Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Close contact services

Guidance for people who provide close contact services, including hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, tattooists, sports and massage therapists, dress fitters, tailors and fashion designers.

Applies to: England (see guidance for Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland)

National restrictions in England are in place until 2 December. People should stay at home where possible and should only travel to work if they cannot work from home.

Personal care facilities such as hair, beauty and nail salons, tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services, non-medical acupuncture, and tanning salons must close.

Find out about the new restrictions and what you can and cannot do.

​This guidance will remain live to help you understand how to keep your business safe when open.

This guide was updated on 26 November 2020.

What’s changed

Updated guidance: new local restriction tiers information and clinically extremely vulnerable (section 3.1).

Updated priority actions. Updated Introduction. Updated risk assessment information (section 1). New NHS Test and Trace section (section 2.1). Updated keeping clients and visitors safer (section 2.2). New ventilation advice (section 2.3). Equalities progress report added (section 3.1). PPE section simplified (section 6.1). Updated face coverings for clients (section 6.2). Updated outbreak advice (section 7.1.2). New canteen and restaurants advice (section 7.4).

Local restriction tiers

The government has announced that the current national restrictions will be replaced on 2 December with a regionally-differentiated approach, where different tiers of restrictions apply in different parts of the country. 

There are 3 tiers for local restrictions: 

  • Tier 1: Medium alert 
  • Tier 2: High alert 
  • Tier 3: Very High alert

It is right to target the toughest measures only in areas where the virus is most prevalent and where we are seeing sharper increases in the rate of infection. 

From (and including) 2 December, most businesses and venues will be allowed to open, following COVID-19 Secure guidelines.

This guidance sets out the restrictions that certain businesses and venues in England are required to follow. 

Find out which tier your business will be in.

Close contact services are, if COVID-Secure, open under all tiers.

Priority actions to take - what businesses need to do to protect staff and clients

Eight steps to protect yourself, your staff and your customers during coronavirus.

  1. Complete a COVID-19 risk assessment. Share it with all your staff. Find out how to do a risk assessment.

  2. Clean more often. Increase how often you clean surfaces, especially those that are being touched a lot. Ask your staff and your customers to use hand sanitiser and wash their hands frequently.

  3. Remind your customers and staff to wear face coverings in any indoor space or where required to do so by law. That is especially important if your customers are likely to be around people they do not normally meet. Some exemptions apply. Check when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make your own.

  4. Make sure everyone is social distancing. Make it easy for everyone to do so by putting up signs or introducing a one way system that your customers can follow.

  5. Consider ventilation. Read the HSE advice on air conditioning and ventilation.

  6. Take part in NHS Test and Trace by keeping a record of all your customers for 21 days. This is a legal requirement. Some exemptions apply. Check ‘Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace’ for details.

  7. Turn people with coronavirus symptoms away. If a staff member (or someone in their household) or a customer has a persistent cough, a high temperature or has lost their sense of taste or smell, they should be isolating. Employers must not require someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work. Any employer asking an employee to break self-isolation to work is committing an offence.

  8. Consider the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus for yourself and others. The government has published guidance on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Five more things to be aware of if your business provides close contact services:

  • Wear a visor and mask. Practitioners are required by law to wear both a clear visor or goggles and a Type II face mask to keep their clients safe. Provide training on how to wear face masks safely.
  • Keep clients apart. Consider how many people can be in the space while remaining socially distant. Rearrange waiting areas so that clients can stay apart. Use floor markings to manage queues.
  • Help your staff maintain social distancing. Consider using barriers between workstations, introduce back-to-back or side-to-side working, and have staff work in the same team each day.
  • Communicate and train. Make sure all staff and customers are kept up to date with how safety measures are being used and updated. 
  • Keep music and other background noise to a minimum to prevent people from speaking loudly or shouting.

These are the priority actions to make your business safe during coronavirus, you should also read the full version of the guidance below.

Introduction

The UK government’s COVID-19 Winter Plan presents a programme for suppressing the virus, protecting the NHS and the vulnerable, keeping education and the economy going and providing a route back to normality.

This guide will help you understand how to make your workplace COVID-Secure and help tackle COVID-19. We thank you for playing your part in this national effort.

Who this guide is for

This document is one of a set of documents about how to work safely in different types of workplace. This one is designed to be relevant for people who provide close contact services.

Close contact services include:

  • hairdressing
  • barbershops
  • beauty and nail bars
  • makeup
  • tattoo studios
  • tanning salons or booths
  • spas and wellness businesses
  • sports and massage therapy
  • well-being and holistic locations
  • dress fitters
  • tailors
  • fashion designers

This guidance is also designed for those who provide mobile close contact services from their homes and in other people’s homes, those in retail environments and the arts, as well as those studying hair and beauty in vocational training environments.

People delivering services in other people’s homes or retail environments should also refer to guidance on working safely during COVID-19 in other people’s homes and in shops and branches.

Spas operating gyms, hot tubs, spa pools, whirlpools, hydrotherapy, steam rooms, saunas or swimming pools must follow government guidance for gym/leisure facilities.

We expect that this document will be updated over time. You can check for updates at www.gov.uk/workingsafely.

Who has contributed to this guide

This document has been prepared by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) with input from firms, unions, industry bodies and the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and in consultation with Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Public health is devolved in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales; this guidance should be considered alongside local public health and safety requirements and legislation in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. For advice to businesses in other parts of the UK please see guidance set by the Northern Ireland Executive, the Scottish Government, and the Welsh Government.

If you have any feedback on this guidance, please email safer.workplaces@beis.gov.uk.

How to use this guidance

This document sets out guidance on how to open workplaces safely while minimising the risk of spreading COVID-19. It gives practical considerations of how this can be applied in the workplace.

This guidance does not supersede any legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment or equalities and it is important that as a business or an employer you continue to comply with your existing obligations, including those relating to individuals with protected characteristics. It contains non-statutory guidance to take into account when complying with these existing obligations. When considering how to apply this guidance, take into account agency workers, contractors and other people, as well as your employees.

To help you decide which actions to take, you must carry out an appropriate COVID-19 risk assessment, just as you would for other health and safety related hazards. This risk assessment must be done in consultation with unions or workers.

1. Thinking about risk

In this section

Objective: That all employers carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment.

As an employer, you have a legal responsibility to protect workers and others from risk to their health and safety, including from the risks of COVID-19.

COVID-19 is a hazard in the workplace and, as such, should be managed in the same way as other workplace hazards. This includes completing a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks of COVID-19 in the workplace and identifying control measures to manage that risk.

Failure to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and put in place sufficient control measures to manage the risk may be considered a breach of health and safety law.

Where the enforcing authority, such as the HSE or your local authority, identifies employers who are not taking action to comply with the relevant public health legislation and guidance to control public health risks, they are empowered to take a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks. Where serious breaches are identified HSE and Local Authorities have a range of things they can do to ensure compliance. These include sending letters, serving improvement notices and prohibition notices and in cases where significant breaches are identified then prosecutions can be brought.

  • Your risk assessment will help you decide whether you have done everything you need to. There are interactive tools available to support you from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
  • You should also consider the security implications of any decisions and control measures you intend to put in place, as any revisions could present new or altered security risks that may require mitigation.
  • If you have fewer than 5 workers, or are self-employed, you don’t have to write anything down as part of your risk assessment, but you may decide it would be helpful to.
  • Employers have a duty to consult on health and safety matters. You can do this by listening and talking to them about the work they do and how you will manage the risks from COVID-19.
  • This may be through consulting with any recognised trade union health and safety representatives or, if you don’t have any, with a representative chosen by workers.
  • As an employer, you cannot decide who the representative will be. Employers and workers should always come together to resolve issues. If concerns still cannot be resolved, see below for further steps you can take.

Employers are expected to respond to any advice or notices issued by enforcing authorities rapidly and are required to do so within any timescales imposed by the enforcing authorities. The vast majority of employers are responsible and will join with the UK’s fight against COVID-19 by working with the government and their sector bodies to protect their workers and the public. However, inspectors are carrying out compliance checks nationwide to ensure that employers are taking the necessary steps.

How to raise a concern:

  • contact your employee representative
  • contact your trade union if you have one
  • contact HSE at:

HSE COVID-19 enquiries
Telephone: 0300 790 6787 (Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm)
Online: working safely enquiry form

1.1 Managing risk

Objective: To reduce risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures, in order of priority.

Employers have a duty to reduce workplace risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures. Employers must work with any other employers or contractors sharing the workplace so that everybody’s health and safety is protected. In the context of COVID-19 this means protecting the health and safety of your workers and clients by working through these steps in order:

  1. Ensuring both workers and clients who feel unwell stay at home and do not attend the premises. By law from 28 September businesses may not require a self-isolating employee to come into work.

  2. In every workplace, increasing the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning.

  3. Businesses and workplaces should make every reasonable effort to ensure their employees can work safely. Anyone who can work from home should do so. Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work, if COVID-Secure guidelines are followed closely. When in the workplace, everyone should make every reasonable effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines set out by the government (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable).

  4. Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, in relation to a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity can be redesigned to maintain a 2m distance or 1m with risk mitigations.

    Further mitigating actions include:

    – further increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning
    – keeping the activity time involved as short as possible
    – using screens or barriers to separate clients from one another; as everyone working in close proximity for an extended period of time must wear a visor and a Type II face mask, screens will not be necessary between the practitioner and the client.
    – working from the back (behind the client) or from the side, regularly circling the client.
    – unless crucial for the treatment, avoiding skin-to-skin contact and using gloves where possible
    – using a consistent pairing system, defined as fixing which workers work together, if workers have to be in close proximity (defined as being within arm’s-length of someone else for a sustained period of time)

  5. Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, even through redesigning a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between their staff.

  6. Clearly, when providing close contact services, it often may not be possible to maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m apart with risk mitigation). As a result, personal protective equipment in the form of a visor and a Type II face mask will be required to mitigate the risk. Further details on which can be found in section 6.

  7. In your assessment you should have particular regard to whether the people doing the work are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

  8. If your building has been unoccupied for a period during any lockdowns, consider legionella risk and HSE advice.

The recommendations in the rest of this document are ones you must consider as you go through this process. You could also consider any advice that has been produced specifically for your sector, for example by trades associations.

If you are currently operating, you will already have carried out an assessment of the risks posed by COVID-19 in your workplace. You should use this document to identify any further improvements you should make. You must review the measures you have put in place to make sure they are working. You should also review them if they may no longer be effective or if there are changes in the workplace that could lead to new risks, such as reintroducing services in the client’s breathing zone.

1.2 Sharing the results of your risk assessment

You must share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce. If possible, you should consider publishing the results on your website (and we would expect all employers with over 50 workers to do so). We would expect all businesses to demonstrate to their workers and clients that they have properly assessed their risk and taken appropriate measures to mitigate this. You should do this by displaying a notification in a prominent place in your business and on your website, if you have one.

Below you will find a notice you should sign and display, which can also be provided as cards, stickers or similar, to show you have followed this guidance.

2. Keeping your clients and visitors safe

In this section

2.1 Supporting NHS Test and Trace

Objective: To support NHS Test and Trace

Continued opening up of the economy is reliant on NHS Test and Trace being used to minimise transmission of the virus.

In order to ensure that businesses are able to remain open, you must:

  1. Ask 1 member of every party who visit your premises to provide their contact details to assist NHS Test and Trace.

  2. You must have a system in place to ensure that you can collect that information from your customers and visitors, and provide this data to NHS Test and Trace, if it is requested. Check what data you need to collect and how it should be managed.

  3. Keep a record of all staff working on your premises and shift times on a given day and their contact details.​

  4. Display an official NHS QR code poster from 24 September 2020, so that customers and visitors can ‘check-in’ using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details. Official NHS QR posters can be generated online.

Many businesses that take bookings already have systems for recording this information – including close contact services. These existing systems may be an effective means of collecting contact details, but if such a system is not in place, this will now be required in order to be compliant with the new regulations on NHS Test and Trace. Organisations must have a system in place for people who do not have a smartphone or do not want to use the NHS COVID-19 app.​

Any business that is found not to be compliant with these regulations will be subject to financial penalties. It is vital that you comply with these regulations to help keep people safe, and to keep businesses open.​ Find out more about how NHS Test and Trace works.

2.2 Keeping clients and visitors safe

Objective: To minimise the risk of transmission and protect the health of clients and visitors in close contact services.

Find information on social contact rules, social distancing and the exemptions that exist. These rules will not apply to workplaces or education settings, alongside other exemptions. ​

2.2.1 Before clients arrive

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Calculating the maximum number of clients that can reasonably follow social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) and limiting the number of appointments at any one time. Take into account total floorspace as well as likely pinch points and busy areas.

  2. Operating an appointment-only system.

  3. When booking an appointment, asking the client to attend on their own, where possible.

  4. Making clients aware of, and encouraging compliance with, limits on social contact. For example, on arrival or at booking.

  5. COVID-19 related screening questions to be asked of clients ahead of their appointment, including:

    – Have you had the recent onset of a new continuous cough?
    – Do you have a high temperature?
    – Have you noticed a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell?

    If the client has any of these symptoms, however mild, they should stay at home and reschedule their appointment.

  6. Adjusting how people move through the premises to reduce congestion and contact between clients, for example, queue management or one-way flow. This may only be possible in larger establishments

  7. Ensuring any changes to entrances, exits and queue management take into account reasonable adjustments for those who need them, including disabled clients. For example, maintaining pedestrian and parking access for disabled clients.

  8. Using outside spaces for queuing where available and safe, for example some car parks, excluding disabled parking bays. Queues outside should be managed to ensure they do not cause risk to individuals or other businesses, for example by introducing queuing systems, using barriers and having staff direct clients.

  9. Encouraging clients to arrive at the time of their scheduled appointment.

  10. Reviewing working practices to minimise the duration of contact with the client. Where extended treatments are undertaken, such as braiding or massages, consider how the length of the appointment could be minimised.

  11. Keeping appointments short. Businesses should consider providing shorter, more basic treatments to keep the time to a minimum.

  12. Discouraging the use of changing rooms wherever possible. Clients should be advised to change and shower at home.

  13. Informing clients and contractors of guidance about visiting the premises prior to and at the point of arrival, including information on websites, on booking forms and in entrance ways.

  14. Steps should be taken to avoid raised voices, as there is evidence this has an increased risk of virus transmission. This should include lowering the volume of background music and discouraging people from raising their voices or shouting.

  15. Determining if schedules for essential services and contractor visits can be revised to reduce interaction and overlap between people.

  16. Working with neighbouring businesses and local authorities to consider how to spread the number of people arriving throughout the day, for example by staggering opening hours; this will help reduce demand on public transport at key times and avoid overcrowding.

  17. Working with neighbouring businesses and local authorities to provide additional parking or facilities such as bike-racks, where possible, to help clients avoid using public transport.

2.2.2 When clients and contractors arrive

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Encouraging clients to use hand sanitiser or handwashing facilities as they enter the premises or before treatment.

  2. Reminding clients who are accompanied by children that they are responsible for supervising them at all times and should follow social distancing guidelines.

  3. Maintaining social distancing in waiting areas when clients wait for their appointments. When waiting areas can no longer maintain social distancing, consider moving to a ‘one-in-one-out’ policy.

  4. When waiting in communal areas and not receiving treatments reminding clients of the need to wear a face covering unless medically exempt from doing so.

2.2.3 During treatments

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Minimising contact between different workers while serving a client, such as photographers, models makeup artists and stylists in a photoshoot

2.3 Ventilation

Objective: To use ventilation to mitigate the transmission risk of COVID-19.

Ventilation can be used as a control measure to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

Tiny airborne particles can travel further than droplets and in poorly ventilated spaces this can lead to viral particles spreading between people. Good ventilation can reduce this risk.

Good ventilation can be different for areas depending on how many people are in there, how the space is being used, and the particular layout of the area. Therefore you will need to consider the particular ventilation requirements in the area you are considering.

Read the HSE advice on air conditioning and ventilation.

2.4 Client toilets

Objective: To ensure that toilets are kept open and to ensure/promote good hygiene, social distancing, and cleanliness in toilet facilities.

Public toilets, portable toilets and toilets inside premises should be kept open and carefully managed to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Using signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique, the need to increase handwashing frequency and to avoid touching your face, and to cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely, or into your arm if a tissue is not available.

  2. Consider the use of social distancing marking in areas where queues normally form, and the adoption of a limited entry approach, with one in, one out (while avoiding the creation of additional bottlenecks).

  3. To enable good hand hygiene consider making hand sanitiser available on entry to toilets where safe and practical, and ensure suitable handwashing facilities including running water and liquid soap and suitable options for drying (paper towels, continuous roller towels or hand driers) are available.

  4. Setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets, with increased frequency of cleaning in line with usage. Use normal cleaning products, paying attention to frequently hand touched surfaces, and consider use of disposable cloths or paper roll to clean all hard surfaces.

  5. Keeping the facilities well ventilated, for example by fixing doors open where appropriate.

  6. Paying special attention to the cleaning of portable toilets and larger toilet blocks.

  7. Putting up a visible cleaning schedule can keep it up to date and visible.

  8. Providing more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection.

2.5 Providing and explaining available guidance

Objective: To make sure people understand what they need to do to maintain safety.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Providing clear guidance on expected client behaviours, social distancing and hygiene to people before arrival, when scheduling their appointment, and on arrival, explaining to clients that failure to observe safety measures will result in services not being provided.

  2. Providing written or spoken communication of the latest guidelines to both workers and clients inside and outside the premises. You should display posters or information setting out how clients should behave on your premises to keep everyone safe. Consider the particular needs of those with protected characteristics, such as those who are hearing or visually impaired.

  3. Providing a safety briefing of on-site protocols, rules for shared areas and key facilities, for example, handwashing, in particular for freelance workers who may work at multiple locations.

  4. Ensuring latest guidelines are visible throughout the entire premises.

  5. Informing clients that they should be prepared to remove face coverings if asked to do so by police officers and staff for the purpose of identification.

  6. Ensuring information provided to clients and visitors, such as advice on the location or size of queues, does not compromise their safety.

  7. Where necessary, informing clients that police and the local authorities have the powers to enforce requirements in relation to social distancing and may instruct clients to disperse, leave an area, issue a fixed penalty notice or take further enforcement action.

3. Who should go to work

In this section

Objective: Employers should ensure workplaces are safe for anyone who cannot work from home.

It is recognised that for most workers providing these services, it is often not possible to work from home.

Nobody should go to work if your business is closed under current government regulations.

Anyone who can work from home should do so. Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work. Employers should consult with their employees to determine who needs to come into the workplace. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.

When employers consider that workers should come into their place of work then this will need to be reflected in the COVID-19 workplace risk assessment and actions taken to manage the risks of transmission in line with this guidance.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Considering the maximum number of people who can be safely accommodated on site.

  2. Monitoring the wellbeing of people who are working from home and helping them stay connected to the rest of the workforce, especially if the majority of their colleagues are on-site.

  3. Keeping in touch with off-site workers on their working arrangements including their welfare, mental and physical health and personal security.

  4. Providing equipment for people to work from home safely and effectively. For administrative roles, this may include access to work systems.

3.1 Protecting people who are at higher risk

Objective: To support those who are at a higher risk of infection and/or an adverse outcome if infected.

The Public Health England report ‘Disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19’ shows that some groups of people may be at more risk of being infected and/or an adverse outcome if infected. Read the progress update reports.

The higher-risk groups include those who:

  • are older males
  • have a high body mass index (BMI)
  • have health conditions such as diabetes
  • are from some Black, Asian or minority ethnicity (BAME) backgrounds

You should consider this in your risk assessment.

Tiering and the clinically extremely vulnerable

Advice to clinically extremely vulnerable individuals on attending work differs depending on which Tier their local area is in.

In Tier 1: Medium alert and Tier 2: High alert, clinically extremely vulnerable individuals are advised to work from home where possible but can still attend work if they cannot work from home.

In Tier 3: Very High alert, clinically extremely vulnerable individuals are strongly advised to work from home, but can still attend work if they cannot work from home. Employers should consider whether clinically extremely vulnerable individuals can take on an alternative role or change their working patterns temporarily to avoid travelling during busy periods.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Providing support for workers around mental health and wellbeing. This could include advice or telephone support.

  2. See current guidance for advice on who is in the clinically extremely vulnerable and clinically vulnerable groups.

3.2 People who need to self-isolate

Objective: To make sure individuals who are advised to stay at home under existing government guidance to stop infection spreading do not physically come to work. This includes individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19, and those who live in their household or are in their support bubble and those who are advised to self-isolate as part of the government’s test and trace service.

Steps that will usually be needed

  1. Enabling workers to work from home while self-isolating if appropriate. By law, from 28 September employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.

  2. See current guidance for employees and employers relating to statutory sick pay due to COVID-19.

  3. Ensuring any workers who have symptoms of COVID-19-a high temperature, new and persistent cough or anosmia-however mild, should self-isolate for at least 10 days from when the symptoms started. Workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 should self-isolate for at least 10 days starting from the day the test was taken. Where a worker has tested positive while not experiencing symptoms but develops symptoms during the isolation period, they should restart the 10-day isolation period from the day the symptoms developed. This only applies to those who begin their isolation on or after 30 July.

  4. See current guidance for people who have symptoms and those who live with others who have symptoms.

  5. Ensuring any workers who have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace follows the requirement to self-isolate. See current guidance for those who have been in contact with, but do not live with, a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.

3.3 Equality in the workplace

Objective: To make sure that nobody is discriminated against.

In applying this guidance, employers should be mindful of the particular needs of different groups of workers or individuals.

It is breaking the law to discriminate, directly or indirectly, against anyone because of a protected characteristic such as age, sex or disability, race or ethnicity.

Employers also have particular responsibilities towards disabled workers and those who are new or expectant mothers.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Understanding and taking into account the particular circumstances of those with different protected characteristics.

  2. Involving and communicating appropriately with workers whose protected characteristics might either expose them to a different degree of risk, or might make any steps you are thinking about inappropriate or challenging for them.

  3. Considering whether you need to put in place any particular measures or adjustments to take account of your duties under the equalities legislation.

  4. Making reasonable adjustments to avoid disabled workers being put at a disadvantage, and assessing the health and safety risks for new or expectant mothers.

  5. Making sure that the steps you take do not have an unjustifiable negative impact on some groups compared to others, for example those with caring responsibilities or those with religious commitments.

4. Social distancing for workers

In this section

Objective: Ensuring workers maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) wherever possible, including while arriving at and departing from work and while in work.

You must maintain social distancing in the workplace wherever possible.

When providing close contact services, the nature of the work is such that maintaining social distancing will not usually be possible when actively serving a client. In these circumstances, employers, employees and the self-employed should do everything they reasonably can to reduce risk.

Social distancing applies to all parts of a business or home, not just the room where the service is delivered, but waiting rooms, corridors and staircases, where applicable. These are often the most challenging areas to maintain social distancing and workers should be specifically reminded.

4.1 Coming to work and leaving work

Objective: To maintain social distancing wherever possible, on arrival and departure and to enable handwashing upon arrival.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Staggering arrival and departure times at work to reduce crowding into and out of the workplace, taking account of the impact on those with protected characteristics.

  2. Providing additional parking or facilities such as bike-racks to help people walk, run, or cycle to work, recognising this may not be possible in smaller workplaces.

  3. Discussing with clients before arrival whether parking facilities are available for those providing treatments in the home.

  4. Reducing congestion, for example, by having more entry points to the workplace, where possible.

  5. Using markings and introducing one-way flow at entry and exit points, where possible.

  6. Providing handwashing facilities (or hand sanitiser where not possible) at entry and exit points and not using touch-based security devices such as keypads where possible.

  7. Collaborating with other businesses who may share the premises to minimise the numbers of people on site.

  8. See government guidance on travelling to and from work.

4.2 Moving around salons, premises and other people’s homes

Objective: To maintain social distancing as far as possible while people travel through the workplace.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Implementing physical changes like barriers or screens between, behind or in front of workstations where possible, such as between clients, at wash stations, and in reception areas.

  2. Providing floor markings and signage to remind both workers and clients to maintain social distancing wherever possible, particularly in client interaction zones.

  3. Introducing more one-way flow in high traffic areas.

  4. Making sure that people with disabilities are able to access lifts in larger workplaces or businesses based in multi-storey buildings.

  5. Discussing with the client ahead of a visit to other people’s homes to ask that social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) is maintained from other people in the household.

4.3 Workplaces and workstations

Objective: To maintain social distancing between individuals when they are at their workstations.

For people who work in one place, workstations should allow them to maintain social distancing wherever possible.

Workstations should be assigned to an individual as much as possible. If they need to be shared, they should be shared by the smallest possible number of people.

If it is not possible to ensure working areas comply with social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) then businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and if so take all mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Reviewing layouts and processes to maintain social distancing (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) between clients being served simultaneously, ensuring there is sufficient spacing between client chairs, for example, closing off alternate chairs.

  2. Using floor tape or paint to mark areas to help people comply with social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable).

  3. Avoiding overrunning or overlapping appointments and contacting clients virtually to let them know when they are ready to be seen, where possible.

  4. Asking clients to arrive at the scheduled time of their appointment and only providing a waiting area if social distancing can be maintained.

  5. Using screens to create a physical barrier between workstations, where this is practical. This will not be required between the practitioner and client when the practitioner is wearing a visor and Type II face mask.

  6. Using a consistent pairing system, defined as fixing which workers work together, if workers have to be in close proximity. For example, this could include a stylist and apprentice.

  7. Minimising contacts around transactions, for example, considering using contactless payments including tips, where possible.

  8. Minimising how frequently equipment is shared between workers, frequently cleaning between use and assigning to an individual where possible.

  9. Using disposable items where possible, for example nail files, and ensuring non-disposable items are cleaned and disinfected or sterilised between clients.

4.4 Common areas

Objective: To maintain social distancing while using common areas.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Staggering break times to reduce pressure on the staff break rooms or places to eat and ensuring social distancing is maintained in staff break rooms.

  2. Using safe outside areas for breaks.

  3. Creating additional space by using other parts of the working area or building that have been freed up by remote working.

  4. Installing screens to protect workers in receptions or similar areas.

  5. Encouraging workers to bring their own food and drinks and not providing food to be consumed in the salon by clients.

  6. Salons can provide hot or cold drinks to clients in disposable cups or bottles. Practitioners should encourage clients to only remove their mask to consume the drink. When clients have removed their masks, practitioners should ensure they are socially distanced from the client (2m, or 1m with mitigations).​

  7. Reconfiguring seating and tables, such as in waiting areas, to optimise spacing and reduce face-to-face interactions.

  8. Encouraging workers to remain on-site for their shift.

  9. Considering use of social distance marking for other common areas such as toilets, staff rooms and in any other areas where queues typically form.

  10. Preparing materials, tools and equipment in advance of scheduled appointments, such as scissors or hairbrushes in hairdressers, to minimise movement to communal working areas.

  11. Scheduling appointments to avoid client congestion in waiting areas, particularly in establishments with smaller waiting areas.

  12. Asking that only the client be present in the same room for appointments in the home.

  13. Providing a secure area where social distancing is maintained for a client when services or treatments require development time, for example hair colouring.

4.5 Accidents, security and other incidents

Objective: To prioritise safety during incidents.

In an emergency, for example, an accident, provision of first aid, fire or break-in, people do not have to comply with social distancing guidelines if it would be unsafe.

People involved in the provision of assistance to others should pay particular attention to sanitation measures immediately afterwards including washing hands.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Reviewing your incident and emergency procedures to ensure they reflect the social distancing principles as far as possible.

  2. Considering the security implications of any changes you intend to make to your operations and practices in response to COVID-19, as any revisions may present new or altered security risks which may need mitigations.

  3. Following government guidance on managing security risks.

5. Cleaning the workplace

In this section

5.1 Before reopening

Objective: To make sure that any site or location that has been closed or partially operated is clean and ready to restart, including:

  • an assessment for all sites, or parts of sites, that have been closed, before restarting work
  • cleaning procedures and providing hand sanitiser, before restarting work

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Checking whether you need to service or adjust ventilation systems, for example, so that they do not automatically reduce ventilation levels due to lower than normal occupancy levels.

  2. Most air conditioning systems do not need adjustment, however where systems serve multiple buildings, or you are unsure, advice should be sought from your heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) engineers or advisers.

5.2 Keeping the workplace clean

Objective: To keep the workplace clean and prevent transmission by touching contaminated surfaces.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Spacing appointments to allow for frequent cleaning, disinfection and sterilisation of work areas, tools and equipment between uses, using your usual cleaning products.

  2. Frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, including door handles or staff handheld devices, and making sure there are adequate disposal arrangements for cleaning products, for example touch free bins.

  3. Clearing workspaces and removing waste and belongings from the work area at the end of a shift, including not providing reading materials such as newspapers and magazines in client waiting areas.

  4. Sanitising any reusable equipment, including client chairs, treatment beds, and tools, such as scissors after each appointment, and at the start and end of shifts.

  5. Using disposable gowns for each client. Where this is not possible, use separate gowns (and towels as usual) for each client, washing between use and disposing appropriately as required.

  6. If you are cleaning after a known or suspected case of COVID-19 then you should refer to the specific guidance.

  7. Encouraging staff not to wear their uniforms at home or to and from the workplace, to change uniforms on a daily basis and to wash immediately after use.

  8. Providing extra non recycling bins for workers and clients to dispose of single use face coverings and PPE. You should refer to guidance for information on how to dispose of personal or business waste, including face coverings and PPE.

5.3 Hygiene: handwashing, sanitation facilities and toilets

Objective: To help everyone keep good hygiene through the working day.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Using signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique, the need to increase handwashing frequency and avoiding touching your face.

  2. Adopting good handwashing technique and increasing handwashing during and in between appointments. For mobile operators, in the absence of handwashing facilities, you must use hand sanitiser.

  3. Providing clients access to tissues and informing them that if they do need to sneeze or cough, they should do so into the tissue, which should then be discarded appropriately and that they should wash their hands thoroughly or use hand sanitiser after using a tissue.

  4. Providing regular reminders and signage to maintain hygiene standards.

  5. Unless crucial for the treatment, change practices to avoid any potential skin to skin contact or use gloves where possible.

  6. Providing hand sanitiser in multiple locations in premises in addition to washrooms.

  7. Setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets to ensure they are kept clean and social distancing is achieved as much as possible.

  8. Enhancing cleaning for busy areas.

  9. Providing more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection.

  10. Providing hand drying facilities – paper towels, continuous roller towels or electrical dryers.

5.4 Changing rooms and showers

Objective: To minimise the risk of transmission in changing rooms and showers.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Discouraging the use of changing rooms wherever possible. Where the use of shower and changing facilities is unavoidable, setting clear use and cleaning guidance for showers, lockers and changing rooms to ensure they are kept clean and clear of personal items and that social distancing is achieved as much as possible.

  2. Introducing enhanced cleaning of all facilities regularly during the day and at the end of the day.

  3. Where fitting rooms are essential, for example during photoshoots or fashion shows, they should be cleaned very frequently, typically between each use.

5.5 Handling goods, merchandise and other materials

Objective: To reduce transmission through contact with objects in the premises.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Encouraging increased handwashing and introducing more handwashing facilities for workers and clients or providing hand sanitiser where this is not practical.

  2. Implementing enhanced handling procedures of laundry to prevent potential contamination of surrounding surfaces, to prevent raising dust or dispersing the virus.

  3. Putting in place picking-up and dropping-off collection points where possible, rather than passing goods hand-to-hand.

  4. Enforcing cleaning procedures for goods and merchandise entering the site.

  5. Regularly cleaning equipment that employees may bring from or take home. Cleaning should also take place before and following client use.

  6. Minimising person-to-person contact when accepting deliveries by creating pick-up and drop-off collection points for deliveries entering the premises.

  7. Ensuring that equipment entering a person’s home is thoroughly cleaned, disinfected or sterilised before use and between clients, with usual cleaning products.

  8. Minimising client contact with testers, for example, employees demonstrating testers from a distance or facilitating the use of testers.

6. Personal protective equipment (PPE) and face coverings

In this section

6.1 Personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff

Where you are already using PPE in your work activity to protect against non-COVID-19 risks, you should continue to do so.

It is mandatory in law for people providing a close contact service to wear a clear visor/goggles and Type II Face Mask.

The person providing a service (such as hairdressers or beauticians) should take precautions because of the period of time spent in close proximity to a person’s face, mouth and nose. This must take the form of a clear visor/goggles and a Type II face mask: a medical face masks made up of a protective 3-ply construction that prevents large particles from reaching the client or working surfaces.

Clear visors cover the face (and typically provides a barrier between the wearer and the client from respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing or speaking). Visors must fit the user and be worn properly. They should cover the forehead, extend below the chin, and wrap around the side of the face. Both disposable and re-usable visors are available. A re-usable visor must be cleaned and disinfected between each client using normal cleaning products.

Goggles may be used as an alternative to a clear visor, when worn with a Type II face mask. Goggles provide eye protection to the wearer. To be worn in place of a clear visor, goggles must be close fitting with no obvious openings or vents that would otherwise allow droplets to enter the eyes. Reusable eye protection should be cleaned according to the manufacturer’s instructions. ​

A Type II face mask should be worn with the visor/goggles. Type II face masks are not PPE but will reduce potential transmission to others when used correctly.

Ensure you are hydrated before putting a mask on. Guidance on how to put on, wear and remove a Type II face mask safely is provided below:

Putting on your face mask

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds, or use hand sanitiser, before putting a face mask on.

  2. If the mask has ties (instead of ear loops), make sure it is securely tied over your ears at the crown and nape of the neck.

  3. Once on, make sure the mask is extended to cover your mouth and chin.

  4. Ensure the mask is flat against your cheeks. With both hands, mould the metal strip over the bridge of your nose.

Safe use of a face mask

Keep your hands away from your face and face mask. When you need to remove your mask (such as to take a drink or eat) then you should replace it with a new face mask before continuing to work.

Face masks should:

  • cover both nose and mouth
  • not be allowed to dangle around the neck
  • not be touched once on
  • be changed if they become moist or damaged, or if difficult to breathe through
  • be worn once and then discarded safely, ideally into a non-touch and self-closing bin

Taking off your face mask

Safe removal of a face mask is important.

  1. Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser.

  2. Untie or break the bottom ties, followed by top ties or elastic.

  3. Gently pull the mask away from the face and remove it by handling the ties only.

  4. Discard the mask safely, ideally into a non-touch and self-closing bin.

  5. Wash your hands again.

Individuals contacted via the NHS Test and Trace service, having been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, will still need to self- isolate even if wearing a visor/goggles and Type II face mask at work.

There are different regulations which apply to the use of medical grade devices and equipment including hand gels and PPE.

6.2 Face coverings for clients

By law businesses must remind people to wear face coverings where they are required, for instance using signage or verbal reminder. If necessary, police can issue fines to members of the public for non-compliance. Businesses will not be required to provide face coverings for their customers.

Please be mindful that the wearing of a face covering may inhibit communication with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound.

Face coverings are mandatory for customers visiting: nail, beauty, hair salons and barbers; massage centres; tattoo and piercing parlours. Face coverings should not be removed unless essential for a particular treatment – for example, for a treatment on the face area covered by the face covering.

People are also encouraged to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces where there are people they do not normally meet.

Find further detail on when and where to wear face coverings.

Some people don’t have to wear a face covering including for health, age or equality reasons.

It is important to use face coverings properly. This means telling clients to:

  • wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, and after removing it
  • when wearing a face covering, avoid touching their face or face covering
  • change their face covering if it becomes damp
  • continue to clean their hands regularly

By law businesses must remind people to wear face coverings where they are required, for instance using signage or verbal reminder. If necessary, police can issue fines to members of the public for non-compliance. Businesses will not be required to provide face coverings for their customers.

Please be mindful that the wearing of a face covering may inhibit communication with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound.

7. Workforce management

In this section

7.1 Shift patterns and outbreaks

7.1.1 Shift patterns and working groups

Objective: To change the way work is organised to create distinct groups and reduce the number of contacts each worker has.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. As far as possible, where workers are split into teams or shift groups, or assigned to specific tasks, fixing these teams or shift groups so that where contact is unavoidable, this happens between the same people.

  2. Identifying areas where people have to directly pass things to each other and finding ways to remove direct contact such as by using drop-off points or transfer zones.

  3. Using a defined process to help maintain social distancing during shift handovers.

  4. Limiting role/task rotation including remaining at a consistent workstation where possible.

  5. Staggering shift start times, minimising worker congregation such as at entrances and exits.

  6. Creating a schedule for staff detailing in advance how treatments will take place and what arrangements have been made with clients.

  7. You must assist the test and trace service by keeping a temporary record of your staff shift patterns for 21 days and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed. This could help contain clusters or outbreaks. Check what data you need to collect and how it should be managed.

7.1.2 Outbreaks in the workplace

Objective: To provide guidance in an event of a COVID-19 outbreak in the workplace.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. As part of your risk assessment, you should ensure you have an up to date plan in case there is a COVID-19 outbreak. This plan should nominate a single point of contact (SPOC) where possible who should lead on contacting local Public Health teams.

  2. If there are more than 5 cases of COVID-19 within 14 days associated with your workplace, you should contact your local PHE health protection team to report the suspected outbreak. Find your local PHE health protection team.

  3. If the local PHE health protection team declares an outbreak, you will be asked to record details of symptomatic staff and assist with identifying contacts. You should therefore ensure all employment records are up to date. You will be provided with information about the outbreak management process, which will help you to implement control measures, assist with communications to staff, and reinforce prevention messages.

7.2 Work-related travel

Objective: To avoid unnecessary work travel and keep people safe when they do need to travel between locations.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Walking or cycling where possible. Where not possible, you can use public transport or drive. You must wear a face covering when using public transport.

  2. Minimising the number of people outside of your household or support bubble travelling together in any one vehicle, using fixed travel partners, increasing ventilation when possible and avoiding sitting face-to-face.

  3. Cleaning shared vehicles between shifts or on handover.

  4. Putting in place procedures to minimise person-to-person contact during deliveries to other sites.

  5. Minimising contact during payments and exchange of documentation, for example by using electronic payment methods and electronically signed and exchanged documents.

7.3 Communications and training

7.3.1 Returning to work

Objective: To make sure all workers understand COVID-19 related safety procedures.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Providing clear, consistent and regular communication to improve understanding and consistency of ways of working.

  2. Engaging with workers and worker representatives through existing communication routes to explain and agree any changes in working arrangements.

  3. Developing communication and training materials for workers prior to returning to site, especially around new procedures for arrival at work.

  4. Ensuring staff understand how to use, store, clean or dispose of their PPE.

7.3.2 Ongoing communications and signage

Objective: To make sure all workers are kept up to date with how safety measures are being implemented or updated.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Ongoing engagement with workers (including through trade unions or employee representative groups) to monitor and understand any unforeseen impacts of changes to working environments.

  2. Awareness and focus on the importance of mental health at times of uncertainty. The government has published guidance on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19).

  3. Using simple, clear messaging to explain guidelines using images and clear language, with consideration of groups for which English may not be their first language and those with protected characteristics such as visual impairments.

  4. Using visual communications, for example whiteboards or signage, to explain changes to appointment schedules or stock shortages without the need for face-to-face communications.

  5. Communicating approaches and operational procedures to suppliers, clients or trade bodies to help their adoption and to share experience, such as with emails or social media.

  6. Communicating with households before arrival to discuss the steps required to safely provide close contact services in the home.

8. Inbound and outbound goods

Objective: To maintain social distancing and avoid surface transmission when goods enter and leave the premises, especially in high volume situations, for example, despatch areas.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Minimising unnecessary contact for deliveries. For example, non-contact deliveries where the nature of the product allows for use of electronic pre-booking.

  2. Considering methods to reduce frequency of deliveries, for example by ordering larger quantities less often.

  3. Where possible and safe, having single workers load or unload vehicles or meet delivery people at the front door.

  4. Scheduling deliveries for outside of client appointment times.

  5. Re-stocking/replenishing outside of workplace operating hours.

Where to obtain further guidance

Find advice and support from your business representative organisation or trade association.

Download the ‘Staying COVID-19 Secure’ notice

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