Brand Director, Barbour

Author Bio ▼

Teresa Higgins is Brand Director of Barbour EHS, a health & safety information service with content from more than 800 providers, covering Health and Safety, Environment, Estate and Facilities Management and International legislation. Teresa has worked at Barbour for over 25 years in total and has been in her current position since 2014. She has always worked in the specialist information sector having also held positions at CCH UK working with tax and accounting specialists and IHS working with Architects, engineers and H&S professionals. As Brand Director, Teresa works with professionals in the industry to make sure Barbour continues to be the market-leading information service.
May 29, 2020

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Coronavirus advice for employers

The government has decided that its 5 tests (protecting the NHS, consistent falls in death rates, consistent falls in the infection rates, solving operational problems, and avoiding a second peak) for lifting lockdown restrictions have been met. Also, from Monday, six people will be able to meet, so long as they keep to social distancing rules.

Thursday’s Briefing

coronavirus

Yesterday’s press conference was led by the prime minister, Boris Johnson. He was joined by Prof Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Adviser, and Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Adviser. They said:

  • The government has decided that its 5 tests (protecting the NHS, consistent falls in death rates, consistent falls in the infection rates, solving operational problems, and avoiding a second peak) for lifting lockdown restrictions have been met;
  • On Monday (1 June), schools will re-open for children in reception, year one and year six. From 15 June, years 10 and 12 will start to receive some face-to-face teaching;
  • From Monday, some non-essential retail will open, with more to come on 15 June, depending on the infection rate;
  • From Monday, six people will be able to meet, so long as they keep to social distancing rules (staying 2m from people from outside your household) and remain outside. People will be able to meet in private outdoor spaces;
  • The public is advised to avoid mixing with multiple different households in quick succession to avoid quick transmission of the virus;
  • The rate of infection is still near to one (between 0.7 and 0.9), meaning lifting measures has to be done very carefully;
  • People who are classed as extremely clinically vulnerable must remain shielded. However, if the absolute number of infections fall, some lifting of shielding may be possible;
  • The government’s objective is to keep the R number – the number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to – below one. It is currently at 0.7-0.9.

Other developments:

  • Dental practices in England can reopen from 8 June, if they put in place appropriate measures;
  • Hundreds of schools in South Korea have closed due to a spike in infections, just days after they reopened to millions of children. Most of the new cases are in Seoul;
  • Brazil, which is at the centre of the Latin American outbreak, has also reported a surge in new cases. It said a record number of infections – more than 26,400 – had been confirmed over the past 24 hours;
  • Premier League games are set to restart on 17 June, subject to government approval.

Latest figures

According to figures from Worldometer, there are:

Globally:

  • 5,911,507 confirmed cases;
  • 362,127 deaths.

UK:

  • 269,127 confirmed cases;
  • 37,837 deaths.

Ireland:

  • 24,841 confirmed cases;
  • 1,639 deaths.

UK: lifting of coronavirus restrictions

Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have also announced the lifting of some lockdown restrictions:

Scotland

Yesterday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed people in Scotland will be able to meet their friends and family outside from today.

Ms Sturgeon said people from two different households will be able to meet – but must keep two metres apart. They must also remain outdoors, and in groups of no more than eight. People are still being urged to “stay at home as much as possible”.

The lockdown easing was announced as Ms Sturgeon confirmed the country was ready to introduce the first phase of its four-phase “route map” (see below) towards reopening society while attempting to suppress the virus.

Ms Sturgeon said “most outdoor work that has been put on hold can resume” from today. This will see garden centres opening their doors again and site preparation beginning in the construction industry, with recycling centres re-opening from Monday.

On Monday Teachers and other staff will be able to return to schools to prepare for re-opening – although most pupils will not return until 11 August, when they will begin a “blended model” of education which will see learning split between the classroom and home.

Also allowed from today:

  • Some outdoor leisure activities where physical distancing can be maintained – including golf, tennis, bowls and fishing;
  • People can sit out and sunbathe in parks and open areas, and travel within their local area for exercise – although there is “strong advice” not to travel more than five miles for leisure;
  • Members of two different households will be allowed to meet up so long as they remain outdoors “in a park or private garden” and stay 2m (6ft) apart.

Northern Ireland:

Stormont’s leaders have announced a series of proposed lockdown relaxations in Northern Ireland.

The decisions agreed by the executive yesterday, which will provisionally start from 8 June, include:

  • Small weddings and civil partnership ceremonies permitted outdoors, with no more than 10 people present;
  • Outdoor sports courts, horse trainers and dog groomers can reopen;
  • Hotels will be able to take advance bookings, for when they can reopen again;
  • Large non-food retailers can reopen, including car showrooms, electrical shops and phone shops.

The steps will only be introduced if the scientific evidence indicates that the virus continues to be suppressed.

Stormont has sought to co-ordinate with the Republic of Ireland to relax restrictions on common principles, although timings may differ. Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar has already announced a five-stage road map to reopen the country.

Wales

The First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, has said the R infection rate in the country remains at 0.8.

The Welsh Government has announced people from two different households in the same area to meet up outdoors, including private gardens. They will need to stay in their local area – within five miles as a “general rule” – and remain two metres apart.

While the new measures will allow people to meet up with friends and family they might not have seen since lockdown began, social distancing must be kept up and strict hand washing.

Mark Drakeford will be laying out the full changes to lockdown later today.

Retail to reopen

High street shops, department stores and shopping centres across England are set to reopen next month once they are COVID-19 secure and can show customers will be kept safe, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday.

The Prime Minister has set out that:

  • Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June, as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers. As with garden centres, the risk of transmission of the virus is lower in these outdoor and more open spaces. Car showrooms often have significant outdoor space and it is generally easier to apply social distancing;
  • All other non-essential retail including shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets, will be expected to be able to reopen from 15 June if the Government’s five tests are met and they follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines, giving them three weeks to prepare.

sinesses will only be able to open from these dates once they have completed a risk assessment, in consultation with trade union representatives or workers, and are confident they are managing the risks. They must have taken the necessary steps to become COVID-19 secure in line with the current health and safety legislation, the government has said.

The government has published updated COVID-secure guidelines for people who work in or run shops, branches, and stores, after consultation with businesses, union leaders, Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive.

The updated guidance takes into account the best practice demonstrated by the many retailers which have been allowed to remain open and have applied social distancing measures in store. Measures that shops should consider include placing a poster in their windows to demonstrate awareness of the guidance and commitment to safety measures, storing returned items for 72 hours before putting them back out on the shop floor, placing protective coverings on large items touched by the public such as beds or sofas, and frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, including self-checkouts, trolleys, coffee machines and betting terminals, for example.

As per the government roadmap, hairdressers, nail bars and beauty salons, and the hospitality sector, remain closed, because the risk of transmission in these environments is higher where long periods of person to person contact is required.

HSE to restart “proactive” inspections of construction sites

The move follows a government announcement of more cash for the organisation and prime minister Boris Johnson promising the body would carry out “spot inspections” to make sure businesses were safe places to work. However the head of the union representing HSE inspectors has warned the organisation remains too small, reports Construction News.

The safety watchdog stopped carrying out routine inspections after the lockdown announcement in March, despite sectors such as construction continuing to operate.

HSE to prosecute and lockdown eased in England

The HSE is prepared to use its enforcement powers when necessary and will also consider criminal prosecutions, its Chief Executive Sarah Albon said. She said last week, she is aware of a small number of firms “not doing the right thing or not sure what the right thing is to do”.

Government strategy and workplace guidance

The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy

An outline to the Government’s plan for rebuilding and recovering from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has now been published.

NHS Test and Trace service 

The NHS Test and Trace service forms a central part of the government’s coronavirus recovery strategy. Launching across England, the service aims to help identify, contain and control coronavirus, reduce the spread of the virus and save lives.

Anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and will need to share information about their recent interactions. This could include household members, people with whom they have been in direct contact, or within 2 metres, for more than 15 minutes.

People identified as having been in close contact with someone who has a positive test must stay at home for 14 days, even if they do not have symptoms, to stop unknowingly spreading the virus.

If those in isolation develop symptoms, they can book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. If they test positive, they must continue to stay at home for 7 days or until their symptoms have passed. If they test negative, they must complete the 14-day isolation period.

Members of their household will not have to stay at home unless the person identified becomes symptomatic, at which point they must also self-isolate for 14 days to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.

NHS Test and Trace brings together 4 tools to control the virus:

  1. Test: increasing availability and speed of testing will underpin NHS Test and Trace;
  2. Trace: when someone tests positive for coronavirus the NHS Test and Trace service will use dedicated contact tracing staff, online services and local public health experts to identify any close recent contacts they’ve had and alert those most at risk of having the virus who need to self-isolate. This will be complemented by the rollout of the NHS COVID-19 App in the coming weeks;
  3. Contain: a national Joint Biosecurity Centre will work with local authorities and public health teams in Public Health England (PHE), including local Directors of Public Health, to identify localised outbreaks and support effective local responses, including plans to quickly deploy testing facilities to particular locations. Local authorities have been supported by £300 million of new funding to help local authorities develop their own local outbreak control plans;
  4. Enable: government to learn more about the virus, including as the science develops, to explore how we could go further in easing infection control measures.

The Department for Work and Pensions has announced that those having to self-isolate will be eligible for statutory sick pay if they are unable to work from home. This applies across the four nations of the UK.

The government has also commented that work continues on the NHS COVID-19 app following a successful rollout on the Isle of Wight. It has added that there has been a positive reception to the test and trace system on the island with over 52,000 downloads in the first week. The app, which will form a part of the NHS Test and Trace service, is due to be launched in the coming weeks once contact tracing is up and running.

Guidance on NHS test and trace is available here.

NHS test and trace: workplace guidance

This document sets out guidance on the NHS test and trace service for employers, businesses and workers.

The role of employers

According to the guidance, the NHS test and trace service will help to manage the risk of the virus re-emerging as restrictions on everyday life are eased, as far as it is deemed safe to do so.

It stresses that it is vital employers play their part by:

  • Making their workplaces as safe as possible;
  • Encouraging workers to heed any notifications to self-isolate and supporting them when in isolation.

The document recognises that although this may seem disruptive for businesses, but suggests that it is less disruptive than an outbreak of COVID-19 in the workplace will be, and far less disruptive than periods in lockdown.

The NHS test and trace service is designed to support businesses and economic recovery by:

  • Providing testing for anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus, so that if they have been tested positive, they and their household member know to continue to self-isolate;
  • Helping to stop the onward spread of the virus in the workplace and wider society, so that fewer people develop coronavirus and have to self-isolate;
  • Enabling the government to go further in safely easing or lifting lockdown measures, as far as it is deemed safe to do so, thereby allowing the nation to return to normal as quickly as possible.

Sector health and safety

This guidance must be followed to help to reduce the risk of a spread of infection in the workplace, says the document. In addition to this, employers are reminded that they must continue to follow health and safety workplace guidance for their sector such as:

  • Making every reasonable effort to enable working from home as a first option;
  • Where working from home isn’t possible, identifying sensible measures to control the risks in the workplace;
  • Keeping the workplace clean, maintaining safe working separation, and preventing transmission through unnecessary touching of potentially contaminated surfaces.

The guidance also includes information:

  • For the self employed;
  • On contact tracing: contact with co-workers;
  • The NHS COVID-19 app;
  • For workers.

It is available in full here.

“COVID-19 Secure” guidelines

Many measures require the development of new safety guidelines that set out how each type of physical space can be adapted to operate safely. The Government has been consulting relevant sectors, industry bodies, local authorities, trades unions, the Health and Safety Executive and Public Health England on their development.

To make workplaces less infectious, the guidelines promotes, for example:

  • Keeping a distance between people outside their household;
  • Keeping the hands and face as clean as possible. Hand sanitiser should be carried when travelling and applied where available outside the home, especially when entering a building and following contact with surfaces. Clothes should also be washed regularly, as there is some evidence that the virus can stay on fabrics;
  • Limiting the number of people that any given individual comes into contact with regularly. Employers can support this where practical by changing shift patterns and rotas to keep smaller, contained teams. Evidence also suggests the virus is less likely to be transmitted in well-ventilated areas.

5 steps to working safely

This government advice sets out practical actions for businesses to take based on five main steps.

The relevant guide for each workplace should also be read (see below) as these contain specific actions for businesses to take based on these steps. Further guidance will be published as more businesses are able to reopen, says the government.

  1. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment

Before restarting work you should ensure the safety of the workplace by:

  • carrying out a risk assessment in line with the HSE guidance
  • consulting with your workers or trade unions
  • sharing the results of the risk assessment with your workforce and on your website.
  1. Develop cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures

You should increase the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning by:

  • encouraging people to follow the guidance on hand washing and hygiene
  • providing hand sanitiser around the workplace, in addition to washrooms
  • frequently cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces that are touched regularly
  • enhancing cleaning for busy areas
  • setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets
  • providing hand drying facilities – either paper towels or electrical dryers.
  1. Help people to work from home

You should take all reasonable steps to help people work from home by:

  • discussing home working arrangements
  • ensuring they have the right equipment, for example remote access to work systems
  • including them in all necessary communications
  • looking after their physical and mental wellbeing.
  1. Maintain 2m social distancing, where possible

Where possible, you should maintain 2m between people by:

  • putting up signs to remind workers and visitors of social distancing guidance
  • avoiding sharing workstations
  • using floor tape or paint to mark areas to help people keep to a 2m distance
  • arranging one-way traffic through the workplace if possible
  • switching to seeing visitors by appointment only if possible.
  1. Where people cannot be 2m apart, manage transmission risk

Where it’s not possible for people to be 2m apart, you should do everything practical to manage the transmission risk by:

  • considering whether an activity needs to continue for the business to operate
  • keeping the activity time involved as short as possible
  • using screens or barriers to separate people from each other
  • using back-to-back or side-to-side working whenever possible
  • staggering arrival and departure times
  • reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’.

Scotland’s route map through and out of the crisis

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that lockdown restrictions in Scotland are likely to be relaxed slightly from 28 May.

A four-phase “route map” has been published, which is aimed at restarting society while suppressing the virus. The document sets out the steps to reopen Scottish society, although it does not set exact timescales. It states that reviews will take place every three weeks as a minimum, to ensure Scotland is on track and to assess whether elements within each phase can be accelerated or need to be decelerated.

The route map takes an evidence-led and transparent approach to easing restrictions and sets out a phased approach.

It gives practical examples of what people, organisations and businesses can expect to see change over time, and highlights some of the things that won’t change for a while, including the continuing need for enhanced public health measures such as physical distancing. For example:

  • The first phase of easing will see garden centres and recycling facilities reopen, while some outdoor activities such as golf, fishing, tennis and bowls will be allowed again, as will outdoor work such as agriculture and forestry;
  • People will also be able to sit or sunbathe in parks and open areas, and will be able to meet people from one other household – although only initially in small numbers and while they are outside;
  • Different households should remain two metres apart from each other, and visiting inside other people’s houses will not be permitted in the first phase;
  • People will be able to travel – preferably by walking or cycling – for recreation, although they will be asked to remain “where possible” within or close to their own local area;
  • Take-away and drive-through food outlets will no longer be discouraged from re-opening, so long as they apply safe physical distancing, but non-essential indoor shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs must remain closed during the first phase;
  • Schools will not reopen until the new school year begins on 11 August (Phase 3). Children will return to a blended model where they will do a mix of school and home learning;
  • Also in Phase 3 remote working remains the default position for those who can. Indoor office workplaces including contact centres can reopen, once relevant guidance has been agreed and with physical distancing.

If the evidence shows transmission of COVID-19 is under control and the number of infectious cases is starting to decline, the Scottish Government will consider moving to Phase 1 of the route map following the next end-of-cycle review date on 28 May.

The NHS Scotland test, trace, isolate and support strategy – known as Test and Protect – will be ready for expansion in all 14 health boards from 28 May.

The flexour phases

Phase 1: Virus not yet contained but cases are falling. From 28 May people should be able to meet another household outside in small numbers. Sunbathing is allowed, along with some outdoor activities like golf and fishing. Garden centres and drive-through takeaways can reopen, some outdoor work can resume, and childminding services can begin.

Phase 2: Virus controlled. People can meet larger groups outdoors, and meet another household indoors. Construction, factories, warehouses, laboratories and small shops can resume work. Playgrounds and sports courts can reopen, and professional sport can begin again.

Phase 3: Virus suppressed. Meetings of people from more than one household indoors. Non-essential offices would reopen, along with gyms, museums, libraries, cinemas, larger shops, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and dentists. Live events could take place with restricted numbers and physical distancing restrictions. Schools should reopen from 11 August.

 

Phase 4: Virus no longer a significant threat. University and college campuses can reopen in full, mass gatherings are allowed. All workplaces open and public transport is back at full capacity.


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Workplace Guidance: Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Guidance published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is for employers to help them get their businesses back up and running and workplaces operating safely.

The ‘COVID-19 secure’ guidelines aim to help make workplaces as safe as possible and give people confidence to go back to work during coronavirus pandemic. The documents have been developed in consultation with approximately 250 businesses, unions, industry leaders as well as devolved administrations.

The new guidance covers eight workplace settings which are allowed to be open, from outdoor environments and construction sites to factories and takeaways.

Practical steps for businesses are focused on five key points, which should be implemented as soon as it is practical:

  1. Work from home, if you can

All reasonable steps should be taken by employers to help people work from home. But for those who cannot work from home and whose workplace has not been told to close, our message is clear: you should go to work. Staff should speak to their employer about when their workplace will open.

  1. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions

This guidance operates within current health and safety employment and equalities legislation and employers will need to carry out COVID-19 risk assessments in consultation with their workers or trade unions, to establish what guidelines to put in place. If possible, employers should publish the results of their risk assessments on their website and we expect all businesses with over 50 employees to do so.

  1. Maintain 2 metres social distancing, wherever possible

Employers should re-design workspaces to maintain 2 metre distances between people by staggering start times, creating one-way walk-throughs, opening more entrances and exits, or changing seating layouts in break rooms.

  1. Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, manage transmission risk

Employers should look into putting barriers in shared spaces, creating workplace shift patterns or fixed teams minimising the number of people in contact with one another, or ensuring colleagues are facing away from each other.

  1. Reinforcing cleaning processes

Workplaces should be cleaned more frequently, paying close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards. Employers should provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points.

A downloadable notice is included in the documents, which employers should display in their workplaces to show their employees, customers and other visitors to their workplace, that they have followed this guidance.

The guidance applies to businesses currently open. This also includes guidance for shops which the government believe may be in a position to begin a phased reopening at the earliest from the 1 June. It is noted that guidance for other sectors that are not currently open will be developed and published ahead of those establishments opening to give those businesses time to plan.

The following documents are also available:

  1. Construction and other outdoor work: guidance for people who work in or run outdoor working environments;
  2. Factories, plants and warehouses: guidance for people who work in or run factories, plants and warehouses;
  3. Homes: guidance for people working in, visiting or delivering to home environments as well as their employers;
  4. Labs and research facilities: guidance for people who work in or run indoor labs and research facilities and similar environments;
  5. Offices and contact centres: guidance for people who work in or run offices, contact centres and similar indoor environments;
  6. Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery: guidance for people who work in or run restaurants offering takeaway or delivery services;
  7. Shops and branches: guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments;
  8. Vehicles: Guidance for people who work in or from vehicles, including couriers, mobile workers, lorry drivers, on-site transit and work vehicles, field forces and similar.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): charter for safe working practice

This Charter has been launched to enable housebuilders to make a common commitment to operate in line with government safe working guidance. Signatories to the Charter have publicly committed to safe working practices in accordance with government and Construction Leadership Council guidance. It has been co-produced by the government and the Home Building Federation.

Through adherence to this Charter, the aim is that the industry can continue to provide much needed additions to housing supply and play its part in the country’s economic recovery while delivering on its top priority: protecting the health and safety of the home building workforce, visitors to site and the local community.

According to HBF: “The Charter is a public facing commitment which supports the very detailed protocols individual builders have in place to ensure safe working on sites.”

Assessing risk

As an employer, you must protect people from harm. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect your workers and others from coronavirus. This is called a risk assessment and it’ll help you manage risk and protect people.

You must:

  • Identify what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus;
  • Think about who could be at risk;
  • Decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed;
  • Act to remove the activity or situation, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk.

If you have fewer than five employees, you don’t have to write anything down, but it might help if you do.

In terms of ‘Talking to your workers’ – separate guidance is available to help employers let people know what they need to do to protect themselves – see below.

This guidance goes on to cover who should go to work; protecting people who are at higher risk; getting into and leaving work; the work area; moving around; common areas; good hygiene; information and guidance; and PPE.

Talking with your workers about preventing coronavirus

This guide is aimed at all employers. It explains how you can talk to your workers about preventing coronavirus (COVID-19) in your workplace, for example by putting in place social distancing measures, staggering shifts and providing additional handwashing facilities.

The guidance may also be useful to workers and their representatives, and those who are self-employed and work with or near other people. The law requires all employers to assess the risk of returning to work while the coronavirus outbreak is ongoing and to put steps in place to manage that risk.

This guide is designed to help you consult with workers as one part of putting in place measures to manage the risks of coronavirus in the workplace while continuing to work.

By talking to your workers, the guidance suggests that you can:

  • Reassure them by explaining the changes you are making;
  • Get their thoughts and ideas about how to change the workplace to keep people safe and to ensure those changes are workable;
  • Continue to operate your business safely during the outbreak.

The guide describes five different themes and suggests questions you can discuss with your workers. They are designed to get you talking with your workers about managing the risks of coronavirus.

Actions can then be taken to make sure your plans are working safely, and people have been listened to. You can hold conversations before returning to work so that plans can be developed and put in place before going back. You could then have further discussions soon after return to make sure the actions are working and are being followed.

You may also decide to repeat the discussions if something changes, for example: if new guidelines are published; or if lockdown restrictions change.

Importantly, the guidance points out that you should make sure that there is time available for managers and workers to have these conversations. The guide relies on both managers and workers having an open and honest conversation.

COVID-19 roadmap taskforces

Reopening other (currently closed) businesses and public places will take place when the science allows, says the Cabinet Office, and when they can meet new COVID-19 secure guidelines, which relate to their specific activities. To support the development of such guidelines, the government will establish five ministerially-led ‘taskforces’. These are detailed in this guidance.

To support the development of such guidelines, the government will establish five ministerially-led ‘taskforces’:

  1. Pubs and restaurants (Department for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy);
  2. Non-essential retail (including salons) (Department for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy);
  3. Recreation and leisure, including tourism, culture and heritage, libraries, entertainment and sport (Department for Culture, Media and Sport);
  4. Places of worship, including faith, community and public buildings (Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local government);
  5. International aviation (Department for Transport).

How to wear and make a cloth face covering

People in England are being advised to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces where they come into contact with other people – including on public transport.

Issued by the Cabinet Office, this guidance emphasises that people should use home-made coverings, not the specialist masks used by healthcare workers, for example. It provides advice on:

  • Wearing a face covering;
  • Making a simple cloth face covering using either a T-shirt or cotton fabric.

Companies should undertake periodic face-fitting tests on masks because one-off tests do not sufficiently protect workers. Also, if you don’t know already, masks need to have a maintenance record.

Scotland: public use of face coverings

The Scottish Government has issued its own advice on this issue.

It says that Physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene, are the most important and effective measures we can all adopt to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Therefore, it is stressed that the wearing of facial coverings must not be used as an alternative to any of these other precautions.

Wales: Unlocking our society and economy: continuing the conversation 406109

This document sets out the steps the Welsh Government are considering in order to lead Wales out of the coronavirus pandemic.

It builds on the approach set out in the document published on 24 April (Leading Wales out of the coronavirus pandemic: a framework for recovery) which identified three pillars:

1 Measures and evidence

2 Principles underpinning adjustments to restrictions

3 Public health purpose.

It is felt that there is a growing risk that changed behaviours could lead to a rapid, possibly uncontrolled increase in the spread of the disease. To avoid this, the document notes that Wales needs to move at a pace which is matched by its capacity to identify and shut down new outbreaks of the disease – to test, trace and protect those who become ill or have the virus without symptoms and ensure that they self-isolate to protect onward transmission.

It says the next few weeks need to be spent adapting workplaces,  public spaces and other places where people come in contact with each other to the necessity of maintaining social distancing.

A traffic light-style system is set out, which is based on four stages to determine how those rules could be lifted – lockdown, red, amber and green – and includes the reopening of schools, seeing family and friends, playing sports and running businesses.

There are no dates given in the document, as changes can be only made when the scientific and medical advice says it is safe to do so, it says.

The document gives some detail to how life would look under each category:

  • Lockdown – Schools are only open to vulnerable pupils’ children and children of key workers, people are advised to stay at home, only leaving home for essential travel and to work from home if possible.
  • Red – Schools enabled to manage increase in demand from more key workers and vulnerable pupils returning; local travel, including for click-and-collect retail allowed; people allowed to provide or receive care and support to/from one family member or friend from outside the household
  • Amber – Priority groups of pupils to return to school in a phased approach; travel for leisure allowed together with meeting with small groups of family or friends for exercise; people able toaccess non-essential retail and services; more people travelling to work;
  • Green – All children and students able to access education; Unrestricted travel subject to ongoing precautions; All sports, leisure and cultural activities, as well as socialising with friends permitted, with physical distancing.

The Welsh government stressed that it is monitoring the “R rate” to decide what can be lifted and when.

Northern Ireland: NI Executive publishes plan for easing lockdown

A five-stage plan for easing the COVID-19 lockdown in Northern Ireland has been published by the Executive. The document sets out the approach the Executive will take when deciding how to ease restrictions in the future.

The plan does not include a timetable, but it is hoped to reach the final stage by December.

In making decisions, the Executive will consider three key criteria: the most up-to-date scientific evidence; the ability of the health service to cope; and the wider impacts on health, society and the economy.

Measures detailed in the plan include, amongst others:re

Step 1:

  • encouragement to those unable to work from home to return to work on a phased basis
  • large outdoor-based retail can open including garden centres, though associated cafes and restaurants can only offer takeaway or collection
  • groups of four to six people who do not share a household can meet outdoors maintaining social distancing. With the exception of people who are shielding, visits to immediate family allowed indoors where social distancing is possible

Step 2:

  • non-food retail can open where numbers are limited, with social distancing
  • groups of up to 10 can meet outdoors
  • as demand increases on public transport within social distancing requirements, people encouraged to walk and cycle for short journeys where possible

Step 3:

  • phased return to office and onsite working subject to risk assessment. Work that can be done from home should still be done from home
  • schools expand provision for priority groups on a part-time basis, using a combination of in-school and remote learning
  • gatherings can accommodate up to 30 people while maintaining social distancing

Step 4:

  • other “contact” retail (hairdressers, fitness studios, tattoo and piercing parlours) can open subject to mitigations following risk assessment
  • schools expand provision to accommodate all pupils on part-time basis with combination of in-school and remote learning
  • reducing and staggering demand for public transport at peak times through continued home working and staggered start times for businesses

Step 5:

    • all able to return to work subject to mitigations. Remote working still strongly encouraged
    • hospitality retail (restaurants, cafes, pubs) can open subject to risk assessment, initially on a limited basis
    • expand early-year school provision to full-time basis
    • public transport operating full service but subject to ongoing risk assessment.

Coronavirus guidance for schools

Managing school premises during the coronavirus outbreak 

This guidance is for schools and other educational settings on managing premises during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

It is aimed at leaders of schools and other educational settings; and members of staff with responsibility for managing premises.

Schools are advised to review their arrangements for all building-related systems but in particular:

  • Hot and cold water systems;
  • Gas safety;
  • Fire safety;
  • Kitchen equipment;
  • Security including access control and intruder alarm systems.

While schools should review their arrangements for all building-related systems, says the guidance, in particular the following areas are important:

  • Water systems – drinking water, hot water services;
  • Ventilation – good ventilation is essential at all times in classrooms and particularly during this period;
  • Fire safety – fire safety management plans should be reviewed and checked in line with operational changes;
  • Cleaning – new cleaning arrangements in line with coronavirus preparations should also include regular systematic checks on drainage systems, where toilets are put back into use;
  • All other systems – recommission all systems before re-opening, as would normally be done after a long holiday period.

Safe woking in education, childcare and children’s social care 

This guidance is for:

  • all staff in educational, childcare and children’s social care settings
  • children, young people and other learners

It applies to:

  • children’s homes, including secure children’s homes
  • residential special schools or colleges
  • fostering services
  • visits to family homes
  • alternative provision
  • early years and childcare settings
  • schools, including special schools
  • colleges, including specialist post-16 institutions.

This guidance explains the principles of infection prevention and control to enable safe working during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings 

The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy outlines an “ambition” for all primary school children in England to spend a month back at school before the summer holidays.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that if the level of infection remains low enough, children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 in primary schools might begin to return, from 1 June “at the earliest”.

As a result the government is asking schools, colleges and childcare providers to plan on this basis, ahead of confirmation that these tests are met.

The advice in this document aims to support staff working in schools, colleges and childcare settings, to deliver this approach in the safest way possible, focusing on measures they can put in place to help limit risk of the virus spreading within education and childcare settings.

The guidance addresses the following:

  • Effective infection protection and control;
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) including face coverings and face masks;
  • Shielded and clinically vulnerable children and young people;
  • Shielded and clinically vulnerable adults;
  • Living with a shielded or clinically vulnerable person;
  • Class or group sizes;
  • How to implement protective measures in an education setting before wider opening on 1 June.

Actions for education and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020 

This guidance sets out how educational and childcare settings should prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020, including information on:

  • Year groups in first phase of wider opening;
  • The latest science;
  • Managing risk and rate of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

It sets out a range of protective measures to ensure education settings remain safe places, including:

  • The undertaking of a risk assessment before opening in every setting. The assessment should directly address risks associated with coronavirus (COVID-19), so that sensible measures can be put in place to control those risks for children and staff. All employers have a duty to consult employees on health and safety, and they are best placed to understand the risks in individual settings;
  • Reducing the size of classes and keeping children in small groups without mixing with others;
  • Staggered break and lunch times, as well as drop offs and pick ups;
  • Increasing the frequency of cleaning, reducing the used of shared items and utilising outdoor space.

Preparing for the wider opening of schools from 1 June

This is a planning guide for primary school leaders to help prepare them to open their schools for more pupils during the coronavirus outbreak.

It aims to help school leaders prepare for extending their opening to include all pupils in reception, year 1 and year 6 from the week commencing 1 June, alongside priority groups (vulnerable children and the children of critical workers).

Guidance has now been added for secondary school provision from 15 June 2020.

Separate guidance is now also available, here.

On 24 May the Prime Minister announced that secondary schools should plan on the basis that from the week commencing 15 June, they can invite year 10 and 12 pupils (years 10 and 11 for alternative provision schools1) back into school for some face-to-face support with their teachers, subject to the government’s 5 tests being met.

Secondary schools are being asked to offer this face-to-face support to supplement the remote education of year 10 and year 12 pupils, which should remain the predominant mode of education during this term for pupils in these year groups.

The guidance advises that any plans that secondary schools have made for pupils to return earlier in June should be amended to commence from 15 June.

This guide is designed for mainstream and alternative provision secondary schools (including those with a school sixth form).

Scotland: Coronavirus (COVID-19): re-opening schools guide

This guidance has been developed for education authorities and schools, (Primary/Secondary/ASN/School Hostels/Residential) to support a safe, phased reopening of schools in line with the Strategic Framework for Reopening Schools and ELC. It may also be used by grant aided schools and independent schools to support their recovery efforts.

The aims of this guidance are to:

  • provide clarity of expectation with regard to practical approaches to a safe, phased reopening of schools and
  • in so doing, promote broad national consistency whilst ensuring appropriate local flexibility for education authorities, schools and staff to adapt and adopt approaches that best suit their communities’ needs and ensure the safety of staff, children, young people and their families.

It is noted that this guidance is not intended to promote a “checklist” approach. Rather, education authorities and schools should exercise their expert judgement to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their staff and children, taking into account local circumstances.

Risk assessments of individual facilities should be undertaken to ensure that health and safety legislation and guidance is fully adhered to.

As well as adapting the physical space and decreasing interactions in the education setting, education authorities and schools should consider key practices in respect of hygiene and facilities management.

If the school site or building has been closed for many weeks or if parts of the building have been out of use for a long period, the education authority/school should undertake a health and safety check of the building concerned and deep cleaning prior to reopening where necessary, says the guidance.

Re-opening the workplace after coronavirus

What’s expected in health and safety criminal law and how can you avoid prosecution?

Your organisation is looking ahead to stepwise resumption of operations once the COVID-19 lockdown starts to be eased. But what are your health and safety criminal law obligations for the return to work and what do you need to do to stay on the right side of the criminal law? Click here to read Simon Joyston-Bechal’s advice…

Barbour Resources: Re-opening work premises after COVID-19 – Technical Guide and Director’s Briefing

The UK Government is coming under increasing pressure to review their lockdown measures, particularly in terms of the reopening workplaces.  Whilst this discussion is evolving, the purpose of this guidance from Barbour is to outline to employers the range of issues that they must consider (where relevant) in preparing their offices, factories and warehouses for reoccupation.

The guidance is set out in four main sections:

  • Building Safety;
  • Plant and Equipment Safety;
  • Management of Safety;
  • Managing Wellbeing.

It does not cover construction sites, or health and social care activities. These have their own sector specific guidance in place.

Existing risk assessments may not cover COVID-19 hazards in sufficient detail, and as such employers may wish to develop a specific risk assessment as part of their reoccupation planning.  They must also consider how the key findings and controls from the risk assessment are effectively communicated to staff and other interested parties and how they are implemented. The guidance sets out topic areas that a reoccupation risk assessment might cover.

Director’s Briefing

Barbour’s Director’s Briefing addresses some key questions that employers may have around re-opening the workplace following the COVID-19 lockdown:

  • I want to reopen my site – where do I start?
    What issues do I need to think about in terms of building safety? (fire safety; water management; asbestos containing materials; deep cleaning for re-occupation)
  • What about plant and equipment safety?
  • Do I need to make changes to the overall management of safety on site?

Guidance for Businesses Re-opening after Temporary Closure 

[Northern Ireland]

The purpose of this guidance note is to provide information to those responsible for premises that have been closed for a period of time and where the water supply has not been in regular use.

It is applicable in the current situation when buildings are re-opened following a period of closure as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, but it is also relevant to a period of closure for any reason. It provides guidance to ensure water quality is maintained when the water supply within a building is returned to use.

Government guidance: Relieving pressure on public transport

Coronavirus (COVID-19): transport and travel guidance

Safer transport guidance for operators

This guide is to help organisations, agencies and others (such as self-employed transport providers) understand how to provide safer workplaces and services for themselves, their workers and passengers across all modes of private and public transport. It outlines measures to assess and address the risks of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the transport sector across England.

The guidance aims to ensure that stations and services are regularly cleaned, making clear to passengers how to stay 2 metres apart where possible in stations, airports and ports, and to ensure routes for passengers are clearly communicated to avoid crowding. The government’s guidance also sets out steps operators should take to provide safe workplaces and services for their staff and passengers across all modes of private and public transport.

Safer travel guidance for passengers

This guidance provides advice on how passengers should make journeys safely, following the publication of the government’s roadmap and strategy for the next phase of the pandemic. It urges people to consider cycling, walking or driving to help ensure there is enough capacity for those who need to travel on public transport to do so safely.

The advice sets out that if people who cannot work from home and have to travel for work, they should first consider alternatives to public transport. Those driving their own cars have been asked to avoid busy areas.

The guidance includes checklists for safer travel; these cover planning your journey and what to take with you.

Relieving pressure on public transport

The government has announced plans for boosting active transport, in an attempt to relieve pressure on public transport.

Pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus-only corridors will be created in England within weeks as part of a £250 million emergency active travel fund – the first stage of a £2 billion investment, as part of the £5 billion in new funding announced for cycling and buses in February.

Following unprecedented levels of walking and cycling across the UK during the pandemic, the plans will help encourage more people to choose alternatives to public transport when they need to travel, making healthier habits easier and helping make sure the road, bus and rail networks are ready to respond to future increases in demand.

The government will fund and work with local authorities across the country to help make it easier for people to use bikes to get around – including Greater Manchester, which wants to create 150 miles of protected cycle track, and Transport for London, which plans a “bike Tube” network above Underground lines.

Statutory guidance for local authorities

Fast-tracked statutory guidance, effective immediately, tells councils to reallocate road space for significantly-increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians. In towns and cities, some streets could become bike and bus-only while others remain available for motorists. More side streets could be closed to through traffic, to create low-traffic neighbourhoods and reduce rat-running while maintaining access for vehicles.

Vouchers will be issued for cycle repairs, to encourage people to get their old bikes out of the shed, and plans are being developed for greater provision of bike fixing facilities. Many more will take up the Cycle to Work scheme, which gives employees a discount on a new bike, the government has said.

The government as announced that an updated Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy will be launched by the Prime Minister in the summer, with further measures to transform cycling and walking to deliver the government’s aims to double cycling and increase walking by 2025 – including:

  • The creation of a national cycling and walking commissioner and inspectorate;
  • Higher standards for permanent infrastructure across England;
  • Getting GPs to prescribe cycling and exercise;
  • Creating a long-term budget for cycling and walking similar to what happens for roads.

The government will also be launching a campaign to encourage more people to look at alternative ways to travel, to walk or get on a bike for their commute instead of public transport.

E-scooter trials will also be brought forward from next year to next month to help encourage more people off public transport and onto greener alternatives.

Staggering the commute

coronavirus face mask

Further efforts to encourage drivers to ake the switch include the upcoming launch of a consultation which hopes to make charging electric vehicles just as easy as filling up a traditional petrol or diesel car. It will explore measures such as requiring rapid charging points – which are fundamental for longer journeys – to offer contactless payment, improving transparency on pricing and giving drivers better access to information about the chargepoints available on their journey.

The government says it is also working alongside the tech sector to see how technology could be used to help commuters stagger their journeys and advise on alternative modes of travel.

The government guidance Reallocating road space in response to COVID-19: statutory guidance for local authorities is available here.

The statutory guidance is made under section 18 of the Traffic Management Act 2004.

Also published is a document illustrating traffic signs to support social distancing – it is availabl here.

COVID-19: how to work safely in care homes

This guidance is for those working in care homes providing information on how to work safely during this period of sustained transmission of COVID-19. It includes:

  • PPE recommendations for care home staff;
  • frequently asked questions on the use of PPE in care homes;
  • examples which help to identify the correct use of PPE when undertaking activities that require physical contact or activities which do not require physical contact but are carried out in close proximity to residents;
  • guide to putting on PPE for care homes.

Posters are also available, illustrating best practice in relation to PPE:

It is noted that note that this guidance is of a general nature and employers should consider the specific conditions of each individual place of work and comply with all applicable legislation, including the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Advice from the HSE

The HSE has issued advice within a document titled: Social distancing, keeping businesses open and in-work activities during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. It covers guidance on social distancing, essential and non-essential work, and in-work activity.

Also released is guidance covering RIDDOR, first aid and chemicals:

RIDDOR reporting of COVID-19

What to report?

  • Dangerous occurrences: if something happens at work which results in (or could result in) the release or escape of coronavirus you must report this as a dangerous occurrence
  • Cases of disease: exposure to a biological agent: if there is reasonable evidence that someone diagnosed with COVID-19 was likely exposed because of their work you must report this as an exposure to a biological agent using the case of disease report.

First aid cover and qualifications during coronavirus (COVID-19)

If first aid cover for a business is reduced because of coronavirus or the first aid training needed is not available, this advice points out that there are some things that can be done to still comply with the law.

Arrangements for regulation of chemicals during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak 

The HSE has made some administrative changes in the provision of services for regulating chemicals during the coronavirus outbreak. These are set out for each chemical regime, with updated details on how to contact the HSE.


Other related content from SHP and IFSEC Global

Returning to work once COVID-19 lockdown relaxes – What’s expected in health and safety criminal law and how can you avoid prosecution?

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COVID-19 – What does your organisation need to do to stay the right side of criminal law?

SHP legislation update eBook

Can employers be prosecuted if employees are exposed to COVID-19?

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Legionella: Where low occupancy poses water-borne risks

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NHS asks people to share their coronavirus symptoms to help others

A new coronavirus Status Checker that will help the NHS coordinate its response and build up additional data on the COVID-19 outbreak has been launched by Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock.

People with potential coronavirus symptoms are now being asked to complete the status checker and answer a short series of questions which will tell the NHS about their experience.

It is open to anyone in the UK to use on the NHS website and in its initial phase the NHS is particularly keen for anyone who thinks they may be displaying potential coronavirus symptoms, no matter how mild, to complete it.

Status Checker users are clearly told at the beginning and the end of the survey that it is not a triage or clinical advice tool, and that they should visit 111 online for medical advice about their symptoms.

The information gathered will help the NHS to plan its response to the outbreak, indicating when and where more resources like oxygen, ventilators and additional staff might be needed and will provide valuable insight into the development and progression of the virus across the country.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Technology and data is playing a vital role in battling coronavirus and supporting our heroic NHS frontline workers to save lives, protect the vulnerable, and relive pressure on the NHS.

“We must learn as much as possible about this virus, and we are asking the whole nation to join this effort.

“If anyone has experienced symptoms of COVID-19 I would urge you to use our new status checker app to help us to collect essential information on the virus and allow us to better allocate NHS resources where they are needed most.”

coronavirus shopping

The tool is live now and people can complete the survey either for themselves or on behalf of someone else with their permission.

It asks them:

  • why they are staying at home
  • to choose from a series of options to describe how they are feeling
  • whether they have any other health problems
  • their date of birth
  • their postcode
  • how many people are living in their home.

The survey can be accessed on the NHS website here.

Emergency bill to strengthen coronavirus (COVID-19) response plans

The Coronavirus Bill, introduced in the House of Commons on 19 March 2020, received Royal Assent on 25 March 2020 and is now in force.

The purpose of the Act is to enable the Government to respond to an emergency situation and manage the effects of a covid-19 pandemic. A severe pandemic could infect up to 80% of the population leading to a reduced workforce, increased pressure on health services and death management processes. The Bill contains temporary measures designed to either amend existing legislative provisions or introduce new statutory powers which are designed to mitigate these impacts.

Vulnerable groups

Chief medical adviser Prof Chris Whitty advises that the group of people who should take “particular care to minimise their social contact” are:

  • People over the age of 70
  • Other adults who would normally be advised to have the flu vaccine (such as those with chronic diseases);
  • Pregnant women.

Stay at home: Guidance for households with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection

Public Health England stay at home guidance is intended for:

  • People with symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus, and do not require hospital treatment, who must remain at home until they are well;
  • Those living in households with someone who shows symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus.

Coronavirus symptoms: UK adds loss of smell and taste to list

Loss of smell or taste have been added to the UK’s list of coronavirus symptoms that people should look out for and act upon. Until now, only a fever and cough were triggers for people to shut themselves away in self-isolation in case they had and could spread the infection. Ear, nose and throat doctors had been warning for weeks that more symptoms should be included. Scientific advisers told the government to update the advice.

If you or someone you live with has any of these symptoms – a new, continuous cough, fever or loss of smell or taste – the advice is stay at home for seven days to stop the risk of giving coronavirus to others.

Loss of smell and taste may still be signs of other respiratory infections, such as the common cold. Experts say fever and cough remain the most important symptoms of coronavirus to look out for.

Government launches plan to tackle loneliness during coronavirus lockdown

The Government has launched a major effort to tackle loneliness and social isolation during the coronavirus outbreak and period of social distancing. Led by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, the plan will aim to ensure that, for people of all ages and backgrounds, staying at home does not need to lead to loneliness.

The latest #Let’sTalkLoneliness public campaign has been rolled out to get people talking openly about loneliness, which includes new public guidance offering useful tips and advice on what to do to look after yourself and others safely.

In a wide-ranging cross-Government and cross-sector plan, Dowden has also announced that:

  • Smaller, community-based organisations in England helping people to stay connected in local communities will benefit from being a priority category of the £750 million package of support for charities announced by the Chancellor on 8 April;
  • National loneliness organisations will be allocated a guaranteed £5 million worth of funding to continue and adapt their critical work at this time;
  • As part of the national effort, loneliness charities including Age UK will be supported to work with NHS Volunteer Responders in their communities.

More information about ‘Let’s Talk Lonliness, can be found here.

Health and wellbeing considerations for home working and self-isolation

Many businesses have begun to embrace the idea of flexible working and working from home and, in the current climate, more and more of us may find ourselves plunged into doing so for longer than the one to two days a week, which employers and employees adapt to fairly easily, potentially leading to increased work-related stress and mental health conditions for employers.

It is predicted that by 2020, half of UK’s workforce will work from home, according to the Office for National Statistics. SHP, Barbour EHS and The Healthy Work Company have compiled a home working hub to provide research, case studies, videos and resources to enable you to lead this transition in a way which safeguards the health and wellbeing of your teams and maximises the opportunity to embrace new ways of working for the future and how to maintain a positive mental health and limit stress, as well as helpting to create a healthy workplace for individuals.

How do I know if I have coronavirus?

BBC News’ Health and Science Reporter, Laura Foster, takes a look in this short video.

Can employers be prosecuted if employees are exposed to COVID-19?

Amidst all the coronavirus headlines, some commentators have speculated that employers may be about to face prosecution if they don’t take all precautions possible to protect staff and third parties from infection. Is this really the case, find out here?

UK Budget 2020

Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a £30bn package to help the economy get through the coronavirus outbreak in his Budget on 11 March. He added that the NHS would get “whatever resources it needs”.

The measures put in place to mitigate the effect of the coronavirus outbreak include:

  • £5bn emergency response fund to support the NHS and other public services;
  • Statutory sick pay will be paid to all those who choose to self-isolate, even if they don’t have symptoms;
  • Those on employee benefits who get ill will be able to “claim from day one instead of day eight”;
  • A £500m “hardship fund” to be given to local authorities to help vulnerable people in their areas;
  • Firms with fewer than 250 staff will be refunded for sick pay payments for two weeks;
  • Small and medium-sized businesses will be able to access “business interruption” loans of up to £1.2m;
  • Business rates will be abolished for firms in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors with a rateable value below £51,000. The measure will apply to firms including shops, cinemas, restaurants and hotels;
  • “Fiscal loosening” of £18bn to support the economy this year, taking the total fiscal stimulus to £30bn.

Coronavirus pandemic

coronavirus earthOn 11 March, the outbreak was labelled a coronavirus pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO Chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the number of cases outside China had increased 13-fold over the past two weeks. He said he was “deeply concerned” by “alarming levels of inaction” over the virus.

A pandemic is a disease that is spreading in multiple countries around the world at the same time.

How does coronavirus spread?

When someone who has COVID-19 coughs or exhales they release droplets of infected fluid. Most of these droplets fall on nearby surfaces and objects – such as desks, tables or telephones.

People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects – and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. If they are standing within one meter of a person with COVID-19 they can catch it by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled bythem. In other words, COVID-19 spreads in a similar way to flu.

Preventing coronavirus in the workplace

The guidance stresses that employers should start taking these the following measures now, even if COVID-19 has not arrived in the communities where they operate:

  • Make sure your workplaces are clean and hygienic.
    • Surfaces (eg desks and tables) and objects (eg telephones, keyboards) need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly.
  • Promote regular and thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors and customers.
    • Put sanitizing hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the workplace. Make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled;
    • Display posters promoting hand-washing;
    • Offer guidance from occupational health and safety officers;
    • Make sure that staff, contractors and customers have access to places where they can wash hands with soap and water.
  • Promote good respiratory hygiene in the workplace.
    • Display posters promoting respiratory hygiene. Combine this with other communication measures;
    • Ensure tissues are available at your workplaces, for those who develop a runny nose or cough at work, along with closed bins for hygienically disposing of them;
  • Advise employees and contractors to consult national travel plans before going on business trips.
  • Brief your employees, contractors and customers that if COVID-19 starts spreading in your community anyone with even a mild cough or low-grade fever (37.3 C or more) needs to stay at home.
    • Make clear to employees that they will be able to count this time off as sick leave.

The guidance goes on to advise on procedures for employees who travel (before travelling, during and after), and sets out advice for getting a business ready should COVID-19 arrive in the workplace. It is stressed that simple a precautionary measure and planning can make a big difference. Action now will help protect your employees and your business.

COVID-19 – What does your organisation need to do to stay on the right side of the criminal law?

Your organisation is now making preparations for the coming coronavirus pandemic and you are deluged with specific concerns, information and action plans that need to be developed. Amongst the many questions being asked by the Board, should be a cut through question: ‘What are our health and safety criminal law obligations in dealing with the Coronavirus, what do we have to do and how can we protect ourselves from blame if we get it wrong?’

Read Lawyer Simon Joyston-Bechal’s take on it here.

How the UK dealt with coronavirus

The initial response to the outbreak had the fundamental objectives to deploy phased actions to Contain, Delay, and Mitigate any outbreak, using Research to inform policy development. The different phases, types and scale of actions depends upon how the course of the outbreak unfolds over time, said the plan. The overall phases of the plan to respond to COVID-19 are as follows:

  • Contain: detect early cases, follow up close contacts, and prevent the disease taking hold in this country for as long as is reasonably possible;
  • Delay: slow the spread in this country, if it does take hold, lowering the peak impact and pushing it away from the winter season;
  • Research: better understand the virus and the actions that will lessen its effect on the UK population; innovate responses including diagnostics, drugs and vaccines; use the evidence to inform the development of the most effective models of care;
  • Mitigate: provide the best care possible for people who become ill, support hospitals to maintain essential services and ensure ongoing support for people ill in the community to minimise the overall impact of the disease on society, public services and on the economy.

Ultimately, the response to COVID-19 is guided by the international situation, the advice of organisations such as the WHO, surveillance, data modelling based on the best available evidence and the recommendations of expert bodies.

System wide response plans for pandemic influenza, focused on the continuity of public and critical services and the stability of the economy, have been adapted for COVID-19, based on the best available scientific evidence and advice. Click here for the latest information on the current situation.

It is stressed that the nature and scale of the response depends on the course of the disease, which cannot be predicted accurately at this point. As understanding of the disease increases and its impact becomes clearer, the government will issue further detailed advice about what to expect if/when further measures become necessary.

Coronavirus delay phase

In addition to actions taken as part of the Contain phase, the plan emphasises the actions that people can be taking themselves to help delay the peak of the infection; especially encouraging people to wash hands more often; and the catch it, bin it, kill it strategy for those with coughs and sneezes.

Delaying the spread of the disease requires everyone to follow the advice set out in this document. The benefits of doing so are that if the peak of the outbreak can be delayed until the warmer months, the risk of overlapping with seasonal flu and other challenges (societal or medical) that the colder months bring can be significantly reduced.

Coronavirus: Advice for businesses

The UK Government is advising businesses to build their own resilience by reviewing their business continuity plans and following the advice for employers available here.

Businesses should also ensure that they keep up to date with the situation as it changes at.

Click here to read the government’s plan in full.

Emergency support

The TUC is calling on the government to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak by providing emergency support for the millions of UK workers who are currently missing out on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

In a letter to Matt Hancock and Thérèse Coffey, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady warns that inadequate provision of sick pay could stop people taking up public health advice, since many workers will struggle to meet basic living costs if they can’t attend work for a prolonged period.

As a result, some may feel they have no choice but to go to work while ill, or against government advice.

Currently, nearly 2 million of the lowest-paid workers don’t earn enough to qualify for statutory sick pay. According to TUC analysis this includes:

  • 34% of workers on zero-hours contracts;
  • 1 in 10 women in work;
  • More than a fifth (22%) of workers aged 16-24;
  • More than a quarter (26%) of workers aged 65 and over, identified by government as one of the groups most vulnerable to the virus.

WHO warns that supplies of PPE is “rapidly depleting”

In his daily briefing in Geneva on March 4 WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that supplies of PPE, such as the gloves, medical masks, respirators, goggles, face shields, gowns, and aprons used by health workers fighting coronavirus are “rapidly depleting” and warned against “hoarding and misuse”.

“We are concerned that countries’ abilities to respond are being compromised by the severe and increasing disruption to the global supply of personal protective equipment … caused by rising demand, hoarding and misuse,” he said.

Healthcare workers rely on personal protective equipment to protect themselves and their patients from being infected and infecting others. But, says WHO, shortages are leaving doctors, nurses and other frontline workers dangerously ill-equipped. “Without secure supply chains, the risk to healthcare workers around the world is real. Industry and governments must act quickly to boost supply, ease export restrictions and put measures in place to stop speculation and hoarding. We can’t stop COVID-19 without protecting health workers first,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, prices have surged. Surgical masks have seen a sixfold increase, N95 respirators have trebled and gowns have doubled.

Supplies can take months to deliver and market manipulation is widespread, with stocks frequently sold to the highest bidder.

WHO has so far shipped nearly half a million sets of personal protective equipment to 47 countries,* but supplies are rapidly depleting.

Based on WHO modelling, an estimated 89 million medical masks are required for the COVID-19 response each month. For examination gloves, that figure goes up to 76 million, while international demand for goggles stands at 1.6 million per month.

Recent WHO guidance calls for the rational and appropriate use of PPE in healthcare settings, and the effective management of supply chains.

WHO is working with governments, industry and the Pandemic Supply Chain Network to boost production and secure allocations for critically affected and at-risk countries.

To meet rising global demand, WHO estimates that industry must increase manufacturing by 40%.

Governments should develop incentives for industry to ramp up production, says WHO. This includes easing restrictions on the export and distribution of personal protective equipment and other medical supplies.

Every day, WHO is providing guidance, supporting secure supply chains, and delivering critical equipment to countries in need.

The Department of Health and Social Care is evaluating the potential impact of coronavirus on the supply of medicines and medical goods.

There were no current medicine shortages in the UK linked to the situation in China but the UK government is taking precautionary measures to help continue the uninterrupted supply of medicines to patients in the UK.

Coronavirus: no evidence that food is a source or transmission route

EFSA is closely monitoring the situation regarding the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that is affecting a large number of countries across the globe. There is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of the virus.

EFSA’s Chief Scientist, Marta Hugas, said: “Experiences from previous outbreaks of related coronaviruses, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), show that transmission through food consumption did not occur. At the moment, there is no evidence to suggest that coronavirus is any different in this respect.”

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has said that while animals in China were the likely source of the initial infection, the virus is spreading from person to person.

£800,000 worth of ‘coronavirus related’ cyber scams recorded

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has warned the public to be aware of scams and fraudulent emails relating to the coronavirus outbreak. Similar scams have reportedly already tricked the UK public out of £800,000, according to the police.

Coronavirus Advice for employersWhat is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new respiratory illness that has not previously been seen in humans.

Where do coronaviruses come from?

Coronaviruses are viruses that circulate among animals but some of them are also known to affect humans. After they have infected humans, they can eventually be transmitted to humans.

What is the mode of transmission? How (easily) does it spread?

Because it’s a new illness, it is not known exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person, but similar viruses spread by respiratory droplets that people sneeze, cough, or exhale. While animals are the source of the virus, this virus is now spreading from one person to another (human-to-human transmission). At time of writing, there is currently not enough epidemiological information to determine how easily and sustainably this virus is spreading between people.

What are the symptoms?

With many similarities of a common cold, the main signs of infection are fever (high temperature) and a cough as well as shortness of breath and breathing difficulties and sore throat.

How to protect yourself

The NHS advise the following measures to help stop germs like coronavirus spreading:

  • Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash hands, or use a sanitiser gel;
  • Wash hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport. Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

Coronavirus: Supporting Workers

What are your rights if working from home?

This article has been published by BBC News, and addresses questions around worker’s rights if working from home during the pandemic. Under the stringent new measures announced by the UK government [16 March] to combat the spread of coronavirus, everyone should work from home if they can.

For many people, homeworking will not be possible, but they still face the possibility of 14 days of self-isolation, under the guidelines announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Changes have been made to the sick pay system. The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 are in force. There has been concern that people will be more likely to infect others if they do not have incentives to stay at home when they are at risk.

IOSH stress that employers have a role to play in preventing the spread of the disease by taking sensible action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 such as ensuring that workers have access to appropriate hygiene facilities such hot water, soap and bins to get rid of used tissues.

Workers are advised to maintain good hygiene standards around the workplace by following the latest advice from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website which includes the following basic protective measures:

  • Wash hands frequently with alcohol-based hand wash or wash with soap and water;
  • Maintain social distancing maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet distance) between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing;
  • Avoid touching eyes, mouth and nose;
  • Practice respiratory hygiene;
  • Atay informed and follow the advice given by health care providers.

Government guidance for employees, employers and businesses

[Updated 7 April 2020]

This guidance, for employees, employers and businesses providing advice about the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, continues to be updated. It has been issued by Public Health England and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The guidance aims to assist employers and businesses in providing advice to their staff on:

  • The novel coronavirus, COVID-19;
  • How to help prevent spread of COVID-19;
  • What to do if someone has symptoms of COVID-19 has been in business settings;
  • Eligibility for sick pay.

It also provides details of support available to businesses.

Guidance is included on use of face masks in the community, noting that there is very little evidence of widespread benefit from the use of face masks outside of the clinical or care settings, where they play a very important role.

To be effective, face masks must be worn correctly, changed frequently, removed properly, disposed of safely and used in combination with good universal hygiene behaviour.

Research shows that compliance with these recommended behaviours reduces over time when wearing face masks for prolonged periods, such as in the community.

This guidance will assist employers, businesses and their staff in addressing coronavirus (COVID-19).

Key messages:

  • businesses and workplaces should make every possible effort to enable working from home as a first option. Where working from home is not possible, workplaces should make every effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines set out by the government
  • members of staff who are vulnerable or extremely vulnerable, as well as individuals whom they live with, should be supported as they follow the recommendations set out in guidance on social distancing and shielding respectively
  • where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full in relation to a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and, if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between their staff. Potential mitigating actions are set out in these illustrative industry examples
  • staff who are unwell with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) should not travel to or attend the workplace
  • staff may be feeling anxious about coming to work and also about impacts on livelihood. Workplaces should ensure staff are fully briefed and appropriately supported at this time
  • any member of staff who develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) (a new, continuous cough and/or a high temperature) should be sent home and stay at home for 7 days from onset of symptoms. If the member of staff lives in a household where someone else is unwell with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) then they must stay at home in line with the stay at home guidance
  • employees will need your support to adhere to the recommendation to stay at home to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) to others
  • employees should be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds more frequently and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues
  • frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products
  • those who follow advice to stay at home will be eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP) from the first day of their absence from work
  • employers should use their discretion concerning the need for medical evidence for certification for employees who are unwell. This will allow GPs to focus on their patients.

The guidance sets out that it is good practice for employers to:

  • keep everyone updated on actions being taken to reduce risks of exposure in the workplace;
  • ensure employees who are in a vulnerable group are strongly advised to follow social distancing guidance;
  • make sure everyone’s contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date;
  • make sure managers know how to spot symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) and are clear on any relevant processes, for example sickness reporting and sick pay, and procedures in case someone in the workplace is potentially infected and needs to take the appropriate action;
  • make sure there are places to wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, and encourage everyone to do so regularly;
  • provide hand sanitiser and tissues for staff, and encourage them to use them.

The content of the guidance covers the following:

  • Symptoms
  • Good practice for employers
  • Social distancing in the workplace – principles
  • Shift-working and staggering processes
  • Staying at home if you, or someone in your household, has symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) on site
  • Sick pay
  • Certifying absence from work
  • What to do if an employee needs time off work to look after someone
  • Limiting spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in business and workplaces
  • Use of face masks in the community
  • Moving goods
  • Cleaning and waste disposal
  • Handling post or packages
  • Food safety

COVID-19: support for businesses

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. This includes a package of measures to support businesses including:

  • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • deferring VAT and Self-Assessment payments
  • a Self-employment Income Support Scheme
  • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs)
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loansthe HMRC Time To Pay Scheme.

The guidance document sets out detailed information on the following:

  • Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • Support for businesses through deferring VAT payments
  • Support for businesses through deferring Self-Assessment payments on account
  • Support for self-employed through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme
  • Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees
  • Support for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses that pay business rates
  • Support for nursery businesses that pay business rates
  • Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates
  • Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
  • Support for large businesses through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme
  • Support for larger firms through the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility
  • Support for businesses paying tax: Time to Pay service
  • Commercial insurance
  • Protection from eviction for commercial tenants
  • Extension of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) arrangements.

Support for businesses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

COVID-19: guidance for employees

This guidance sets out advice on:

  • going to work
  • staying at home
  • sick pay
  • furloughed workers
  • claiming benefits.

Poster now available

The poster is to support the guidance for employers and businesses; it is available here.

Social distancing in the workplace during coronavirus (COVID-19): sector guidance

This advice is for employers on social distancing during coronavirus (COVID-19). It is set out as tailored advice for different scenarios, to provide an example of how social distancing and other measures might be implemented by employers in England to help protect their workforce and customers from coronavirus while still continuing to trade. These are not intended to be comprehensive or to represent every business’s situation but are described as illustrative examples.

The examples cover the following:

  • Shops running a pick-up or delivery service
  • Tradespeople and working in people’s homes
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing and processing businesses
  • Retail
  • Logistics businesses
  • Outdoor businesses
  • Farming: visiting farms for animal health and welfare
  • Fishing or other short-term offshore work
  • Cargo-shipping or other long-term offshore work
  • Transport businesses
  • Waste management businesses

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

Employers will be able to make claims through the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme from 26 May.

The new online service is for small and medium-sized employers to recover Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) payments they have made to their employees.

The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme was announced at Budget as part of a package of support measures for businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

This scheme will allow small and medium-sized employers, with fewer than 250 employees, to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related SSP.

Employers will be able to make their claims through a new online service from 26 May. This means they will receive repayments at the relevant rate of SSP that they have paid to current or former employees for eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – guidance published

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: step by step guide for employers

Issued by HM Revenue and Customs, this step by step guide explains the information that employers need to provide to HMRC to make a claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). It also describes the processes involved.

Claim for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Employers can claim for 80% of an employee’s wages plus any employer National Insurance and pension contributions, if they have been put on furlough because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Detailed guidance, covering advice on before starting, what you’ll need, how to claim, and what happens after a claim, is available here.

Work out 80% of your employees’ wages to claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

This guidance sets out a ‘calculator’ that can currently be used to work out what you can claim for most employees who are paid the same amount each pay period (for example, weekly or monthly).

Check if you can claim for your employees’ wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

This guidance sets out advice to establish if an employer is eligible and how much can be claimed to cover wages for employees on temporary leave (‘furlough’) due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

It has been updated to direct readers to the online service that will be used to claim, which is now available

Government launches new coronavirus business support finder tool

A new ‘support finder’ tool aiming to help businesses and self-employed people across the UK to quickly and easily determine what financial support is available to them during the coronavirus pandemic has been launched.

The finder tool on GOV.UK will ask business owners to fill out a simple online questionnaire, which can take minutes to complete, and they will then be directed to a list of all the financial support they may be eligible for.

The new business support finder tool can be found a here.

CIPD Advice

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) suggest the following advice for organisations:

  • Follow public health agency advice on efficient ways to contain the virus;
  • Keep up to date with government advice and adapt business plans to reflect changes;
  • Actively communicate these plans to staff, customers and suppliers;
  • Look at options for people to work remotely to prevent the spread of infection;
  • For customer facing organisations consider using customer self-serve options such as telephone and online services to minimise face to face interaction;
  • Review policies and procedures on health reporting, office and personal hygiene protective equipment, social distancing and working hours;
  • Consider providing additional training to those working in critical areas, so others have the skills to fill in for absent colleges.

It is also noted that organisations should bear in mind that people will be worried about the situation; employers not only have a duty of care to take reasonable steps to ensure health and safety, but also the well-being of employees. Offering enhanced support to people more vulnerable to illness due to age and/or any underlying health conditions is suggested. It should also be acknowledged, says the CIPD, that some employees may be worried about family or friends stranded in, or returning from, an affected area. It’s important to strike the balance between your organisation and its people being prepared for the spread of the virus whilst reassuring people that there is no need to panic. Employers are advised to ensure that line managers are regularly informed about the organisation’s contingency plan and how to discuss the situation with any concerned employees, and where to signpost people to for further advice or support, including employee assistance programmes and/or counselling if they are anxious.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for UK employer

This CIPD factsheet provides an overview of the current coronavirus situation. It explains what the virus is and gives advice on how employers should respond to the threat and support employees by being prepared, particularly looking after employees’ health and safety and developing flexible resourcing plans.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): employer response guide

A guide is also available. This aims to help organisations plan a response to the global health emergency. It says that organisations should focus on planning and prevention with both urgency and calm. Do what you can to immediately protect staff and to cope with the changing environment.

The CIPD’s advice pages can be found here.

The CIPD has issued a workplace questionnaireto help organisations prepare for homeworking.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): furlough guide

The CIPD has issued guidance outlining key facts about furlough leave. It outlines the key facts (that have been announced so far) about designating employees as furloughed workers and gives advice on considering implementing this new type of leave.

The guidance covers issues in relation to which employers/employees are eligible; how to agree which employees are furloughed; how to apply for the scheme; what happens during furlough.

Acas Advice for Employers

Workplace experts Acas has also issued advice for employers on dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. It includes guidance on how to handle employees who have the virus and those who do not want to come into work because they are worried about catching it. It includes guidance on:

  • working safely and social distancing
  • vulnerable people and those at high risk
  • self-isolation and sick pay
  • Furlough and pay
  • returning to the workplace
  • using holiday
  • if an employee needs time off work to look after someone
  • if someone has coronavirus symptoms at work.

Current government advice is for everyone to stay at home wherever possible and limit contact with other people.

This includes:

  • only going outside for food, exercise, medical reasons or work (where this cannot be done from home)
  • staying 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people (‘social distancing’ or ‘physical distancing’)
  • avoiding busy commuting times on public transport where travel is essential
  • washing your hands regularly
  • not leaving home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.

What you can and cannot do depends on whether you’re in England, Scotland or Wales.

Employers have a ‘duty of care’ for staff, customers and anyone else who visits the workplace. This means they must do all they reasonably can to support their health, safety and wellbeing.

Acas guidance – Working from home 

In this guidance, employers and employees are advised to be flexible and sensitive to each other’s situation when working from home because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Mental health during coronavirus 

Workplace expert Acas has published new guidance to help staff manage their mental health at work during coronavirus.

An Acas-commissioned YouGov survey conducted during coronavirus has found that nearly 2 out of 5 employees working from home felt stressed, anxious or experienced mental health difficulties due to their working situation.

The poll also found that:

  • 1 in 2 people working from home felt isolated
  • 7 out of 10 felt that they were missing social interactions with others at work.

Acas’s full advice includes practical steps for employees, managers and employers to help everyone’s mental health during this difficult time.

Advice from the HSE

The HSE has issued advice within a document titled: Social distancing, keeping businesses open and in-work activities during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. It covers guidance on social distancing, essential and non-essential work, and in-work activity.

Also available is guidance covering RIDDOR, first aid and chemicals:

RIDDOR reporting of COVID-19

What to report?

  • Dangerous occurrences: if something happens at work which results in (or could result in) the release or escape of coronavirus you must report this as a dangerous occurrence
  • Cases of disease: exposure to a biological agent: if there is reasonable evidence that someone diagnosed with COVID-19 was likely exposed because of their work you must report this as an exposure to a biological agent using the case of disease report.

First aid cover and qualifications during coronavirus (COVID-19)

If first aid cover for a business is reduced because of coronavirus or the first aid training needed is not available, this advice points out that there are some things that can be done to still comply with the law.

Arrangements for regulation of chemicals during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak 

The HSE has made some administrative changes in the provision of services for regulating chemicals during the coronavirus outbreak.  These are set out for each chemical regime, with updated details on how to contact the HSE.

Wellbeing and mental health during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have issued advice about how to look after wellbeing and mental health for those who cannot return to the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also includes information on how FCO may be able to help, if a British national needs help, if unable to return to the UK from abroad.

It advises those in such a position to keep in regular contact with the people who usually offer support, such as family, friends and colleagues, especially if you are self-isolating abroad.

Self-isolating: What this means in practice

This means staying at home for 14 days and not going to work, schools or public areas.

Avoid having visitors to your home; however, it is OK for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food.

These steps are recommended to limit the potential spread of infection.

Find out what to do using the NHS 111 online coronavirus service.

The NHS advice is do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Call 111 if you need to speak to someone.

Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland:

  • Scotland: call your GP surgery or call 111 if your surgery is not open;
  • Wales: call 111;
  • Northern Ireland: call 111.

Legislation

Coronavirus Act 2020

The Coronavirus Bill, introduced in the House of Commons on 19 March 2020, received Royal Assent on 25 March 2020 and is now in force.

The purpose of the Coronavirus Act is to enable the Government to respond to an emergency situation and manage the effects of a covid-19 pandemic. A severe pandemic could infect up to 80% of the population leading to a reduced workforce, increased pressure on health services and death management processes. The Bill contains temporary measures designed to either amend existing legislative provisions or introduce new statutory powers which are designed to mitigate these impacts.

The Bill aims to support Government in the following:

  • Increasing the available health and social care workforce;
  • Easing the burden on frontline staff;
  • Containing and slowing the virus;
  • Managing the deceased with respect and dignity;
  • Supporting people.

The Act is required as part of a concerted effort across the whole of the UK to tackle the covid-19 outbreak. The intention is that it will enable the right people from public bodies across the UK to take appropriate actions at the right times to manage the effects of the outbreak.

As part of its contingency planning, the Government has considered what measures would be needed during a severe covid-19 outbreak to reduce the pressure of key services and limit the spread of infection.

It is stressed that these are extraordinary measures that do not apply in normal circumstances. For this reason, the legislation will be time-limited for two years and it is neither necessary nor appropriate for all of these measures come into force immediately. Instead, many of the measures in can be commenced from area to area and time to time, so as to ensure that the need to protect the public’s health can be aligned with the need to safeguard individuals’ rights. These measures can subsequently be suspended and then later reactivated, if circumstances permit, over the lifetime of the Act. 

Coronavirus bill: summary of impacts

The Department of Health and Social Care issued an impact assessment document. It provides a summary of impacts relating to clauses within the Coronavirus Bill 2020 (now Act) and provides an overview of the impacts considered for each clause.

The document is available here.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020

The amended Regulations now set out what the legal rules are for lockdown in England.

Key changes

The following will now be permitted:

  • visiting a “public open space” for “open-air recreation to promote physical or mental health or emotional wellbeing”
  • this can be done with one member of another household
  • a public space includes any open or public land or a “public garden”
  • collecting goods from any business which have been purchased in advance by phone, online or by post, and providing customers do not enter the premises
  • using a waste and recycling centre.

The new regulation also confirms that garden centres can open – and that people can visit estate agents and view homes they want to buy or rent. Outdoor sports courts are now also permitted to open; playgrounds are to remain closed

The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2020 

[Wales]

These Regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020.

They came into force on 11 May 2020.

Amendments include:

  • permitting libraries to open subject to requirements to take all reasonable measures to ensure a distance of 2 metres is maintained by persons on the premises and persons waiting to enter the premises
  • removing the limitation in paragraph (2)(b) on exercising no more than once a day
  • specifying that making use of a recycling or waste disposal facility, or visiting a library, constitutes a reasonable excuse
  • adding garden centres and plant nurseries to Part 4 of Schedule 1, which means that they may open subject to requirements to take all reasonable measures to ensure a distance of 2 metres is maintained by persons on the premises and persons waiting to enter the premises.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2020

New rules to protect workers during the coronavirus outbreak came into force in Wales on 7 April.

These Regulations amend regulations 5, 7 and 8 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020 (the “principal Regulations”), and insert new regulations 6A and 7A into the principal Regulations, which relate to:

  • General restriction on places of work;
  • Guidance on maintaining distance of 2 metres between persons.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2020

 Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill received Royal Assent on 6 April 2020.

The purpose of the Act is to enable the Government to respond to an emergency situation and manage the effects of a covid-19 pandemic. It contains temporary measures designed to either amend existing legislative provisions or introduce new statutory powers which are designed to mitigate these impacts.

The measures set out are deemed essential to respond to this current emergency and cover a range of measures intended to ensure that:

  • Renters are protected while confined to their homes;
  • The justice system is able to deliver essential services;
  • Public services, business and consumers can still operate despite new restrictions.

Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020

The Coronavirus (Scotland) (No. 2) Act (the Act) complements and supplements provisions contained in the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act (above).

The Act includes a change to the restoration of freedom of information (FoI) rights to 20-day response times. The first Act extended this period to 60 days.

Some of the other main provisions relate to:

  • student residential tenancy: termination by tenant
  • carer’s allowance supplement
  • bankruptcy
  • further provisions for care homes
  • justice
  • land and buildings transaction tax: additional amount
  • reports, etc. under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009: powers to extend by six months the deadline in section 8A (1) of the 2009 Climate Change Act for the creation of a nitrogen balance sheet
  • extension of period of consent for listed buildings and conservation areas

The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020

These Regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020 (“the principal Regulations”), which:

  • Put restrictions on the movement of individuals, setting out circumstances in which they may leave the place where they live and preventing gatherings of groups of more than two people;
  • Require the closure of certain businesses and impose requirements on other businesses, as well as duties to close certain public footpaths and land, to protect against the risks to public health arising from coronavirus.

The amendments include:

  • requiring cafés accessible by the public in hospitals, as well as canteens in schools, prisons and for use by the armed forces, to ensure all reasonable physical distancing measures are put in place
  • requiring businesses that are providing facilities for “order and collect” services to take all reasonable measures to ensure a distance of 2 metres is maintained between persons on the premises where those facilities are provided (and between persons waiting to enter those premises). “Click and collect” facilities are already permitted to remain open, this amendment ensures that they are subject to the same requirements as any other establishment which is permitted to remain open under the regulations
  • amending the requirement that a person must not leave the place where they live without a reasonable excuse to provide that a person must not leave nor remain away from the place where they live without such an excuse
  • enabling currency exchanges, savings clubs and money transmission services to remain open so as to allow people to access money and to send money to other persons
  • extending the definition of a vulnerable person to include other groups of people that could benefit from assistance and to whom providing supplies etc. would amount to a “reasonable excuse” for being away from a person’s place of residence
  • extending the reasonable excuse of leaving the place where you live for the purposes of exercise to allow for exercise more than once a day when that is necessary because of a particular health condition or disability. For example, certain persons with autism may be recommended to exercise more than once a day as part of a set routine
  • making it clear that visiting a cemetery or other burial ground or garden of remembrance to pay respects to a deceased person is a reasonable excuse for leaving the place where you live.

Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 3) Regulations 2020 

This instrument amends the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 (“the principal regulations”) to provide:

  • that people may take part in outdoor recreation in certain circumstances with members of their household and with members of one other household
  • for the reopening of garden centres and provides that it is a reasonable excuse to visit a garden centre or a recycling service
  • for the reopening of outdoor tennis courts and bowling greens.

They also allow certain businesses and service providers, which are currently closed to the public under the principal regulations, to begin preparing their premises in advance of re-opening in order to ensure compliance with physical distancing requirements when they are allowed to reopen.

The Regulations provide more detail on changes to the lockdown measures in Scotland.

Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020

These Regulations came into force on 17 March 2020. These are emergency regulations in relation to the Government’s response to coronavirus. The regulations have been prepared as soon as it became clear that there was a need for the measures they contain.

The measures are required as a matter of urgency as part of the Government response to a developing outbreak, in order to reduce the risk that employees will continue to work despite advice that they should self-isolate.

The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2020 

This instrument amends the Statutory Sick Pay (General) Regulations 1982. A person classed as extremely vulnerable and at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) is advised to remain at home for at least 12 weeks (known as shielding).

The effect of the amendment is that Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is extended to those people who are deemed to be incapable of work because of this advice.

The Regulations came into force on 16 April 2020.

Business insurance cover

  • It has also been reported that registering COVID-19 as a notifiable disease will help businesses in making insurance claims. A spokesperson for the Association of British Insurers (ABI) stated: “Commercial insurance policies provide cover against a wide range of risks, that can be tailored to the needs of individual businesses, including extensions to cover. Businesses who are concerned about this should check the scope of their cover, and speak to their insurance providers or broker.
  • “It may be possible to buy consequential business interruption cover for notifiable diseases as an extensionto a business insurance policy, subject to any policy terms and conditions. Standard business insurance policies are designed and priced to cover standard risks, not those that are very unlikely, such as the effects of COVID-19.”
  • The ABI added that, under Solvency II, all UK insurers are capitalised to withstand severe events like a coronavirus pandemic, which the current outbreak still technically isn’t.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020

This instrument clarifies a number of public health measures under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 (S.I. 2020/350) (“the Restrictions Regulations”) to reduce the public health risks posed by the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in England which causes the disease Covid-19.

A number of other changes are made to the Restrictions Regulations to clarify and better enable the public health measures in those Regulations to achieve the intended purpose of reducing public health risks posed by the incidence and spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

The Regulations are available here.

Further information

The World Health Organization also has a wealth of information available; in particular ‘coronavirus myth busters’ which is a useful page of information, addressing common concerns about the virus outbreak.

Multiplex – Protecting the mental health of employees during COVID-19

In this article, we hear from Martin Wilshire, Health & Safety Director at Multiplex, about how the firm has had to act quickly and responsibly to ensure it is following the government’s guidance on how businesses and employers can help to limit the spread of the virus.

Post lockdown reoccupation of properties

Water Hygiene Centre provides some pointers for consideration for when the end of the lockdown is announced and properties that are currently “mothballed” will be brought back into use and reoccupied.

Send For Help recognised in Sunday Times tracker for solutions provided during COVID-19 crisis

Specialist lone worker technology business, Send For Help, has been listed in the Sunday Times Profit Track league table Covid-19 edition, recognising the vital solutions that the company is providing to support the safety of lone workers across the UK during the current health crisis.

Preparing to leave lockdown: In conversation with Alcumus CEO, Alyn Franklin

Alyn discusses the strategies that need to be put into place to mitigate the risk of employees becoming ill, how to carry out proper risk assessments, how to start repairing the supply chain and how to plan for business continuity.

A guide to home working

Many businesses have begun to embrace the idea of flexible working and working from home and, in the current climate, more and more of us may find ourselves plunged into doing so for longer than the one to two days a week, which employers and employees adapt to fairly easily.

1,300% increase in demand for COVID-19 risk assessments

In the week after the government published its strategy for lifting lockdown, demand for COVID-19 risk assessments has surged 1,300%.

Mentor remains on hand to help businesses meet HSE guidelines for vital MHE training

In line with the HSE’s recent statement that basic lift truck training remains essential during the coronavirus pandemic, Mentor FLT Training is offering a number of materials and courses to help businesses stay safe and compliant during this critical time.

Almost 1 in 4 Britons report a positive improvement in mental health during lockdown

Launched during Mental Health Awareness Week, a recent survey looks at the nation’s mental health during the coronavirus lockdown.

Horizon scanning: Questions about the ‘new normal’

Regardless of the UK’s approach for lifting lockdown, we will be living in what is euphemistically called a ‘new normal’. This creates new challenges and opportunities for the health and safety and allied professions.

Webinar: Health and safety law conundrums during the COVID-19 pandemic

Download: April 2020 Legislation Update Coronavirus has become a top priority for employers all over the world. The pandemic event

SHP Health & Safety Legislation update eBook

SHP’s latest Health & Safety legislation eBook covers coronavirus legislation, Brexit, Grenfell, changes to workplace exposure limits, environment, energy and much more…

Unions set out five tests government and colleges must meet before staff and students can return

Staff and student safety must be guaranteed before colleges can reopen, trade unions have said as they set out five tests that must be met by government and colleges.

Profile: Rachel Thomas on transformation – Carillion, gender identity and NHS Nightingale

Rachel J. Thomas (She/Her) is Senior Business Partner: Health, Safety and Wellbeing with the Mace Group. John Kersey was recently deployed on the NHS Nightingale project and took the opportunity to ask Rachel about some of the transformative experiences in her life.

British Safety Council continues to evolve to support organisations during the coronavirus pandemic

‘The coronavirus pandemic is not an excuse to let health safety and environmental standards slip,’ says the British Safety Council.

Coronavirus: ‘Safety is going to help the recovery of the aviation sector’

SHP talks to Amanda Owen, Safety, Health and Wellbeing Director at Heathrow Airport to learn about some of the practical and innovative solutions being implemented to eliminate and reduce risks, and to ensure passengers feel confident to fly again when the current coronavirus controls are lifted.

Returning to work once COVID-19 lockdown relaxes – What’s expected in health and safety criminal law and how can you avoid prosecution?

Your organisation is looking ahead to stepwise resumption of operations once the COVID-19 lockdown starts to be eased. But what are your health and safety criminal law obligations for the return to work and what do you need to do to stay on the right side of the criminal law?

Pregnant workers and COVID–19

When it comes to pregnant workers, employers are required to carry out a risk assessment to identify the risks and how they will be eliminated or reduced. So, what risks and issues should employers be aware of within their pregnant workforce amid the coronavirus outbreak?

Make UK expands online training and learning services to help manufacturers through COVID-19 crisis

Make UK has expanded its online training and learning services for companies to ensure that manufacturers are able to pivot their business to operating through the COVID-19 crisis and, in particular, to safeguard the future of their workforces now and in the future.

London lockdown sees spike in outdoor waste burning

Firefighters in London have seen a spike in bonfires as Londoners take to burning waste at home during the coronavirus lockdown.

Legionella: Where low occupancy poses water-borne risks

As the ‘new normal’ settles in, and questions are asked about when we might return to work, organisations are advised to shift their focus from fire-fighting to business continuity planning and developing a strategy for the re-start of operations. This will ensure organisations are best placed to tackle current concerns, as well as to respond when the Government restrictions are lifted.

Psychological safety and a culture of fear

During these turbulent times, it has been sobering to see countries engage in the under-reporting of pandemic incidents, which is also a major problem in workplace safety. This provides a timely reminder that we need be better at giving people a voice in workplace safety to increase the number of reports. One avenue that holds promise is “Psychological Safety” which is a construct that addresses how “safe it is here for people to speak up without fear”.

Government launches plan to tackle loneliness during coronavirus lockdown

The Government has launched a major effort to tackle loneliness and social isolation during the coronavirus outbreak and period of social distancing. The plan will aim to ensure that, for people of all ages and backgrounds, staying at home does not need to lead to loneliness.

Mates in Mind calls on employers to act now to support long-term mental wellbeing during pandemic

Following the release of data exploring the significant impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the mental health of the public and calls from experts and charities to research the long-term impact of the crisis.

Digital humanity and its effects on employee health

A look at how technology is bringing people together during this time of remote living and working, and social distancing. This article highlights the ways in which technology is being used to connect with humans – and the benefits for employee health.

Veolia launches guide on ‘safely’ reopening recycling centres

Resource management company, Veolia UK, recently issued a guide, titled ‘Local Authority Guidance on the Safe reopening of HWRC Networks‘ to help local authorities and contractors to “safely reopen” household waste recycling centres (HWRC) during the COVID-19 lockdown.

‘Transport Toolkit’ launched for businesses and fleet operators to address clarity on driving for work during COVID-19 pandemic

A series of videos and online resources will help fleet operators and business owners meet the significant challenges presented by the current disruption caused by COVID-19.

Bringing coronavirus criminals to justice

A number of people who have spat or coughed at emergency workers, or exploited coronavirus for their own gain, have been charged and prosecuted. The CPS have provided a sample of some of the cases which the CPS has charged and prosecuted recently.

April 2020 legislation update Q&A

Following April’s Legislation Update webinar, we put some of your unanswered questions to panellists Simon Joyston-Bechal, from Turnstone Law and James Meredith, from Russell-Cooke. Read their answers here, or listen back to the session in full.

COVID-19: Can employers be prosecuted if employees are exposed?

Amidst all the coronavirus headlines, some commentators have speculated that employers may be about to face prosecution if they don’t take all precautions possible to protect staff and third parties from infection. Paul Verrico, Partner at Eversheds Sutherland, investigates whether that is the case.

Farm Safety Partnership urges caution during COVID-19

The Farm Safety Partnership (FSP) has urged the farming community to exercise extreme care and attention during these very challenging times.

Employers must keep workers safe or get shut down, says TUC

The TUC has called on government to take further steps to protect workers who are still going into work. Unions are concerned that many workers who can’t work from home are being exposed to unnecessary COVID-19 risk because their employers are not putting adequate safety measures in place.

FBU calls for priority COVID-19 testing for firefighters

With approximately 12% of firefighters and control room staff self-isolating in some areas, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is calling for the UK Government to provide “urgent coronavirus testing of its members so they can return to work”.

Scaffolding Association issues Scaffold Industry Guidance Notes

The Scaffolding Association has launched two Scaffold Industry Guidance Notes (SIGNS) which address the requirements for scaffolding inspection during COVID-19.

Coronavirus: New London bus safety measures after nine worker deaths

Passengers using some London buses will only be able to board through the middle doors as part of increased efforts to protect drivers.

Construction: Updated coronavirus site operating procedures

The Government has confirmed that construction sites should continue to operate during the current coronavirus pandemic.

FPA issues security and arson protection advice during the COVID-19 outbreak

The Fire Protection Association (FPA) has compiled a guide to managing risk for businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak, entitled: “Unauthorised occupation of non-residential premises”.

Research study on Mental Health First Aid in business launched

The Centre for Mental Health and London South Bank University are embarking on a ground-breaking study of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England training in UK workplaces.

‘Coronavirus coughs’ at key workers will be charged as assault, CPS warns

Anyone using coronavirus to threaten emergency and essential workers faces serious criminal charges, the Director of Public Prosecutions has warned.

Coronavirus: ONR position updated

In response to Government coronavirus advice, ONR staff continue to work at home while ensuring effective regulatory oversight is maintained.

London Ambulance Service and London Fire Brigade announce blue light partnership to tackle COVID-19

London Ambulance Service and London Fire Brigade have announced a new partnership to boost the COVID-19 emergency response which will see firefighters helping with a number of roles across the ambulance service.

HSE issues exemption for the manufacture and supply of biocidal hand sanitiser products in the UK

The HSE has taken steps to support hand sanitiser manufacturers as UK production is increasing to tackle coronavirus.

Man jailed for assault of emergency worker after using threat of coronavirus to avoid arrest

A man who assaulted an emergency worker and told police he had coronavirus to try to avoid being arrested has been jailed for 31 weeks.

Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity launches crisis appeal

The charity that supports construction workers and their families is launching a crisis appeal so that it can respond to

A pandemic within a pandemic?

The fear pandemic is something that each of us has to manage – anxiety loves the words ‘what if’ – so how can you manage your head and overcome your feelings when they are overwhelming and how can you help others who may be struggling too?

Performing health/medical surveillance: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The HSE has issued guidance for occupational health providers, appointed doctors and employers. In the light of advice from Public Health England on COVID-19, HSE has set out in the guidance, what it describes as a proportionate and flexible approach to enable health/medical surveillance to continue.

Tower crane safety alert

Given the unprecedented situation presently faced with the outbreak of coronavirus, the Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA) has issued advice to tower crane users relating to how tower cranes should be left out of service for potentially lengthy periods of time.

‘Non-essential construction must end to keep workers and public safe’

Government must give clearer guidance on building sites says British Safety Council.

It’s not safe for the Olympics to go ahead as planned says London 2012 health and safety boss

Lawrence Waterman OBE – “We ran the safest ever games for London 2012 – the Tokyo Games cannot be delivered safely for athletes, visitors or workers in Japan.”

Emergency bill to strengthen coronavirus (COVID-19) response plans

Emergency measures to give ministers powers to take the right action at the right time to respond effectively to the progress of the coronavirus outbreak will be introduced to Parliament this week, the Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has said.

Responding to COVID-19 – What does your organisation need to do to stay on the right side of the criminal law?

Your organisation is now making preparations for the coming COVID-19 pandemic and you are deluged with specific concerns, information and action plans that need to be developed. Amongst the many questions being asked by the Board, should be a cut through question: ‘What are our health and safety criminal law obligations in dealing with the coronavirus, what do we have to do and how can we protect ourselves from blame if we get it wrong?’

Budget 2020: Statutory sick pay will be paid to all those who choose to self-isolate

In the first budget of 2020, the newly-appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has pledged the NHS will get ‘whatever resources it needs’ during the coronavirus crisis, while he has also unveiled measures to boost the self-employed and small businesses who are left out of pocket.

Sleep and Fatigue: Director’s Briefing

Fatigue is common amongst the population, but particularly among those working abnormal hours, and can arise from excessive working time or poorly designed shift patterns. It is also related to workload, in that workers are more easily fatigued if their work is machine-paced, complex or monotonous.

This free director’s briefing contains:

  • Key points;
  • Recommendations for employers;
  • Case law;
  • Legal duties.
Barbour EHS

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eddie walters
eddie walters
2 months ago

Hi. Just interested on the thoughts on reporting to the HSE if it is confirmed Coronavirus is contracted in the workplace???

Ian Hart
Admin
Ian Hart
2 months ago
Reply to  eddie walters
Umesh Dashora
Umesh Dashora
2 months ago

is there any advise on whether healthcare professionals with underlying health conditions should avoid possibility of contact with covid patients

Ian Hart
Admin
Ian Hart
2 months ago
Reply to  Umesh Dashora

Hi Umesh, your best bet for up-to-date information on that, would be to visit one of the NHS links above.

Sourav Basak
Sourav Basak
3 days ago

Disease control and prevention is everyone’s responsibility, and keeping yourself in good health and up-to-date on what is going on with the coronavirus is the first step to making sure no one else gets this illness. Even small steps like encouraging employees to remain at home when they’re sick can make a big difference, but the most important step is to always keep in mind that it takes everyone to reduce these risks in the end. 

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