Archaeology and the COVID-19 pandemic developments
This has been sent to all FAME members:
Dear FAME Members,
Apologies for the raft of emails coming from FAME in such short order, though given the quickly changing situation we thought it necessary to update you on developments relating to fieldwork and non-field work that will impact you imminently.
In the last few days we have heard back from more of you – to update you on the general standing of FAME members:
- More have now completely shut down fieldwork.
- Some have implemented partial shutdowns e.g. withdrawing from some projects or moving to only undertaking watching briefs
- Many organisations have paused work today as best they can in light of the unclear announcements about closing down the country.
Unfortunately, no clarity has been forthcoming this morning, with the official guidance only mentioning certain areas and not construction, which appears to be covered by the ambiguous ‘critical work’ advice but no indication has been given regarding if it is considered critical work or not. Guidance by twitter is not helping to clear this up.
The Welsh, Scottish and London governments have called for construction sites to be closed and in Scotland that is the official recommendations, though our understanding is the London Mayor’s objections have been overruled by central government. Some construction companies are shutting down their work regardless.
Given the lack of clarity we are expecting a chaotic closure of work in the coming days, with certain regions and sites closing before others; please plan for this.
We have been in contact with ALGAO with concerns raised by you last week and they have responded to say:
- their members will be flexible with requirements to access physical locations for research – though the level of this flexibility will be decided at the local level and to please contact your local authority’s archaeologist right away if you believe it will be an issue.
- for site visits – most local authrorities have banned these and ALGAO have asked ‘If there are alternatives which FAME members can do, such as using a free service like WhatsApp/face-time for remotely viewing a site then that could be an option. Furthermore any specific measures introduced by that company for visiting a site should be notified to the relevant ALGAO member in advance.’
Finally, for those of you not undertaking fieldwork, ALGAO has alerted us to potentially significant disruptions to your work – many ALGAO members may be seconded into plugging gaps in critical local authority services over the coming weeks/months. Many are already on standby and are looking at how to maintain a basic level of service should they find themselves doing other jobs.
This of course will vary from area to area with some local authority archaeological advice being provided by non-local authority organisations and not all will redeploy their staff – but be prepared for disruptions.
In this regard, ALGAO has asked us to please flag up any particular issues/difficulties to their Executive and they will do their best to help.
Finally, we have posted links to guidance on breaking contracts on our website for those that find themselves in such a position.
Please do get into contact if there is anything we can do to help during this trying time.