducted remotely.
We understand that this may create some challenges for your organisation, but it is important that we protect the health and safety of our and your staff and that we continue to maintain trust and confidence in the market. Your support in enabling these actions will help to ensure both of these aims can be achieved.
UKAS has communicated this directly to all customers and contracted assessors today. If you have any queries, please contact your Assessment Manager or Customer Liaison Officer for further guidance.
Update posted on 06/03/20:
We are continuing to monitor Government and external advice in order to assess risks and undertake contingency planning following the outbreak and continued international spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19). As a result, UKAS has taken necessary precautionary measures which could impact work scheduled to take place in affected regions.
UKAS has made a policy decision to suspend all business travel to China (including Hong Kong & Macau), South Korea and Italy until at least the end of May 2020 and is reviewing daily all of its international commitments on a case-by-case basis. As a consequence of our reviews, and based upon current guidance, travel in SE Asia (other than China) is also under specific heightened scrutiny at this time.
As of 02 March 2020 - No business travel to:
Currently all UKAS assessments in countries for which there are no travel restrictions will be going ahead as planned. To date, all of the restricted areas have been overseas but based on the World Health Organisation’s statements and the UK Chief Medical Officer’s response, which has raised the risk to the UK from low to moderate, we are now also reviewing how the situation may affect our assessment activities in the UK. In the event of widespread travel restrictions overseas and in the UK, we have developed contingency plans to enable assessments to be conducted remotely such that we seek to maintain accreditation for our customers and providing confidence and assurance to their clients and stakeholders.
Testing / calibration laboratories, inspection bodies, reference material producers, proficiency testing providers and providers of healthcare, scientific and diagnostic services need to follow guidance in the latest Technical Bulletin - Managing the impact of the coronavirus outbreak - Laboratories, Inspection Bodies & Healthcare.
Certification bodies need to follow guidance in the latest Technical Bulletin – Managing the impact of the coronavirus outbreak – Certification Bodies.
Specific details of our contingency plans will be communicated as and when they need to be enacted.
These measures have been put in place to ensure the health and safety of UKAS staff and contractors by minimising the risk of exposure to Covid-19. As stated above, UKAS is continuing to monitor government and other external advice to assess the risks and will provide further updates as the situation develops.