Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services

Guidance for people who work in or run restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes or takeaways.

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

This guide applies to COVID Alert Level 1 (Medium). If you’re in an area in COVID Alert Level 2 (High) or 3 (Very High), check local restrictions.

Please read the priority actions and full guidance below.

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

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

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

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

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

  4. Make sure everyone is social distancing. Make it easy for everyone to do so by putting up signs or introducing a one way system that your customers can follow. Enable people in the same party who do not live together to remain a safe distance apart.

  5. Increase ventilation by keeping doors and windows open where possible and running ventilation systems at all times.

  6. Take part in NHS Test and Trace by keeping a record of all your customers for 21 days. From 18 September, this will be enforced in law. Some exemptions apply. Check ‘Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace’ for details.

  7. Turn people with coronavirus symptoms away. If a staff member (or someone in their household) or a customer has a persistent cough, a high temperature or has lost their sense of taste or smell, they should be isolating. By law from 28 September employers must not require someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.

Eight more things to be aware of if your business is a restaurant, pub, bar or takeaway:

  • Let customers know that by law they can only visit in groups of up to 6 people (unless they are visiting as a household or support bubble which is larger than 6). Check with customers on arrival who they are with and how many people will be attending. Put up signs to remind customers to only interact with their group. Businesses could be fined for allowing customers to socialise in groups larger than 6.
  • Ensure staff wear face coverings. By law, staff in hospitality settings must wear face coverings when in customer facing areas, unless they have an exemption.
  • Close between 10pm and 5am. This is required by law. Delivery services can continue after 10pm.
  • Ensure all customers remain seated. Prevent social contact by ensuring customers sit down to eat and drink at the venue. This is required by law.
  • If you sell alcohol, provide table service only. Take orders from seated customers, instead of at a bar or counter. This is required by law.
  • Keep groups apart. Space out tables, consider using barriers between groups, and manage the number of customers in the venue. This is required by law. Manage the number of customers in the venue.
  • Manage food and drink service safely. Avoid situations where customers need to collect their own cutlery and condiments. Avoid contact between staff and customers.
  • Lower music and other background noise. Prevent shouting, singing and dancing in the venue by making sure music and broadcasts are played at a low volume.

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

Introduction

The UK is currently experiencing a public health emergency as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, it is critical that businesses take a range of measures to keep everyone safe. This document is to help you understand how to work safely and keep your customers safe during this pandemic, ensuring as many people as possible comply with social distancing guidelines (2m apart, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable). 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 that you can work safely and support your workers’ and customers’ health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic and not contribute to the spread of the virus. We know that many of these businesses are currently closed, by government regulation, for their usual service - 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 others, such as workers and customers.

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.

We expect that this document will be updated over time. This version is up to date as of 15 October 2020. You can check for updates at www.gov.uk/workingsafely. If you have any feedback for us, please email safer.workplaces@beis.gov.uk.

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 work in or run restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services.

Employers also providing accommodation services should refer to guidance on Working Safely during COVID-19 in hotels and other accommodation. Employers also providing entertainment may wish to refer to guidance published by the Department of Media, Culture and Sport.

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. They 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, entertainment licensing and regulations, employment or equalities and it is important that as a business or an employer you continue to comply with your existing obligations, including those relating to individuals with protected characteristics. It contains non- statutory guidance to take into account when complying with these existing obligations. When considering how to apply this guidance, take into account agency workers, contractors and other people, as well as your employees.

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

What do we mean by ‘restaurant, pubs, bars and takeaway services’?

This guidance applies to any food preparation or service setting where food and drink is sold for consumption at venues or for takeaway or delivery. For example:

  • restaurants
  • pubs
  • bars
  • beer gardens
  • food to go
  • cafes
  • self contained hospitality accessed from outside a closed venue
  • social and similar clubs operating as bars and restaurants
  • mobile catering and contact catering or similar environments where food and drink is purchased and consumed at a venue in their indoor or outdoor areas or offered for takeaway or delivery

This guidance also considers entertainment in restaurants, pubs and bars and similar venues where food or drink is served, provided they meet current government criteria for safe reopening.

It does not apply to food preparation or food service in clinical or healthcare settings.

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, and in particular businesses 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. You should also consider the security implications of any decisions and control measures you intend to put in place, as any revisions could present new or altered security risks that may require mitigation. 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 5 workers, or are self-employed, you don’t have to write anything down as part of your risk assessment. Your risk assessment will help you decide whether you have done everything you need to. The Health and Safety Executive has guidance for business on how to manage risk and risk assessment at work along with specific advice to help control the risk of coronavirus in workplaces.

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. You are encouraged to have individual discussions with your workers where reasonable, including those who are clinically extremely vulnerable and therefore may be returning to the workplace, to consider any uncertainties they have about precautions in place to make the workplace COVID-secure. 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.

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. These actions include closure of venues under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations 2020. 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 2 years. There is also a wider system of enforcement, which includes specific obligations and conditions for licensed premises.

To complement these measures, additional ‘Covid-secure’ regulations came into force from 18 September.

The regulations require venues providing food and drink for consumption on their premises to implement specific aspects of this guidance, or face a fixed penalty notice of up to £10,000.

The regulations require that businesses must:​

  • not accept a table booking for a group of more than 6 individuals or admit a group of more than 6 people – exemptions apply​
  • take reasonable steps to prevent separate groups of 6 from mingling with each other​ both within indoor and outdoor settings
  • ensure that tables of different groups are spaced 2m apart, or 1m plus mitigations, such as screens or barriers​

To address increasing virus transmission rates, from 24 September, additional legal restrictions will apply:

  • businesses selling food or drink (including cafés, bars, pubs, restaurants and takeaways) must be closed between 10pm and 5am. Delivery services (including drive-through service) are exempt and can continue after 10pm provided they are not allowing customers on the premises. Bars and cafés within open premises, such as hotels or theatres, must also close at 10pm
  • in venues which sell alcohol, food and drink must be ordered by, and served to, customers who are seated. This means that a business that sells alcohol must introduce systems to take orders from seated customers, instead of at a bar or counter. This applies to both indoor and outdoor settings. This has been introduced to prevent crowding and social contact in licensed premises
  • all businesses selling food or drink must ensure that customers only consume food or drink while seated. This means that in unlicensed premises, food and drink can be purchased at a counter, but customers must sit down to consume it, even in outdoor settings

From 28 September, businesses will face stricter legal measures to make their premises COVID-secure. COVID-secure regulations have been updated to require businesses selling food or drink to implement specific aspects of this guidance or face a fixed penalty notice of up to £10,000.

From 28 September, businesses must:

  • remind customers and staff to wear face coverings where they are required, for example, through use of signage

Also from 28 September employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.

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.

From 14 October, if you live, work or volunteer in an area that is part of Local COVID Alert Level: High or Local COVID Alert Level: Very High, there are additional restrictions which apply to you, which may include requiring certain businesses to close.

Please check the local COVID alert levels page to find out what level your area is in and the additional restrictions that apply.

Employers must follow all instructions from authorities in the event of new local restrictions.

How to raise a concern:

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

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

1.1 Managing risk

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

Employers have a duty to reduce workplace risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures. Employers must work with any other employers or contractors sharing the workplace so that everybody’s health and safety is protected.

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

  1. Ensuring both workers and customers who feel unwell stay at home and do not attend the venue. From September 28, by law businesses may not require a self-isolating employee to come into work.

  2. Increasing the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning in every workplace.

  3. Businesses and workplaces should make every reasonable effort to ensure their employees can work safely. Any office worker who can work from home should do so. Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work, if COVID-19 Secure guidelines are followed closely. When in the workplace, everyone should make every reasonable effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines set out by the government (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable). From 1 August, clinically extremely vulnerable individuals, who were previously advised to shield at home, can go to the workplace as long as it is COVID-secure, but should carry on working from home wherever possible.

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

    Further mitigating actions include:

    – further increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning
    – keeping the activity time involved as short as possible
    – using screens or barriers to separate 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)

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

  6. 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.

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

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.

1.2 Sharing your risk assessment

You should 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.

2. Keeping your customers and visitors safe

In this section

2.1 Keeping customers and visitors safe

Objective: To minimise the risk of transmission and protect the health of customers and visitors in restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway venues.

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

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

  1. Ask 1 member of every party who visits your premises to provide their contact details to assist NHS Test and Trace. Refuse entry to those who refuse to provide contact details.

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

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

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

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

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

To prevent the spread of the virus, there are legal limits on how many people someone can spend time with in a social group at any one time. This will vary depending on local restrictions. If you live, work or volunteer in an area that is part of Local COVID Alert Level Medium, whether indoors or outdoors people from different households must not meet in groups of larger than 6. This limit does not apply to meetings of a single household group or support bubble where it consists of more than 6 people.​

Venues following COVID-19 secure guidelines can host more than 6 people in total, but no one should visit or socialise in a group of greater than 6. It is also important that people from different households or support bubbles meeting in a single group remain socially distanced, in both indoor and outdoor settings. The ‘COVID secure’ regulations require that hospitality venues take all reasonable steps to ensure this ‘rule of 6’ is upheld. ​

If you live, work or volunteer in an area that is part of Local COVID Alert Level: High or Local COVID Alert Level: Very High, there are additional restrictions which apply to you, which may include requiring certain businesses to close. Please check the local COVID alert levels page to find out what level your area is in and the additional restrictions that apply.

Find further 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.

Businesses should not intentionally facilitate gatherings between a greater number of people than is permitted in their local area; and should take steps to ensure customer compliance with the limits on gatherings.

Steps could include:

  1. Informing customers of guidance through signage or notices at the point of booking or on arrival.

  2. Ensuring staff are familiar with the guidance, and if any local restrictions are in place.

  3. Asking customers for verbal confirmation of the number of people in their party at the point of arrival.

Businesses that are found to operate in a way that increases the risk of transmission (for example by facilitating indoor gatherings between multiple households) can be closed by Local Authorities under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations 2020.

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.

Steps could include:

  1. 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.

  2. Staggering entry times with other venues and taking steps to avoid queues building up in surrounding areas.

  3. Arranging one-way travel routes between transport hubs and venues.

  4. 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.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Calculating the maximum number of customers that can reasonably follow social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) at the venue. Taking into account total indoor and outdoor space, specific venue characteristics such as furniture as well as likely pinch points and busy areas.

  2. Reconfiguring indoor and outdoor seating and tables to maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) between customers of different households or support bubbles. For example, increasing the distance between tables. This is required by law under the ‘Covid-secure’ regulations.

  3. 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.

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

  5. Reducing the need for customers to queue, but where this is unavoidable, discouraging customers from queuing indoors and using outside spaces for queueing where available and safe. For example, using some car parks and existing outdoor services areas, excluding disabled car parking bays.

  6. Managing outside queues to ensure they do not cause a risk to individuals, other businesses or additional security risks, for example by introducing queuing systems, having staff direct customers and protecting queues from traffic by routing them behind permanent physical structures such as street furniture, bike racks, bollards or putting up barriers.

  7. Providing clear guidance on social distancing and hygiene to people on arrival, for example, signage, visual aids and before arrival, such as by phone, on the website or by email.

  8. Managing the entry of customers, and the number of customers at a venue, so that all indoor customers are seated with appropriate distancing, and those outdoors have appropriately spaced seating or standing room. This is to ensure that the venue, including areas of congestion does not become overcrowded. Managing entry numbers can be done, for example, through reservation systems, social distancing markings, having customers queue at a safe distance for toilets or bringing payment machines to customers, where possible.

  9. Ensuring customers are compliant with rules on social contact. This is required under the ‘Covid-secure’ regulations. For example, inform customers of restrictions through signage or notices at the point of booking or on arrival, and ask customers for verbal confirmation of the number of people in their party at the point of arrival. Whether indoors or outdoors people from different households must not meet in groups of larger than 6. This limit does not apply to meetings of a single household group or support bubble where it consists of more than 6 people.​

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

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

  12. Ensure indoor, outdoor and soft play areas are operated safely by following guidance for managing playgrounds and guidance for indoor areas and soft play.

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

  14. Planning for maintaining social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) in the event of adverse weather conditions, being clear that customers cannot seek shelter indoors unless social distancing can be maintained.

  15. 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.

  16. Determining if schedules for essential services and contractor visits can be revised to reduce interaction and overlap between people, for example, carrying out services at night.

  17. Preventing customers from dancing on the premises, except for a couple celebrating their wedding or civil partnership. This is required by law under the COVID-secure regulations.

2.2 Managing service of food and drink at a venue

Objective: To manage interactions at the venue resulting from service of food and drink. From 24 September, all businesses selling food or drink must ensure that customers only consume food or drink while seated.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Maintaining social distancing (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) from customers when taking orders from customers.

  2. Using social distance markings to remind customers to maintain social distancing (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) between customers of different households or support bubbles.

  3. Minimising customer self service of food, cutlery and condiments to reduce risk of transmission. For example, providing cutlery and condiments only when food is served.

  4. Providing only disposable condiments or cleaning non- disposable condiment containers after each use.

  5. Reducing the number of surfaces touched by both staff and customers. For example, asking customers to remain at a table where possible, or to not lean on counters when collecting takeaways.

  6. Encouraging contactless payments where possible and adjusting location of card readers to social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable).

  7. Minimising contact between front of house workers and customers at points of service where appropriate. For example, using screens or tables at tills and counters to maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable).

  8. Ensuring all outdoor areas, with particular regard to covered areas, have sufficient ventilation. For example, increasing the open sides of a covered area.

  9. From 24 September, in venues which sell alcohol, food and drink must be ordered from, and served to customers who are seated, in both indoor and outdoor settings. This means that a business that sells alcohol must introduce systems to take orders from seated customers, instead of at a bar or counter. Payment should also be taken at the table wherever possible, but may be taken at a bar or counter if safety measures are in place.

  10. From 24 September, all businesses selling food or drink must ensure that customers only consume food or drink while seated, in both indoor and outdoor settings. This may require providing additional seating areas, and asking customers to sit down to eat or drink.

  11. From 14 October, pubs and bars in Very High Alert areas must close unless they operate as if they were a restaurant. This means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. They may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal. Please check the local COVID alert levels page to find out what level your local areas is in and whether additional restrictions apply.​

2.2.1 Takeaway or delivery

Objective: To manage interactions at the venue resulting from selling food and drinks for takeaway or delivery.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. See government guidance on food safety for food delivery.

  2. Encouraging customers to order online, on apps or over the telephone to reduce queues and stagger pick-up times.

  3. Minimising contact between kitchen workers and front of house workers, delivery drivers or riders, for example, by having zones from which delivery drivers can collect packaged food items.

  4. Limiting access to venues for people waiting for or collecting takeaways. Setting out clear demarcation for social distancing (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) for delivery drivers, riders or customers queuing. Asking customers to wait outside or in their cars.

  5. Working with your local authority, landlord and neighbours to ensure designated waiting areas do not obstruct public spaces.

2.2.2 Service at the venue

Objective: To manage interactions at the venue resulting from service of food and drink in indoor and outdoor services areas.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Encouraging use of contactless ordering from tables where available. For example, through an ordering app.

  2. Adjusting service approaches to minimise staff contact with customers. Table service for ordering, service and payment must be used in venues which sell alcohol, whether indoors or outdoors. Consider further measures such as assigning a single staff member per table.

  3. Adjusting processes to prevent customers from congregating at points of service. For example, having only staff collect and return empty glasses to the bar.

  4. Minimising contact between kitchen workers and front of house workers. For example, by having zones from which front of house staff can collect food.

  5. Encouraging use of outdoor areas for service where possible. For example, increasing outdoor seating or outdoor points of service such as stalls.

  6. Not allowing customers to consume food or drink on the premises, in both indoor and outdoor settings, unless they are seated.

2.3 Ventilation

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

Ventilation into the building should be optimised to ensure the maximum fresh air supply is provided to all areas of the facility wherever possible.

Ventilation systems should provide a good supply of fresh air.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Increasing the existing ventilation rate by adjusting the fan speed.

  2. Operating the ventilation system when there are people in the building.

  3. Monitoring and managing filters in accordance to manufacturer instructions.

  4. Keeping doors and windows open if possible.

  5. Using ceiling fans to improve air circulation, provided there is good ventilation.

2.4 Customer toilets

Objective: To ensure that toilets are kept open and to ensure/promote good hygiene, social distancing, and cleanliness in toilet facilities. Public toilets, portable toilets and toilets inside premises should be kept open and carefully managed to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

Steps that will usually be needed:

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

  2. Consider the use of social distancing marking in areas where queues normally form, and the adoption of a limited entry approach, with 1 in, 1 out (whilst avoiding the creation of additional bottlenecks).

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

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

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

  6. Special care should be taken for cleaning of portable toilets and larger toilet blocks.

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

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

2.5 Providing and explaining available guidance

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

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Providing clear guidance on expected customer behaviours, social distancing and hygiene to people on or before arrival, for example on online booking forms and on-site signage and visual aids. Explaining to customers that failure to observe safety measures will result in service not being provided.

  2. Providing written or spoken communication of the latest guidelines to both workers and customers inside and outside the venue. You should display posters or information setting out how customers 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. Where necessary, informing customers that police and the local authorities have the powers to enforce requirements in relation to social distancing and may instruct customers to disperse, leave an area, issue a fixed penalty notice or take further enforcement action.

  4. Informing customers that they should be prepared to remove face coverings safely if asked to do so by police officers and staff for the purposes of identification.

  5. Encouraging workers to remind customers to follow social distancing advice and clean their hands regularly.

  6. Where visits to venues are required, for example, inbound supplier deliveries or safety critical visitors, providing site guidance on social distancing and hygiene on or before arrival.

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

3. Who should go to work?

In this section

Objective: Employers should ensure workplaces are safe for anyone who cannot work from home. It is recognised that for people who work in these types of workplace, it is often not possible to work from home.

In order to keep the virus under control, it is important that people work safely. At the present time, office workers who can work from home should do so. Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work. The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-19 Secure guidelines are followed closely. Employers should consult with their employees to determine who can come into the workplace safely taking account of a person’s journey, caring responsibilities, protected characteristics, and other individual circumstances. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk. Businesses should consider the impact of workplaces reopening on local transport and take appropriate mitigating actions (e.g. staggered start and finish times for staff). When employers consider that workers should come into their place of work, then this will need to be reflected in the COVID-19 workplace risk assessment and actions taken to manage the risks of transmission in line with this guidance.

The decision to return to the workplace should be made in meaningful consultation with workers (including through trade unions or employee representative groups where they exist). A meaningful consultation means engaging in an open conversation about returning to the workplace before any decision to return has been made. This should include a discussion of the timing and phasing of any return and any risk mitigations that have been implemented. It is vital employers engage with workers to ensure they feel safe returning to work, and they should not force anyone into an unsafe workplace.

Steps that will usually be needed:

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

  2. Planning for a phased return to work for people 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 support those who are at higher risk of infection and/or an adverse outcome if infected.

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

The higher-risk groups include those who:

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

You should consider this in your risk assessment.

From 1 August, clinically extremely vulnerable individuals can return to their workplace providing COVID-secure guidelines are in place but should work from home wherever possible. If extremely clinically vulnerable individuals cannot work from home, they should be offered the option of the safest available on-site roles, enabling them to maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable). It may be appropriate for clinically extremely vulnerable individuals to take up an alternative role or adjusted working patterns temporarily.

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. Discussing the safest possible roles for clinically extremely vulnerable workers who are returning to the workplace.

3.2 People who need to self-isolate

Objective: To make sure individuals who are advised to stay at home under existing government guidance to stop infection spreading do not physically come to work. This includes individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19, 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 service.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. By law, employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.

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

  3. See current guidance for employers and employees relating to statutory sick pay due to coronavirus.

  4. Ensuring any workers who have symptoms of COVID-19 - a high temperature, new and persistent cough or anosmia - however mild, should self-isolate for at least 10 days from when the symptoms started. Workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 should self-isolate for at least 10 days starting from the day the test was taken. Where a worker has tested positive whilst not experiencing symptoms but develops symptoms during the isolation period, they should restart the 10-day isolation period from the day the symptoms developed. This only applies to those who begin their isolation on or after 30 July 2020.

  5. 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 treat everyone in your workplace equally.

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

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

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

Steps that will usually be needed:

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

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

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

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

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

4. Social distancing for workers

In this section:

Objective: Ensuring workers maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) wherever possible, including 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 can be redesigned to maintain a 2m distance or 1m with risk mitigations.

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 workers from each other and workers from customers at points of service
  • 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)

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

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 and workers should be specifically reminded.

4.1 Coming to work and leaving work

Objective: To maintain social distancing wherever possible, including on arrival and departure and to ensure 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. Reducing 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.

  4. Using markings to guide staff coming into or leaving the building.

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

  6. Providing storage for staff clothes and bags.

  7. Requesting staff change into work uniforms on site using appropriate facilities/changing areas, where social distancing and hygiene guidelines can be met.

  8. Washing uniforms on site, where appropriate, or requesting workers to regularly wash uniforms at home.

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

4.2 Moving around venues

Objective: To maintain social distancing wherever possible, while people travel through the venue.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Reducing movement by discouraging non-essential trips within venues, for example, restricting access to some areas, encouraging use of radios, telephones or other electronic devices when sending orders from service areas to kitchens, where permitted, and cleaning them between use.

  2. Reducing job and location rotation, for example, assigning workers to specific areas or keeping temporary personnel dedicated to one venue.

  3. Introducing more one-way flow routes through buildings through signage that clearly indicate the direction of flow.

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

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

  6. Managing use of high traffic areas including corridors, lifts and staircases to maintain social distancing.

4.3 Working areas

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

For people who work in one place, for example waiter captains or cashiers, working areas should allow them to maintain social distancing from one another as well as the public.

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

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

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Reviewing layouts and processes to allow staff to work further apart from each other.

  2. Only where it is not possible to move working areas further apart, arranging people to work side-by-side or facing away from each other rather than face-to-face. Where this is not possible, using screens to separate people from each other.

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

4.4 Food preparation areas

Objective: To maintain social distancing and reduce contact where possible in kitchens and other food preparation areas.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. It is not known to be transmitted by exposure to food.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Following government guidance on managing food preparation and food service areas.

  2. Allowing kitchen access to as few people as possible.

  3. Minimising interaction between kitchen staff and other workers, including when on breaks.

  4. Putting teams into shifts to restrict the number of workers interacting with each other.

  5. Spacing working areas to maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) as much as possible, recognising the difficulty of moving equipment such as sinks, hobs and ovens. Consider cleanable panels to separate working areas in larger kitchens.

  6. Providing floor marking to signal social distancing (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable).

  7. Using ‘one way’ traffic flows to minimise contact.

  8. Minimising access to walk-in pantries, fridges and freezers, for example, with only one person being able to access these areas at one point in time.

  9. Minimising contact at ‘handover’ points with other staff, such as when presenting food to serving staff and delivery drivers.

4.5 Entertainment

Objective: To maintain social distancing when providing entertainment within or outside restaurants, pubs, bars and similar venues that serve food or drink.

For many restaurants, pubs and bars, providing entertainment such as recorded music, live sports broadcasts, quizzes, live musicians or comedians are an important part of their business.

From 15 August, venues may host socially distanced indoor and outdoor performances, though we encourage performances to continue to take place outdoors wherever possible. Venues should take account of the performing arts guidance in organising performances.

All venues should ensure that steps are taken to mitigate the increased risk of virus transmission associated with aerosol production from raised voices, such as when speaking loudly or singing loudly, particularly in confined and poorly ventilated spaces. This includes, but is not limited to, lowering the volume of background music, and refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, particularly if played at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult. Evidence on the most effective steps that can be taken to limit the transmission of the virus continues to be regularly reviewed. This guidance may be updated in the future in response to changing scientific understanding.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Determining the viability of entertainment and maximum audience numbers consistent with social distancing outside and within venues and other safety considerations.

  2. Preventing entertainment, such as broadcasts, that is likely to encourage audience behaviours increasing transmission risk. For example, loud background music, communal dancing, group singing or chanting.

  3. Reconfiguring indoor entertainment spaces to ensure customers are seated rather than standing. For example, repurposing dance floors for customer seating.

  4. Encouraging use of online ticketing and online or contactless payments for entertainment where possible.

  5. Communicating clearly to customers the arrangements for entertainment and clearly supervising with additional staff if appropriate.

4.6 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 guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable).

  3. Avoiding transmission during meetings, for example, from sharing pens, documents 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, using floor signage to help people maintain social distancing.

4.7 Back of house and common areas

Objective: To maintain social distancing while using common areas.

Steps that will usually be needed:

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

  2. Using safe outside areas for breaks.

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

  4. Installing screens to protect staff in front of house areas or serving customers at till points.

  5. Using social distance marking for other common areas such as toilets, showers, lockers and changing rooms and in any other areas where queues typically form.

4.8 Accidents, security and other incidents

Objective: To prioritise safety during incidents.

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

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

Steps that will usually be needed:

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

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

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

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

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

  6. Following government guidance on managing security risks.

5. Cleaning the workplace

In this section

5.1 Before reopening

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

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

Steps that will usually be needed:

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

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

  3. Following guidance on reopening food businesses.

  4. Following guidance on managing legionella risks.

5.2 Keeping the venue clean

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

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Following government guidance on cleaning food preparation and food service areas.

  2. Wedging doors open, where appropriate, to reduce touchpoints. This does not apply to fire doors.

  3. Frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly including counters, tills, and making sure there are adequate disposal arrangements for cleaning products.

  4. Cleaning surfaces and objects between each customer use. For example, cleaning tables, card machines, chairs, trays and laminated menus in view of customers before customer use.

  5. If you are cleaning after a known or suspected case of coronavirus then you should refer to the specific guidance.

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

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

5.3 Keeping the kitchen clean

Objective: To ensure the highest hygiene standards are operated in kitchen areas.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Recognising that cleaning measures are already stringent in kitchen areas, consider the need for additional cleaning and disinfection measures.

  2. Having bins for collection of used towels and staff overalls.

  3. Washing hands before handling plates and cutlery.

  4. Continuing high frequency of hand washing throughout the day.

5.4 Hygiene - handwashing, sanitation facilities and toilets

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

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Following government guidance on hygiene in food preparation and food service areas.

  2. Using signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique, the need to increase handwashing frequency, 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.

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

  4. Providing hand sanitiser in multiple locations in addition to washrooms.

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

  6. Enhancing cleaning for busy areas.

  7. Special care should be taken for cleaning of portable toilets.

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

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

  10. Washing hands after handling customer items and before moving onto another task. For example, after collecting used plates for cleaning and before serving food to another table.

5.5 Changing rooms and showers

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

Steps that will usually be needed:

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

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

5.6 Handling goods, merchandise and other materials, and onsite vehicles

Objective: To reduce transmission through contact with objects that come into the workplace and vehicles at the worksite.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Cleaning procedures for goods and merchandise entering the site.

  2. Cleaning procedures for the parts of shared equipment you touch after each use.

  3. Encouraging increased handwashing and introducing more handwashing facilities for workers handling goods and merchandise, or providing hand sanitiser where this is not practical.

  4. Regular cleaning of the inside of shared vehicles that workers may take home.

  5. Enhanced handling procedures of laundry to prevent potential contamination of surrounding surfaces, to prevent raising dust or dispersing the virus.

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 maintaining social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable). 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 is growing evidence that wearing a face covering in an enclosed space helps protect individuals and those around them from COVID-19.

By law, staff and customers of venues that provide food and drink will be required to wear a face covering, unless they have an exemption. By law, all businesses must remind customers and staff to wear a face covering where required (for example by displaying posters). You are expected to wear a face covering before entering any of these settings and must keep it on until you leave unless there is a reasonable excuse for removing it.

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.

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.

Face coverings are mandatory on public transport and for customers in a number of indoor premises including at pubs, bars, restaurants, cafés and takeaways. Face coverings may be removed when seated to eat or drink in a pub, bar, restaurant or café. You must put a face covering back on once you finish eating or drinking.

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

Businesses should take reasonable steps to encourage customer compliance for example through in store communications or notices at the entrance. If necessary, police can issue fines to members of the public for non-compliance. Businesses will not be required to provide face coverings for their customers.

Some people don’t have to wear a face covering including for health, age or equality reasons. No one who is exempt from wearing a face covering should be denied entry if they are not wearing one.

Employers must ensure all staff of venues that provide food and drink wear face coverings in areas that are open to the public and where they come or are likely to come within close contact of a member of the public, unless they have an exemption. Employers must not, by law, prevent their staff from wearing a face covering where they are required to do so.

Where face coverings are required for staff, businesses are expected to provide these as part of their health and safety obligations. However, staff are welcome to use their own face coverings if they choose.

If businesses have taken steps to create a physical barrier or screen between workers and members of the public then staff behind the barrier or screen will not be required to wear a face covering. Enforcement action can be taken if barriers and screens are in place which do not adequately mitigate risks.

Businesses already have legal obligations to protect their staff under existing employment law. This means taking appropriate steps to provide a safe working environment, which may include providing face coverings where appropriate, alongside other mitigations such as screens and social distancing Businesses should advise workers how to use face coverings safely.

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 before 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

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

7. Workforce management

In this section

7.1 Shift patterns and outbreaks

7.1.1 Shift patterns and working groups

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

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. As far as possible, where people 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. Considering where congestion caused by people flow and ‘pinch points’ can be improved. Using one-way systems, staggered shifts and assigned staff mealtimes are possible ways to minimise the risk of transmission.

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

7.1.2 Outbreaks in the workplace

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

Steps that will usually be needed:

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

  2. If there is more than one case of COVID-19 associated with your workplace, you should contact your local PHE health protection team to report the suspected outbreak. Find your local PHE health protection team.

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

7.2 Work-related travel

7.2.1 Cars, deliveries on motorcycles and bicycles, 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. Walking or cycling where possible. Where not possible, you can use public transport or drive. You must wear a face covering when using public transport.

  2. Minimising the number of people outside 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. Ensuring that delivery drivers or riders maintain good hygiene and wash their hands regularly.

7.2.2 Deliveries to other sites

Objective: To help workers delivering to other sites 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 customers.

  2. Maintaining consistent pairing where 2 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 workers 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.

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

  4. 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.

  5. Using visual communications, for example whiteboards or signage, to explain changes to rotas or stock shortages to reduce the need for face to face communications.

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, despatch areas.

Steps that will usually be needed:

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

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

  3. 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.

  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 1 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, such as preventing drive-aways.

  8. Creating one-way flow of traffic in stockrooms.

  9. Adjusting put-away and replenishment rules to create space for social distancing. Where social distancing cannot be maintained due to workplace design, sufficient mitigation strategies should be designed and implemented.

Where to obtain further guidance

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

Appendix

Definitions

Term Definition
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. 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’?
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.
Support bubbles 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. Meeting people from outside your household.

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