Guidance for businesses
There are steps every organisation can do to ensure they open safely.
Government advice for businesses
For all business operators, whatever type of business you are, the gov.uk website provides a great deal of information for businesses and we would recommend you visit their website regularly to keep pace with the government changes and advice.
Latest situation in England
. There are still steps you can take to reduce the risk of catching and spreading COVID-19:
- Get vaccinated
- Let fresh air in if meeting indoors, or meet outside
- Consider wearing a face covering in crowded, enclosed spaces
- Get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms, and stay at home if positive
The government has also produced its
Latest guidance on risk assessments. 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. Many control measures that have been in place previously were there due to health and safety legislation rather than the specific coronavirus legislation. It remains very important to implement suitable control measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 between employees and members of the public.
When undertaking your risk assessment you must have regard to the available guidance. Following the guidance is not compulsory, unless specifically stated, and you are free to take other action, so long as the same level of protection is achieved. But if you do follow the guidance you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law. Health and safety inspectors seek to secure compliance with the law and may refer to guidance. Failure to implement suitable control measures may lead to formal action being taken against the duty holder(s). See the HSE website for more information .
Latest guidance on ventilation and air conditioning . A well-ventilated workplace is essential to reduce the risk of COVID infection. Ventilation in the workplace should be assessed and improved alongside other measures to reduce the risk of exposure to coronavirus. Providing adequate ventilation does not mean people have to work in an uncomfortably chilly or cold workplace.
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.
Ventilation is the process of introducing fresh air into indoor spaces while removing stale air. Letting fresh air into indoor spaces can help remove air that contains virus particles and prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
In poorly ventilated rooms the amount of virus in the air can build up, increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19, especially if there are lots of infected people in the room. The virus can also remain in the air after an infected person has left.
Bringing fresh air into a room and removing older stale air that contains virus particles reduces the chance of spreading COVID-19. The more-fresh air that is brought inside, the quicker any airborne virus will be removed from the room.
Lower temperatures and likely windy weather conditions in the winter months will increase the natural ventilation through openings. This means you don’t need to open windows and doors as wide, so partially opening them can still provide adequate ventilation while maintaining a comfortable workplace temperature. Opening higher-level windows is likely to generate fewer draughts.
There are simple steps you can take to make sure your workplace is adequately ventilated without being too cold:
- windows and doors partially open can still provide acceptable ventilation while keeping the workplace comfortable. Opening higher-level windows will probably create fewer draughts.
- if the area is cold you could relax dress codes so people can wear extra layers and warmer clothing
- you should only use fan convector heaters if the area is well ventilated.
- airing rooms as frequently as you can, will help improve ventilation. This involves opening all doors and windows wide to maximise the ventilation in the room. It may be easier to do this when the room is unoccupied or between uses.
Handwashing: Hands touch many surfaces and can become contaminated with viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer viruses to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, viruses can enter your body and infect you.
Washing or sanitising your hands removes viruses and other germs, so you are less likely to become infected if you touch your face. Using soap and warm water is the most effective way to clean your hands, especially if they are visibly dirty. Hand sanitiser can be used when soap and water is not available. Advising customers and workers to wash their hands or use hand sanitiser frequently. This is particularly important before and after touching shared objects or surfaces that other people touch regularly.
Information on how to wash your hands is available from NHS.UK
When you complete your risk assessment, think about:
(a) providing handwashing facilities at entry/exit points so people can wash their hands when they arrive and leave work – if this is not possible, provide hand sanitiser. Consider the needs of people with disabilities.
(b) providing regular reminders and signage to maintain hygiene standards.
(c) where to have extra handwashing facilities so people can wash their hands frequently
(d) making sure your handwashing facilities have running water, soap and paper towels or hand dryers
(e) identifying where extra hand sanitiser points are needed in addition to washing facilities
Keeping your workplace clean reduces the potential for coronavirus to spread and is a critical part of making and keeping your business working safely. Your usual cleaning products should be effective. If you change your usual regime then check that products are suitable for the surface and environment. Clean cloths and other reusable cleaning products in soap and water after use.
You should determine what cleaning regime is suitable for your business based on your risk assessment.
Your risk assessment will help you to identify what your cleaning regime will look like, but you should consider these examples:
(a) keep surfaces clear so that cleaning can be carried out more effectively particularly surfaces that people touch regularly
(b) clean areas regularly in line with your cleaning regime
(c) set clear guidance for the use and cleaning of toilets, showers and changing facilities to make sure they are kept clean
(d) clean work areas and equipment between uses
(e) frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly
·(f) if equipment like tools or vehicles are shared, then clean them after each use
If you’re cleaning after a known or suspected case of COVID-19, refer to the guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings.
Latest guidance on face coverings. The requirement to wear face coverings in law has been lifted. However, the Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport.
Please check that any insurance pertaining to your premises has been re-activated or renewed - you can check this directly with your provider.
Businesses which have been closed and not in use must ensure they include the safety of their water systems in their reopening check lists. Legionnaires Disease is found in hot and cold water systems and as a business owner you have a duty to ensure the risk is managed correctly. For advice on what you should be doing please refer to the CIEH guide.
If you are thinking of selling alcohol in an outdoor area or selling hot food/drinks after 11pm, please check your premises licence including the licensed area marked on the plan. Your outdoor area will require a licence for this activity.
If you wish to utilise the pavement outside your premises (and it is a designated highway, not private land) for tables, seating or other furniture, you may require a pavement licence. You can find more information about this process at Pavement licence together with the policy and conditions of licence. If you already hold a licence from Cumbria County Council, it will not be necessary for you to apply to Allerdale. Any premises or pavement licence enquiries can be sent by email or by contacting us on 0303 123 1702.
Ensure you have renewed or reactivated your waste disposal contract. You can find out more about out trade waste services on our website . Please remember that businesses cannot use the recycling bring sites located at various places around the borough. These are for residents to use.
Covid Risk assessment
Review your Covid risk assessment and ensure staff are aware and trained in the changes – an example template can be found on the HSE website .
Control customer flow
As part of the Covid risk assessment, please consider if you need to control the flow of customers, and if so how to do it. Whilst social distancing rules have ended in England from 19 July, the government does advise that people "limit the close contact [they] have with those [they] do not usually live with, and increase close contact gradually. This includes minimising the number, proximity and duration of social contacts." You may want to consider, for example: people coming in and out for the use of toilets, how you will require people to pay and where and how you will perhaps ask people queue outside to help people adhere to the advice to minimise social contact where possible. There are guidelines in place but each individual premises will need to ensure it is set up in the best possible way for their situation.
Ensure to carry out a deep clean of your Kitchen ready for trading and disinfect (recommend BS EN 1276) all surfaces, products, handles etc - before re-opening and subsequently after opening.
If you are a food premises, carry out stock rotation and discard out of date products as necessary.
Keeping people safe
Ensure that you keep up to date with the most current guidance regarding hand sanitising and wearing of face coverings if necessary.
Public Health England have also put together a 'Workplace Pack' in order to support and help businesses with the management of covid cases in the work setting. It would be handy to keep close by, should the need arise. Download the Workplace Pack (Word document)
For the most up to date guidance and advice, please visit the gov.uk website. When specific guidelines have been released, this is where you will find it first. We will of course update our website as soon as we have also been advised by central government.
If you have any questions and cannot find the answer on the Allerdale Borough Council or Gov.uk websites, please email the team where we will be happy to help
Sector specific guidance
Shops and close contact services
Restaurants, bars, cafes and takeaways
Hotels, accommodation providers and visitor attractions
Sports, gyms, leisure services, and events
Construction, factories and industry
Other types of business
Further advice and guidance for business
We are leaving this advice for businesses who may be starting out or reopening under Step 4.
Businesses are currently unable to place seating, tables or other street furniture on the pavements unless they already have a valid pavement license issued by Cumbria County Council. The government recently made changes to the legislation on pavement licenses and we'll be announcing guidance on this soon.
We're also encouraging any licensed premises that wishes to extend its drinking or dining area into other parts of their property – such as in a marquee on their car park – to check their license carefully. If their license does not allow for this, they will have to apply for a variation on their license. All businesses should contact the licensing department on 0303 123 1702.
Should you have been a business which was required to close under the regulations or you made the decision to close, you need to consider how to ensure your water is clean and wholesome before reopening your business to prevent water-borne illnesses, like Legionella.
Private water supplies
All suppliers and users should be aware of the importance of maintaining a clean and safe, wholesome drinking water supply for domestic purposes such as drinking, washing, cooking and preparing or cooking food.
After an extended period of low turnover or no demand, a water supply may deteriorate when left stagnant in storage tanks and pipework. Additionally, equipment used to treat, distribute and deliver water to the tap or outlet may not work as expected. These risks may not have been previously considered as part of a risk assessment or more specifically your Water Safety Plan (WSP).
Deterioration may well be significantly exacerbated following prolonged shutdown, and may present serious and unaccounted for risks to health. Typical examples of deterioration problems might include the leaching of metals such as lead and nickel to a poisonous level; the build-up of Legionella in tanks creating serious respiratory hazards; the accumulation of foul taste or odour issues causing consumers concern or to reject the water; and dried out filters which may no longer be effective or have accumulated serious contamination. These
examples are not exhaustive.
In most routine circumstances, water supplies to premises should, as a minimum, be disinfected and have progressive flushing of storage tanks and pipework to introduce fresh water into the system before consumer access. However, it will vary from system to system
as to how this is done, for example, hot water systems will need to be raised to a temperature of greater than 60ºC, and full system disinfection may be required.
Relevant persons of a private water supply are reminded that they remain responsible under the Water Industry Act 1991 (as amended), and the Private Water Supplies (England) Regulations (2016) (as amended) to provide sufficient and wholesome water at all times.
All actions should be documented, and made available for the inspecting officer.
Hazards of a water supply can be roughly divided into microbial, chemical (including disinfection) and configuration, and some basic considerations should include the following:
- Ingress & faecal contamination; bacteria and viruses of faecal origin; environmental bacteria; bacteria/fungi of decay;
- Regrowth; stagnation; biofilms;
- Points of user contamination such as water dispensers, water fountains which may be contaminated by viruses, bacteria and fungi e.g. Covid-19;
- Organisms of serious concern e.g. Legionella spp.;
- Nuisance organisms causing discolouration, fouling, or staining by iron precipitating bacteria,
- Taste and odour, including dimethyl polysulphides, e.g. Pseudomonas, Flavobacterium and Aeromonas, Penicillium caeseicolum; or hydrogen sulphide by Clostridium, Bacillus Desulfovibrio or Desulfotomaculum; vii. Reduction of chloramines to free chlorine and nitrite by nitrifying bacteria.
- Leaching of cadmium, copper, lead, nickel, or zinc in plumbing;
- Naturally occurring
- Design of materials, pipes and fittings (including taps);
- Galvanic corrosion;
- Backflow, migration, valves, air gaps, dead ends, water treatment devices such as softeners, filters, reverse osmosis devices.
In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the current Government advice is to adopt social distancing where possible and to avoid unnecessary travel in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). In order to comply with that Government advice, Allerdale has postponed private water supply sampling visits until guidance changes.
Where possible, we may be able to reschedule any outstanding samples to later in the calendar year depending on developments going forward.
It is therefore recommended that in the absence of any monitoring, consumers and other relevant persons of private water supplies should be encouraged to bolster their operational checks and ensure that maintenance is being carried out as required (e.g. replacing UV lamps or monitoring chlorine dose) and that they have sufficient spares of essential equipment to ensure supplies remain wholesome at all times.
These actions should be documented, and presented to Local Authorities to confirm that supplies did not present a risk to health during these exceptional circumstances. Please use the survey below complete and return to our environmental health department with the relevant documentation. This will act as due diligence in regards to the safety of your water supply whilst sampling is postponed.
For more information contact our environmental health team by email .
As an employer, you need to re-visit your risk assessments to take into account the Covid-19 pandemic and the controls that need to be in place to protect your employees, and others, from harm.
There is no question that Covid-19 can cause harm so you must take action to control the risk. If you have more than five employees, then you must document this risk assessment, although it is good practice to document this even if you have less than five employees.
There is also an online and telephone advice service giving advice for your workplace, contact the Health and Safety Executive on:
- by telephone: 0300 790 6787 lines are open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 8pm
- online using their working safely enquiry form
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has provided additional guidance specifically for food businesses including checklists to help you ensure your business is operating safely.
Their guidance will give you a practical framework to identify what you need to do to continue, adapt, or restart operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes the hygiene processes and requirements you must follow to safely operate your food business.
Other areas which may interest you include:
- General guidance for food businesses
Guidance on cleaning and other hygiene issues including: guidance to supplement your own food safety management procedures (i.e. Safer Food Better Business (SFBB)), and any hygiene and cleaning procedures you have developed based on public health guidance on coronavirus. If you do not use SFBB, your food safety management system should be updated accordingly.
Remember that normal food hygiene practices also need to continue once your business has reopened.
We have produced a separate guide for those wanting to open a takeaway service.
Contact our trade waste services about any trade waste enquiry: firstname.lastname@example.org
The government has devised this guide on how to keep your non-healthcare business clean. Please note that this is of a general nature and should be treated as a guide, and in the event of any conflict between any applicable legislation (including the health and safety legislation) and this guidance, the applicable legislation shall prevail.
If you are a member of a trade association or similar body, then they may also have provided support and advice or if not, it would be worthwhile to contact them for support as they can provide business specific guidance.
We hope this advice and guidance will provide you with the confidence to reopen safely. We recognise that a lot of it is generic, and size does not fit all and as the business operator. As you are most familiar with your business operation to provide specific controls most suitable for your business. We would recommend you contact your trade association and/or also seek professional advice on specific issues as necessary.
You can also contact our Environmental Health team by email and we will get back to you as soon as possible.