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)

COVID-19 roadmap

Step 2 of the roadmap out of lockdown has begun. Some of the rules changed on 12 April, but many restrictions remain in place.

This guidance has been updated to include measures you should follow at Step 3, from 17 May. 

Find out what you can and cannot do.

This guide was updated on 4 May 2021.

What’s changed

Addition of information for Step 3 of the roadmap. This includes:

  • saunas and steam rooms can reopen 
  • updated social contact rules (gatherings of up to 30 people are permitted outdoors; gatherings of up to 6 people or 2 households of any size are permitted indoors) 
  • you can provide reading materials such as newspapers and magazines in client waiting areas
  • you can provide refreshments in line with guidance for restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services

We’ve also clarified the guidance on use of gloves for treatment.

National restrictions – Spring 2021

On 22 February the government published the ‘COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021’ setting out how COVID-19 restrictions will be eased over 4 steps.

The roadmap has set out indicative, ‘no earlier than’ dates for the steps which are 5 weeks apart. It takes around 4 weeks for the data to reflect the impact of the previous step and the government will provide a further week’s notice to individuals and businesses before making changes.

Step 2 – from 12 April

Following the move to Step 2, personal care facilities and close contact services can reopen. This includes:

  • hair, beauty and nail salons
  • body and skin piercing services
  • tattoo studios
  • spas and massage centres (except for steam rooms and saunas)
  • holistic therapy (including acupuncture, homeopathy, and reflexology)
  • tanning salons

This guidance will be kept up to date as we move through the steps of the roadmap, which will be guided by the data.

Step 3 – from 17 May 

Following the move to Step 3, you can provide refreshments in line with indoor hospitality guidance.  You can also provide reading materials such as newspapers and magazines in client waiting areas. You should replace them frequently and ask clients to use hand sanitiser before and after handling them.

Gatherings of up to 30 people are permitted outdoors; gatherings of up to 6 people or 2 households of any size are permitted indoors.   Saunas and steam rooms can reopen. Venues should follow government guidance for gyms and leisure facilities. 

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

Complete a risk assessment, considering the reasonable adjustments needed for staff and customers with disabilities. Share it with all your staff. Find out how to do a risk assessment.

2. Clean more often

Especially surfaces that people touch a lot. You should 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 the law says they must

You could do this using signs. However, you’re not responsible for enforcing customer face covering law. This is an important reminder to help mitigate transmission. Some exemptions apply. Check when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make your own.

4. Make sure everyone can maintain 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. Provide adequate ventilation

This means supplying fresh air to enclosed space where people are present. This can be natural ventilation through windows, doors and vents, mechanical ventilation using fans and ducts, or a combination of both. Read the HSE advice on air conditioning and ventilation.

6. Take part in NHS Test and Trace

Keep a record of all your customers, visitors and staff for 21 days. You must do this by law. Check ‘Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace’ for details.

7. Turn people with COVID-19 symptoms away

Staff members or customers should self-isolate if they or someone in their household has a persistent cough, a high temperature or has lost their sense of taste or smell. If someone is self-isolating, employers must not ask or make them come to work.  It is an offence to do this.

8. Consider the mental health and wellbeing aspects of COVID-19 for yourself and others.

See the guidance on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of COVID-19.

Other things to be aware of

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

Wear a visor and mask

Practitioners are advised 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. 

Minimise music and other background noise

This will 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

This guide will help you understand how to make your workplace COVID-secure and help stop the spread of 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

You should also follow this guidance if you:

  • provide mobile close contact services from your homes or in other people’s homes
  • provide close contact services in retail environments and the arts
  • are studying hair and beauty in vocational training environments

If you provide services in other people’s homes or retail environments, you 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 should follow  guidance for gym/leisure facilities.

We expect to update this document 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 gives you guidance on how to open workplaces safely while minimising the risk of spreading COVID-19. It provides practical considerations of how this can be applied in the workplace.

You will need to translate this into the specific actions you need to take. These will depend on the nature of your business, including the size and type of business, how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated. You will also need to monitor these measures to make sure they continue to protect customers and workers.

This guidance does not supersede any legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment or equalities. It is important that as a business or an employer you continue to comply with your existing obligations. This includes those relating to individuals with protected characteristics. This contains non-statutory guidance to take into account when complying with these existing obligations.

Remember this guidance does not just cover your employees. You must also take into account employees, agency workers, contractors and other people.

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, by law you must protect workers and others from risk to their health and safety. This include risks from COVID-19.

COVID-19 is a workplace hazard. You should manage it 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
  • 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.

Your risk assessment will help you decide whether you have done everything you need to. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has tools to support you.

You should also consider the security implications of any decisions and control measures you intend to put in place. Any revisions could present new or altered security risks you may need to mitigate.

You do not have to write anything down as part of your risk assessment if you:

  • have fewer than 5 workers
  • are self-employed

However, you may still find it useful to do so.

Consult your workers

  As an employer, you have a legal duty to consult workers 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.

You may do this by consulting with any recognised trade union health and safety representatives.  

If you do not have any, you can consult 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 you still cannot do this, see below for other steps you can take.  

Enforcement

Enforcing authorities identify employers who do not take action to comply with the relevant public health legislation and guidance to control public health risks. When they do, they can take a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks. The HSE and your local authority are examples of enforcing authorities.

When they identify serious breaches, enforcing authorities can do a number of things. They include:

  • sending you a letter
  • serving you with an improvement or prohibition notice
  • bringing a prosecution against you, in cases where they identify significant breaches

When an enforcing authority issues you with any advice or notices, you should respond rapidly and within their timescales.

The vast majority of employers are responsible. They will work 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:

If you’re an employee, you can contact:

  • your employee representative
  • your trade union if you have one

You can also 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.

As an employer, you have a duty to reduce workplace risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level. You do this by taking preventative measures.

You must work with any other employers or contractors sharing the workplace to protect everybody’s health and safety.

In the context of COVID-19, this means working through these steps in order:

  1. Make sure that workers and clients who feel unwell stay at home and do not attend the premises. By law, businesses may not require a self-isolating worker to come to work.

  2. Increase how often people wash their hands and clean surfaces in the workplace.

  3. Make every reasonable effort to ensure your workers can work safely. Consider reasonable adjustments for workers or customers with disabilities, including hidden disabilities that are not immediately obvious. Anyone who can work from home should do so. Anyone 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 government’s social distancing guidelines. These are 2 metres or 1 metre+ with risk mitigation where 2 metres is not viable.

  4. Fresh air helps to dilute the virus in occupied spaces. Provide adequate ventilation through doors, windows and vents, by mechanical ventilation using fans and ducts, or through a combination of both.

  5. Consider these additional control measures where 2 metre social distancing is not possible:

    – increase the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning even more
    – keep the activity time involved as short as possible
    – use screens or barriers to separate clients from each other (this is not necessary between the practitioner and client because practitioners should wear a visor or goggles and a Type II face mask)
    – work from behind or from the side of the client, circling them regularly
    – avoid skin-to-skin contact unless it’s crucial to the treatment and use gloves where there is a risk of contact with blood or body fluids.
    – use a consistent pairing system, fixing which workers work together, if workers have to be within arm’s-length of each other for a long period

  6. When you cannot redesign an activity to meet social distance guidelines, ask if your business can continue without that activity. If it cannot, take all mitigation actions possible to reduce transmission risk between staff.

  7. When providing close contact services it may not be possible to maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m+ apart with risk mitigation). So you should use PPE in the form of a visor or goggles and a Type II face mask to mitigate the risk. Further details on which can be found in section 6.

  8. Remind customers and staff to wear face coverings where they’re required. For example, through signage or verbal reminders.

  9. In your assessment you should consider whether the people doing the work are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

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

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

If you’re currently operating, you will already have carried out COVID-19 risk assessment. 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’re 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.

1.2 Sharing the results of your risk assessment

You should share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce.

If possible, consider publishing the results on your website. We would expect all businesses with over 50 workers to do so.

All businesses should show their workers and customers that they have:

  • properly assessed their risk
  • taken appropriate measures to mitigate this

You should do this by displaying a notification:

  • in a prominent place in your business
  • on your website, if you have one

To show you have followed this guidance, sign and display the notice below.

2. Keeping your clients and visitors safe

In this section

2.1 Supporting NHS Test and Trace

Objective: To support NHS Test and Trace

Using NHS Test and Trace is vital for keeping the economy open. It will help minimise transmission of the virus.

You must:

  1. Display the official NHS QR code poster. Official NHS QR posters can be generated online.

  2. Ask every customer or visitor aged 16 and over to check in to your venue or provide their contact details. This can be done quickly and easily using the NHS COVID-19 app to scan in the NHS QR code poster.

  3. Have a system in place to ensure that you can collect information from your customers and visitors who do not have a smartphone or do not want to use the NHS COVID-19 app. You must keep this data for 21 days and provide it to NHS Test and Trace if they ask for it. Check what data you need to collect and how it should be managed.

Many businesses that take bookings already have systems for recording this information. This includes close contact services. Your existing systems may be an effective means of collecting contact details.

Any business that is found not to be compliant with these requirements will be subject to financial penalties.

It’s vital that you comply with these requirements to help keep people safe, and to keep businesses open. Find out more about how NHS Test and Trace works.

There is separate guidance on keeping a record of staff shift patterns. See section 7.1.

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

You will usually need to:

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

  2. Operate an appointment-only system.

  3. When booking an appointment, ask the client to attend on their own or in household groups (including support bubbles). At Step 3, from 17 May, this means groups of no more than 6 people or 2 households of whatever size indoors; or in groups of no more than 30 people outdoors. 

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

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

    – Are you required to be self-isolating?
    – 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, your 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. Adjust how people move through the premises to reduce congestion and contact between clients. For example, use queue management or a one-way flow system. This may only be possible in larger establishments.

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

  8. Use outside spaces for queuing where available and safe. For example some car parks, excluding disabled parking bays. You should manage queues outside 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. Encourage clients to arrive at the time of their scheduled appointment.

  10. Review 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. Keep appointments short. You should consider providing shorter, more basic treatments to keep the time to a minimum.

  12. Discourage the use of changing rooms wherever possible. Advise clients to change and shower at home.

  13. Inform clients and contractors of guidance about visiting the premises before and on arrival. This includes information on websites, on booking forms and in entrance ways.

  14. Take steps to avoid raised voices. There is evidence this has an increased risk of virus transmission. This includes lowering the volume of background music and discouraging people from raising their voices or shouting.

  15. Determine if you can revise schedules for essential services and contractor visits to reduce interaction and overlap between people.

  16. Work 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. Work with neighbouring businesses and local authorities to provide additional parking or facilities where possible, to help clients avoid using public transport. For example, bike-racks.

2.2.2 When clients and contractors arrive

You will usually need to:

  1. Minimise contact between different workers while serving a client. For example, photographers, models, makeup artists and stylists in a photoshoot.

2.3 Ventilation

Objective: To use ventilation to mitigate COVID-19’s aerosol transmission risk in enclosed spaces.

Ventilation should be used as a control measure to reduce the risk of aerosol transmission of COVID-19 in enclosed spaces. 

Ventilation will not reduce the risk of droplet or surface transmission. This means you will also be required to put in place other control measures. These include cleaning and social distancing. 

There are different ways of providing ventilation, including: 

  • mechanical ventilation using fans and ducts 
  • natural ventilation which relies on passive flow through openings, such as doors, windows and vents 

You can provide ventilation through a combination of the two. 

The risk of transmission is greater in spaces that are poorly ventilated. HSE guidance on ventilation and air conditioning explains how you can identify those spaces. It also explains steps you can take to improve ventilation. 

Read advice on air conditioning and ventilation from HSE.

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. You should manage them carefully to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

You will usually need to:

  1. Use signs and posters to make people aware: 

    – of how to wash their hands well 
    – that they should wash their hands frequently 
    – that they should not touch their faces 
    – that they should cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely, or into their arms if a tissue is not available 

  2. Consider using social distancing marking in areas where queues normally form. Also consider adopting a limited entry approach, with 1 in, 1 out. If you do this, make sure you avoid creating additional bottlenecks. 

  3. Consider making hand sanitiser available on entry to toilets where safe, practical and accessible. Ensure suitable handwashing facilities are available. This includes running water and liquid soap and suitable options for drying. Namely paper towels, continuous roller towels or hand dryers. Consider the needs of people with disabilities. 

  4. Set clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets, with increased frequency of cleaning in line with usage. You should use normal cleaning products and pay attention to frequently hand touched surfaces. Consider using disposable cloths or paper roll to clean all hard surfaces. 

  5. Keep the facilities well ventilated. For example by ensuring extractor fans work effectively and opening windows and vents where possible. 

  6. Take special care when cleaning portable toilets and larger toilet blocks. 

  7. Put up a visible cleaning schedule. Keep it up to date and visible. 

  8. Provide 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.

You will usually need to:

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

  2. Provide 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 at your venue to keep everyone safe. Consider the particular needs of those with protected characteristics, such as those who are hearing or visually impaired. 

  3. Provide a safety briefing of on-site protocols and rules for shared areas and key facilities. For example, handwashing. This is particularly important for freelance workers who may work at multiple locations.

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

  5. Inform customers that they should be prepared to remove face coverings safely if asked to do so by police officers and staff for identification. 

  6. Ensure information provided to clients and visitors does not compromise their safety. For example, advice on the location or size of queues. 

  7. Where necessary, inform clients that police and local authorities have the powers to enforce requirements in relation to social distancing. They can 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.

We recognise that people who work in these types of workplace often cannot work from home.

Anyone who can work from home should do so. However, employers should consider whether home working is appropriate for workers facing mental or physical health difficulties, or those with a particularly challenging home working environment.

If COVID-secure guidelines are followed closely, the risk of transmission can be significantly reduced.  

Employers should consult with their workers to decide who needs to come into the workplace.  

You should also consider the impact of workers coming into the workplace on local transport and take appropriate mitigating actions. For example, staggered start and finish times for staff.  

You should give extra consideration to people at higher risk.  

When employers consider that workers should come into their place of work, they should: 

  • reflect this in the COVID-19 workplace risk assessment 
  • take action to manage the risks of transmission in line with this guidance 

You will usually need to: 

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

  2. Monitor the wellbeing of people who are working from home. Help them stay connected to the rest of the workforce. This is especially important if the majority of their colleagues are on-site. 

  3. Keep in touch with off-site workers on their working arrangements including their: 

    – welfare 
    – mental and physical health 
    – personal security

  4. Provide equipment for people to work from home safely and effectively. For example, remote access to work systems. Account for different types of needs, including the needs of people with disabilities. 

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.

There are some groups who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. They may be advised to take extra precautions to protect themselves. See guidance on who is at higher risk and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable. 

As an employer, you should make sure suitable arrangements are in place so that they can work safely. Government advice is that clinically extremely vulnerable people no longer need to shield, and should follow the general COVID-19 restrictions which apply to everyone.

We advise clinically extremely vulnerable individuals to work from home where possible. They 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. 

You will usually need to: 

  1. See current guidance on protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable and protecting vulnerable workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Put measures in place to ensure the workplace is COVID-secure. 

  2. Provide support to staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable, and consider options for altering work arrangements temporarily (if needed) so they can avoid travelling during busy periods. 

  3. Provide support for workers around mental health and wellbeing. This could include advice or telephone support. 

3.2 People who need to self-isolate

Objective: To stop people physically coming to work, when government guidance advises them to stay at home. This includes people who: 

– have COVID-19 symptoms 
– live in a household or are in a support bubble with someone who has symptoms 
– are required to self-isolate as part of NHS Test and Trace

You will usually need to:

  1. Enable workers to work from home while self-isolating if appropriate. It is illegal to knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.

  2. See current guidance related to statutory sick pay due to COVID-19 for: 

    employers
    employees

  3. Ensure any workers who have symptoms of COVID-19 self-isolate immediately and continue for the next 10 full days. This means that if, for example, their symptoms started at any time on the 15th of the month their isolation period ends at 11:59pm on the 25th.

    These symptoms are:  

    – a high temperature
    – a new, continuous cough
    – a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste

    Workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate immediately and continue for the next 10 full days.

    Workers that test positive but have no symptoms must also self-isolate in this way. Sometimes workers develop symptoms during their isolation period. In these cases, they must restart their 10-day self-isolation period from the day after they develop symptoms.  See the guidance for people who live in households with possible or confirmed COVID-19 infections.

  4. Ensure any workers who are contacts of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 self-isolate for a period of 10 days. Contacts must self-isolate immediately and continue for the next 10 full days.

  5. Ensure any workers who have been informed by NHS Test and Trace that they’re a close contact of a person who has had a positive test result for COVID-19 follow the requirement to self-isolate. See the 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.

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

It’s against the law to discriminate against anyone because of their age, sex, disability, race or other ‘protected characteristic’. 

Read the government guidance on discrimination.

As an employer, you have particular responsibilities towards:

You will usually need to: 

  1. Understand and take into account the particular circumstances of those with different protected characteristics.  

  2. Involve and communicate appropriately with workers whose protected characteristics might either: 

    – expose them to a different degree of risk 
    – make any steps you’re thinking about inappropriate or challenging for them 

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

  4. Make reasonable adjustments to avoid disabled workers being put at a disadvantage. 

  5. Assess the health and safety risks for new or expectant mothers. 

  6. Make sure any steps you take do not have an unjustifiable negative impact on some groups compared to others. For example, those with caring responsibilities or religious commitments. 

4. Social distancing for workers

In this section

Objective: Ensuring workers maintain social distancing guidelines wherever possible. These are 2 metres or 1 metre+ with risk mitigation where 2 metres is not viable. This includes when they arrive at and depart from work, while they’re in work, and when they travel between sites. 

You should maintain social distancing in the workplace wherever possible. You should take account of those with protected characteristics because social distancing may not be possible or will be more challenging for workers with certain disabilities. For example, workers in wheelchairs or with visual impairments. You should discuss with disabled workers what reasonable adjustments can be made to the workplace so they can work safely. 

When providing close contact services, social distancing will not usually be possible when actively serving a client because of the nature of the work. In these circumstances, employers and workers 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. For example, it also applies to waiting rooms, corridors and staircases.

These are often the most challenging areas to maintain social distancing and you should remind workers specifically.

4.1 Coming to work and leaving work

Objective: To maintain social distancing on arrival and departure and to make sure people can wash their hands.

You will usually need to: 

  1. Stagger arrival and departure times at work. This will cut crowding into and out of the workplace. Take account of the impact on people with protected characteristics. 

  2. Provide additional parking or facilities such as bike racks. This will help people walk, run, or cycle to work where possible. This may not be possible in smaller workplaces. 

  3. Discuss with clients before arrival whether parking facilities are available when providing treatments in the home.

  4. Reduce congestion. For example by having more entry points to the workplace. If you have more than one door, consider having one for entering the building and one for exiting. 

  5. Use markings and introduce one-way flow at entry and exit points, where possible.

  6. Provide handwashing facilities at entry and exit points. If this is not possible, provide hand sanitiser. Avoid using touch-based security devices such as keypads where possible. 

  7. Collaborate with other businesses who share the premises to minimise the number of people on site.

  8. See guidance on travelling to and from work and getting help with daily activities outside your home during coronavirus. 

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.

You will usually need to:

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

  2. Provide floor markings and signage to remind both workers and clients to maintain social distancing wherever possible. This is particularly important in client interaction zones.

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

  4. Make sure that people with disabilities are able to access lifts in larger workplaces or businesses based in multistorey buildings.

  5. Speak to the client before you visit their home. Ask that they and everyone in their household follow the social distancing guidelines.

4.3 Workplaces and workstations

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

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

Assign working areas to an individual as much as possible. If workers must share work areas, keep the number of people sharing as low as possible. 

When working areas cannot be made to comply with social distancing guidelines: 

  • ask yourself if the work being done is vital to keep your business going 
  • take all mitigating actions you can to cut transmission risk

You will usually need to:

  1. Review layouts and processes to maintain social distancing between clients being served simultaneously, ensuring there is sufficient spacing between client chairs. For example, by closing off alternate chairs.

  2. Use floor tape or paint to mark areas to help people comply with social distancing guidelines. These are 2m, or 1m+ with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable.

  3. Avoid overrunning or overlapping appointments. Wherever you can, let clients know virtually that they’re ready to be seen.

  4. Ask clients to arrive at the scheduled time of their appointment. Only provide a waiting area if social distancing can be maintained.

  5. Use screens to create a physical barrier between workstations, where this is practical. You will not need to do this between a practitioner and a client when the practitioner is wearing a visor and Type II face mask.

  6. Use a consistent pairing system. This is when you fix which workers work in close proximity to each other. For example, a stylist and an apprentice.

  7. Keep contacts around transactions to a minimum. Where possible, use contactless payments. This includes tips.  

  8. For equipment, wherever possible:

    – keep sharing to a minimum
    – assign items to individuals 
    – use disposable items, for example nail files 

  9. Make sure you clean and disinfect or sterilize non-disposable items between clients.

4.4 Common areas

Objective: To maintain social distancing while using common areas.

You will usually need to:

  1. Stagger break times to reduce pressure on the staff break rooms or places to eat. Ensure social distancing is maintained in staff break rooms.

  2. Use safe outside areas for breaks.

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

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

  5. Encourage workers to bring their own food and drinks.

  6. Provide any refreshments to clients in line with the rules on service indoors in hospitality venues. This includes a requirement for clients to be seated while eating or drinking. Read the guidance for restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services.

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

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

  9. Consider using social distance marking for other common areas or other areas where queues typically form. For example, toilets, and staff rooms.

  10. Prepare materials, tools and equipment before scheduled appointments to minimise movement to communal working areas. For example, scissors or hairbrushes in hairdressers.

  11. Schedule appointments to avoid client congestion in waiting areas. This is particularly important in establishments with smaller waiting areas.

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

  13. Provide 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, you do not have to maintain social distancing if that would be unsafe. Examples include: 

  • accidents 
  • fires 
  • break-ins 
  • when you’re giving first aid 

Whenever giving help during emergencies, pay particular attention to sanitation straight afterwards. This includes washing hands. 

You will usually need to:

  1. Review your incident and emergency procedures. Ensure they reflect the social distancing principles as far as possible. 

  2. Consider whether you have enough appropriately trained staff to keep people safe. For example, have dedicated staff to encourage social distancing or to manage security. 

  3. When you’re thinking of changing how you work, consider the possible security implications. Your changes may present new or altered security risks. These risks may need mitigations.  

  4. For organisations who conduct physical searches of people, consider how to ensure safety of those conducting searches while maintaining security standards. 

  5. Carry out a fire risk assessment where spaces have been repurposed. 

  6. Follow 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. Before you restart work, you should: 

  • assess all sites, or parts of sites, that have been closed 
  • review cleaning procedures and provide hand sanitiser 

You will usually need to: 

  1. Check if 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 if they draw in a supply of fresh air. See the HSE guidance on ventilation and air conditioning for more information.

5.2 Keeping the workplace clean

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

You will usually need to:

  1. Space appointments so that you can clean, disinfect and sterilise work areas, tools and equipment between uses. Use your usual cleaning products.

  2. Frequently clean objects and surfaces that people touch regularly. This includes counters and tills. Make sure there are adequate disposal arrangements for cleaning products. For example, touch free bins.

  3. Clear workspaces and remove waste and belongings from the work area at the end of a shift.

  4. Replace reading materials frequently. This includes magazines and newspapers. Ask clients to use hand sanitiser before and after handling them.

  5. Sanitise any reusable equipment after each appointment and at the start and end of shifts. For example, client chairs, treatment beds, and tools such as scissors.

  6. Use disposable gowns for each client. Where this is not possible, use separate gowns and towels for each client. Wash them between uses and dispose of them appropriately as required.

  7. If you’re cleaning after a known or suspected case of COVID-19, refer to the guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings. 

  8. Encourage staff:

    – not to wear their uniforms at home or to and from the workplace
    – to change uniforms on a daily basis
    – to wash immediately after use

  9. Provide extra non-recycling bins for workers and clients to dispose of single use face coverings and PPE. You should refer to the 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.

You will usually need to:

  1. Use signs and posters to make people aware:

    – how to wash their hands well 
    – that they should wash their hands frequently 
    – that they should not touch their faces 
    – they should cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely, or into their arms if a tissue is not available

  2. Adopt good handwashing technique. Increase handwashing during and in between appointments. For mobile operators, you should use hand sanitizer if handwashing facilities are not available.

  3. Provide clients with access to tissues. Tell them that:

    – if they need to sneeze, they should do so in the tissues you provide 
    – they should dispose of the tissue appropriately 
    – wash their hands thoroughly, or use hand sanitiser

  4. Put up signs and regular reminders about maintaining good hygiene standards.  

  5. Unless it is crucial for the treatment, change practices to avoid any potential skin-to-skin contact. You should continue to use gloves for any treatments where there is a risk of contact with blood or body fluids.

  6. Provide hand sanitiser in multiple locations in your premises. Do not just provide it in washrooms.

  7. Set clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets. This is to ensure they’re kept clean and people socially distance as much as possible. 

  8. Enhance cleaning for busy areas.

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

  10. Provide hand drying facilities. Provide 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.

You will usually need to:

  1. Discourage the use of changing rooms wherever possible. If you must use them, make sure:

    – you set clear guidance on how to use and clean them 
    – they’re kept clean and clear of personal items 
    – people using them socially distance as much as is possible 

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

  3. Sometimes businesses must use fitting rooms. For example, during photoshoots or fashion shows. Clean them frequently. Typically, between each time people use them. 

  4. Keep the facilities well ventilated. For example, ensure extractor fans work effectively and open windows and vents where possible.

5.5 Handling goods, merchandise and other materials

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

You will usually need to:

  1. Encourage people to wash their hands more often. Put in place more handwashing facilities for workers who handle goods and merchandise. Provide hand sanitiser where this is not practical.

  2. Put in place enhanced handling procedures of laundry. This is to prevent potential contamination of surrounding surfaces, to prevent raising dust or dispersing the virus. 

  3. Put in place picking-up and dropping-off collection points. Wherever possible, do this instead of passing goods from hand-to-hand. 

  4. Enforce cleaning procedures for goods and merchandise entering your site.

  5. Regularly clean equipment that workers may bring from or take home. Clean should equipment before and following client use.

  6. Keep person-to-person contact to a minimum when you accept deliveries. Create pick-up and drop-off collection points for deliveries.

  7. Make sure any equipment you take on home visits is thoroughly:

    – cleaned 
    – disinfected 
    – sterilised  

    Do this before you use it, and between clients. Use your usual cleaning products. 

  8. Minimise client contact with testers, for example, workers 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’re already using PPE in your work activity to protect against non-COVID-19 risks, you should continue to do so.

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 should take the form of a clear visor/goggles and a Type II face mask.

A Type II face mask is a medical face mask. It is made from a protective 3-ply construction. This prevents large particles from reaching the client or working surfaces.

Clear visors cover your face. Typically, they provide a barrier between you and the client from droplets spread by: 

  • sneezing
  • coughing 
  • speaking

Your visor should fit you and you should wear it properly. They should:

  • cover your forehead
  • extend below your chin
  • wrap around the side of your face

You can get disposable and reusable visors.

When you use reusable visors, clean and disinfect them between each client. Use your normal cleaning products. 

You can use goggles instead of a clear visor. If you do, you must still wear a Type II face mask as you would with a clear visor.

Goggles can protect your eyes. To stop droplets getting into your eyes, goggles must:

  • be close fitting
  • have no obvious openings or vents

You should clean goggles and other reusable eye protection in line with the manufacturer’s instructions.

You should always wear a Type II face mask with goggles.

Type II face masks are not PPE. However, if you use them correctly they will reduce potential transmission risks.    

How to put on your Type II face mask

  1. Before you put on your face mask, make sure you’re fully hydrated. Then wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser.

  2. Some masks have ties instead of ear loops. If yours has ties, make sure you tie it securely at the crown and the nape of your neck.  

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

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

How to use your Type II face mask safely 

Keep your hands away from your face and face mask.

Sometimes you will need to remove your mask. For example, to eat or drink. When you do, replace the old mask with a new one before you start work again.

Your face mask should cover both your nose and your mouth. Do not allow it to dangle around your neck.

You should:

  • wear it once and then discard it safely. Ideally into a non-touch and self-closing bin
  • change it if it becomes moist or damaged, or if difficult to breathe through

How to take off your Type II face mask

  It is important that you remove your face mask safely.   

  1. Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser. 

  2. Untie or break the bottom ties first. Then do the same with the top ties or elastic. 

  3. Handling only the ties, gently pull the mask away from your face and remove it 

  4. Discard the mask safely. Ideally do this into a non-touch and self-closing bin. 

  5. Wash your hands again. 

When NHS Test and Trace contacts someone to say they must self-isolate they must do. This includes anyone who wears a visor/goggles and a Type II mask at work.

Different regulations apply to the use of medical grade devices and equipment. This includes hand gels and PPE. Find out more about regulations on face coverings here.  

6.2 Face coverings for clients

By law, your business must remind people to wear face coverings where they’re required. For example, by putting up signs.

If necessary, police can issue fines to members of the public for non-compliance.

Your business is not required to provide face coverings for your customers.

Be aware that face coverings may make it harder to communicate with people who rely on: 

  • lip reading
  • facial expressions
  • clear sound

Clients must wear face masks in:

  • nail salons
  • beauty salons
  • hair salons
  • barbers
  • massage centres
  • tattoo and piercing parlours

Clients should not remove their face coverings, unless it is essential. For example, if they’re getting a treatment on their face that would normally be covered by a face covering.

Everyone is encouraged to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces, where there are people they do not normally meet.

Find more information on when and where to wear face coverings.

Some people do not have to wear a face covering. For example, this might be for health, age or equality reasons.

It’s important to use face coverings properly.

You should tell clients that before and after they wear face coverings, they should:

  • wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds
  • use hand sanitiser if they cannot wash their hands

Tell them that when they’re wearing face coverings, they should:

  • avoid touching both their face and their face covering
  • change their face covering if it becomes damp
  • continue to clean their hands regularly

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.

You will usually need to:

  1. Manage unavoidable contact so it happens between the same people, as far as possible. Where people are split into teams or shift groups, fix these teams or shift groups.

  2. Identify areas where people have to directly pass things to each other. Find ways to remove direct contact, for example by using drop-off points or transfer zones.

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

  4. Limit role/task rotation. Try to keep people at consistent workstations where possible.

  5. Stagger shift start times. This will minimise worker congregation such as at entrances and exits.

  6. Create a staff schedule in advance. Set out:

    – how treatments will take place 
    – what arrangements you have made with clients

  7. Take into account the particular circumstances of people with different protected characteristics. These include disability, maternity and religion. Consider how they may be impacted by shift patterns and measures to reduce people flow.

7.1.2 Supporting NHS Test and Trace

You must assist NHS Test and Trace. Do this by keeping a temporary record of: 

  • all staff working on your premises 
  • staff shift times on a given day 
  • staff contact details

You must keep this data for 21 days. You must give this data to NHS Test and Trace if they ask for it. Your efforts could help contain clusters or outbreaks.

Check what data you need to collect and how it should be managed. 

7.1.3 Outbreaks in the workplace

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

You will usually need to:

  1. Make sure your risk assessment includes 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. The SPOC should lead on contacting local Public Health teams.

  2. Contact your local PHE health protection team if you’ve had an outbreak and need further guidance. 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 staff with symptoms of COVID-19
    – 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. This will help you to: 

    – implement control measures 
    – assist with communications to staff
    – reinforce prevention messages 

7.2 Work-related travel

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

You will usually need to:

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

  2. Keep to a minimum the number of people outside your household or support bubble travelling together in any one vehicle. Wherever possible:

    – use fixed travel partners 
    – do not sit face-to-face 

  3. Provide adequate ventilation by switching on ventilation systems that draw in fresh air or opening windows. You could open windows only partially if it’s cold. For more information on ventilation in vehicles read HSE guidance on ventilation and air conditioning. 

  4. Clean shared vehicles between shifts or on handover. 

  5. Put in place procedures to minimise person to person contact during deliveries to other customers. 

  6. Minimise contact during payments and exchange of documentation. For example:

    – use electronic payment methods 
    – sign and exchange documents electronically

7.3 Communications and training

7.3.1 Returning to work

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

You will usually need to: 

  1. Communicate clearly, consistently and regularly. This will improve understanding and consistency of ways of working. 

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

  3. Develop communication and training materials for workers prior to returning to site. This is especially important for new procedures for arrival at work. 

  4. Make sure 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.

You will usually need to: 

  1. Engage with workers on an ongoing basis. This includes through trade unions or employee representative groups. Do this to monitor and understand any unforeseen impacts of changes to working environments. 

  2. Be aware of and focus on the importance of mental health at times of uncertainty. See the guidance on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of COVID-19. 

  3. Use simple, clear messaging to explain guidelines using images and clear language. You should consider people:

    – who do not have English as their first language 
    – who have protected characteristics, such as visual impairments  

  4. Use visual communications to explain changes to appointment schedules or stock shortages. For example, whiteboards or signage. Do this to reduce the need for face-to-face communications. 

  5. Communicate approaches and operational procedures with suppliers, customers or trade bodies to help their adoption and to share experience. 

  6. Communicate with households before arrival. Discuss with them what is needed 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.

You will usually need to: 

  1. Minimise unnecessary contact for deliveries. For example, non-contact deliveries where the product can be pre-booked electronically.

  2. Consider ways to reduce how often you receive deliveries. For example, by ordering larger quantities less often.

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

  4. Schedule deliveries outside of client appointment times.

  5. Re-stock/replenish outside of workplace operating hours.

9. Tests and vaccinations

In this section

It’s important that you continue to put measures in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. These include:  

  • maintaining social distancing 
  • frequent cleaning 
  • good hygiene 
  • adequate ventilation 

This is important even if your workers have:

  • received a recent negative test result
  • had the vaccine (either 1 or 2 doses)

Where you’re providing testing on-site, you should ensure that workplace testing is carried out in a safe manner and in an appropriate setting where control measures are in place to manage the risk of COVID-19 transmission during the testing process. These include:

  • maintaining social distancing 
  • frequent cleaning 
  • good hygiene 
  • adequate ventilation

You should also ensure that an appropriate setting is available for individuals to wait in while their test is processed. 

9.1 Accessing testing

Anyone with coronavirus symptoms can get a free NHS test.

If you registered your business for free test kits before 12 April 2021, you can order free rapid lateral flow tests to test employees with no COVID-19 symptoms until 30 June 2021.

If you did not register, you can pay an approved provider to provide tests or run a test site. Read guidance on getting COVID-19 tests for your employees.

Employees who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 can access testing free of charge at home or at a test site. Read guidance on accessing tests if you do not have symptoms of COVID-19.

Regular testing, alongside control measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, will have a key role to play in the future. Regular testing could help identify more positive cases of COVID-19 in the workplace. Read further guidance on your options for workplace testing, or call 119 for more information. 

Where to find more information