Need a quick, no-frills recap on all the latest COVID guidance? We’ve got you covered.
The government lifted more lockdown restrictions last month. For a refresh on what this means for your business – and what to do next – read on.
Pubs, cafes, and restaurants can now serve customers indoors. And unlike last year, there’s no curfew or requirement to order a substantial meal with an alcoholic drink.
But that doesn’t mean you can go back to pre-COVID service. With restrictions still in place, here are the rules you need to follow:
- Face coverings – Staff should continue to wear masks or visors, and customers should wear a face covering whenever they’re not seated (unless they’re exempt).
- Table service – To prevent crowding at the bar, staff should seat customers on arrival and bring orders to the table.
- Social distancing – If customers need to queue for service, make sure you have markings on the floor to map out a safe distance (2 metres where possible).
- Rule of six – For now, you can only allow groups of up to six people indoors to book a table. This is set to change in the coming weeks.
- NHS Test and Trace – Unlike other industries, hospitality venues need to deny entry for customers who refuse to share their contact details.
- Reduce contact – Encourage contactless payments and limit the number of staff who handle any order.
Entertainment venues across the UK are now open for business. If you work in the entertainment industry, there are still limitations on what you can and can’t allow.
Like hospitality, the rule of six and social distancing measures apply. In addition to this, you need to consider:
- Capacity restrictions – If visitors can socially distance, indoor events for up to 1,000 people can now go ahead. But if visitors can’t keep a safe distance (at least 2 metres) apart, venues will need to lower their capacity. To manage capacity, consider timing tickets and encouraging guests to book ahead.
- Group sizes – You can only accept group bookings for up to two households – up to any amount – or six people indoors.
- Congestion – If your venue has busy entrances or queues, consider staggering entry times and implementing a one-way system.
- Face coverings – Unless visitors are medically exempt, they should wear a face covering inside any indoor venue.
As of 17th May, hotels and B&Bs can now accept guests who are away for leisure – not just work purposes. However, overnight stays are currently restricted to groups of six people or two households.
When it comes to communal areas, like a lounge or lobby, follow social distancing guidelines at all times. If you serve food in the lounge area, you need to act as a hospitality business and follow the relevant rules.
Here’s how you can lower risk as you welcome back your guests:
- Reduce face-to-face contact – If you can carry out a service over the phone, or via email or app, this can limit the risk.
- Remove shared facilities – Whether it’s a magazine stand or cutlery rack, consider removing any shared facilities.
- Limit contact around transactions – Use pre-payment and online booking where possible and encourage contactless payments.
- Reduce room service contact – If you provide room service, minimize risk by leaving items outside the door or asking guests to avoid tipping in person.
- Make reception areas safer – Consider adding protective screens between guests and staff and increase cleaning in these areas.
Indoor sports and exercise classes
The public can now enjoy an exercise class or workout session in the gym. If you work in the fitness and leisure sector, you need to consider:
- Changing rooms – While socially-distanced changing rooms are allowed, encourage customers to arrive in their gym gear.
- Equipment – Space gym equipment a safe distance apart and introduce a no-sharing policy during classes.
- Capacity – Manage capacity by asking customers to pre-book. For gyms, maximum capacity is based on 100 square feet per person.
- Frequent cleaning – Use disinfectant to wipe down mats and equipment after each use.
- Social distancing – Implement a one-way system and add floor markings to prevent crowding.
- Limit numbers – While spectators are allowed, you should try to limit the amount. Informal sport can only take place between groups of six people or two households.
Your priority actions to stay safe
When you work in these industries, you need to protect both your staff and the public. Along with the industry-specific measures above, here are the main actions you should take to stay safe and COVID-secure:
1. Take details for NHS Test and Trace
When visitors or customers enter your premises, you need to take their contact details. This means NHS Test and Trace can contact your visitors if they’ve been near a positive case of COVID-19.
Before you allow anyone into your premises, ask for the name and number of each visitor (over the age of 16).
You should hold onto these details for 21 days. During this time, a member of NHS Test and Trace can contact you to ask for these contact details. After this, you should get rid of any customer details in line with your GDPR policy.
Or alternatively, you can display an official NHS QR code poster to save time. This means visitors can ‘check in’ using the NHS app without providing their details.
2. Check for COVID symptoms before entry
If staff or visitors display COVID-like symptoms inside your premises, it could be too late to prevent the spread.
When a staff member tests positive, your entire team could be infected. And when your whole workforce needs to self-isolate, it can be impossible to stay open for business.
That’s why it’s essential to check for any symptoms before you allow entry. If you think someone seems unwell, ask them to take a PCR test and self-isolate at home.
Keep an eye out for visible symptoms of COVID-19. The main symptoms include a dry cough, a high temperature, or a loss of taste or smell.
To prevent anyone with symptoms entering your premises, you could:
- Check temperatures before entry
- Ask staff and visitors to fill out a symptom checklist before entry
- Carry out regular workplace lateral flow testing
3. Retrain staff with any new measures
Whenever COVID guidance updates, your staff need to be confident with any new measures. If they’re not, it could put your customers and team at risk.
To avoid confusion as restrictions change, it’s important to train (or retrain) staff to follow the different rules. This could mean showing your team around a different layout or hosting a training session on any new procedures.
4. Update your risk assessment
According to HSE, you should update your COVID risk assessment to reflect any changes in guidance or the law. This helps you stay on top of any new risks which could cause COVID-19 to spread.
For example, hospitality businesses can now serve customers indoors. As this could cause crowding, businesses could add stricter social distancing rules or introduce a one-way system.
Once you’ve updated your risk assessment, share it with your staff.
So, what next in the roadmap?
In England, the government hopes to “remove all legal limits on social contact” on 21st June at the earliest. And similarly, Scotland could move to ‘Level 0’ on 28th June.
Here’s what we can expect:
- Work-from-home guidance to lift – many businesses could bring their workforce back into the office.
- Large events to resume – festivals, sporting, and other large events could go ahead without capacity limits.
- Weddings and other life events to go ahead without capacity limits.
- Nightclubs to reopen in England.
However, the government has said that rules on social distancing and contact tracing may still stay in place. With the virus still in circulation, you still need to take steps to protect your staff and customers.
To help you navigate the roadmap and beyond, our health & safety experts can:
- Support you through your COVID risk assessment
- Update or create your health & safety policies
- Provide 24/7 expert advice whenever you need it
To book your expert support, get in touch today on 0800 028 2420.