Ensuring customers and staff are safe during COVID-19
On Monday 4 January 2021 the government announced new COVID-19 controls to apply across England from Tuesday 5 January. The legislation is expected to come into force formally on Wednesday 6 January.
Government guidance on keeping customers and staff safe is available with specific sections on shops and branches and food take-away outlets. Guidance on opening hair salons and similar salons and spas after the lockdown has been produced by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. This provides detail on cleaning considerations, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and social distancing requirements. These remain largely unaltered from when we emerged from the first lockdown.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have provided guidance to help you to risk assess your businessand put reasonable steps in place to help ensure customers and staff are kept safe.
Examples of measures that have been put in place in retail and public premises which have been allowed to open include:
- ensuring a distance of 2 metres between customers and staff, or use of other measures
- use of plastic screens
- controlling numbers at any one time within the shop
- queue control outside of shops and other premises
Recording customer contact details: NHS Test and Trace
Venues are required by law to collect contact details from 18 September 2020:
- businesses and other public settings where people meet socially including hospitality, close contact and leisure venues must record contact details of customers, visitors and staff on their premises to tackle the spread of coronavirus
- details need to be kept for 21 days in case they are needed by the NHS track and trace system, then destroyed
- there are fixed penalties for businesses that do not comply
This will assist NHS Test and Trace to effectively contact everyone who may have been exposed to the virus during an outbreak in these settings and to provide the appropriate public health advice. This will help to stop the onward spread of the virus.
Contact details that must be collected include:
- contact number (or failing that an email address, or failing that a postal address)
- date of visit
- arrival time
- departure time, if possible
All collected data must comply with GDPR and will not be kept for longer than necessary.
Care should be taken not to inappropriately disclose data in your possession or when you destroy it, as required by the General Data Protection Regulations.
Businesses required to comply with the NHS Track and Trace system are legally required to display a poster including a QR code (dynamic quick response code) as a way of customers providing their contact details quickly and accurately. This is designed to speed up the gathering of the data needed to meet these requirements.
See details on how to create and use a QR code poster for your business.
The legal requirements for wearing face coverings apply across all 3 of the Tiers in place from 2 December, with no notable changes from earlier requirements.
The following guidance is available:
When any buildings reopen after lockdown, it is essential that water systems are not put back into use without considering the risks of Legionnaires’ disease.
There is an increased risk of waterborne pathogens such as Legionella bacteria being present as a consequence of the conditions that lockdown may have created. These references provide guidance:
The Visit Dorset website has COVID related information including Action Cards to help those managing tourism businesses, by explaining the steps to take early on in outbreak management. Also included are downloadable information posters, produced by the NHS, covering what holidaymakers need to do if they are visiting an area and develop COVID symptoms.
Dealing with waste from businesses
Whether your business is open or closed there is the duty to ensure that waste is disposed of properly by a licensed waste carriers. There have been some instances of business that have closed their doors without due consideration to waste that has remained on the premises during the period of lockdown or their waste contractor was unable to collect.
If food waste has been left then there may be a build-up of insect activity in the premises or vermin activity if not secured properly in lidded containers. You may need to bring in pest control contractors to eliminate or control this. Our website has information on pest control. If you don’t currently have or are looking to change your waste contractor, our Commercial Waste Team may be able to help.
Further questions contact our Food, Safety and Port Health team.
We have the authority to deal with the health and safety issues arising from coronavirus in certain premises including shops, hotels, restaurants and pubs for example. For some businesses the Health and Safety Executive or other agencies are the appropriate body to contact instead. You can check by visiting the Health and Safety Executive website.