Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out a series of new three-tiered system of COVID-19 Alert Levels for England, aiming to further simplify and standardise local rules, during a press briefing on Monday 12 October.
Boris Johnson opened his Downing Street address by saying that ‘We are entering a new and crucial phase of our fight against coronavirus, because the number of cases has gone up four times in four weeks and it is once again spreading among the elderly and vulnerable.’
The PM stated that there are currently more COVID patients in UK hospitals today than there were on 23 March when the whole country went into lockdown.
The three tiers on the new alert systems, medium, high and very high, will enable local authorities to have clarity on what the guidance is in their area, the government claimed.
COVID Alert Levels
Local COVID Alert Level – Medium
This is for areas where national restrictions continue to be in place. This means:
- All businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-19 Secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law, such as nightclubs;
- Certain businesses selling food or drink on their premises are required to close between 10pm and 5am;
- Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-thru;
- Schools, universities and places of worship remain open;
- Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees;
- Organised indoor sport and exercise classes can continue to take place, provided the Rule of Six is followed;
- People must not meet in groups larger than 6, indoors or outdoors.
Local COVID Alert Level – High
This is for areas with a higher level of infections. This means the following additional measures are in place:
- People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place;
- People must not meet in a group of more than 6 outside, including in a garden or other space;
- People should aim to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible. If they need to travel, they should walk or cycle where possible, or to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport.
Local COVID Alert Level – Very High
This is for areas with a very high level of infections. The Government will set a baseline of measures for any area in this local alert level. Consultation with local authorities will determine additional measures.
The baseline means the below additional measures are in place:
- Pubs and bars must close, and can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant – which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. They may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal;
- Wedding receptions are not allowed;
- People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor or outdoor setting, whether at home or in a public space. The Rule of Six applies in open public spaces like parks and beaches;
- People should try to avoid travelling outside the ‘Very High’ area they are in, or entering a ‘Very High’ area, other than for things like work, education, accessing youth services, to meet caring responsibilities or if they are in transit;
- People should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if they are resident in a ‘Very High’ area, or avoid staying overnight in a ‘Very High’ area if they are resident elsewhere.
It remains critical that everybody observes the following key behaviours:
- HANDS – Wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds;
- FACE – Cover your face in enclosed spaces, especially where social distancing may be difficult and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet;
- SPACE – Stay two metres apart where possible, or one metre with extra precautions in place.
Working from home
To help contain the virus, office workers who can work effectively from home should do so over the winter. Where an employer, in consultation with their employee, judges an employee can carry out their normal duties from home they should do so. Public sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, should continue to go into work where necessary. Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work. The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-19 secure guidelines are followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.
- Businesses selling food or drink (including cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants), social clubs, casinos, bowling alleys, amusement arcades (and other indoor leisure centres or facilities), funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls, must be closed between 10pm and 5am. This will include takeaways but delivery services can continue after 10pm (from 24 September);
- In licensed premises, food and drink must be ordered from, and served at, a table;
- Customers must eat and drink at a table in any premises selling food and drink to consume indoors, on site (from 24 September);
- Businesses will need to display the official NHS QR code posters so that customers can ‘check-in’ at different premises using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details once the app is rolled out nationally (from 24 September);
- Businesses and organisations will face stricter rules to make their premises COVID Secure (from 28 September):
- A wider range of leisure and entertainment venues, services provided in community centres, and close contact services will be subject to the COVID-19 Secure requirements in law and fines of up to £10,000 for repeated breaches;
- Employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work;
- Businesses must remind people to wear face coverings where mandated.
- Customers in private hire vehicles and taxis must wear face coverings (from 23 September);
- Customers in hospitality venues must wear face coverings, except when seated at a table to eat or drink. Staff in hospitality and retail will now also be required to wear face coverings (from 24 September);
- People who are already exempt from the existing face covering obligations, such as because of an underlying health condition, will continue to be exempt from these new obligations;
- Guidance stating that face coverings and visors should be worn in close contact services will now become law (from 24 September);
- Staff working on public transport and taxi drivers will continue to be advised to wear face coverings.
See below for further advice on face coverings, when to wear one and how to make your own.
These measures apply to England – but there may be different rules if you live in an area under local lockdown and you should check those rules here. If you are in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, different rules may apply.
Scotland introduces stricter measures
Further temporary measures to stop the spread of coronavirus came into effect on Friday 9 October.
Nationwide (excepting central belt areas):
- Hospitality (food and drink): all premises may only open indoors between 6am and 6pm, with no sales of alcohol;
- Hospitality (food and drink): premises may open outdoors until 10pm, with sales of alcohol (where licensed);
- Takeaways (including from pubs and restaurants) can continue;
- Evening meals may be served in accommodation for residents only but no alcohol can be served;
- Current meeting rules, maximum of six people from two households, continue to apply;
- Specific life events, such as weddings and funerals, may continue with alcohol being served, with current meeting rules for these events (20 person limit in regulated premises only).
Northern Ireland introduces stricter rules
Following an increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, additional restrictions are being introduced for people living in Northern Ireland. These new restrictions are being put in place to help reduce the spread of coronavirus and to help manage the pressures on our health and social care system.
As well as the closure of schools and the hospitality sector, other changes were introduced (which came into effect from 16 October) including:
- A 10 person and two household limit on bubbles;
- No overnight stays outside of bubbles;
- A ban on close contact services other than those essential for health;
- No indoor sport or any sport with mixing of households other than at elite level;
- 15-person limit on mass events;
- Funerals and weddings limited to 25 people with no pre or post-event gatherings;
- Off licences and supermarkets unable to sell alcohol after 20:00.
The rules will initially be in place for four weeks, before being reviewed. First Minister Arlene Foster said she was determined for them to be a “time-limited intervention”.
UK quarantine rules and travel corridoors
The Department for Transport has published COVID-secure aviation guidance to support operators and passengers. It sets out measures that operators should put in place to protect staff and passengers, including advice on wearing face coverings, checking in all baggage and creating safe workspaces. It also provides advice for passengers on how to travel safely and on how to follow social distancing measures at each stage of their journey.
The guidelines are available here:
This guide will help transport organisations in England understand how to provide safer workplaces and services for themselves, their workers and passengers. It outlines measures to assess and address the risks of coronavirus (COVID-19).
It has been updated to include information on local COVID alert levels.
The public are advised to comply with the additional restrictions which apply in areas that are part of a medium (tier 1), high (tier 2) or very high (tier 3) local COVID alert level.
Transport operators providing services through or within these areas should continue operating services as normal. You should review risk assessments regularly to ensure they remain relevant and appropriate.
The guidance advises that rules for local COVID alert levels are different in the other UK nations.
Travelling safely by walking or cycling is advised. Where this is not possible, use public transport or drive. You can also help control coronavirus by:
- Working from home where possible;
- Checking your local COVID alert level before travel;
- Observing social contact rules as applicable to your local COVID alert level;
- Keeping your distance when you travel, where possible;
- Washing or sanitising your hands regularly;
- Avoiding the busiest routes, as well as busy times like the rush hour;
- Downloading the NHS COVID-19 app before you travel, if possible, and checking in where you see official NHS COVID-19 QR code posters.
This guidance has been updated to include information about the local COVID alert levels. For people living, working, volunteering or travelling to from or within an area that is part of a medium (tier 1), high (tier 2) or very high (tier 3) local COVID alert level, there are additional restrictions applicable.
The following countries and territories were removed from the exempt list at 4am Sunday 18 October 2020:
Crete was added to the exempt list at 4am, Sunday 18 October 2020.
Lesvos, Santorini, Serifos and Zakynthos were added to the exempt list at 4am, Saturday 10 October 2020.
The following countries and territories were removed from the exempt list at 4am Saturday 3 October 2020:
If you’re travelling from an exempt country you will not need to self-isolate. You should check the list of exempt countries before you travel. If you travel from an exempt country but have been in a country that is not exempt within the last 14 days, you will need to self-isolate for the remainder of the 14 days since you were last in a non-exempt country.
You should follow separate advice if you need to self-isolate in:
A new Global Travel Taskforce aimed at supporting the travel industry and the safe recovery of international travel has been launched by the government.
The Department for Transport and the Department of Health and Social Care says it has been working extensively with clinicians, health experts and the private testing sector on the practicalities of testing international arrivals.
The next step is to develop an operationalised approach, which is why the government is creating the Global Travel Taskforce to work at pace with industry on implementation and to identify options to reduce the self-isolation period while protecting public health.
The taskforce will accelerate work to inform proposals on a future testing regime and develop options for how this could be introduced.
This will include looking at the feasibility of proposals based on a single test taken after a period of self-isolation, provided by the private sector and at the cost of the passenger. The taskforce will work with medical experts to better understand when a test should be taken based on the progression of the disease. The taskforce will also work closely with the private testing sector to ensure that testing for international arrivals does not impact on NHS capacity.
It will also explore alternative testing models, including pilots with partner countries to ascertain whether self-isolation could be undertaken pre-departure.
The taskforce, which will be jointly chaired by the Secretaries of State for Transport and Health and Social Care, will also consider other options to boost safe and sustainable tourism and business travel, supporting the sector in its recovery from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
The roup will consult closely with partners from the aviation, travel, healthcare and testing sectors as well as the devolved administrations to implement measures to support the recovery of the travel sector. The taskforce is expected to put forward their initial recommendations next month.
The taskforce will consider:
- How a testing regime for international arrivals could be implemented to boost safe travel to and from the UK;
- What steps can be taken to facilitate business and tourist travel through innovative testing models and other non-testing means;
- More broadly, what steps can be taken to increase consumer confidence to support the recovery of international travel.
The current rules around the 14-day self-isolation policy remain in place.
Face coverings: When to wear one and how to make your own
This guidance has been updated (as of 22 September). Customers in private hire vehicles and taxis must wear face coverings. Customers in hospitality venues must also wear face coverings, except when seated at a table to eat or drink. Staff in hospitality and retail will now also be required to wear face coverings. Staff working on public transport and taxi drivers will continue to be advised to wear face coverings. Guidance stating that face coverings and visors should be worn in close contact services will now become law from 24 September.
People who are already exempt from the existing face covering obligations, such as because of an underlying health condition, will continue to be exempt from these new obligations.
The guidance has also been updated with information about penalty fines for not wearing a face covering. The police can take measures if members of the public do not comply with this law without a valid exemption and transport operators can deny access to their public transport services if a passenger is not wearing a face covering, or direct them to wear one or leave a service.
If necessary, the police and Transport for London (TfL) officers have enforcement powers including issuing fines of £100 (halving to £50 if paid within 14 days for the first offence).
According to the guidance, repeat offenders receiving fines on public transport or in an indoor setting will have their fines doubled at each offence. After the first offence, there will be no discount. For example, receiving a second fine will amount to £200 and a third fine will be £400, up to a maximum value of £3,200.
The guidance goes on to set out information about what face coverings are, their role in reducing the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19), the settings in which they are recommended, and how they should be safely used and stored. This information is based on current scientific evidence and is subject to change.
In England, you must continue to wear a face covering by law in the following settings:
- Public transport;
- Indoor transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals);
- Shops and supermarkets (places which are open to the public and that wholly or mainly offer goods or services for retail sale or hire);
- Indoor shopping centres;
- Banks, building societies, and post offices (including credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses).
You are expected to wear a face covering immediately before entering any of these settings and must keep it on until you leave.
You are also strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
Face coverings are also needed in NHS settings, including hospitals and primary or community care settings, such as GP surgeries. They are advised to be worn in care homes. Individual settings may have their own policies and require you to take other measures.
Different regulations exist for wearing face coverings in different parts of the UK:
Published by the Cabinet Office, this guidance explains when to wear a face covering and how to make one.
- What face coverings are;
- Their role in reducing the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19);
- The settings in which they are recommended;
- How they should be safely used and stored.
Face coverings at work
UK not following France’s lead on face coverings in the workplace
Heath Secretary Matt Hancock has announced that the UK government is not considering making face coverings mandatory in workplaces, as has been adopted in France. Mr Hancock said current NHS Test and Trace evidence shows that people are largsely catching the virus when meeting another household, usually in one of their homes.
He told BBC Breakfast that while the government was “constantly looking at the scientific evidence”, the amount of people catching Covid-19 in workplaces was “relatively low”. France has made the wearing of masks in all “shared and enclosed” workplaces compulsory, with the measures due to come in from 1 September.
Face covering guidance for workplaces
The guidance says that there is no universal face coverings guidance for workplaces because of the variety of work environments in different industries.
Employers must make sure that the risk assessment for their business addresses the risks of COVID-19 using BEIS guidance to inform decisions and control measures including close proximity working.
As a general rule, it is important to note that coronavirus (COVID-19) is a different type of risk to the risks normally faced in a workplace and needs to be managed through a hierarchy or system of control including social distancing, high standards of hand hygiene, increased surface cleaning, fixed teams or partnering, and other measures such as using screens or barriers to separate people from each other.
These measures remain the best ways of managing risk in the workplace, but there are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial and a precautionary measure; this will largely be to protect others and not the wearer. If employees choose to wear a face covering, normal policies relating to occupational workwear and PPE will continue to apply.
Use of face coverings in construction during coronavirus
The Construction Leadership Council has updated its guidance on wearing face coverings on site. (29 September)
It now recommends that masks are worn where workers on site are not required to wear Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) and their workplace (which may include welfare and changing facilities, office or meetings rooms) meets all of the following criteria:
- An enclosed space;
- Where social distancing isn’t always possible;
- Where they come into contact with others they do not normally meet.
Face coverings must also be worn in site canteens except when seated at a table to eat or drink.
Exemption cards or badges
Guidance has been updated with information about face mask exemptions. Some people may feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering. This could be in the form of an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign.
Also available are printable exemption cards:
- Exemption from face covering badge (for mobile phone;
- Exemption from face covering badge;
- Exemption from face covering card.
Medical and fabric masks: Who wears what when?
The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a video outlining when medical masks and fabric masks should be worn in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Settings where face coverings must be legally worn in Scotland is expanding to include certain indoor public places such as cinemas, galleries, museums and banks, from Saturday 8 August.
Further rules for the hospitality sector, including the introduction of new statutory guidance, have been announced to increase compliance and keep the sector safely open.
While the new guidance won’t come into effect until Friday 14 August, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has emphasised that the hospitality industry should already be doing the right thing, and if not then they should start now.
Hospitality premises should be collecting customer contact details for Test and Protect. Tables should be pre-booked where possible, with no queueing. There should be no background music and TVs should be muted to reduce the need for people to shout or lean in to each other, and no more than three households at a time should be meeting in a group.
From Friday 14 August, it will be mandatory to collect contact details of customers in a range of hospitality and public settings.
Face shields may be used but only if they are worn in addition to a face covering. While exemptions to face coverings will apply, the new settings face coverings must now be worn in will include:
- Any premises open to members of the public and used for the retail sale or hire of goods or services. This now includes: shops; takeaway restaurants; estate agents; and beauty parlours. This does not extend to hospitality premises such as sit-in cafes and restaurants;
- Aquariums, indoor zoos or visitor farms, and any other indoor tourist, heritage or cultural site;
- Banks, building societies and credit unions;
- Community centres;
- Crematoriums and funeral directors premises;
- Libraries and public reading rooms;
- Museums and galleries;
- Places of worship;
- Post offices;
- Storage and distribution facilities, including collection and drop off points.
The Scottish COVID-19 Workbook has also been published. It brings into one place advice on how local and national public health agencies will provide support to prevent virus spread, together with advice on outbreak management.
Alongside the workbook the government will publish ‘Sector Advice Cards’ that details how different sectors can take action to prevent the spread of the virus, avoid outbreaks, reporting and helping to manage outbreaks.
The Cabinet Office has issued optional badges that can be used to show that the carrier may have difficulties or concerns in maintaining social distancing. The idea is that they can be used to signal to others around them that they need to pay attention and be given space.
The following are available:
lanning for social distancing guidance published
The Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) has published the final version of its guidance SG02: Planning for Social Distancing at Sports Grounds. It has been published to enable sports grounds to effectively plan for the re-admittance of spectators. The Prime Minister has indicated this will be from the start of October.
The guidance has been developed to help practitioners to implement the Government’s Stage Five guidance, which sets out that social distancing will be maintained wherever possible when spectators are admitted to elite sporting events.
The document forms a supplement to the sixth edition of the Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds (the Guide), published in 2018. It has been drawn up to assist the management of sports grounds who are considering the possibility of, or who are actively planning for, the re-introduction of spectators to their ground under social distancing.
It also contains guidance on a range of measures recommended for the protection of all people present at a ground during an event against the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
For grounds in England, the advice in this Supplementary Guidance seeks to prepare management for the move towards the UK Government’s Stage Five, also known as ‘Return to competition: safe return of spectators’. This follows on from the previous four stages, each of which has helped elite sport to recover in phases from complete lockdown to a return to competition.
COVID-19: guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable
This guidance is for adults and children in England who are clinically extremely vulnerable.
It has been updated following the pausing of shielding advice in England. There is specific guidance on what will happen if there is a local lockdown in your area.
What has changed:
- You do not need to follow previous shielding advice;
- You can go to work as long as the workplace is Covid-secure, but should carry on working from home wherever possible;
- Clinically extremely vulnerable children should attend education settings in line with the wider guidance on reopening of schools and guidance for full opening: special schools and other specialist settings;
- You can go outside as much as you like but you should still try to keep your overall social interactions low;
- You can visit businesses, such as supermarkets, pubs and shops, while keeping 2 metres away from others wherever possible or 1 metre, plus other precautions;
- You should continue to wash your hands carefully and more frequently than usual and that you maintain thorough cleaning of frequently touched areas in your home and/or workspace
- You will no longer receive free food parcels, medicine deliveries and basic care from the National Shielding Service.
The HSE has issued a COVID-19 risk assessment template for organisations to use in order to protect workers and others from coronavirus.
It says that organisations 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.
Workers and their representatives must be consulted during the process, to explain the measures being taken to them. They can also provide valuable information on how the risks could be controlled.
The document can be used to help ensure everything has been covered in order to keep workers and others safe. Once the risk assessment is completed, you will also have to monitor to make sure that what you have put in place is working as expected.
During the news conference at Downing Street, on Friday 17 July, the PM said: “We’re going to give employers more discretion and ask them to make decisions about how their staff can work safely. That could mean continuing to work from home, which is one way of working safely and which has worked for many employers and employees. Or it could mean making workplaces safe.”
The BBC has put together an interactive guide on what the future might look like.
The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy: New chapter added
The Government’s strategy document describes the progress the UK has made to date in tackling the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and sets out the plans for moving to the next phase of its response to the virus.
A new chapter has been added: The Next Chapter in our Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 Recovery Strategy.
This additional chapter to the recovery strategy sets out the next stages of the plan. It looks ahead to the coming months, covering the tools that will be used to suppress the virus, the challenges that winter will bring and how the government is preparing for these, and our ambition for continuing to reopen the economy and society when it is safe to do so.
In summary, areas covered in the document include:
Suppressing the virus
The ONS infection survey shows that the number of new infections and people with COVID-19 at any given time has decreased significantly since ‘Our plan to rebuild’ was published in May, and is now stable and low. The number of people dying each day from COVID-19 has fallen from a peak of 1,173 in mid-April to an average of 74 over the past seven days.
The government says it is now able to better to identify outbreaks at an early stage at local and regional levels, and have taken steps to ensure appropriate local intervention. Local outbreaks are identified and managed through continuous monitoring of the available data, using NHS Test and Trace and Public Health England, to help spot potential outbreaks early. They then work with local authorities to understand the situation in detail and take action. Different approaches are required according to local circumstances. In some places, outbreaks have occurred in individual premises, such as workplaces, so the response has only focused on those specific locations, whereas other outbreaks have required a greater level of intervention.
The CONTAIN Framework, published 17 July, sets out how local authorities and national Government will work together to manage local outbreaks. As of 18 July, local authorities have new powers to close specific premises, close public outdoor spaces, and cancel events.
Continuing the plan to rebuild
Good hygiene practices must be maintained, and this is essential says the guidance. Since 11 May the government has encouraged people to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces where they have close contact with people they do not normally meet. In England, face coverings have been mandatory on public transport since 15 June, and they will be mandatory in shops and supermarkets from 24 July.
There is now sufficient testing capacity so that everyone with symptoms – no matter what their age or profession – can quickly and easily access a test.
Over the coming months the plan is to continue building the NHS Test and Trace service into ‘a world-class operation in infection control.’ Government plans to increase antigen testing capacity to half a million tests a day by the end of October, with results for in-person tests coming back the next day.
To support these aims, a number of strategies are being pursued. For example, implementation of a targeted communications strategy to improve awareness of the service among priority audiences, including BAME communities, non-English speakers and at-risk groups; introducing backward contact tracing, to identify the source of a particular outbreak and improve understanding of how infection spreads around social, professional and educational networks.
Preparing for winter
There are unknown factors in how colder weather may impact the virus; there is some evidence that UV light means surfaces exposed to sunlight are less hospitable to the virus in the summer, and some outbreaks have occurred in cold, damp settings, such as meat-packing factories. As the weather becomes colder and days become shorter, it is expected that people will spend more time indoors, where the risk of transmission is higher.
There are also secondary risks. The pressure on the NHS and other health infrastructure is already higher in winter due to other seasonal illnesses, such as flu.
The Government is undertaking preparations to ensure readiness for the risk of a resurgence in the virus between November and March. For example; the auditing of critical winter stockpiles of equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure there is the stock needed. Work will continue with care homes to make sure they are prepared to keep residents and staff safe through the winter months.
COVID-19: Guidance updated to reflect COVID alert level information
The following government guidance documents have been updated to reflect guidance on new local COVID alert levels:
This guidance is aimed at those managing council buildings.
It is stressed that each council will need to apply relevant guidance locally depending on circumstances, including its size and type of activities, how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated. This guidance applies to all users of council buildings including visitors and councillors.
Many council buildings are also workplaces and should therefore be aware of their responsibilities as employers. The government is clear that no one should feel obliged to work in a workplace they consider to be unsafe.
Any reopening plans must be consistent with any local lockdown areas or restrictions, says the guidance, highlighting the system of local COVID alert levels.
For those living, working or volunteering in an area that is part of local COVID alert level – high or local COVID alert level – very high, additional restrictions apply.
This guidance is for owners and operators of playgrounds and outdoor gyms to enable their use while minimising the transmission risk of coronavirus (COVID-19).
On 12 October, a system of local COVID alert levels was announced by the government. The guidance highlights that for areas where the local COVID alert level is high or very high, the additional restrictions apply.
This guidance is for the owners and operators of beach, countryside and coastal destinations during COVID-19.
In terms of the system of local COVID alert levels, the guidance sets out that if you live, work or volunteer in an area that is part of local COVID alert level – high or local COVID alert level – very high, additional restrictions apply.
This guidance focuses on the design principles for safer urban centres and green spaces. The Public Health (Coronavirus Regulations) (England) Regulations 2020 impose temporary statutory restrictions and are under constant review. The guidance contains information and examples of interventions that may be undertaken by the owners and operators of public spaces to keep people safe as and when the restrictions are relaxed, and urban spaces become busier.
It is primarily for owners and operators of public places including but not limited to:
- Local councils and town/city centre managers;
- Commercial landlords responsible for public places;
- Management companies.
This document provides a framework for identifying the issues associated with the use of public places in light of the need for social distancing. It focuses primarily on areas which are likely to have high footfall. It also includes practical interventions, which are temporary, for adapting and managing public places.
On 12 October the Government introduced a system of Local COVID Alert Levels. For those living, working or volunteering in an area that is part of Local COVID Alert Level – High or Local COVID Alert Level – Very High, additional restrictions apply.
Government strategy and workplace guidance
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:
- Test: increasing availability and speed of testing will underpin NHS Test and Trace;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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.
NHS test and trace: workplace guidance
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.
Some employers and third-party healthcare providers may want to introduce their own internal testing programmes outside of the NHS Test and Trace service. This guidance aims to help them ensure that their testing programmes are as reliable and effective as possible. It covers:
- Legislation, regulations and best practice;
- Virus and antibody testing;
- How to interpret test results;
- Next steps after a positive or negative test.
It is noted that the NHS Test and Trace service is for those who display symptoms of COVID-19 or who have been advised to take a test by a medical practitioner or public service. Employer and third-party healthcare providers wishing to provide a test to staff must not advise individuals without symptoms to get a test from the limited supply offered by the NHS Test and Trace service, but may offer alternative private provision, in accordance with this guidance.
Before deciding to establish a testing programme, employers are advised that they are clear on a number of factors, such as:
- Who the testing will cover – for example, whether this is all directly employed staff, or includes individuals working onsite, like contractors;
- What the focus of the programme is: staff with symptoms or without symptoms;
- How often staff will be tested;
- Appropriate facilities for carrying out the tests.
The NHS Test and Trace service:
- Provides testing for anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus to find out if they have the virus;
- Gets in touch with anyone who has had a positive test result to help them share information about any close recent contacts they have had;
- Alerts those contacts, where necessary, and notifies them they need to self-isolate to help stop the spread of the virus.
By following instructions to self-isolate, people who have had close recent contact with someone with coronavirus will be protecting their family, friends, colleagues and other people around them, and will play a direct role in stopping the spread of the virus.
This guidance, for employers, businesses and workers, has been updated to reflect the new legal requirements for designated venues to collect contact details and display official NHS QR code posters.
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.
This guidance is designed to be relevant for people who work within the visitor economy; for example people who operate or run hotels and other types of accommodation (there is also a separate hotels and other guest accommodation guidance, indoor and outdoor visitor attractions guidance, and guidance for people who run or manage spaces for business or leisure events and conferences. There is also a separate guidance document on pubs and restaurants for food settings.
In deciding what actions to take, an appropriate COVID-19 risk assessment must be undertaken, at a business and site level.
The guidance covers:
- Thinking about risk;
- Managing your customers, visitors and contractors;
- Who should go to work?;
- Social distancing for workers;
- Cleaning the workplace;
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) and face coverings;
- Workforce management;
- Inbound and outbound goods.
This guidance is for people who work in or run hotels and other guest accommodation.
Its aim is to help employers, employees and the self-employed in England understand how to work as safely as possible and protect their customers during the COVID-19 pandemic while keeping to the recommended social distancing guidance applicable at the time.
An appropriate COVID-19 risk assessment is required to establish what actions need to be taken.
More on the relaxing of shielding guidelines is set out below. But at yesterday’s briefing, the panel were asked about what legal protections are on offer to those who are worried about returning to work.
Mr Hancock said the legal framework in place to support staff at work has remained in place throughout the pandemic and that has not changed, insisting that the government would not be saying it was safe for the most vulnerable to return to work – if the necessary procedures are in place – unless it was medically appropriate.
Dr Harries said the onus is on both employers and employees to make the process work, conceding that many in the shielded group will be “fearful” and should take time to prepare to return rather than rushing into a decision.
But sh added they need to “push” their employers to start having one-to-one conversations to reassure them that their surroundings are safe.
Plans to ease guidance for those shielding
Yesterday, the government announced that restrictions on the 2.2 million people who have been “shielding” in England are to be significantly relaxed from early next month.
Those designated as extremely vulnerable to the virus – either due to their age or because of serious health conditions – will be able to spend more time outside their homes.
Changes from 6 July
Those who are shielding and live alone in England – including single parents who are shielding – will be able to create a support bubble with one other household of any size. This follows the ‘social bubble’ rules which were introduced earlier this month for anyone living alone and single-parent households.
People shielding will also be able to meet up to six people from other households, outdoors, while maintaining social distancing rules.
Changes from 1 August
From this date, extremely vulnerable people who are most at risk from becoming ill from coronavirus will no longer need to shield in England. The shielding guidance will be relaxed entirely, meaning those affected will be able to visit shops and places of worship and return to their workplaces if it is safe to do so.
For those returning to work – if they can’t work from home – the workplace must be COVID secure. It means those shielding will no longer be eligible for statutory sick pay, unless they develop coronavirus symptoms, or someone they know develops symptoms, and they are told to self-isolate and cannot work from home.
‘Robust’ workplace measures
The government acknowledge that individuals unable to work from home may feel uncertain about returning to work. Mindful of this, the government is asking employers to ease the transition for their clinically extremely vulnerable employees, ensuring that robust measures are put in place for those currently shielding to return to work when they are able to do so.
The government say this group must follow social distancing guidelines when outside their homes and wash their hands regularly to reduce the risk of being infected.
The UK government says the advice on shielding can be relaxed because the chances of encountering the virus in the community continue to fall – one in 1,700 people are estimated to have the virus now, down from 1 in 500 four weeks ago.
Coronavirus: Reopening of retail
Non-essential shops have been allowed to reopen. This includes retailers offering clothes, books and electronics. Other shops won’t be allowed to open in Scotland until 18 June and no date for this to happen in Wales has been announced.
Outlets such as hairdressers and nail salons are still not allowed to open until 4 July at the earliest. Cafes and restaurants are only allowed to offer a takeaway service, which is mainly due to the need to maintain a distance of two metres between people from different households.
Retailers must follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines set out by the government in May. Measures 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;
- Frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, including self-checkouts, trolleys, coffee machines and betting terminals, for example.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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’.
This advice is for those working in care homes on how to work safely during this period of sustained transmission of COVID-19.
The resource has been updated from the previous version of this document; changes include:
- the title has changed from “How to work safely in care homes” to better reflect the content
- changes to the section relating to care for people with learning disabilities and/or autism
- further detail added to recommendations including specification of surgical mask types (defined in consultation with HSE and MHRA).
The Welsh Government has introduced the Coronavirus Regulations imposing strict restrictions on gatherings, the movement of people, and the operation of businesses (some of which have been required to close temporarily).
Incrementally, as a result of regular review of the Regulations, an increasing number of these have been allowed to open again.
Businesses that are permitted to operate, or premises that are allowed to open, must do so safely in a way that complies with the Coronavirus Regulations, in addition to other legal obligations imposed on employers (such as health and safety legislation). To support businesses to work safely the Welsh Government has adopted five key principles.
- Care: health and well-being comes first;
- Comply: the laws that keep us safe must be obeyed;
- Involve: we will share responsibility for safe work;
- Adapt: we all need to change how we work;
- Communicate: we must all understand what to do.
This document is to help employers, employees and the self-employed working in construction and other outdoor work to understand how to work safely, taking measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus.
Also updated are the following guidance documents:
- Labs and research facilities: coronavirus workplace guidance;
- Working in or from a vehicle: coronavirus workplace guidance;
- Beauty, holistic and wellbeing services: coronavirus workplace guidance:
- Tattoo and body piercing services: coronavirus workplace guidance:
This advice from the CMO states that Welsh Government should support the public’s right to choose to wear face coverings in most settings. However, it is also noted that CMO advice continues to be that the evidence of benefits does not justify a mandatory or legislative process and that there would be potential dangers in taking such an approach in Wales.
The Coronavirus Control Plan for Wales sets out how the risks of coronavirus in Wales will be managed. It describes the different stages of the possible spread of coronavirus. It sets out what the response will be in different circumstances. It is a collective effort with everyone having a role to play; from businesses to local government, NHS Wales, Public Health Wales, the Welsh Government and the public.
The different stages are:
- New cases and clusters;
- Incidents and outbreaks;
- Local or regional measures;
- All-Wales measures.
The Plan details each of this stages.
- Starts with the approach to monitoring new cases across Wales, which provides the information we need to take the right decisions at the right time;
- Has a summary of the different phases of prevention and intervention. This starts with sustained changes in behaviour by maintaining physical distancing and good hygiene. It acknowledges that we must also intervene to manage and control incidents and outbreaks. This could involve increasing testing in particular places, closing specific premises, introducing wider measures across a locality or region, or (if other things prove ineffective) new all-Wales restrictions;
- Sets out the criteria for deciding whether to introduce local or regional measures to protect public health. This includes indicative options for intervention in those areas – and considers also how any restrictions will subsequently be relaxed. The exact combination of measures will depend on the nature of any local outbreaks, so the list is illustrative rather than definitive;
- Identifies the legal powers which public authorities in Wales have to respond at each level of response, as well as the roles and responsibilities of key actors;
- Describes the governance arrangements and highlight key roles and responsibilities of different actors in delivering this plan;
- Sets out the intended approach to explain what will be done. A great deal has been learned during the crisis about the need for effective communication across Wales and in specific places where issues emerge. Communications will be tailored for different groups and communities.
Lockdown restrictions in Scotland began to relax from 28 May.
A four-phase “route map” was published, 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 four 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.
Read this complete guide to safe working in warehouses during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, in line with the UK Government’s advice, from SHD Logistics.
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 she is aware of a small number of firms “not doing the right thing or not sure what the right thing is to do”.
Issued by the Scottish Government, the aim of this workbook is to bring into one place advice on how local and national public health agencies will provide support that helps to put in place the action needed to prevent coronavirus spread, together with advice on management of outbreaks.
It aims to aid management of the transmission of coronavirus by:
- Clarifying roles and responsibilities for: service restart and recovery activity whilst preventing the spread of COVID-19
- Setting out actions needed to facilitate the management of incidents and outbreak
- Supporting the co-ordination and planning of actions being taken as outlined in the route map out of lockdown
- Furthering shared learning during recovery.
The Workbook introduces the idea of Sector Advice Cards. These will be based on formal guidance documentation that has been issued by the Scottish Government, Public Health Scotland and other agencies. They will be designed to be used by those who have responsibility for an individual setting, as a single point of access to the key information on how to minimise the risk of an outbreak; what to do if someone reports symptoms of COVID-19 that may increase the chances of the virus being transmitted to others; and what would be expected of them if the local health protection team needs to act to manage a local incident or outbreak.
The COVID-19 Sector Advice card is designed for managers and employees to guide action to prevent the spread of COVID-19; to support workplace communications and training; and take action in the event of an outbreak.
Join leading lawyer, Simon Joyston-Bechal as he looks at:
- Managing difficult decisions relating to COVID-19;
- Could we be prosecuted for COVID-19 exposures?;
- Can we keep operating if we are struggling with social distancing?
- Working from home – how far do our duties extend?
- Statutory inspections – what if we are running behind?
- Returning to work…
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19): sector guidance
[updated 30 September]
The government has updated the following workplace guidance to reflect the advice on protecting people who are at higher risk.
From 1 August, clinically extremely vulnerable individuals can go to the workplace as long as it is COVID-secure but should carry on working from home wherever possible:
- Close contact services: Guidance for people who provide close contact services, including hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, tattooists, sports and massage therapists, dress fitters, tailors and fashion designers.
- Construction and other outdoor work: guidance for people who work in or run outdoor working environments;
- Factories, plants and warehouses: guidance for people who work in or run factories, plants and warehouses;
- Heritage locations: guidance for people who work or volunteer in heritage locations;
- Hotels and other guest accommodation: guidance for people who work in or run hotels and other guest accommodation
- Labs and research facilities: guidance for people who work in or run indoor labs and research facilities and similar environments;
- Offices and contact centres: guidance for people who work in or run offices, contact centres and similar indoor environments;
- Other people’s homes: guidance for people working in, visiting or delivering to home environments as well as their employers;
- Performing arts: guidance for people who work in performing arts, including arts organisations, venue operators and participants.
- Providers of grassroots sport and gym/leisure facilities: guidance for people who work in grassroots sport and gym/leisure facilities;
- Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services: guidance for people who work in or run restaurants offering takeaway or delivery services.
- Shops and branches: guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments;
- 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;
- The visitor economy: this guidance is for people who work in hotels and guest accommodation, indoor and outdoor attractions, and business events and consumer shows.
The HSE has put together a guide aimed at all employers and those who are self-employed and work with or near other people. It explains how you can protect people from coronavirus 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.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): General guidance for safer workplaces
The Scottish Government has produced sector guidance to support a safe economic restart and ensure workplaces are safe. This guidance sets out the Scottish Government’s expectations for organisations that do not fall within the sectors that guidance is currently available for. It is noted that sector guidance must be consulted in the first instance.
Organisations need to consider mitigations to ensure workplaces are safe and the transmission of the virus is minimised. This guidance addresses five key areas, which organisations need to consider these to ensure workplaces are safe and the transmission of the virus is minimised:
- Training and compliance
- Risk assessment – involving the workforce in a risk-based approach to a safer workplace
- Workforce planning and support – supporting those who should come to work, and those who should not
- Operational guide and checklist – changing the workplace environment to protect your workforce
- Deliveries, distribution and visitors – protecting your workforce and those who come on-site
- The guidance emphasises the importance of undertaking robust and regular risk assessments with full input from trade unions or workforce representatives, and to keep all risk mitigation measures under regular review so that workplaces continue to feel, and be, safe.
After a workplace risk assessment has been undertaken and measures to reduce the risk of transmission have been put in place, staff and their managers should use the individual risk assessment tool to identify the individual’s vulnerability level. Staff should be active participants in this risk assessment which uses factors including age, ethnicity, in addition to underlying health conditions to stratify risk.
It applies to companies where digital is a key component of the business; that is, businesses involved in the development of software or hardware, and covers sub-sectors such as cyber, data, infrastructure, and software engineering.
It came into effect on 21 August 2020 and sets out the Scottish Government’s expectations on what businesses of all sizes and sub-sectors need to consider as part of their planning for return to workplaces. The guidance emphasises in particular the importance of undertaking a robust and ongoing risk-based assessment with full input from trade union or workforce representatives, and to keep all risk mitigation measures under regular review so that workplaces continue to feel, and be, safe.
The five key areas companies should consider as part of their planning for return to the workplace and ongoing service delivery while minimising the transmission of the virus are:
- Assessing risk – involving the workforce in a risk-based approach to a safer workplace;
- Workforce planning – supporting those who should come to work, and those who should not;
- Operational guide and checklist – changing the workplace environment to protect your workforce;
- Deliveries, distribution and visitors – protecting your workforce and those who come on-site;
- Training and compliance.
This guidance came into force on 21 August 2020. It states that professionals working in the performing arts and those in formal training for associated professional careers, such as in Further and Higher Education, can use this specific guidance for training, rehearsal, recording, broadcast, pre-production, creative-learning related activities and performances without an audience now, and can pursue these activities in theatres and concert halls from Monday 24 August. However, it is noted that at the time of publication, performing arts venues cannot open to the public for live performances with an audience.
Non-professionals (meaning those participating in performing arts other than for work purposes), or groups which include non-professionals, may refer to this guidance for their activities, but in order to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus must at all times do so in line with government legislation and the Staying safe and protecting others guidance, particularly in relation to the number of individuals or households meeting together.
Non-professionals who are participating in an organised outdoor activity managed by an organisation – including a business, charity or club – can, from 24 August, meet outdoors. Organisers have a duty to ensure compliance with physical distancing, hygiene measures and this and other relevant guidance, and to undertake the same risk assessment processes as referenced in this guidance for professional organisations, including member/participant representatives in those processes.
Tourism and hospitality
This guidance is for the tourism and hospitality sectors in Scotland, and for other public venues able to reopen to the public from 24 August.
The sectors covered by this guidance are diverse. It is therefore necessary for this guidance to take a strategic approach, but it is designed for use by:
- All accommodation providers (hotels, Bed and Breakfasts, self-catering, caravan/holiday parks etc);
- Visitor attractions;
- Marine and adventure tourism;
- Other activity or experience tourism operations/centres;
- Tour operators;
- Pubs and restaurants;
- Retail aspects of tourism;
- Natural spaces insofar as they relate to tourism, such as the National Parks;
- Funfairs and amusement parks (static and mobile);
- Bingo halls.
Guidance for the events sector is particularly aimed at event organisers.
It aims to provide general guidance for event organisers in supporting the restart of their businesses, with a particular focus on the workforce and workplace, in order to help events restart safely at the appropriate time. It is intended to provide advice on measures that need to be considered for COVID-19 only and is not intended to be an overall event guide.
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.”
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.
- 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 from HSE is aimed at all employers. It explains how to talk to workers about preventing coronavirus in the workplace. It gives guidance on reducing the risks from coronavirus, 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 pandemic is ongoing and to put steps in place to manage that risk.
It says that by talking to your workers you can:
- Explain 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 pandemic.
The guide covers five areas and suggests questions you can use to discuss managing the risks of coronavirus with your workers when you are doing your risk assessment. Actions can then be taken to make sure your plans are working safely and people have been listened to.
It notes how employers 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:
- New guidelines are published;
- Lockdown restrictions change;
- Plans you put in place don’t work as expected, eg if social distancing in welfare facilities isn’t working;
- Work or tasks change someone in the workplace is diagnosed with coronavirus.
Importantly, 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.
It covers the following:
- Social distancing;
- Organising your workplace;
- Cleaning and sanitising;
- Information and guidance;
- Wellbeing and support.
This guide from ACAS 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.
Wales: Unlocking our society and economy: continuing the conversation
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.
This workplace guidance is for employers and employees. The Welsh Government is now following a cautious approach to easing this lockdown and re-opening workplaces.
This guidance aims to help employers and employees who are currently working or who will be reopening workplaces understand what we believe is important and how everyone should approach the shared endeavour of safe work. It is for all workplaces.
Key information addressed includes the following:
- workforce health: if someone becomes unwell in the workplace with a new, continuous cough; high temperature; the loss or a change in their normal sense of smell or taste they should be sent home and advised to follow the advice to stay at home
- keep legal: if you are permitted to operate your business you must do so safely in a way that complies with any restrictions imposed by the Coronavirus Regulations, in addition to other legal obligations imposed on employers (such as health and safety legislation)
- physical distancing
- risk assessment: all risks should be assessed, with meaningful discussion with staff and/or their recognised trade union, before re-commencing work. If the business or organisation is required by law to have a written risk assessment (where there are 5 or more employees) then significant findings must be written down and control measures put in place.
Wales: Retailers: coronavirus workplace guidance – updated 22 June
Published by the Welsh Government, this guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed in Wales understand how to work safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping as many people as possible 2 metres apart from those they do not live with.
A person responsible for carrying on a business, or providing a service (included in Part 4 of Schedule 1 to the Coronavirus Regulations) or providing a service included on this list must undertake the following in respect of any premises where the business is carried on or the service is provided. They must take all reasonable measures to ensure:
- that a distance of 2m is maintained between any persons on the premises (except between two members of the same household, or a carer and the person assisted by the carer)
- that persons are only admitted to the business premises in sufficiently small numbers to make it possible to maintain that distance, and
- that a distance of 2m is maintained between persons waiting to enter the business premises (except between two members of the same household, or a carer and the person assisted by the carer).
All employers, employees and the self-employed in Wales are being asked to:
- show care by acting with compassion and understanding
- comply with laws designed to keep us all safe
- involve everyone, because safety is a shared endeavour
- adapt workplaces and behaviours
- communicate with clarity and consistency.
The guidance sets out how to work safely and gives practical considerations of how it can be applied in the workplace. It advises that all Statutory Guidance and supplementary guidance must be taken into account, on taking all reasonable measures to maintain physical distancing in the workplace.
It applies specifically to businesses in the retail sector and branches. The guidance applies to those currently open and will help those that are currently closed consider what their operations need to look like when they are allowed to open.
It is stressed that, in order to help decide which actions to take, an appropriate COVID-19 risk assessment must be undertaken. This risk assessment must be done in consultation with the recognised trade union or, if there isn’t one, a representative chosen by workers, says the guidance.
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 rstrictions 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:
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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.
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.
Re-opening the workplace after coronavirus
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.
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
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 coronavirus guidance
This document sets out advice on using green spaces and protecting yourself and others from coronavirus.
In England, you can leave your home to exercise and spend time outdoors for recreation with your household or in groups of up to six people from outside your household.
When travelling to outdoor spaces, it is important that people respect the rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Do not travel to different parts of the UK where it would be inconsistent with guidance or regulations issued by the relevant devolved administration.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): transport and travel guidance
The guidance was updated on July 4 to reflect the latest advice on social distancing.
(updated 4 July 2020)
The guide, also updated to link to the list of countries and territories on the travel corridors exemption list, aims to help transport organisations in England understand how to provide safer workplaces and services for themselves, their workers and passengers. It outlines measures to assess and address the risks of coronavirus (COVID-19).
It is stressed that passengers and people working on the transport network should maintain 2 metres distance from people outside their household or support bubble.
From 4 July 2020, if you cannot keep a 2 metre distance, reduce the risk by maintaining a 1 metre distance where possible, and taking suitable mitigations.
Operators should consider and set out the mitigations already in place or will introduce, in the risk assessment.
Operators should advise staff and passengers on ways to keep their distance from other people as much as possible. There are situations where this may not be possible, for example when boarding or alighting, during security checks, on busier services, busier times of day, when walking through interchanges and when undertaking maintenance work that requires 2 people for the task.
Where the social distancing guidelines cannot reliably be followed in full, you should consider the following mitigating actions:
- Creating and agreeing a single, clear approach to social distancing for all workers and passengers, where possible;
- Agreeing and maintaining clear rules for workers and passengers that meet social distancing guidelines;
- Clear rules for interacting with passengers, receiving goods, and testing equipment;
- Reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using fixed teams, partnering or cohorting (so each person works with only a few others);
- Using face coverings in situations where social distancing is not possible;
- Organising the workspace and how people work in a single space to follow social distancing guidelines;
- Further increasing the frequency of hand washing and access to hand sanitiser in the workplace;
- Separating workspaces 2 metres apart from one another, where possible;
- Using screens or barriers;
- Sitting or standing side-by-side or behind other people, rather than facing them, where seating arrangements allow;
- Minimising indoor interactions where possible;
- Repositioning workspaces to allow for optimal ventilation;
- Reducing occupancy of group interaction spaces, including spaces shared with other organisations;
- Re-organising passenger flows;
- Increase surface cleaning;
- Keeping the activity time involved as short as possible;
- Making adjustments for those with specific needs or protected characteristics, for example disabled people, older people and pregnant women;
- Consider groups of people who process information differently or who may not be able to distance from others;
- Advising people to avoid loud talking, shouting or singing.
(updated 4 July 2020)
On 4 July, this guidance was updated to include information about travelling into, out of and within areas under local lockdown.
It also now includes a link to the list of countries and territories on the travel corridors exemption list.
It is advised that a 2 metre distance should be maintained because the risk of transmission is small at this distance. From 4 July 2020, government guidance on social distancing changed.
If you cannot keep a 2 metre distance, reduce the risk to yourself and others by maintaining a 1 metre distance where possible, and taking suitable precautions.
In terms of travelling, the following precautions are set out with the aim of keeping people – passengers and transport staff – safe:
- Limit the number of people or households that you come into contact with, for example avoid peak travel where possible;
- Wash or sanitise your hands regularly;
- Use a face covering;
- Avoid touching your face;
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when coughing or sneezing;
- Travel side by side or behind other people, rather than facing them, where seating arrangements allow;
- Touch as few surfaces as possible;
- Stay outdoors, rather than indoors, where possible;
- Minimise the time spent close to other people, where possible;
- Avoid loud talking, shouting or singing;
- Dispose of waste safely, including items such as used disposable face coverings.
Other travel related guidance
The government has also updated the following guidance:
Updated on 4 July as the travel exemptions came into effect.
Travel advice: coronavirus (COVID-19) 404931
Also updated as the exemptions to the global advice against all non-essential travel came into effect (4 July). The guidance also includes a new checklist following the change in travel advice, where some countries are exempted from the global advisory against non-essential international travel (from 4 July).
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
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 statutory guidance is made under section 18 of the Traffic Management Act 2004.
Coronavirus advice from the HSE
The HSE is warning against the use of KN95 facemasks as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
A safety alert has been issued [11 June 2020], urging all employers and suppliers not to purchase or use KN95 facemasks as PPE.
Advice from the HSE highlights the fact that coronavirus can transfer from people to surfaces. It can be passed on to others who touch the same surfaces. Keeping your workplace clean reduces the potential for coronavirus to spread and is a critical part of making and keeping your business ‘COVID-secure’, it says.
This guidance aims to help employers to clean the workplace to reduce risk. It is suggested that the frequency of cleaning may need to be increased how thoroughly cleaning is undertaken, as well as cleaning surfaces that are not normally cleaned.
The HSE has also 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:
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.
COVID-19 early outbreak management information has been created, and updated, to make sure that people who run businesses or organisations:
- Know how to recognise and report an incident of coronavirus (COVID-19);
- Are aware of measures local health protection teams may advise in order to contain it.
This information is contained within ‘action cards’ that have been designed for specific situations where an outbreak could occur. This could be a:
- Restaurant or café;
- Construction site;
- Place of worship.
The cards are designed to be printed or downloaded to keep on hand in your business or organisation.
Updates have been made to the definition of an outbreak, in line with revised guidelines.
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.
From 15 June, face coverings will be required while using public transport in England.
The government will work with operators to make it mandatory for passengers to wear face coverings when using public transport in England, the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced.
Wherever possible people should continue to avoid public transport and walk, cycle or drive, but it is recognised that for some people this may not be an option. Transport usage has been slowly increasing, including on the tube which has seen around a 20% rise last week compared to the week before.
Other related content from SHP and IFSEC Global
HMRC Furlough Advice
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The UK’s coronavirus furlough scheme will finish at the end of October, Chancellor Rishi Sunak recently confirmed. He also set out how employers will have to start sharing the cost of the scheme.
From August, employers must pay National Insurance and pension contributions, then 10% of pay from September, rising to 20% in October. Also, workers will be allowed to return to work part-time from July, but with companies paying 100% of wages.
Mr Sunak said the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will adjust so “those who are able to work can do so”.
Some 8.4 million workers are having 80% of their salaries paid for by the government – up to £2,500 a month – under the scheme, which was originally intended to last until the end of July.
Under these changes, furloughed workers will continue to get 80% of pay until the end of October, but by then a fifth of their salary will have to be met by employers.
“Then, after eight months of this extraordinary intervention of the government stepping in to help pay people’s wages, the scheme will close,” Mr Sunak said.
How will the scheme change?
From 1 July, businesses will be allowed to bring furloughed employees back part-time, a month earlier than previously announced. The move is aimed to help support people back to work, the government said.
It will be down to individual firms to decide what part-time means. They will be able to set the hours and shift patterns staff will work when they return, but companies will have to pay wages while they are in work.
From 1 August the level of government grant will be reduced “to reflect that people are returning to work”.
Furloughed workers will continue to receive 80% of their pay, but from August it will include a growing employer contribution. It will start with bosses paying NI and pensions in August, plus 10% of pay in September, rising to 20% in October.
During August the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. Employers will have to pay NI and pension contributions. For the average claim, that’s 5% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee had not been furloughed.
In September, the government will cut its grants to 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,190. Employers will pay NI and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up the 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. That works out at 14% of the average gross employment costs the employer would have incurred.
In October the government grant will be cut to 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay NI and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up the 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. That’s 23% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.
The following guidance from HMRC is available:
- Work out 80% of your employees’ wages to claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme;
- Check if you can claim for your employees’ wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme;
- Check if your employer can use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
On 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.
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?’
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 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.
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.
What 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).
- 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:
- 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.
This guidance sets out advice on:
- going to work
- staying at home
- sick pay
- furloughed workers
- claiming benefits.
Poster now available
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
- Manufacturing and processing businesses
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 instrument makes a number of changes to the Restrictions Regulations to enable and support gradual relaxation of restriction measures whilst amending, but crucially, keeping in place public health measures to continue to reduce public health risks posed by the incidence and spread SARS-CoV-2. The relaxations will facilitate the country’s economic recovery by opening certain non-essential retail premises operating mainly outdoors as supported by health data. The relaxations will also enable certain important aspects of public and private life to restart in a controlled manner.
Schedule 2 is amended:
- to allow all outdoor markets to open
- to allow vehicle showrooms and other premises, including outdoor areas used for the sale or hire of caravans, boats, or any vehicle which can be propelled by mechanical means to open
- to allow amenities for water sports, stables, shooting and archery venues, golf courses and driving ranges to open
- to add the following categories of venues which must close: indoor games, recreation and entertainment venues; theme parks and adventure parks and activities; social clubs; model villages; zoos, aquariums, and safari parks; visitor attractions at farms; indoor attractions at landmarks including observation wheels and viewing platforms; and indoor attractions at visitor attractions such as botanical or other gardens, biomes or greenhouses, and heritage sites or film studios.
These Regulations make provision for the tightening restrictions on gatherings which have been taken to reduce the public health risks posed by the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in England which causes COVID-19.
The instrument amends the Original Regulations for the fourth time. The provisions detailed in this latest amendment came into force on 14 September 2020. Regulation 5 of the Original Regulations is amended to provide for:
- The prohibition of a gathering of more than six people, one household or two households where they are linked households unless a valid exemption applies
- The exemptions to the gatherings limit are (Regulation 5(3)):
- For an elite sportsperson, their coach (or where the elite sportsperson is a child, their parent) and the gathering is necessary for a competition or training;
- Where the gathering is reasonably necessary for work purposes; for the provision of voluntary or charitable services; for education or training;
- To provide childcare or to supervise activities for children; to provide emergency assistance; to enable the avoidance of injury or escape from the risk of harm; to provide care to or assistance to a vulnerable person;
- To facilitate access to and contact between parents and children where they do not live in the same household;
- To fulfil a legal obligation;
- Where the gathering is a support group;
- For gatherings of up to 30 persons for marriage or civil partnership;
- For gatherings for a significant event.
The transmission rate has increased over recent weeks, in particular amongst young people, and compliance with social distance guidance has decreased. As a result, it has been considered necessary to introduce new measures to limit the spread of coronavirus.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 6) Regulations 2020
Regulation 2 of these Regulations amends the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020. The amendments consist of several provisions, including to:
- permit shops previously required to be closed (and similar premises including car dealerships and outdoor markets) to open, but note that they must comply with requirements relating to physical distancing and their customers must remain in the area local to where they are living
- remove limitations on marriage and civil partnership ceremonies taking place, subject to physical distancing requirements
- permit places of worship to open for private prayer
- state that it is a reasonable excuse to leave your local area or gather indoors with other persons in order to:
- move house;
- prepare a property for someone to move in;
- visit an estate or letting agent, developer sales office or show home in connection with the purchase, sale or rental of an unoccupied property;
- view an unoccupied property.
The Regulations came into force on 22 June 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 (COVID-19): Phase 3: business and physical distancing guidance
The Scottish Government stresses that all businesses must act responsibly and align fully with the physical distancing measures introduced to protect the nation’s heath, well-being and economic future.
It also stresses that remote working should remain the default position for those who can. Where that is not possible businesses and organisations are encouraged to manage travel demand through staggered start times and flexible working patterns.
All business premises, sites and attractions not required by law to close should remain closed unless:
- essential to the health and welfare of the country during this crisis (as defined below) or
- supporting (or being repurposed to support) essential services or
- your business is able to open in accordance with the current position in the Scotland’s Route Map and
- apart from in exceptional circumstances critical to lives and safety, capable of working in a way which is fully consistent with established physical distancing advice
- every person in Scotland should continue to comply with the measures contained in: Coronavirus (COVID-19): staying safe and protecting others.
This document details the changes being made to the Scottish Government’s Phase 3 Route Map. The guidance applies from 14 September.
In Phase 3 regulations are still in place:
- Stopping some types of gatherings;
- Closing certain businesses, premises and venues.
Guidance on seeing friends and family covers:
- Meeting others indoors and outdoors;
- Extended households;
- Shared parenting.
No more than six people in total (from a maximum of two households) may meet at any time in the settings set out, with exceptions as explained in the guidance.
Children under 12 from the two households do not need to maintain physical distance and do not count towards the total number of people at the gathering. Adults accompanying these under 12s should maintain physical distancing from other adults not in their own household or an extended household.
Health Protection (Coronavirus, Public Health Information for Passengers Travelling to England) Regulations 2020
This instrument imposes requirements on operators of commercial transport services for passengers travelling to England by sea, air or rail, from outside of the common travel area.
Operators are required to ensure information is provided to passengers about coronavirus, coronavirus disease and related duties and public health guidance to all passengers. The information must be provided to passengers before they book their travel, when they check in and whilst they are on board the vessel, aircraft or train. The aim is to allow those wishing to travel to England to make an informed choice about whether to complete their journey and increase public awareness of, and thereby compliance with, public health measures to be taken to reduce the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) which causes the disease Covid-19.
The Regulations came into force on 8 June 2020.
The Regulations require operators to keep records of the steps taken to comply with the requirement imposed by the Regulations, so that authorised persons may audit compliance. Operators may therefore be required to provide authorised persons with copies of these records, or other information necessary to determine whether they have complied.
[updated 24 July 2020]
This Guide contains detailed information on a huge range of supports from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, and other Government Departments and Agencies and advice on other practical steps businesses can take at this time.
The Guide is divided into 6 sections and also includes an Appendix which contains a COVID-19 Business Continuity Checklist which outlines some of the key risks to businesses as well as preparatory actions that can be taken to respond.
- Part 1 highlights a number of practical steps that businesses can initially take such as talking to your bank, checking your insurance details and engaging with Revenue.
- Part 2 sets out in detail the business supports that are available, ranging from loans to grants to vouchers to mentoring. These include the €450m Strategic Banking Corporation Ireland (SBCI) COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme, the €250m Restart Fund for Micro and Small businesses, Enterprise Ireland supports including the €2,500 Lean Business Continuity Voucher and the €5,000 Business Financial Planning Grant as well as supports from the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) like the Trading Online Voucher and the Mentor Programme.
- Part 3 of the Guide outlines other Government supports that are available to businesses. Details are provided on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and short time work supports. In addition, links are provided to other important resources like the NSAI Workplace and Retail Protection and Improvement Guides, details on the commercial rates waiver and amendments to planning and development regulations to temporarily allow restaurants to operate as takeaways, etc.
- Part 4 this section highlights the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business, the Return to Work Safely Protocol and the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) COVID-19 Templates and Checklists.
- Part 5 provides information on the COVID-19 Rapid Response Funding Call which was developed by the Government’s research and innovation agencies to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This Call was an agile and adaptive initiative to support development of innovative solutions (including STEM-based, social/behavioural science) that can have rapid demonstrable impact on the current COVID-19 crisis in Ireland.
- Part 6 of the Guide highlights those websites where up-to-date official information is available.
As the COVID-19 situation changes, Government supports also change to address new difficulties and provide solutions and guidance.
- Check the Barbour Service for latest documents
- Plans to contain Coronavirus are set out by the UK Government
- Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice.
- Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England: Coronavirus (COVID-19): latest information and advice.
- WHO EURO has released a guide on how to stay physically active during self-quarantine;
- Government to grant permission for pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways as part of coronavirus response: government press release
- COVID-19: specified countries and areas with implications for returning travellers or visitors arriving in the UK.
- Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England: Coronavirus (COVID-19): latest information and advice.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): Common questions, NHS.
- CIPD Advice
- Updated CIPD FAQs.
- IOSH Coronavirus pages.
- World Health Organization has published updated recommendations (29 February) for international traffic in relation to COVID-19 outbreak.
- World Health Organization Situation Reports for the latest details on the outbreak.
- World Health Organization: Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19.
- UK Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) guidance for health professionals.
- IOSH Report Managing the safety, health and security of mobile workers.
- Latest global figures: Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE.
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.