If you’re in the process of reopening your business post-lockdown, follow these tips to make sure you protect your workforce and customers.
When you reopen your business during the COVID-19 pandemic, you have a legal responsibility to keep your employees and other people who come to your premises safe. In this article, we provide some general tips for reopening your business safely post-lockdown, based on government guidelines. Then, we’ll take a closer look at more sector-specific advice.
1. Follow government guidelines at all times
We strongly recommend that you check out www.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-reopening for all of the latest advice. There, you can fill in a quick survey about your business to receive all the guidance you need for your individual circumstances. You then need to use this guidance to carry out a risk assessment and make the necessary adjustments to your business site and staff. If you fail to do this, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or local council can issue an enforcement notice.
This is only for businesses reopening in England, though. Make sure you head to the relevant pages to view advice from the Welsh Government, Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Keep an eye on any news updates and the coronavirus cases in your area, as you may need to adapt your business processes. For instance, Leicester was placed in a local lockdown on June 29th, and recently restrictions were only lifted in certain areas of the city.
2. Develop strict hygiene procedures
It’s important to increase handwashing and surface cleaning. Provide plenty of hand sanitiser, encourage people to follow the handwashing guidance and provide hand drying facilities. You should also disinfect surfaces that are touched frequently and deep clean regularly (especially busy areas). Make sure that there are clear instructions for using and cleaning the toilets. For instance, one-in-one-out and encouraging the use of hand sanitiser before entering.
3. Keep 2m social distancing
Do all you can to maintain a 2m distance between people; for instance, by putting up signs, using a one-way system, marking 2m distances with floor tape and only seeing customers by appointment (if applicable).
4. Manage transmission risk when 2m distance isn’t possible
In some cases, it isn’t possible to always maintain a 2m distance. If this is the case, ask yourself if this activity really needs to happen for the operation of your business. Also, consider how you can reduce the amount of time this activity goes on, ask staff to work back-to-back or side-to-side, use screens to separate people and stagger arrival times.
5. Collect customer data for track and trace
Where there is a higher risk of transmitting COVID-19, businesses will need to keep a temporary record of customers and visitors for 21 days. This means that you can assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for data if you need to. This includes the hospitality industry, tourism and leisure and close contact services.
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Opened 15th June in England, 29th June in Scotland (shopping centres from 13th July), 22nd June in Wales and 12th June in Northern Ireland.
- It is now the law to wear a face covering when in shops, supermarkets and shopping centres in England.
- Keep fitting rooms closed if possible, but if they are open, clean frequently (preferably between each use).
- Manage clothes that have been tried on and returned to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Keep them in a container or separate room for 72 hours. Also, have a designated place for picking up collections and dropping off returns if possible.
- Limit customer handling of products as much as possible.
- Consider asking your staff to wear face masks or visors.
Opened from 4th July in England, 15th July in Scotland, 13th July in Wales (outside only) and 3rd July in Northern Ireland.
- Limit the number of customers allowed on site at one time.
- Use reservations so you can stagger bookings.
- Use single-use paper menus.
- Only bring napkins and cutlery out with food.
- Serve condiments in single sachets when requested.
- Encourage contactless payments and ordering food and drinks from smart phone apps or a server at the table.
- Make sure tables are spaced apart.
- Consider asking your staff to wear face masks or visors.
Head to food.gov.uk to see a comprehensive reopening checklist for food businesses.
Opened from 4th July in England, 15th July in Scotland, 13th July in Wales (outside only) and 3rd July in Northern Ireland
- Follow the same advice for restaurants.
- Limit the amount of people into pubs and use floor markings to make sure social distancing is maintained.
- Keep an eye on beer gardens to make sure rules are being followed.
Opened from 4th July in England, 15th July in Scotland, 11th July in Wales and 3rd July in Northern Ireland.
- Have signs and ask doorman to remind guests of the social distancing rules.
- Encourage guests to take stairs instead of lift if they can and to order room service instead of dining in the hotel restaurant.
- If guests become ill, they need to self-isolate in their hotel rooms.
- Ask guests to wear masks in communal areas.
- Stagger check-in and check-out times.
Opened from 25th July in England, still under review in Scotland, 20th July in Wales (outdoor gyms only) and 10th July in Northern Ireland.
- Limit the number of gym-goers in the facility at one time. You could use a timed booking system or ask customers to check the app before attending.
- Reduce class sizes and space out equipment.
- Make sure there is sufficient ventilation.
- Ask customers to shower and change at home.
Opened 4th July in England, 15th July in Scotland, 13th July in Wales and 6th July in Northern Ireland.
- Staff being in close proximity with customers for an extended period need to wear a visor.
- Ask clients to use hand sanitizer or wash their hands when they enter the premises or before a treatment.
- Ask clients to come on their own and always book an appointment first.
- Work out how many clients you can have at one time to follow social distancing guidelines.
- This advice can also be applied to other close-contact services, including beauticians, tattoo studios, tailors, spas etc.
Opened 4th July in England, 15th July in Scotland, 27th July in Wales and 29th July in Northern Ireland.
- Encourage online booking.
- Make sure social distancing is maintained in the auditoriums.
- Revise the scheduling of films so there is enough time for cleaning the auditoriums.
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Opened 11th July in England (outdoor performances only), indoor performances can resume on 1st August. This is still under review in the rest of the UK.
- Measures may include seats being left empty to allow for social distancing, wearing face masks, regular deep cleaning and limited food and drink services. There are also some innovative measures on the cards, including hygienic door handles, disinfectant fog and thermal imaging cameras.
Reopening your business safely during COVID-19
Businesses across the UK are having to majorly adapt the way they operate to make sure the public stays safe and healthy. It’s clear that things won’t feel ‘back to normal’ for a while, but in the meantime, all we can do is work together to slow the spread of the virus and save lives. Make sure that your business follows government guidelines so you are positively contributing to this.
You might also be interested in the ways small businesses can access financial support during the COVID-19 crisis. As well as five COVID-19 trends that are likely to change the way we do business in the future.
Becky Martin, Point Franchise ©