Over the past 7 weeks we have all felt the impact of COVID-19 and it is likely that we will keep feeling the impact into the next few months and years as we plan to rebuild businesses and our town.
The government published the Covid-19 Plan to Rebuild( a 60pg document) on Monday 11th May, in this update I have tried to distil and disseminate the information for you.
All the stages to recovery are dependent on a variety of factors, the furlough scheme which has already safeguarded over 6.3 million jobs is being extended in its current guise to July, then in a more flexible format to the beginning of October, which gives us an indication of when things might start reopening more widely.
It is due to a huge national effort the virus spread is starting to slow, so for that reason we must proceed with the utmost care and avoid undoing what we have achieved. Opening too early or too fast might create more infection cases and deaths however, saving lives has to be carefully balanced with saving livelihoods.
Optimising the social distancing measures:
This will mean different things to different businesses, therefore in practice, this means each business needs to create their strategy detailing how they will operate with social distancing measures in place, and if you can’t socially distance then how else could you help people to use your facilities/services safely. This could be through takeaway, delivery, mask-wearing, taking people’s temperatures, reducing capacity or disinfecting people as they enter and exit, through digital services.
The government refers to technologies enabling new ways of doing business. Therefore, businesses are being encouraged to think of new ways of doing business in order that they can continue in the post COVID world, good examples have been delivery and takeaway models, postal sales, businesses with outdoor space creating dining pods, online ordering, instore online ordering and apps, use of video conferencing and virtual meeting space. The possibilities are endless, however, if you are going to mix these with onsite customers then you will also need to create new protocols, staff training, perform thorough risk assessments and trial any new ways of working with staff before you let customers into your premises.
As part of your plan to open you need to be considering how you as a business can minimise the spread of the disease through continuing good hygiene practices, these will likely be in place for some time . The Government is now advising that people should aim to wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet. Areas for consideration are:
- Issuing of masks, gloves and PPE to staff and possibly customers depending on the type of venue (although understandably many trade bodies are resisting the idea of masks, you will have to make that decision based on your own risk assessment for your business, staff and customers welfare)
- Regular disinfecting of surfaces touched by others
- Installation of additional hand washing stations, or hand sanitiser points in building or on entry and exits
- Setting alarms to remind staff to wash their hands, at regular intervals such as every 20 minutes
- Providing and laundering uniforms (wash at 60 degrees or higher)
- Temperature checking staff at the beginning, middle and end of shifts
- Disinfecting shoes by providing a disinfectant trough and hand sanitiser on entry.
- Implementing additional cleansing routines of high footfall areas, toilets, entrances, exits, chairs and tables.
- New ways of ordering and food and drink collection
- Use of outdoor space rather than indoors space where possible
- Limiting the hours each staff member works front of house, perhaps supported by the new flexible furlough scheme
- Trying to coordinate your staff to work shifts in teams if at all possible, to limit the number of households coming into contact with each other
- If possible, designating a separate entrance and exit to your premises
Controls and managing risk:
Once you have set out your hygiene controls you need to ensure that any contact is as safe as possible, some of the following guidelines may help:
- Encouraging staff to self-isolate if they develop symptoms or have been in contact with someone who has symptoms or is confirmed as COVID positive
- Continually risk assessing your business for areas where there may be hygiene hotspots.
- Ensuring that your staff have as few as possible contacts to lower the risk. E.g set directional flow in your premises and or use tape on the floor to set out 2m distances, provide PPE for your staff, if you can’t set up social distancing measures due to the size of your premises, ensure that all customers and staff wear facemasks etc.
This is a phased plan with different measures being relaxed in different steps in order to minimise the spread of the virus and prevent a further spike in cases, thereby protecting the NHS and saving lives. Each step may involve adding new adjustments to the existing restrictions or taking some adjustments further. There are some overall timings that have been given by government but we must be prepared for these to change and for the potential for the phases to be delivered later in the year.
In the time between now until opening it is recommended that you create the following, if you haven’t already:
- A cash flow forecast that will see you through until the end of the year
- A strategy for reopening
- A risk assessment for reopening
- A staff training schedule
- A communication plan for closure and reopening
- A restocking strategy, including PPE, disinfectant, cleaning materials
- Internal design work to allow social distancing
- New safety guidelines that set out how each type of physical space can be adapted to operate safely
- Innovations you might want to trial to meet new guidelines
Social Distancing should be followed throughout.
Step 1: 13th May – return to work of Construction, Manufacturing, unlimited outdoor for recreational exercise. Limit travel of public transport.
Step 2: June (?) – Potential for some Primary School pupils to return to school and non food retail to open. Those who can’t work from home to go to work.
Step 3: July Some hospitality to open
Overall the government has committed to carefully phasing to test their ability to adopt the new COVID-19 Secure guidelines and has also committed to monitoring the effects of re-opening with a science led approach.
Today, Five new ministerial-led taskforces have been set up to develop plans for how and when closed sectors can reopen safely, following publication of the UK’s roadmap to rebuild Britain. Each taskforce will lead on developing new COVID-19 secure guidelines for the reopening of public places and businesses, where and when it is safe to do so.
The taskforces will look at the following sectors:
- pubs and restaurants
- non-essential retail
- recreation and leisure, including tourism, culture and heritage, libraries, entertainment and sport
- places of worship, including faith, community and public buildings
- international aviation, reflecting the unique challenges that sector is facing.
As business owners and managers or towns to prepare to reopen by optimising social distancing measures for staff and customers, create a reopening strategy, create a risk assessment and test it before you open, be serious about putting in additional hygiene measure for the long term, think innovatively, take as much support as is available to enable this to happen and respect the steps and timings to avoid enforcement, if in doubt please contact us if you’d like any further advice or support through this challenging time.
The Penwith Centre, Parade Street, Penzance TR18 4BU