Social distancing signage in downtown San Jose, California, US. File photo: BLOOMBERG/DAVID PAUL MORRIS
Social distancing signage in downtown San Jose, California, US. File photo: BLOOMBERG/DAVID PAUL MORRIS

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) staff will wear electronic devices to enforce social distancing in a sign of how workplaces are scurrying to contain a new, more-infectious variant of the coronavirus.

The UK’s state-backed media company has required those in key production and broadcasting roles to continue coming into offices. In memos sent yesterday and seen by Bloomberg, the BBC said measures to keep people safe will include wearable alarms. A BBC spokesperson confirmed the memos.

“Social distancing proximity devices will be rolled out in key BBC locations to help maintain safe social distancing,” according to one of the memos. “Anyone coming into those offices will be asked to wear the devices, which will alert wearers when they’re less than two metres apart from someone else.”

The gadget resembles a pager which will buzz if the wearer gets too close to someone else, and doesn’t record any personal data, according to the memos. The measures will be introduced in the coming weeks, they said.

The BBC spokesperson didn’t have details of the device’s provider but said it did not connect to Wi-Fi. The project was reported earlier by the Daily Mail.

The BBC is also introducing weekly or twice-weekly lateral flow coronavirus tests for employees who visit the office regularly, according to the memos. They reiterate guidance around social distancing, rules around wearing face-masks in communal areas, and information about support for staff.

The UK’s surge in Covid-19 cases over the past month has been driven by a mutation of the virus, which scientists estimate is as much as 70% more infectious. Roughly one in 50 people in England currently has the disease, according to government estimates.

Bloomberg 

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