Business advice – working safely
The Prime Minister made an announcement on 12 July 2021, setting out that step 4 of the roadmap will proceed on 19 July 2021. From that date the majority of specific business restrictions will be removed. Until then, we remain in step 3.
Details of the Prime Minister’s announcement can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-statement-at-coronavirus-press-conference-12-july-2021 and the press release here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/prime-minister-confirms-move-to-step-4.
While cases are high and rising, everybody needs to continue to act carefully and remain cautious. This is why Government are keeping in place key protections. More can be found here:
Businesses and venues
All remaining closed businesses and venues such as nightclubs and adult entertainment venues will be able to reopen.
All capacity limits at sporting, entertainment, or business events will be lifted.
Hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants and bars will no longer be required to provide table service or follow other social distancing rules.
All businesses should follow the principles set out in the working safely guidance. Whilst the Government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can, the Government would expect and recommend a gradual return over the summer.
Employers will still have a legal duty to manage risks to those affected by their business. The way to do this is to carry out a health and safety risk assessment, including the risk of COVID-19, and to take reasonable steps to mitigate the risks you identify. Working Safely guidance sets out a range of mitigations employers should consider including:
- cleaning surfaces that people touch regularly;
- identifying poorly-ventilated areas in the venue and taking steps to improve air flow;
- ensuring that staff and customers who are unwell do not attend the workplace or venue;
- communicating to staff and customers the measures you have put in place.
We encourage organisations in higher risk settings to use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry, in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19. This will especially be the case in large crowded settings where people are likely to be in close proximity to others outside their household. The Government reserves the right to mandate certification in certain venues at a later date if necessary.
To support organisations and individuals in these settings, the NHS COVID Pass will be made available through the NHS App, NHS.UK, or as a letter that can be requested by ringing NHS 119. Visitors will also be able to show text or email confirmation of test results. Organisations should ensure they are in compliance with all legal obligations, including on equalities.
There are some settings where the NHS COVID Pass should not be used as a condition of entry, in order to ensure access for all. This includes essential services and essential retailers which have been able to stay open throughout the pandemic.
Businesses are also encouraged to continue displaying QR codes for customers wishing to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app, or to continue collecting customer contact details to support NHS Test and Trace, however this will no longer be a legal requirement.
From Step 4, legal restrictions can be lifted, all businesses can open and the government is no longer instructing people to work from home.
To support businesses through this next phase, the ‘Working Safely’ guidance will continue to provide advice on sensible precautions employers can take to manage risk and support their staff and customers.
Businesses still have a legal duty to manage risks to those affected by their business. The way to do this is to carry out a health and safety risk assessment, including the risk of COVID-19, and to take reasonable steps to mitigate the risks you identify.
You should use the guidance to consider the risk within your premises and decide which mitigations are appropriate to adopt.
In the long term, we expect that businesses will need to take fewer precautions to manage the risk of COVID-19. We will continue to keep our guidance under review and will remove advice once it’s safe to do so.
Main changes at Step 4
From Step 4, social distancing guidance will no longer apply. This means that you do not need to implement social distancing in your business, workplace or venue, and customers and workers do not need to keep apart from people they don’t live with.
The government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can, so employers can start to plan a return to workplaces. During this period of high prevalence, the government expects and recommends a gradual return over the summer. You should discuss the timing and phasing of a return with your workers.
Employers and others must continue to follow statutory health and safety requirements, conduct a risk assessment, and take reasonable steps to manage risks in their workplace or setting, as set out in the below guides.
These guides cover a range of different types of work. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe.
Guidance for people working in, visiting or delivering to other people’s homes can now be found in the relevant guides below.
There is different guidance for:
- schools, further education and childcare providers
- wedding and civil partnership ceremonies, receptions and celebrations
The Working safely guidance includes:
Find out what will change and what you should do to protect yourself and others.
Guidance for people who work in or run outdoor working environments.
Guidance for people who work in settings related to events and visitor attractions.
Guidance for people who work in or run hotels or other guest accommodation
Guidance for people who work in or run offices, factories, plants, warehouses, labs and research facilities and similar indoor environments.
Guidance for people who work in or run restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes, nightclubs or takeaways.
Guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments and for people who provide close contact services, including hairdressers and beauticians.
HSE also have a wide range of useful information to help businesses, which can be found here Coronavirus (COVID-19): working safely
Includes a brief guide for workers to help them prevent COVID-19 spreading at work and translations of this guidance are available.
Popular guidance on HSE webpage includes:
Adequate ventilation (including air conditioning) can help reduce risk of spreading coronavirus in workplaces
Advice on lone working without supervision, display screen equipment and stress
Help with assessing risk and being 'COVID-secure'
When to use face coverings and face masks
How to clean your workplace to reduce risk from coronavirus.
Support worker mental health - talking toolkits will help manage work-related stress