Businesses ‘in dark’ over Covid outbreak at firm

The Union Building on Rose Lane in Norwich has seen an outbreak of the virus - though not all tenant

The Union Building on Rose Lane in Norwich has seen an outbreak of the virus - though not all tenants were told. Picture: Mark Shields. - Credit: Archant

Businesses have reacted with alarm after they were left in the dark about a Covid-19 outbreak at a solicitors in their shared office block.

The Union Building on Rose Lane in Norwich. Picture: Mark Shields.

The Union Building on Rose Lane in Norwich. Picture: Mark Shields. - Credit: Archant

Four employees working for The Leadenhall Group tested positive for coronavirus, but the solicitors firm said it was “not its duty” to tell other businesses in the Union Building in Rose Lane, Norwich.

It said it made the managers of the Union Building aware - but the majority of other businesses on site claimed they heard from neither the managers nor the Leadenhall Group.

Facilities including lifts, stairs and toilets are shared between businesses – including a number of firms which are open to the public.

Three other companies on site – which asked to remain anonymous - expressed their alarm at not having been notified.


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But director of the Leadenhall Group Katherine McNally said she had “no duty” to notify her neighbours.

MORE: More of region’s employers poised to cut jobs as lockdown levels rise

The managers of the building declined to comment.

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Clive Lewis, the MP for Norwich South which includes Rose Lane, said: “Scientific consensus now is that the virus mostly thrives indoors where people are gathered together talking, which pretty much describes every office environment.

“So when you get an outbreak like this in a whole building full of office spaces you need two essential things. Firstly, it needs to be absolutely clear what needs to be done. Secondly, an outbreak like this has to be taken extremely seriously, as a matter of urgency.

“But with this situation at the Union Building, we’ve had pretty much the opposite outcomes.” He added: “There appears to be no explicit government guidance related to this kind of outbreak and environment. That’s a massive oversight because there must be tens of thousands of sites occupied by multiple businesses across the country. “It really is not too dramatic to say that shonky national guidelines and failures to act can kill.”

According to Norfolk County Council each business should have its own procedure in the event of an outbreak, any breach of which should be reported to the city council’s environmental health team.

Ms McNally said: “We found out about the first case on a Saturday and that individual did not come back to the office. We then had all the staff tested and three more tested positive so we shut down the office – putting a notice in the office window and booking a deep clean.”

Following the isolation period of two weeks staff will return on November 3.

Ms McNally said the in-house cleaning team at the Union Building had been employed to fog the offices.

Rooftop Gardens – a bar on the top floor of the Union Building – did not initially respond but later said they had been made aware.

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