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techUK has reported to be working closely with the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to establish a guaranteed access for critical staff in the event of tighter restrictions on movement without compromising the UK government’s objectives of combatting the Covid-19 outbreak.

According to techUK, fervent lobbying coupled with the swift and decisive action of DCMS has led to the inclusion of “Data Infrastructure” in the list of key workers published by Cabinet Office and the Department for Education.

The published guide however, does not guarantee access for facilities staff in the event of tighter restrictions on movement or a full lockdown; hence, teckUK said it will continue to work closely with DCMS towards achieving this critical objective.

The outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid-19) within the UK has increased the pressure on both the government and digital services operators, as the task of containing infection is interfering with the support of critical digital facilities such as data centres.

In a bid to share best practices and identify challenges within the sector, techUK has been running weekly calls though which data centre operators have been comparing notes on how they are identifying and managing Covid-19 risks and on the precautions they are putting in place.

According to techUK, data centres, especially those with multiple sites, were quick to implement precautions like shift segregation with no movement of personnel between shifts and no-contact handovers. Operators are also planning post-contamination cleaning procedures, irrespective of whether these will be needed.

“We are expecting information from Government imminently on what will be required in practice by critical facility workers should restrictions on movement tighten to a full lockdown,” said Emma Fryer, Associate Director at techUK.

“Meanwhile many operators and subcontractors have already issued their staff with letters of authority and this is looking like a very sensible precaution.”

On the other hand, DCMS has established a dedicated team for the data centre sector known as the DCMS Data Infrastructure Resilience Team. Understanding the critical role that data centres play and ensuring that this is understood across government, form the team’s core responsibilities.  The team is expecting questions and has already established a mailbox: for queries from data centre operators, customers and suppliers.

techUK is a membership organization and the trading name for Information Technology, Telecommunications and Electronics Association.