Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Heritage locations

Guidance for people who work or volunteer in heritage locations.

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


This document is to help employers, employees and the self-employed in England understand how to work safely and keep their customers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping as many people as possible adherent to the recommended social distancing guidance applicable at this time. We hope it gives you freedom within a practical framework to think about what you need to do to continue, or restart, operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We understand how important it is to work safely and support your workers’ health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that many businesses of this type are currently closed for their usual service by government regulation; we hope this guidance will be useful for those businesses as they develop new ways of working or to help prepare for the time when they are able to reopen. The government is clear that workers should not be forced into an unsafe workplace and the health and safety of workers and customers, and public health, should not be put at risk.

We know many people are also keen to return to or contribute to volunteering. Organisations have a duty of care to volunteers to ensure as far as reasonably practicable they are not exposed to risks to their health and safety. This guidance around working safely during COVID-19 should ensure that volunteers are afforded the same level of protection to their health and safety as employees and the self-employed.

This document has been prepared by the Department for Digital, Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) and Historic England with input from English Heritage, Historic Houses, the National Trust, The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, The Council for British Archaeology, The Institute of Historic Building Conservation, Prospect, the Church of England, the Churches Conservation Trust, the Heritage Alliance and other members of the Historic Environment Forum, the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and in consultation with Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). It should be read alongside other government guidance relevant to the activity being carried out including requirements for risk assessments.

Public health, heritage and tourism are devolved in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales; this guidance will inform related guidance being developed by the devolved administrations and should in particular 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.

While this guidance applies to England, you should always consider whether there are local restrictions in place in your area. If so, you should first read the guidance relevant to your area as this may supersede guidance in this document. You can find information on the current lockdown in Leicester here.

If you have any feedback for us, please email:

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:

  • operate heritage attractions open to the public, e.g. a castle, historic house, historic park, garden or landscape, industrial heritage monument or open air site/museum including mobile heritage

  • work or volunteer in sites or places open to the public that occupy an historic structure, site or landscape (e.g. a place of worship, or a public art gallery which happens to be in a historic building)

  • operate businesses in historic premises (e.g. a retail unit in a listed building)

  • are specialists, or their employers who carry out a range of activities such as site visits, inspections, surveys, excavations, fieldwork, repair, conservation, construction in/on historic buildings or on sites with heritage significance (including work on historic marine sites such as licencees of Protected Wrecks).

Volunteers play a key part of the heritage sector workforce. For the purposes of this guidance the term ‘staff’ includes paid and unpaid people working at a heritage location or advising on heritage assets. We know many people are also keen to return to, or contribute to, volunteering. Organisations have a duty of care to volunteers to ensure as far as reasonably practicable they are not exposed to risks to their health and safety. This guidance around working safely during COVID-19 should ensure that volunteers are afforded the same level of protection to their health and safety as employees and the self-employed.‘Visitors’ includes members of the public, and contractors visiting the site for work, to carry out a range of activities.

This document sits alongside other guidance for the tourism, culture, museum, recreation and leisure sectors, and also guidance for the construction industry and the use of spaces, many of which are historic. It covers all heritage sites, although particular guidance is given for listed buildings and scheduled monuments. Many people and organisations will already be making plans for opening, or may already be open, and this guidance is to support that process and provide a reference point.

It is important to note that heritage buildings and landscapes can be used for a multitude of different ventures and events. Each site is likely to be different. Where a premises delivers a mix of services, only those services that are permitted to be open should be available. For example, a hairdresser should ensure that beauty or nail treatments are not offered; and a community or leisure centre should not host indoor sports or fitness activity. You must check whether any individual activities are permitted under the current rules before reopening or restarting, and should consult all additional relevant guidance to do so.

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.

Each business will need to translate this into the specific actions it needs to take, depending on the nature of their business, including the size and type of business, how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated.

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 need to 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.

This guidance provides additional detail relating to heritage locations over and above those which are set out elsewhere in guidance. For example, general advice on the visitor economy and catering should also be followed.

Heritage sites that are open to the public are places of life, enjoyment, activity and contemplation. The guidance is written to enable that to happen safely. This guidance should be referred to where historic buildings, monuments, sites (including wrecks), parks, gardens or landscapes have some form of public access (including, for example by volunteers onto private land). It will help ensure that heritage sites, historic places of worship and businesses operating in historic buildings or sites can reopen to the public, and/or be accessed by staff or heritage professionals without compromising the safety of those people or damaging the heritage significance of the places.

Many people, both staff and visitors, may initially feel concerned or apprehensive about visiting places so making people feel safe and welcome is especially important. In ensuring that visitors and customers have a rewarding experience, remember that they may feel comfortable in assimilating the necessary information in different ways. If possible, a test run of new arrangements might be worth considering. Regular review of procedures will ensure that the new arrangements are functioning well.

This guidance cannot cover every circumstance, so it is essential that users and operators objectively assess their own sites to develop their own plan for safe opening (see Section 1 below), and continue to follow any changes and updates in government and public health guidance.

This guidance primarily relates to activity carried out in or around nationally designated heritage assets. There are international, national and local heritage designations and in this context the guidance primarily relates to those activities operating in nationally designated heritage assets such as nationally listed buildings (Grade I, II* or II), scheduled monuments or nationally registered parks or gardens (Grade I, II* or II) and registered battlefields. However, this guidance also applies to all archaeological sites as most archaeological fieldwork is carried out on non-designated archaeological sites.

The document does not directly address sites designated locally such as conservation areas or buildings on local lists, although some guidance here may be relevant for them. Similarly, it may be useful for other heritage projects with comparable considerations including industrial, maritime and transport heritage assets.

This document covers historic buildings that contain museum collections, but not the collections themselves. The Museums Association has produced guidance related to collections as has the Institute of Conservation. The guidance does not cover portable antiquities, which are covered in the searching for archaeological finds in England during COVID-19 guidance.

This document does not include any specific advice for owners and occupiers of historic buildings that are solely private residences. Households should follow all residential advice and family guidance. If a formal business is run from the property then a full Covid-19 risk assessment must be completed and safety measures introduced. For historic houses of all types where sensitive historic surfaces require regular cleaning, inappropriate products (including chemicals such as bleach) can cause lasting damage. Historic England provides more detailed advice on cleaning surfaces.

This guidance does not supersede any legal obligations relating to protected heritage sites, and it is important that businesses, owners, operators and employers continue to comply with existing obligations. When considering how to apply this guidance, take into account visitors, volunteers, agency workers, contractors and other people, as well as employees.

This guidance should be read in conjunction with the ‘Working safely during coronavirus (Covid-19)’ guidance and general COVID-19 guidance.

1. Thinking about risk

In this section

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

COVID-19 is a public health emergency. Everyone needs to assess and manage the risks of COVID-19, but businesses in particular should consider the risks to their workers and customers. As an employer, you also have a legal responsibility to protect workers and others from risk to their health and safety. This means you need to think about the risks they face and do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them, recognising you cannot completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19.

You must make sure that the risk assessment for your business addresses the risks of COVID-19, using this guidance to inform your decisions and control measures. A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace. If you have fewer than five workers, or are self-employed, you don’t have to write anything down as part of your risk assessment, but it can be useful to do so. 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 HSE.

Employers have a duty to consult their people on health and safety. You can do this by listening and talking to them about the work and how you will manage risks from COVID-19. The people who do the work are often the best people to understand the risks in the workplace and will have a view on how to work safely. Involving them in making decisions shows that you take their health and safety seriously. You must consult with the health and safety representative selected by a recognised trade union or, if there isn’t one, a representative chosen by workers. As an employer, you cannot decide who the representative will be.

At its most effective, full involvement of your workers creates a culture where relationships between employers and workers are based on collaboration, trust and joint problem solving. As is normal practice, workers should be involved in assessing workplace risks and the development and review of workplace health and safety policies in partnership with the employer.

Employers and workers should always come together to resolve issues. If concerns still cannot be resolved, see below for further steps you can take.

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

The standard risk assessment requirements should be carried out in all circumstances and any additional COVID-19 related guidance followed too.

In accordance with risk assessment procedures, it is important that the operator records what they have done; the steps they have taken to protect staff visiting and contractors; and provides clear advice to those people through briefings, signage or other means. The handling arrangements in emergency and disaster plans and salvage procedures for sites are likely to need reviewing as soon as practical.

Heritage sites and visitor attractions open to the public

The key to successful site opening and managing is to ensure that there are sufficient staff and volunteers on site, working in appropriate conditions, to ensure the visitors and workers have a positive and safe experience. This may mean different staffing levels than normal, and will certainly mean different working practices for everyone on site. It could also be worth amending your usual booking procedures, for example by introducing a pre-booking system.

Operators are responsible for carrying out the standard risk assessment for their sites, but they should expect the general public to heed general government advice about social distancing, travel etc. The risk assessment should look at every point of contact between visitors and staff, and also at every stage of the visitor experience, from pre-visit marketing to visitor arrival, their experience on site and visitor departure. Visitors who endanger others by not observing safety measures should be refused services or entry.

There are many types of heritage sites, and the manager should carefully consider the particular circumstances of their site and consider all guidance in relation to their historic place. Generally, sites that are primarily in the open (e.g. historic parks and gardens, earthwork monuments, battlefields, archaeological sites) are likely to be easily and quickly adapted to allow access. Many of these will be unstaffed sites that are open to the public without charge or open countryside where existing government guidelines on accessing green spaces safely should be followed. In these cases the heritage designation does not add further issues that need to be considered. With careful thought and a flexible approach to visitor management, almost all other heritage sites will also be able to open and function safely and effectively by following these guidelines alongside other relevant government and sector advice.

Many heritage sites make extensive use of volunteers. They may need additional time to get up to speed with new ways of working as well as changed health and safety requirements and may not have access to on-line guidance or training material. It is important that all volunteers are given sufficient information so that they clearly understand the risks involved in public-facing activities. Volunteers should not be allowed to continue offering support if they do not comply with safety measures.

Businesses operating in historic premises

A wide range of businesses operate in historic premises, including retail, care homes, catering, private tours, accommodation, weddings, concerts, and film and TV production. They will need to find solutions specific to their business that will achieve a safe and functional environment for staff and visitors/guests or customers. Additional guidance available for each type of business should be consulted and appropriate actions implemented.

At this time, venues should not permit live performances, including drama, comedy and music, to take place in front of a live audience. From 11th July, venues should not permit indoor performances, including drama, comedy and music, to take place in front of a live audience. This is important to mitigate the risks of droplets and aerosol transmission - from either the performer(s) or their audience. Venues should take account of the performing arts guidance in organising outdoor performances. Singing and wind and brass playing should be limited to professional contexts only.

In relation to businesses operating in historic premises, the same kind of challenges regarding constrained spaces are likely to apply. Existing guidance for retail businesses should also be followed but paying particular attention to the fact that older buildings may have a more complex layout, and managing the flow of visitors and/or customers may be a little more complicated or require a non-standard approach (such as temporarily abandoning managing visitors through guided groups, implementing one-way systems or keeping closed sections of the building which make visiting unsafe). The business will need to think about restricting numbers, and their contingency for avoiding overcrowding within, at and near to the property. In offices in listed buildings, particular attention is likely to be necessary to apply the most effective ways of regularly cleaning any sensitive historic surfaces without causing lasting damage to them (see advice below).

Heritage and Conservation Specialists and their Employers/Clients

In relation to heritage and conservation specialists, the guidance in relation to construction sites may apply including, in the case of archaeology, advice available from Prospect and the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists. Particular consideration should be given to working on or visiting sites where health and safety is managed by clients or their agents. The heritage specialist should ensure that the third-party risk assessment and safe system of work are adequate and consistent with their own before entering the site or building. On heritage sites, working areas may well be more constrained, e.g. in excavation trenches or in roof spaces.

Equipment to aid restoration, repair and alteration activity may not always be practical in such sites, so more people may need to be in the same space to carry out specific actions, such as replacing heavy structural beams. Each activity needs to be carefully considered, including thinking about how it might best be delivered. Sites should start from the premise of required social distancing. Work practices may need to be modified, while remaining within existing HSE requirements. Many activities are likely to be possible with appropriate consideration and professional judgement about safe delivery. Where this is not possible work should cease temporarily until it is safe to resume.

Careful documentation as part of the risk assessment process of the risks and training of staff will be important to avoid high risk situations. Where site inspections or other heritage work are temporarily carried out by only one person instead of a team, HSE’s lone-working guidance should be followed.

Collecting data for NHS Test and Trace

The opening up of the economy following the COVID-19 outbreak is being supported by NHS Test and Trace. You should assist this service by keeping a temporary record of your customers and visitors for 21 days, in a way that is manageable for your business, and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed. This could help contain clusters or outbreaks. Many businesses that take bookings already have systems for recording their customers and visitors – including restaurants, hotels, and hair salons. If you do not already do this, you should do so to help fight the virus. We have worked with industry and relevant bodies to design a system in line with data protection legislation, details of which can be found in the Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace guidance.


Whilst the risk to health from COVID-19 is at the forefront of everyone’s minds, the threat of terrorism nonetheless remains substantial. It is essential that businesses and other organisations remain cognisant of these threats as they look to adjust their operations, ensuring that security measures are proactively adapted to support and complement other changes. For further information, consult the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) and Centre for Protection National Infrastructure (CPNI) for specific security advice related to COVID-19.

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 customers by working through these steps in order:

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

  2. Businesses and workplaces should make every reasonable effort to enable working from home as a first option. Where working from home is not possible, workplaces should make every reasonable effort to comply with the latest social distancing guidelines set out by the government (keeping people apart wherever possible). 2m or 1m with risk mitigation (where 2m is not viable) are acceptable. You should consider and set out the mitigations you will introduce in your risk assessment.

  3. Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, in relation to 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.

  4. Further mitigating actions include:

    – increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning
    – keeping the activity time involved as short as possible
    – using screens or barriers to separate people from each other
    – using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible
    – reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’ (so each person works with only a few others)

Finally, if people must work face-to-face for a sustained period with more than a small group of fixed partners, then you will need to assess whether the activity can safely go ahead. No one is obliged to work in an unsafe work environment.

All venues should ensure that steps are taken to avoid people needing to unduly raise their voices to each other. This includes - but is not limited to - refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, including if played at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult. This is because of the potential for increased risk of transmission - particularly from aerosol transmission. We will develop further guidance, based on scientific evidence, to enable these activities as soon as possible. You should take similar steps to prevent other close contact activities - such as communal dancing.

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

You should also consider 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.

The recommendations in the rest of this document are ones you should consider 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 have not already done so, you should carry out an assessment of the risks posed by COVID-19 in your workplace as soon as possible. If you are currently operating, you are likely to have gone through a lot of this thinking already. We recommend that you use this document to identify any further improvements you should make.

Guidance on working safely during the COVID-19 outbreak is available from HSE.


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. For example, this would cover employers not taking appropriate action to ensure social distancing, where possible.

Failure to complete a risk assessment which takes account of COVID-19, or completing a risk assessment but failing to put in place sufficient measures to manage the risk of COVID-19, could constitute a breach of health and safety law. The actions the enforcing authority can take include the provision of specific advice to employers to support them to achieve the required standard, through to issuing enforcement notices to help secure improvements. Serious breaches and failure to comply with enforcement notices can constitute a criminal offence, with serious fines and even imprisonment for up to two years. There is also a wider system of enforcement, which includes specific obligations and conditions for licensed premises.

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.

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 businesses with over 50 workers to do so).

We would expect all businesses to demonstrate to their workers and customers 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 display in your workplace to show you have followed this guidance.

There may also be other industry standards or marks that you can use to demonstrate to any visitors, guests and customers that you have thought carefully about risk.

2. Keeping your customers, visitors and contractors safe

In this section

2.1 Manage contacts

Objective: To minimise the contact resulting from visits to stores or outlets.

People should continue to socially distance from those they do not live with wherever possible. Social interactions should be limited to a group of no more than two households (indoors and out) or up to six people from different households (if outdoors).

It is against the law for gatherings of more than 30 people to take place in private homes (including gardens and other outdoor spaces).

Businesses and venues following COVID-19 Secure guidelines can host larger groups. This is also the case for events in public outdoor spaces that are organised by businesses, charitable or political organisations, and public bodies, provided they take reasonable steps to mitigate the risk of transmission, in line with COVID-19 Secure guidance and including completion of a risk assessment. Any other gathering in an outdoor space must not be any larger than 30 people.

In particular, those operating venues or running events following COVID-19 Secure guidelines should take additional steps to ensure the safety of the public and prevent large gatherings or mass events from taking place. Venues should not permit indoor performances, including drama, comedy and music, to take place in front of a live audience. This is important to mitigate the risks of droplets and aerosol transmission - from either the performer(s) or their audience. There will be further guidance setting out how performing arts activity can be managed safely in other settings, for instance rehearsing or broadcast without an audience, and should not permit indoor grassroots sport to take place. After 11 July, venues should take account of the performing arts guidance when organising outdoor performances.

Individual businesses or venues should consider the cumulative impact of many venues re-opening in a small area. This means working with local authorities, neighbouring businesses and travel operators to assess this risk and applying additional mitigations. These could include:

  • further lowering capacity - even if it is possible to safely seat a number of people inside a venue, it may not be safe for them all to travel or enter that venue
  • staggering entry times with other venues and taking steps to avoid queues building up in surrounding areas.
  • arranging one-way travel routes between transport hubs and venues
  • advising patrons to avoid particular forms of transport or routes and to avoid crowded areas when in transit to the venue

Local authorities should avoid issuing licenses for events that could lead to larger gatherings forming and provide advice to businesses on how to manage events of this type. If appropriate, the government has powers under schedule 22 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 to close venues hosting large gatherings or prohibit certain events (or types of event) from taking place.

Venues should not permit live performances, including drama, comedy and music, to take place in front of a live audience. This is important to mitigate the risks of aerosol transmission - from either the performer(s) or their audience. There will be further guidance setting out how performing arts activity can be managed safely in other settings, for instance rehearsing or broadcast without an audience.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Defining the number of customers that can reasonably follow social distancing within the store and any outdoor selling areas. Take into account total floorspace as well as likely pinch points and busy areas.

  2. Limiting the number of customers in the store, overall and in any particular congestion areas, for example doorways between outside and inside spaces.

  3. Encouraging customers to use hand sanitiser or handwashing facilities as they enter the premises to reduce the risk of transmission by touching products while browsing.

  4. Encouraging customers to avoid handling products whilst browsing, if at all possible.

  5. Suspending or reducing customer services that cannot be undertaken without contravening social distancing guidelines or where customers fail to comply with safety measures.. This may include re-thinking how assistance is provided, for example, using fixed pairs of colleagues to lift heavy objects rather than a single colleague lifting with a customer.

  6. Encouraging customers to shop alone where possible, unless they need specific assistance.

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

  8. Looking at how people walk through the shop and how you could adjust this to reduce congestion and contact between customers, for example, queue management or one-way flow, where possible.

  9. Ensuring any changes to entries, exit and queue management take into account reasonable adjustments for those who need them, including disabled customers.

  10. Working within your local area to provide additional parking or facilities such as bike racks, where possible, to help customers avoid using public transport. For example, maintaining pedestrian and parking access for disabled customers.

  11. Using outside premises for queuing where available and safe, for example some car parks.

  12. Managing outside queues to ensure they do not cause a risk to individuals or other businesses, for example by introducing queuing systems, using barriers and having staff direct customers.

  13. Working with your local authority or landlord to take into account the impact of your processes, including queues, on public spaces such as high streets and public car parks.

  14. Shopping centres should take responsibility for regulating the number of customers in the centre and the queuing process in communal areas on behalf of their retail.

  15. Having clearly designated positions from which colleagues can provide advice or assistance to customers whilst maintaining social distance.

  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. Avoid sharing vehicles except within a family, for example on test drives. If it is not possible, keep the number of people in the vehicle to a minimum and as distanced within the vehicle space as possible, and use other safety measures such as ensuring good ventilation.

  18. Adjusting service approaches to minimise staff contact with customers. Indoor table service must be used where possible, alongside further measures such as assigning a single staff member per table. Outdoor table service should also be encouraged, although customers are permitted to stand outside if distanced appropriately. Where bar or counter service is unavoidable, preventing customers from remaining at the bar or counter after ordering.

  19. Having a plan for managing toilets, which includes a visible cleaning schedule, more frequent cleaning with regular cleaning products, facilities for hand washing at entry and exit, limiting use to encompass social distancing, increasing ventilation where possible and queue management.

  20. Reviewing your site capacity and route to reduce the risk of pinch-points, queues and overcrowding that may cause conflict situations where staff have to intervene.

  21. Remove visitor interpretation material that visitors are normally encouraged to touch, including items of clothing.

  22. Audio guides will need to be cleaned (following the relevant cleaning guidance) between users and staff handling the equipment will need to be appropriately protected.

  23. Avoid or amend guided tours to minimise the risk of leaders shouting to and over visitor groups.

  24. Reconfiguring entertainment spaces to enable customers to be seated rather than standing.

All venues should also ensure that steps are taken to avoid people needing to unduly raise their voices to each other. This includes - but is not limited to - refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, including if played at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult. This is because of the potential for increased risk of transmission - particularly from aerosol and droplet transmission. We will develop further guidance, based on scientific evidence, to enable these activities as soon as possible. You should take similar steps to prevent other close contact activities - such as communal dancing.There is an additional risk of infection in environments where you or others are singing, chanting, shouting or conversing loudly. This applies even if others are at a distance to you. You should therefore avoid environments that require you to raise your voice to communicate with anyone outside your household.

2.2 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 social distancing and hygiene to people on arrival, for example, signage and visual aids.

  2. Providing written or spoken communication of the latest guidelines to both workers and customers inside and outside the historic building or site open to the public. You should display posters or information setting out how customers should behave at your venue to keep everyone safe

  3. Creating social distancing champions to demonstrate social distancing guidelines to customers, if helpful.

  4. Ensuring latest general guidelines about social distancing and hygiene are visible in selling and non-selling areas.

  5. Making customers aware of, and encouraging compliance with, limits on gatherings. For example, on arrival or at booking. Indoor gatherings are limited to members of any two households (or support bubbles); while outdoor gatherings are limited to members of any two households (or support bubbles), or a group of at most six people from any number of households.

2.3 Heritage considerations for all locations

In many cases it will be possible to find ways in which the safe movement of staff and visitors in historic places can be achieved without compromising their safety or damaging historic fabric. This may mean requiring different routes around sites, the erection of temporary barriers and regular, very visible, signs or other reminders.

Responses need to be proportionate to the type of site, the likely number of visitors and the nature of the likely risks, so an isolated archaeological site or remote historic structure is unlikely to need any specific signage or other measures.

Discouraging the touching of surfaces will often be possible, except in some instances such as stair handrails where they are essential for safety reasons. In a few instances, spaces normally accessed by steep, narrow or uneven stairs, where people are heavily dependent on rails and/or ropes that can’t be kept clean on a regular basis, and where hand sanitiser cannot be made available at the top and bottom, may need to be closed temporarily.

Ventilation will help to reduce the risk, so doors and windows can be propped open if they do not cause an environmental, collection, safety, fire or security risk. You will need to consider and maintain your fire safety and other arrangements especially if you have reduced staff, are reconfiguring spaces or closing rooms.

Staff will need to be briefed, and regularly reminded, about special measures in place and asked to politely point these out to any visitor who may have forgotten them. Temporary marking of the ground with suitable tape, stickers, or even temporary reversible paint, stencils or signs may be helpful at certain pinch-points, whilst taking care not to cause permanent damage to historic surfaces. The strength of the adhesive and the length of time it will be in contact with the historic surface will need consideration to avoid lasting damage, and some surfaces such as historic wallpapers and textile wall coverings are so sensitive they should not be touched at all. Historic England has produced web guidance on free-standing emergency exit signage which could be easily adapted to COVID-19 related signs.

If different visitor routes are being considered, it is important that these are accessible to as many people as possible. Where, for example, such temporary routes are not accessible to people using wheelchairs, every effort must be made to find a practical alternative. Using different entrance and exit doors may be possible in some cases e.g. in places of worship.

Historic buildings such as places of worship or ruined structures are more likely to have constrained spaces such as small rooms, narrow staircases and limited entrance or exit points. These sites may prove challenging if full access is to be maintained. However, in most cases, some access will still be possible, for example by limiting the number of people entering the space or staggering entrance and exit times, especially where there is plenty of space for socially-distanced queues to be created. Possible problems of overcrowding at and near to the property need to be considered so visitors and staff can enter, circulate and exit safely.

If you are operating or attending a historic place of worship for religious or community activities, you should also read through the guidance covering non-heritage related concerns.

2.4 Additional guidance for sites open to the public

For visitor attractions, a prominent summary of the key points on the welcome page of the webpage is an important reminder for the public. Here, visitors can be informed about special measures in place, such as pre-booking, timed entry, different access requirements or closure of certain parts of a site. This will reduce the chances of confusion on arrival at the site. Prominent signing in car parks or arrival points is also likely to be necessary. On those occasions where the risk assessment shows that additional staff or volunteers are needed on site for visitor or customer safety, this can be a positive way of re-engaging with the local community. It may be possible to provide information and interpretation through smart phones, and this may assist the visitor experience while they are queuing.

Successful opening will be easier where there is plenty of outdoor space to allow parking of vehicles, queues for public transport, queuing to pay or enter parts of the site. For other sites with less outdoor space, pre-booking access slots and limiting time in the site may be needed, although these techniques can be used for all sites. Additionally, one way visitor routes, reversible floor markings, and extra signage are all ways in which the visitor pinch-points can be mitigated or eliminated. Staff or signage may be needed to be deployed at some of those pinch-points to highlight risks, to manage visitor flow or alert people to particular risks relating to historic fabric. This may mean re-arranging the way in which room or site-stewards are normally deployed.

Where historic parks, gardens and archaeological sites are open to the public, it may be necessary to create new visitor routes and one-way systems, to aid social distancing. Ideally these should be temporary and fully reversible, such as creating new mown paths in grassland. Such routes should be placed carefully to avoid going over archaeological features or earthworks, or damaging garden planting or features. If temporary visitor seating is needed next to these new routes, then these should also be placed carefully in relation to archaeological features. New routes should be closely monitored and closed off and others created, if visitor erosion becomes a problem.

Where vehicles such as minibuses are used to take visitors from one part of a large heritage site to another, then all relevant government guidance about public transport and social distancing should be followed.

It is important to engage with contractors in advance of their visit to the building or site. They will need to complete a risk assessment for their access and activities to the building/site and communicate these to the site/building operator/user.

3. Who should go to work

In this section

Objective: People who can work from home should continue to do so. Employers should decide, in consultation with their employees, whether it is viable for them to continue working from home. Where it is decided that workers should come into their place of work then this will need to be reflected in the risk assessment and actions taken to manage the risks of transmission in line with this guidance.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Considering who is essential to be on the premises; for example, back of house workers should work from home if at all possible.

  2. Planning for the minimum number of people needed on site to operate safely and effectively.

  3. 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.

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

  5. Providing equipment for people to work from home safely and effectively, for example, remote access to work systems.

3.1 Protecting people who are at higher risk

Objective: To protect clinically vulnerable and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.

Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals (see definition in Appendix) may be advised not to work outside the home if the prevalence of disease in the community is very high. Current advice can be found in the shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable guidance.

Clinically vulnerable individuals who are at higher risk of severe illness (for example, people with some pre-existing conditions, see definition in Appendix), have been asked to take extra care in observing social distancing and should be helped to work from home, either in their current role or in an alternative role.

If clinically vulnerable individuals cannot work from home, they should be offered the option of the safest available on-site roles, enabling them to stay away from others. If they have to spend time within the distancing guidance of others, you should carefully assess whether this involves an acceptable level of risk. As for any workplace risk you must take into account specific duties to those with protected characteristics, including, for example, expectant mothers who are, as always, entitled to suspension on full pay if suitable roles cannot be found. Particular attention should also be paid to people who live with clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Provide 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 do not physically come to work. This includes individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19 as well as those who live in a household or are in a support bubble with someone who has symptoms and those who are advised to self-isolate as part of the government’s test and trace program.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Enabling workers to work from home while self-isolating if appropriate.

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

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

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. For instance, employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to avoid disabled workers being put at a disadvantage compared to non-disabled people in the workplace.

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

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 protected characteristics, such as those who are hearing or visually impaired.

  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. Understanding and responding to the concerns of those who consider themselves at increased risk.

  6. 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: To maintain social distancing wherever possible, including while arriving at and departing from work, while in work and when travelling between sites.

You must maintain social distancing in the workplace wherever possible.

Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full in relation to 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.

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 people from each other
  • using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible
  • reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’ (so each person works with only a few others)

Social distancing applies to all parts of a business, not just the place where people spend most of their time, but also entrances and exits, break rooms, canteens and similar settings. These are often the most challenging areas to maintain social distancing.

Guidance on working safely during the coronavirus outbreak is available from HSE.

General Heritage Considerations

  • Screens will need to be installed in a sensitive way which does not cause damage to a historic building or archaeological site.

  • Markings will need to be done in a way which does not cause lasting damage to a historic building or archaeological site.

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 where possible.

  3. Limiting passengers in corporate vehicles, for example, work minibuses. This could include leaving seats empty.

  4. Reducing congestion, for example, by having more entry points to the workplace in larger stores.

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

  6. Providing handwashing facilities (or hand sanitiser where not possible) at entry and exit points.

  7. Providing alternatives to touch-based security devices such as keypads.

  8. Defining process alternatives for entry/exit points where appropriate, for example, deactivating pass readers at turnstiles in favour of showing a pass to security personnel at a distance.

4.2 Moving around buildings

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

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Reducing movement by discouraging non-essential trips within buildings and sites, for example restricting access to some areas, encouraging use of radios or telephones, where permitted. These items require cleaning between users if multi-use.

  2. Introducing more one-way flow through buildings. Providing floor markings and signage should remind both workers and customers to follow to social distancing wherever possible.

  3. Reducing maximum occupancy for lifts, providing hand sanitiser for the operation of lifts and encouraging use of stairs wherever possible.

  4. Making sure that people with disabilities are able to access lifts.

  5. Consider the particular needs of those with protected characteristics, such as those who are hearing or visually impaired.

  6. Regulating use of high traffic areas including corridors, lifts, turnstiles and walkways to maintain social distancing.

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 and cleaned frequently.

If it is not possible to keep workstations apart 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 to allow workers to work further apart from each other.

  2. Using floor tape or paint to mark areas to help people socially distance.

  3. Avoiding people working face-to-face. For example, by working side-by-side or facing away from each other.

  4. Using screens to create a physical barrier between people.

  5. Using a consistent pairing system if people have to work in close proximity. For example, maintenance activities that cannot be redesigned.

  6. Minimising contacts around transactions, for example, considering using contactless payments.

  7. Rethinking demonstrations and promotions to minimise direct contact and to maintain social distancing.

4.4 Meetings

Objective: To reduce transmission due to face-to-face meetings and maintain social distancing in meetings.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Using remote working tools to avoid in person meetings.

  2. Only absolutely necessary participants should physically attend meetings and should maintain social distancing (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable).

  3. Avoiding transmission during meetings, for example avoiding sharing pens and other objects.

  4. Providing hand sanitiser in meeting rooms.

  5. Holding meetings outdoors or in well-ventilated rooms whenever possible.

  6. For areas where regular meetings take place, use floor signage to help people maintain social distancing.

4.5 Common areas

Objective: To reduce transmission due to face-to-face meetings and maintain social distancing in meetings.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Staggering break times to reduce pressure on the staff break rooms or places to eat.

  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. Providing packaged meals or similar to avoid fully opening staff canteens and/or paying particular attention to prevent shared use of crockery in kitchen areas.

  6. Reconfiguring seating and tables to optimise spacing and reduce face-to-face interactions.

  7. Encouraging workers to remain on-site and, when not possible, maintaining social distancing while off-site.

  8. Considering use of social distance marking for other common areas such as toilets, showers, lockers and changing rooms and in any other areas where queues typically form.

4.6 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 stay 2m apart 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.

4.7 Monitoring Impact

There needs to be consideration of where restrictions may unintentionally create queues or groupings of people and how these can be mitigated. For example, restricting people in an area (two at one time) may inadvertently create a queue in a narrow corridor. Making a corridor one-way or signage saying ‘do not queue’ (from this point onwards) etc may be useful interventions.

It is vital to monitor the impact of limitations on meeting rooms, kitchens, lifts etc. for these types of adverse effects such that they can be rapidly identified and dealt with.

The guidance should encourage employers, in their communications with staff about return to work and when in work, to empower staff to ‘speak up if it’s not OK’ (e.g. that the organisation has done all it can to help ensure a safe working environment for staff returning to work and customers). However, it is vital that staff help the organisation identify and resolve any safety issues that may come up by providing feedback through appropriate corporate mechanisms (health and safety reporting portal/telephone line, staff/union representative, management chain).

4.8 Distancing on heritage sites

New installations to help with social distancing, such as screens, floor markings and signage will need to be installed in a sensitive way which does not cause damage to a historic building or archaeological site (also see 2.3).

Encouraging the public to observe heritage specialists undertaking their work, such as carrying out excavations or conserving historic wall paintings, is an important way of helping them to better understand and appreciate heritage. Careful assessment of the risks of allowing the public to access such work spaces will be necessary, and where risks are identified, alternative approaches must be adopted, e.g. live streaming to a less constrained space, installing temporary clear screens, or using social media to share what is going on.

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:

  • a risk 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.

  3. For building services advice, particularly around ventilation of buildings both in use and when returning to buildings which have been closed, please see advice from the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers.

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. Frequent cleaning of work areas and equipment between uses, using your usual cleaning products.

  2. Frequent cleaning objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, including self-checkouts, trolleys, coffee machines, betting machines or staff handheld devices, and making sure there are adequate disposal arrangements for cleaning products.

  3. Clearing workspaces and removing waste and belongings from the work area at the end of a shift.

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

  5. Visitors/customers are encouraged to take their litter home.

  6. Maintaining good ventilation in the work environment. For example, opening windows and doors frequently, where possible.

5.3 Hygiene: handwashing, sanitation facilities and 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:

  • Using signs and posters to build awareness of good hand-washing technique, the need to increase hand-washing 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.
  • 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 (whilst avoiding the creation of additional bottlenecks).
  • To enable good hand hygiene consider making hand sanitiser available on entry to toilets where safe and practical, and ensure suitable hand-washing facilities including running water and liquid soap and suitable options for drying (either paper towels or hand dryers) are available.
  • 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.
  • Keep the facilities well ventilated, for example by fixing doors open where appropriate.
  • Special care should be taken for cleaning of portable toilets and larger toilet blocks.
  • Putting up a visible cleaning schedule and keep it up to date and visible.
  • Providing more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection.

5.4 Handling goods, merchandise and other materials

Objective: To reduce transmission through contact with objects that come in the store.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Encouraging increased hand-washing and introducing more hand-washing facilities for workers and customers or providing hand sanitiser where this is not practical.

  2. Limiting customer handling of merchandise, for example, through different display methods, new signage or rotation of high-touch stock.

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

  4. Encouraging contactless purchasing and refunds.

  5. Considering the storing of items that have been returned in a container or separate room for 48 hours, or cleaning such items with usual cleaning products, before displaying them on the shop floor. Materials used for cleaning can be disposed of normally.

  6. Providing guidance to how workers can safely assist customers with handling large item purchases.

  7. Considering placing protective coverings on large items that may require customer testing or use, for example, furniture, beds or seats. Ensuring frequent cleaning between uses, using usual cleaning products.

  8. Cleaning exterior and interior touch-points after each customer use/handover, for example, rental equipment, and test drive and rental vehicles.

  9. Quarantining stock in the warehouse before it is delivered to site and quarantining any returned goods from visitors.

5.5 Heritage considerations for all locations

It is especially important that the cleaning and disinfecting processes and regimes for historic buildings and structures are given additional consideration compared to modern buildings. This is because some historic surfaces are vulnerable to damage through inappropriate cleaning, for instance the surfaces that staff and visitors may come into contact with, such as staircase handrails, may be damaged by certain chemicals (concentrated bleach being one). So consider alternative approaches that will achieve the same results; eg leaving an appropriate period of time before the area is accessed again (this is likely to be particularly relevant for some places of worship), using appropriate cleaning materials, or temporary non-damaging covers that can be put over the sensitive surfaces which can then be subject to standard cleaning regimes. Historic England has specific advice.

It may be that alternative routes around the building or site will allow those sensitive areas to be avoided, or some rooms or spaces may need to be placed temporarily off-limits. Signposting these changes, and explaining why the changes are necessary will help people, especially visitors or occasional volunteers, understand the reasoning and need for these measures.

6. Personal protective equipment (PPE) and face coverings

In this section

PPE protects the user against health or safety risks at work. It can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment, such as face masks.

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

At the start of this document we described the steps you need to take to manage COVID-19 risk in the workplace. This includes working from home and staying 2m away from each other in the workplace if at all possible.When managing the risk of COVID-19, additional PPE beyond what you usually wear is not beneficial. This is because COVID-19 is a different type of risk to the risks you normally face in a workplace, and needs to be managed through social distancing, hygiene and fixed teams or partnering, not through the use of PPE.

The exception is clinical settings, like a hospital, or a small handful of other roles for which Public Health England advises use of PPE, for example, first responders and immigration enforcement officers. If you are in one of these groups you should refer to the advice at:

Workplaces should not encourage the precautionary use of extra PPE to protect against COVID-19 outside clinical settings or when responding to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.

Unless you are in a situation where the risk of COVID-19 transmission is very high, your risk assessment should reflect the fact that the role of PPE in providing additional protection is extremely limited. However, if your risk assessment does show that PPE is required, then you must provide this PPE free of charge to workers who need it. Any PPE provided must fit properly.

6.1 Face coverings

There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not developed symptoms.

A face covering can be very simple and may be worn in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible. It just needs to cover your mouth and nose. It is not the same as a face mask, such as the surgical masks or respirators used by health and care workers. Similarly, face coverings are not the same as the PPE used to manage risks like dust and spray in an industrial context. Supplies of PPE, including face masks, must continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings like those exposed to dust hazards.

It is important to know that the evidence of the benefit of using a face covering to protect others is weak and the effect is likely to be small, therefore face coverings are not a replacement for the other ways of managing risk, including minimising time spent in contact, using fixed teams and partnering for close-up work, and increasing hand and surface washing. These other measures remain the best ways of managing risk in the workplace and government would therefore not expect to see employers relying on face coverings as risk management for the purpose of their health and safety assessments.

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.

Wearing a face covering is required by law when travelling as a passenger on public transport in England. Some people don’t have to wear a face covering including for health, age or equality reasons. Elsewhere in England it is optional and is not required by law, including in the workplace. If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and before and after taking them off.

Employers should support their workers in using face coverings safely if they choose to wear one. This means telling workers:

  • wash your 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 your face or face covering, as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands
  • change your face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it
  • continue to wash your hands regularly
  • change and wash your face covering daily
  • if the material is washable, wash in line with manufacturer’s instructions. If it’s not washable, dispose of it carefully in your usual waste
  • practise social distancing wherever possible

You can make face coverings at home. Find guidance on how to wear and make a face covering on GOV.UK.

7. Workforce management

In this section

7.1 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, 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 find ways to remove direct contact such as by using drop-off points or transfer zones.

  3. You should 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.

7.2 Work-related travel

7.2.1 Cars, accommodation and visits

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. Minimising non-essential travel – consider remote options first.

  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. Where workers are required to stay away from their home, centrally logging the stay and making sure any overnight accommodation meets social distancing guidelines.

  5. Avoid using public transport, and aim to walk, cycle, or drive instead. If using public transport is necessary, wearing a face covering is mandatory, unless you are exempt for health, disability or other reasons.

7.2.2 Deliveries to other sites

Objective: To help workers delivering to other sites such as factories, logistics sites or customers’ premises to maintain social distancing and hygiene practices.

Steps that will usually be needed:

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

  2. Maintaining consistent pairing where two-person deliveries are required.

  3. 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 worker and worker representatives through existing communication routes and worker representatives 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.

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 production schedules, breakdowns or materials shortages to reduce the need for face-to-face communications.

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

  6. You may consider running a behaviour change campaign to help embed the right health and hygiene behaviours in your staff.

8. Inbound and outbound goods

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

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Revising pick-up and drop-off collection points, procedures, signage and markings.

  2. Minimising unnecessary contact at gatehouse security, yard and warehouse. For example, non-contact deliveries where the nature of the product allows for use of electronic pre-booking.

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

  4. Where possible and safe, having single workers load or unload vehicles.

  5. Where possible, using the same pairs of people for loads where more than one is needed.

  6. Enabling drivers to access welfare facilities when required, consistent with other guidance.

  7. Encouraging drivers to stay in their vehicles where this does not compromise their safety and existing safe working practice.

9. Temporary works at historic sites

In this section

Where physical alterations are necessary that affect a listed building or scheduled monument, listed building consent (LBC) or scheduled monument consent (SMC) will be required. However, it is the government’s view that temporary works that may be necessary in order to allow heritage sites to function safely in response to COVID-19, can be carried out in ways that will not require consent.

There are a number of ways in which physical interventions can be undertaken without damaging the historic fabric of listed buildings, and which do not affect what is important about a place (the ‘special interest’ in the case of a listed building).

Remember that many places of worship are exempt from the LBC system as they have a parallel system of management in place. In such cases reference will need to be made to the particular management system in place. Most interventions to scheduled monuments will require SMC to be obtained in advance (see 9.2). Regardless of the need for LBC/SMC, planning permission may also be required for some works and, in relation to signage, advertisement consent may also be required. If an operator is in any doubt about whether consent or permission are required, they are strongly advised to discuss the situation with the local planning authority, or Historic England in relation to SMCs.

Temporary structures such as gazebos in the grounds of designated heritage assets, or in registered parks and gardens, that are erected to provide shelter for queuing visitors will not need LBC but may require planning permission in some circumstances. General (non-COVID-specific) advice on temporary structures for events is available on the Historic England website. Care will be needed to ensure that these are not located in archaeologically sensitive areas because the insertion of spikes and fixings, and their removal, may damage underlying archaeology.

Government guidance may change in future so a good new operating plan will need to be flexible to allow for adaptation in light of updated guidance.

9.1 Listed Buildings

As long as no permanent damage is caused, examples of where LBC is unlikely to be needed include:

  • the addition of temporary screens to protect staff
  • the temporary covering of surfaces
  • temporary floor markings and signage carried out in a way which does no damage to the listed building
  • the boxing in of specific especially sensitive features
  • the addition of temporary lightweight shelter structures (such as gazebos or marquees) that are attached to listed buildings in ways that do not damage the historic fabric
  • the addition of temporary ramps to allow new accessible routes for staff, customers or visitors
  • the addition of temporary signs that do not damage any underlying sensitive historic surface to allow new routes to be indicated
  • the addition of temporary freestanding barriers, signs and hand sanitiser stations

There may be occasions where more invasive, non-reversible, works are necessary which would require LBC. Examples include:

  • the insertion of safety screens or barriers that remove or cut through historic detailing such as decorative cornices or coving or where chases are cut into historic wall surfaces
  • removing or altering features such as historic handrails, even if for a temporary period
  • signage that is intended to be permanent and which affects the physical fabric and/or affects the visual appearance of the structure
  • widening doors, making new openings, inserting permanent ramps, removing stairs or other permanent alterations for new staff, customer or visitor flows
  • extensive nail or screw holes made into important historic fabric in order to secure screens, barriers or other structures

General advice on the need for consent is available from the Historic England website. Some works may also require planning permission and some new signage may require advertisement consent.

It is not possible to provide a definitive list of works requiring consent because historic buildings and sites vary so much. In these specific circumstances related to recovery from COVID-19, local planning authorities may choose to apply the consent and permission systems flexibly, with the benefit of appropriate specialist advice.

In the case of churches where the religious group or denomination benefits from ecclesiastical exemption, works to listed churches are controlled by the denomination, except where the works need planning permission (mostly works to the exteriors of churches). The denomination’s special advisers will be able to advise the congregations of those churches as to which works need consent, and may also be able to advise on appropriate relaxations of the system in some generic circumstances.

9.2 Scheduled Monuments

People considering works to a Scheduled Monuments (temporary or otherwise) should contact the relevant Historic England regional office, where staff will be able to provide more advice, for example by suggesting alternative ways in which COVID-19 mitigation measures might be achieved without the need for consent, for example by locating them away from the monument.

9.3 Other heritage sites

Some parts and key elements of World Heritage Sites may also have a national designation and therefore this guidance applies to them. Extensive World Heritage Sites, such as the City of Bath, will contain many individual historic commercial premises, attractions and publicly accessible historic spaces.

It is the responsibility of individual operators to assess their site to determine whether it is safe to allow access, overarching bodies such as local authorities, or World Heritage Site Coordinators and their Steering Groups, might wish to provide some additional advice relevant to the specific site. Such advice might suggest standard wording for signage, or remind the public about their personal responsibility when visiting without compromising their safety or that of others.

Marine sites should also be considered. Wrecks may be designated under either the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 (PoWA), the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986 (PoWRA) or as Scheduled Monuments. All professional and recreational divers should comply with relevant Health and Safety Executive regulations and training body guidance as applicable. Social distancing measures will need to be considered at dive centres and dive boat transit for both crew and divers.

Operators and owners are reminded that it is an offence to carry out unauthorised works to a listed building, a scheduled monument or a protected wreck, so if in any doubt, they need to speak to the local planning authority (in the case of listed buildings) or Historic England (in the case of scheduled monuments or protected wreck sites). They should also speak to the Marine Management Organisation in relation to works concerning wreck sites, even if not designated.

9.4 Other heritage considerations for temporary works

The risk assessment will record what measures need to be put in place, whether changes to processes or physical alterations to heritage assets. Regular reviews of any modifications that have been made will ensure their effectiveness is checked and that the measures are not causing any permanent damage to the historic fabric. It is the responsibility of the site operator to continue to carry out those assessments.

9.5 HMRC requirements for conditional exemption

As a temporary measure, homeowners will not be considered to have broken their agreement if they are an owner of a national heritage property who closes it, or delays its opening to later in 2020.

When government advice changes, it is expected that properties will be open later in the year to make up for any lost days, if possible.

Where to obtain further guidance

CPNI advice:

NaCTSO advice



Common areas Refers to areas and amenities which are provided for the common use of more than one person including canteens, reception areas, meeting rooms, areas of worship, toilets, gardens, fire escapes, kitchens, fitness facilities, store rooms, laundry facilities.
Clinically extremely vulnerable people Refers to people who have specific underlying health conditions that make them extremely vulnerable to severe illness if they contract COVID-19. Clinically extremely vulnerable people will have received a letter telling them they are in this group, or will have been told by their GP or specialist doctor. Who is ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’?
Clinically vulnerable people Refers to people who may be at increased risk from COVID-19, including those aged 70 or over and those with some underlying health conditions. Who is ‘clinically vulnerable’?
‘Support Bubble’ The term ‘support bubble’ refers to single adult households, where adults live alone or with dependent children only, expanding their support network so that it includes one other household of any size. Further guidance on meeting people from outside your household.