At the latest government press briefing, on Thursday 9 July, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden revealed that theatres and music venues can restart outdoor performances from Saturday 11 July, with outdoor sports, including team sports, also be able to restart in stages from this weekend and indoor venues to follow on 25 July.
Easing of lockdown – leisure and salons
At Thursday’s government press briefing, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden revealed:
- Theatres and music venues can restart outdoor performances from Saturday;
- Outdoor sports, including team sports, will also be able to restart in stages from this weekend, with indoor venues to follow on 25 July;
- Gyms and other venues will have to implement strict safety procedures;
- Small pilots of indoor performances will also be held to find ways to allow them to restart;
- Beauticians and other close-contact businesses can reopen from Monday, with some restrictions for particularly high risk activities;
- Face coverings are recommended in enclosed spaces but will not be mandatory in gyms.
Beauty salons, nail bars, tattoo and massage studios, physical therapy businesses and spas
These venues across England will be able to reopen safely from Monday 13 July under new government plans.
Updated COVID-19 secure guidance sets out the measures that those providing close contact services should follow to protect staff and customers. Only services that do not involve work in the highest risk zone – directly in front of the face – should be made available to clients. This means that treatments such as face waxing, eyelash treatments, make-up application and facial treatments, should not be provided until government advice changes, due to the much greater risk of transmission.
Where 2 metre social distancing cannot be maintained, for example when providing a treatment, the person providing the service should wear further protection in addition to any that they may usually wear. This should be a clear visor that covers the face, or the use of a screen or other barrier that protects the practitioner and the customer from respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing or speaking.
Measures close contact services will need to consider to become COVID-19 secure include:
- Using screens or barriers to separate clients from each other, and to separate practitioners from clients, such as in nail salons;
- Operating an appointment-only booking system to minimise the number of people on the premises at any one time;
- Keeping the activity time involved to a minimum;
- Increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning, as well as regularly cleaning equipment or using disposable equipment where possible;
- Avoiding skin to skin contact and wearing gloves where it is not crucial to the service, such as in nail bars and tanning salons;
- Maintaining sufficient spacing between customer chairs;
- Not allowing food or drink, other than water, to be consumed in the salon by customers;
- Making sure a limited and fixed number of workers work together, if they have to be in close proximity to do their jobs.
The guidance also applies to businesses that operate in different locations, such as massage therapists working in people’s homes, and those learning in vocational training environments.
Businesses will need to keep records of staff and customers and share these with NHS Test and Trace where requested, to help identify people who may have been exposed to the virus.
Businesses will only be able to open from these dates once they have completed a risk assessment and are confident they are managing the risks. They must have taken the necessary steps to become COVID-19 secure in line with the current Health and Safety legislation.
Employers should display a downloadable notice in their workplaces to show their employees, customers and other visitors to their workplace, that they have followed this guidance.
Performing arts can now take place outdoors from 11 July with a socially distanced audience present.
This means that outdoor theatres, opera, dance and music could resume so long as they take place outside and with a limited and socially distanced audience.
The Government will also work with the sector to pilot a number of small indoor performances with a social distanced audience to help inform plans about how best to get indoor venues back up and running.
A change in planning rules will also mean theatres, concert halls and live music performance venues will be protected from demolition or change of use by developers, stopping those that have been made temporarily vacant during lockdown disappearing altogether and giving extra security to these businesses as they start to re-open.
New guidance aims to help performing arts organisations, venue operators and participants in the UK understand how they can work and take part in the performing arts safely, and keep their audiences safe.
The guidance follows the government’s five-stage roadmap outlining how we will get audiences back into performing arts venues. It provides advice on all aspects of performance, from casting, sound and lighting, costume and fitting, to cloakrooms, orchestra pits, hair and make-up.
Singing and the playing of brass and wind instruments will be permitted in a managed and controlled professional working environment to minimise risk.
Gyms and pools to reopen safely
The Government has outlined the measures that will allow outdoor pools to reopen from 11 July and indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities to reopen from 25 July.
The guidance includes advice for providers of pool, gym and leisure facilities on cleaning, social distancing, and protection for staff to help venues get back up and running safely.
It also supports the re-opening of sports halls which are vital to the return of play for many sports, including badminton and volleyball.
Venues must ensure they can enable customers, staff and volunteers to maintain social distancing before, during and after participation.
Measures set out include:
- Limiting the number of people using the facility at any one time, for example by using a timed booking system;
- Reducing class sizes and allowing sufficient time between each class to avoid groups waiting outside during changeover;
- Ensuring an appropriate number of people are in a swimming pool at any one time;
- Spacing out equipment or taking some out of service to maintain social distancing;
- Enhanced cleaning and providing hand sanitizer throughout venues;
- Considering how the way people walk through their venue could be adjusted to reduce contact, with queue management or one-way systems;
- Ensuring adequate ventilation;
- Encouraging the use of outdoor spaces for individual, team or group activities, making sure to comply with the latest restrictions on public gatherings;
- Exercise or dance studios should have temporary floor markings where possible to help people stay distanced during classes;
- Customers and staff should be encouraged to shower and change at home wherever possible, although changing rooms will be available.
The guidance is for gyms, swimming pools and indoor sports facilities in England.
What are the lockdown rules in Leicester?
On Monday 29 June, it was announced by Heath Secretary Matt Hancock that the lockdown restrictions in Leicester would be tightened again, as the restrictions lifted across the rest of England. The news followed a spike of infections in the city, which saw 944 positive tests in the two weeks to 23 June – about one in 16 of the total UK cases during that period.
Mr Hancock told the House of Commons: “We recommend to people in Leicester, stay at home as much as you can, and we recommend against all but essential travel to, from and within Leicester.”were told to The measures will be in place for at least two weeks but kept under constant review and do no just apply to the city of Leicester itself. Mr Hancock said they also include: “the surrounding conurbation including, for example, Oadby, Birstall and Glenfield”.
- All non-essential shops were instructed to close from Tuesday 30 June, which is now enforceable by law;
- Schools closed on Thursday 2 July and will not reopen until next term. However, they will stay open for vulnerable children and children of critical workers;
- People should avoid all but essential travel to, from, and within Leicester and should “stay at home as much as you can”;
- The planned easing of some restrictions in England on Saturday will not go ahead in Leicester. This means restaurants, pubs, cafes, hairdressers and cinemas will stay closed;
- The relaxation of shielding measures on 6 July – which will allow the most clinical-vulnerable to spend more time outside – will not go ahead in the city.
On 2 July, government published guidance intended to support schools, both mainstream and alternative provision, to prepare for a full-time return to school in the autumn. The guidance applies to primary, secondary (including sixth forms), infant, junior, middle, upper, school-based nurseries and boarding schools. The government says it expects independent schools to follow the control measures set out in the document in the same way as state-funded schools. The guidance also covers expectations for children with special educational needs and disability (SEND), including those with education, health and care plans, in mainstream schools.
The return will be based on separating groups of children into “bubbles” and minimising contacts between them, rather than social distancing.
It will mean:
- Grouping children together in groups or “bubbles”;
- In primary this will be a class, in secondary a year group;
- Avoiding contact between these groups during the school day;
- Separate starting, finishing, lunch and break times;
- Attendance compulsory with the threat of penalty fines;
- Test and trace in place for schools;
- Regular cleaning of hands;
- Those with symptoms told to stay out of school;
- No big group events like school assemblies;
- Arranging classrooms with forward facing desks;
- Separate groups on school buses;
- Discouraging the use of public transport;
- Masks not expected for pupils or staff.
Final daily government press conference
Tuesday 23 June saw the final daily government press conference. From now on, the government says it will only hold a briefing when it has something to announce. During the press conference, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a series of measures to take effect from 4 July, easing the lockdown in England. This included a change to the social distancing rules and an announcement that the hospitality sector can plan to reopen.
The final daily briefing was led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris Whitty, and the Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance:
- Where it is not possible to stay 2m apart, people can stay 1m apart with added precautions, such as plastic screens, not sitting face-to-face, and wearing masks;
- As planned, from 4 July, hotels, pubs, bars, cinemas and many other businesses can open, following COVID secure guidelines. A more detailed summary of what was announced is given below;
- From 4 July, members of two different households can meet indoors, and stay over, but (unlike those in ‘support bubbles’) should stay socially distant;
- Overall deaths in the UK are returning to normal levels, but the disease has not disappeared and is growing in other parts of the world;
- If people only pay attention to the measures that have been eased and not the restrictions, the rate of infections will increase again;
- Changing lockdown and social distancing rules is not risk free and will be reversed if needed;
- Prof Whitty expects the current situation, where coronavirus is circulating widely, to continue into 2021.
Easing of lockdown in England
On Tuesday 23 June, PM Boris Johnson announced a series of measures to take effect from 4 July, easing the lockdown in England.
Social distancing guidelines
From 4 July the 2m distancing rule will be changed. The prime minister said that where it is not possible to stay 2m apart, people should keep a distance of “one metre plus” – this means staying one metre apart, while observing precautions to reduce the risk of transmission.
He told MPs that the “cautious” relaxation of the guidance is “entirely conditional” on the UK’s “continued defeat of the virus” and he would “not hesitate” to reapply the brakes and reintroduce restrictions – even at national level – if there is a surge in new infections.
A summary of the key changes:
- The 2m social distancing rule will be relaxed to “one metre plus” where 2m is not possible – but people will be encouraged to have mitigation in place to reduce transmission;
- People will be able to meet one other household at a time indoors with social distancing. Meet-ups do not always have to be with the same household;
- Pubs and restaurants can reopen indoors and outdoors with safety measures such as table-only service. Hotels, B&Bs, campsites, caravan parks, hairdressers, playgrounds, museums, galleries are among the businesses that can reopen;
- Nightclubs, spas, indoor soft play areas, bowling alleys, indoor gyms and nail bars are among the businesses that can’t reopen at this stage.
What is reopening in England?
What can reopen in England from 4 July:
- Bed and Breakfast;
- Holiday homes;
- Caravan parks;
- Boarding houses;
- Places of worship;
- Workplace canteens;
- Museums and galleries;
- Outdoor playgrounds;
- Theme parks;
- Amusement arcades;
- Model villages.
Ministers have not ruled out customers having to register when entering pubs and bars so they can easily be tracked down if they come into contact with an infected person.
Some entertainment venues will be expected to minimise face-to-face contact by requiring customers to pre-book tickets, to stand in spaced queues and to enter and leave through different areas. Screens could also be put in place to reduce the risk to staff and ventilation systems will be improved.
Hairdressers will also be able to reopen, as long as they take precautions.
There are still several sectors in England that will not be allowed to reopen on 4 July. They are:
- Bowling alleys;
- Indoor play areas, eg. softplay;
- Nail bars;
- Tattoo parlours;
- Indoor fitness and gyms;
- Swimming pools;
- Conference centres.
Meeting other households
Two households of any size will be able to meet indoors or outside. It will be possible to stay overnight. This does not have to be the same set of households – the prime minister said. “It will be possible for instance to meet one set of grandparents one weekend, and the others the following weekend.”
However, the government does not recommend meetings of multiple households indoors because of the risk of infection.
Also available is the guidance document Meeting people from outside your household from 4 July. This explains how you can protect yourself and others from coronavirus when meeting people that you do not live with. It applies from 4 July. The existing guidance will continue to apply until that date. At all times, it’s important to maintain social distancing from people you do not live with to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. It is stressed that you should only have close contact with people outside of your household if you are in a support bubble with them.
Hospitality sector in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
The other nations of the UK – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – are yet to announce any plans to change the 2m distance rule for the hospitality industry.
- The Scottish government will make a decision on reopening outdoor spaces at pubs and restaurants on or around 2 July. The hospitality sector in Scotland has been told to prepare to reopen on 15 July;
- The next review of Wales’s lockdown measures is due on 9 July. The Welsh government has promised talks with the hospitality sector about a “potential phased” reopening of pubs, cafes and restaurants, but no dates have been given;
- In Northern Ireland, pubs, hotels, cafes, bars and restaurants can open from 3 July;
- The 2m distance rule has been cut to 1m for schools in Northern Ireland when they reopen in August.
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.
Multiple outbreaks in the workplace
If there is more than one case of COVID-19 associated with a workplace, employers should contact their local health protection team to report the suspected outbreak.
The heath protection team will:
- Undertake a risk assessment;
- Provide public health advice;
- Where necessary, establish a multi-agency incident management team to manage the outbreak.
Sector health and safety
This guidance must be followed to help to reduce the risk of a spread of infection in the workplace, says the document. In addition to this, employers are reminded that they must continue to follow health and safety workplace guidance for their sector such as:
- Making every reasonable effort to enable working from home as a first option;
- Where working from home isn’t possible, identifying sensible measures to control the risks in the workplace;
- Keeping the workplace clean, maintaining safe working separation, and preventing transmission through unnecessary touching of potentially contaminated surfaces.
The guidance also includes information:
- For the self employed;
- On contact tracing: contact with co-workers;
- The NHS COVID-19 app;
- For workers.
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.
New UK quarantine rules
Under the new rules, everyone, including British nationals, arriving in the UK will have to self-isolate for 14 days beginning today (people arriving from the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man are exempt):
- Passengers arriving by plane, ferry or train will be asked to provide an address where they will self-isolate;
- If they are unable to provide an address, the government will arrange accommodation at the traveller’s expense;
- There will also be checks to see whether the rules are being followed;
- Those in quarantine must not go to work, school, public areas or have visitors;
- They could face a fine of £1,000 if they fail to self-isolate for the full 14 days (the fine is lower in Scotland).
The following government guidance documents are available:
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): requirements to provide public health information to passengers travelling to England;
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): travellers exempt from English border rules;
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): how to self-isolate when you travel to the UK here.
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:
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).
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.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that lockdown restrictions in Scotland are likely to be relaxed slightly from 28 May.
A four-phase “route map” has been published, which is aimed at restarting society while suppressing the virus. The document sets out the steps to reopen Scottish society, although it does not set exact timescales. It states that reviews will take place every three weeks as a minimum, to ensure Scotland is on track and to assess whether elements within each phase can be accelerated or need to be decelerated.
The route map takes an evidence-led and transparent approach to easing restrictions and sets out a phased approach.
It gives practical examples of what people, organisations and businesses can expect to see change over time, and highlights some of the things that won’t change for a while, including the continuing need for enhanced public health measures such as physical distancing. For example:
- The first phase of easing will see garden centres and recycling facilities reopen, while some outdoor activities such as golf, fishing, tennis and bowls will be allowed again, as will outdoor work such as agriculture and forestry;
- People will also be able to sit or sunbathe in parks and open areas, and will be able to meet people from one other household – although only initially in small numbers and while they are outside;
- Different households should remain two metres apart from each other, and visiting inside other people’s houses will not be permitted in the first phase;
- People will be able to travel – preferably by walking or cycling – for recreation, although they will be asked to remain “where possible” within or close to their own local area;
- Take-away and drive-through food outlets will no longer be discouraged from re-opening, so long as they apply safe physical distancing, but non-essential indoor shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs must remain closed during the first phase;
- Schools will not reopen until the new school year begins on 11 August (Phase 3). Children will return to a blended model where they will do a mix of school and home learning;
- Also in Phase 3 remote working remains the default position for those who can. Indoor office workplaces including contact centres can reopen, once relevant guidance has been agreed and with physical distancing.
If the evidence shows transmission of COVID-19 is under control and the number of infectious cases is starting to decline, the Scottish Government will consider moving to Phase 1 of the route map following the next end-of-cycle review date on 28 May.
The NHS Scotland test, trace, isolate and support strategy – known as Test and Protect – will be ready for expansion in all 14 health boards from 28 May.
The 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.
This guidance is for employees and employers on returning to work during COVID-19.
Currently the advice is that if somebody can work from home, they should do so. Details on which sectors are able to restart or can prepare to return to work in Phase 1 and how to do this safely are set out in this guidance.
Scotland’s Route map through and out of the crisis was published on 21 May, setting out an indication of the order in which the Scottish government will carefully and gradually seek to lift restrictions across four phases.
This publication provides an updated annex to the original route map to reflect the move to Phase 1.
In terms of working or running a business, the default position for those who can is to work remotely. For those workplaces that are reopening, employers should encourage staggered start times and flexible working.
Non-essential outdoor workplaces with physical distancing resume once relevant guidance agreed.
For construction – Phases 0-2 of industry restart plan can be implemented. (Industry to consult government before progressing to phase 2).
Workplaces resuming in later phases can undertake preparatory work on physical distancing and hygiene measures.
The document, Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making – supporting evidence for moving to phase 1, is available here. It sets out an assessment of the evidence on the criteria for progressing to Phase 1 of Scotland’s route map through and out of the crisis.
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 last week, she is aware of a small number of firms “not doing the right thing or not sure what the right thing is to do”.
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.
The guidance applies to businesses currently open. This also includes guidance for shops which the government believe may be in a position to begin a phased reopening at the earliest from the 1 June. It is noted that guidance for other sectors that are not currently open will be developed and published ahead of those establishments opening to give those businesses time to plan.
The following documents are also available:
- 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;
- Homes: guidance for people working in, visiting or delivering to home environments as well as their employers;
- 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;
- Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services: guidance for people who work in or run restaurants offering takeaway or delivery services. This has been updated to reflect the announcements made on 23 June; the guidance has been expanded from takeaways to venues providing service at the venue ahead of planned opening, reflecting guidance on support bubbles, social distancing, test and trace and feedback from industry.
- 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
- Hotels and other guest accommodation: this guidance is for people who work in or run hotels and other guest accommodation.
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 is aimed at all employers. It explains how you can talk to your workers about preventing coronavirus (COVID-19) in your workplace, for example by putting in place social distancing measures, staggering shifts and providing additional handwashing facilities.
The guidance may also be useful to workers and their representatives, and those who are self-employed and work with or near other people. The law requires all employers to assess the risk of returning to work while the coronavirus outbreak is ongoing and to put steps in place to manage that risk.
This guide is designed to help you consult with workers as one part of putting in place measures to manage the risks of coronavirus in the workplace while continuing to work.
By talking to your workers, the guidance suggests that you can:
- Reassure them by explaining the changes you are making;
- Get their thoughts and ideas about how to change the workplace to keep people safe and to ensure those changes are workable;
- Continue to operate your business safely during the outbreak.
The guide describes five different themes and suggests questions you can discuss with your workers. They are designed to get you talking with your workers about managing the risks of coronavirus.
Actions can then be taken to make sure your plans are working safely, and people have been listened to. You can hold conversations before returning to work so that plans can be developed and put in place before going back. You could then have further discussions soon after return to make sure the actions are working and are being followed.
You may also decide to repeat the discussions if something changes, for example: if new guidelines are published; or if lockdown restrictions change.
Importantly, the guidance points out that you should make sure that there is time available for managers and workers to have these conversations. The guide relies on both managers and workers having an open and honest conversation.
People in England are being advised to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces where they come into contact with other people – including on public transport.
Issued by the Cabinet Office, this guidance emphasises that people should use home-made coverings, not the specialist masks used by healthcare workers, for example. It provides advice on:
- Wearing a face covering;
- Making a simple cloth face covering using either a T-shirt or cotton fabric.
Companies should undertake periodic face-fitting tests on masks because one-off tests do not sufficiently protect workers. Also, if you don’t know already, masks need to have a maintenance record.
Scotland: public use of face coverings
It says that Physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene, are the most important and effective measures we can all adopt to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Therefore, it is stressed that the wearing of facial coverings must not be used as an alternative to any of these other precautions.
Wales: Unlocking our society and economy: continuing the conversation 406109
This document sets out the steps the Welsh Government are considering in order to lead Wales out of the coronavirus pandemic.
It builds on the approach set out in the document published on 24 April (Leading Wales out of the coronavirus pandemic: a framework for recovery) which identified three pillars:
1 Measures and evidence
2 Principles underpinning adjustments to restrictions
3 Public health purpose.
It is felt that there is a growing risk that changed behaviours could lead to a rapid, possibly uncontrolled increase in the spread of the disease. To avoid this, the document notes that Wales needs to move at a pace which is matched by its capacity to identify and shut down new outbreaks of the disease – to test, trace and protect those who become ill or have the virus without symptoms and ensure that they self-isolate to protect onward transmission.
It says the next few weeks need to be spent adapting workplaces, public spaces and other places where people come in contact with each other to the necessity of maintaining social distancing.
A traffic light-style system is set out, which is based on four stages to determine how those rules could be lifted – lockdown, red, amber and green – and includes the reopening of schools, seeing family and friends, playing sports and running businesses.
There are no dates given in the document, as changes can be only made when the scientific and medical advice says it is safe to do so, it says.
The document gives some detail to how life would look under each category:
- Lockdown – Schools are only open to vulnerable pupils’ children and children of key workers, people are advised to stay at home, only leaving home for essential travel and to work from home if possible.
- Red – Schools enabled to manage increase in demand from more key workers and vulnerable pupils returning; local travel, including for click-and-collect retail allowed; people allowed to provide or receive care and support to/from one family member or friend from outside the household
- Amber – Priority groups of pupils to return to school in a phased approach; travel for leisure allowed together with meeting with small groups of family or friends for exercise; people able toaccess non-essential retail and services; more people travelling to work;
- Green – All children and students able to access education; Unrestricted travel subject to ongoing precautions; All sports, leisure and cultural activities, as well as socialising with friends permitted, with physical distancing.
The Welsh government stressed that it is monitoring the “R rate” to decide what can be lifted and when.
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.
This guidance has been developed for education authorities and schools, (Primary/Secondary/ASN/School Hostels/Residential) to support a safe, phased reopening of schools in line with the Strategic Framework for Reopening Schools and ELC. It may also be used by grant aided schools and independent schools to support their recovery efforts.
The aims of this guidance are to:
- provide clarity of expectation with regard to practical approaches to a safe, phased reopening of schools and
- in so doing, promote broad national consistency whilst ensuring appropriate local flexibility for education authorities, schools and staff to adapt and adopt approaches that best suit their communities’ needs and ensure the safety of staff, children, young people and their families.
It is noted that this guidance is not intended to promote a “checklist” approach. Rather, education authorities and schools should exercise their expert judgement to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their staff and children, taking into account local circumstances.
Risk assessments of individual facilities should be undertaken to ensure that health and safety legislation and guidance is fully adhered to.
As well as adapting the physical space and decreasing interactions in the education setting, education authorities and schools should consider key practices in respect of hygiene and facilities management.
If the school site or building has been closed for many weeks or if parts of the building have been out of use for a long period, the education authority/school should undertake a health and safety check of the building concerned and deep cleaning prior to reopening where necessary, says the guidance.
Re-opening the workplace after coronavirus
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.
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.
The Regulations amend a number of public health measures under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 (S.I. 2020/350) (“the Restrictions Regulations”).
The changes 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 amendments to the Restrictions Regulations being made include:
- enabling some businesses or services which are required to be closed under Part 2 of Schedule 2 to carry on business in a shop or from a restaurant or café (for takeaway service only) which is self-contained and can be accessed directly from outside the premises
- allowing for reopening of non-essential retail. As amended regulation 5(1) relates solely to libraries. Libraries may not reopen except for click and collect services but may open a shop or café or restaurant (for takeaway service only) which is separate from the premises and accessible from outside. As the business closure provisions (apart from libraries) in regulation 5(1) have been removed Part 3 of Schedule 2 (which lists exceptions to those business closure provisions) has also been removed
- enabling those who have formed a bubble with a linked household to stay overnight at the home of that linked household
- enabling a person to stay away from home overnight where it is necessary to attend a birth or for compassionate visits as permitted by regulation 7
- enabling single occupancy households (those with only one adult member) to gather together with the members of another household (“a linked household”) with which they have formed a support bubble
- Schedule 2 is amended:
- to allow betting shops to open
- to allow retail galleries to open.
- to allow the outdoor areas of zoos, safari parks, aquariums and outdoor visitor attractions at farms or other animal attractions to open. Attractions offering visitors physical contact with animals are not allowed to open, with the exception of horse-riding stables
- to allow drive-in cinemas to open
- to allow auction houses to open
- to allow shops to open at attractions such as botanical gardens, heritage sites and landmarks such as observation wheels.
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.
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 come 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.
- 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.