Posted on: 20 July 2021

Protecting staff and customers following easing of COVID-19 measures

On 5th July 2021, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that COVID-19 rules would be relaxed on 19th July 2021 in England, which was approved on Monday 12th July 2021. Scotland will also have their measures eased, whilst Wales and Northern Ireland will have their own COVID-19 measures

Whilst this is an optimistic move to get England up and running following the pandemic, COVID-19 still presents a risk to you, your team and your customers. In this article, we will look at ways you can protect people at your business, whilst enjoying getting back to business.

What measures have been announced

From the 19th July 2021 the following will be applicable in England.

Social distancing

Under the new guidance, there will be no longer be a legal restriction on the number of people who can gather indoors and there will be no longer be a requirement to enforce social distancing measures, i.e. one or two metre spacing between people.

Face masks

Face masks will no longer be mandatory anywhere. Face masks may be recommended in hospitals and other healthcare settings, and in some crowded public places.

Events and Hospitality

In the hospitality sector, nightclubs will be allowed to reopen for the first time since the beginning of the first lockdown in March 2020 and food and drinks businesses will no longer need to provide table only service.

For sporting, concerts and theatre events, there will be no limit on the number of people who can attend, and guests will not be required to provide proof of vaccination for any venue or event.

Weddings, funerals and places of worship will also no longer face restrictions, with no limits on weddings and funerals, and communal worship and singing can go ahead as normal.

Working from home

The UK Government will no longer offer guidance on employees working from home in England, allowing businesses to bring their teams back into the office.

Managing Staff Absence

With cases rising, and expected to rise further once measures have been eased, your staff may be at a higher risk if they need to come to your premises.

Members of your team may be “pinged” by the NHS Test and Trace app, and will have to self-isolate for 10 days if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, which could mean you have to close your business or restrict your activities.

As there is now little government guidance on what to do if this happens, you should have a COVID-19 plan for what happens if members of your staff need to take time off work to self-isolate. Some of these measures could include:

  • Closing the premises and have staff work from home, if possible.
  • Close your premises to everyone to limit cases from your business.
  • Implement measures such as social distancing and the wearing of  face masks for your business.

If you do need to close your business premises, make sure you get in touch with your insurer or broker to inform them of the changes.

How to keep others safe under the new guidance

Despite the measures in place and a strong vaccination programme, COVID-19 can still make vaccinated people unwell, and those who are unable to receive the vaccine due to other health conditions could be at serious risk.

Here are some of the ways you can help protect others from COVID-19 now that measures have relaxed.

Keep some measures in place

The government has said that they will no longer enforce COVID-19 restrictions, but that doesn’t mean you have to relax measures at your own business.

Some of the measures you can keep in place include encouraging social distancing, limits on contact at your business and encouraging the use of facemasks.

Pubs, restaurants and cafes may also wish to keep table service measures that were implemented during the pandemic.

Working from home arrangements

Again, just because the government has ended their recommendations on working from home, it doesn’t mean that you have to bring your team back into the office if they don’t need to, or don’t want to.

Have meetings with members of your team to find out how they feel about coming back into the office, and consider different options for how and where your team can work.

Keeping your staff safe

Whilst your customers make the choice to interact with your business, your team have to interact with customers as part of their job.

In retail, hospitality and other customer-facing businesses, members of your team may also come into contact with a wide variety of different people, increasing the likelihood of coming into contact with someone who may have COVID-19 and not be aware.

Therefore, it may be prudent to retain your protective screens at till points and encourage your staff to continue to wear facemasks when dealing with customers to keep them safe in the workplace.

Risk assessments

You may already have risk assessments for COVID-19 in place, which includes how to keep people safe at your business whilst COVID-19 remains a threat, but it will likely remain relevant even as the country begins to open up again.

Whilst people in some parts of the UK  are no longer required to wear face masks or social distance, these are the things that have kept people safe since the start of the pandemic, so consider encouraging your customers to continue to wear masks and socially distance to reduce the risks of spreading COVID-19, as your risk assessment outlines.

Business insurance with Premierline

Finding the right business insurance to protect your business can be difficult, with a huge range of insurance covers available that you might not fully understand. That’s where Premierline comes in, as our insurance experts will assess your business and find an insurance policy designed to protect you should the worst happen.

Get in touch with one of our insurance advisors to discuss your business insurance needs and compare quotes from some of the UK’s most well-known insurance providers.

You can also find more advice and guidance on how to run your business while COVID-19 remains a threat over at our Coronavirus hub.

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