What do the Governments new guidelines mean for employers

Jul 2020

The prime minister has recently announced a further relaxation of restrictions on businesses that have been in place since the lockdown was introduced 3 months ago.

From the 4th of July, the majority of businesses can reopen, with a few notable exceptions of course. Pubs will be allowed to serve their customers inside and outside, restaurants will be able to provide limited services, and barbers and hairdressers will be able to reopen for business.

All of this is supported by the relaxation of the two-meter social distancing rule, which has now been replaced by the one-meter plus rule that requests people to remain two meters apart when possible, but it is allowed to be taken down to one meter if this is not possible.

Alongside this announcement, the government has also released more guidance for employers, who are in the affected working sectors, about reopening safely. This can include bars, pubs, restaurants, outdoor and indoor attractions, hotels, and more.

While this news has been welcomed by many, healthcare officials have already warned that this could cause a second spike of the coronavirus. In an open letter in the British Medical Journal, more than 12 medical officials have stated that “available evidence indicates that local flare-ups are increasingly likely and a second wave a real risk.”  

With this in mind, we have decided to take a look at some of the new government guidelines and advice that has been offered to employers.

Which businesses can open again?

bars and restaurants reopening

Bars and restaurants are reopened this past weekend, but the only available indoor space will have to be seating, this is because government guidance advises minimal staff and customer contact. Overnight stays are available again in hotels, bed and breakfast campsites, and most tourist attractions are allowed to reopen if they can do so safely.

Some close contact services like hairdressers and barbers are also allowed to reopen, but others like pools, nightclubs, and spas will not be allowed to reopen as of yet.

What are the social distancing rules?

social distancing measures

Like previously mentioned, where two-meter social distancing rules cannot be applied, this can be reduced down to one meter, as long as additional steps are taken to ensure the safety of the public. These extra precautions can consist of wearing facemasks, avoiding face to face seating, reduce the number of people allowed in confined locations, and improving ventilation in buildings.

The hospitality sector has met this easing of social distancing with a sigh of relief, but they aren’t the only ones. The manufacturing and engineering sectors are all said to be regaining some normality in their professional work lives.

However, some people are still questioning the consistency of the one-meter plus rule and some other government guidelines. For example, Elliot Kenton, a specialist in health and safety law, has stated that “the guidelines which we understand remain applicable to workplaces, advocate social distancing control measures to achieve a two-metre ‘safe’ distance,”

Kenton has also added that “where a two-metre distance is not possible, careful assessment is needed as to whether that business activity should take place at all and, if it must, that transmission risk must be managed by other infection control measures”.

Are there any additional staff protections required?

face mask public transport

Much of the guidance that was recently released was similar to the guidance that was released midway through May. Employers should use screens in stores or bars to protect employees and customers, you should keep workers in fixed groups to reduce mixing within your workforce, stagger shift times, and increase the amount of cleaning that takes place in your workplace.

Some recommendations are more important for close contact workers like barbers and hairdressers. Employees should all have individual workshops, wear a visor, and ask customers to arrive at their time slot to avoid overlaps. It is also advised that workers and customers wear face masks where possible in public, especially where social distancing measures cannot be met.

Also, hospitality venues like bars and restaurants will be restricted to table service when serving indoors, with the government guidance suggesting that businesses should consider how employees will move around the venue while maintaining social distancing rules. It is also advised that employees change into their uniforms on-site and that employers bulk wash employees’ uniforms rather than employees taking them home washing them there.

How can Kays Medical help?

Kays Medical is currently running a back to work campaign to help businesses with their return to work after the coronavirus. We can provide back to work bundles which include face masks, hand sanitiser, a non-contact thermometer, disinfectant cleaning spray, and a hygiene key door opener. Kays Medical can also provide all of these items separately, and can provide their back to work bundle in 3 different sizes, these are for 1 to 10 people, 11 to 25 people, and 26 to 50 people. If you need face masks for yourself or your workforce, Kays Medical can supply type IIR medical-grade face masks to businesses and the general public in quantities to suit your needs. Order before July 17th and a box of 50 type IIR surgical masks are just £19.99 with free delivery if you spend £50 or more.

Kays Medical are occupational health experts and we have been protecting UK workforces since 1976. Kays Medical can help you and your business return to work safely. We have a dedicated team ready and waiting to help prepare businesses for their workforce to return to work. Contact Kays Medical today on 0843 504 8147 to find out how we can help you.