Living with COVID-19 – ensure you’re protecting your business

 

Following the recent changes in COVID-19 rules across all the administrations and the move towards the ‘Living with COVID-19’ program, what do you actually need to know? We’ve summarised key changes below with steps to ensure you’re protecting your business.

 

Scotland

Monday 28th February:  Vaccine certification will not be legally required, although the app will remain available. This means that if your business would prefer to continue to use the app to check vaccine certification on a voluntary basis to reassure employees and customers then you can do so for the time being.

Monday 21st March: The timing is still subject to review, but we expect the following will cease:

  • Current legal requirements on the use of face coverings
  • Collection of customer details for contact tracing purposes
  • Businesses, service providers, and places of worship will be released from their need to “explicitly consider” COVID-19 in their risk assessments

People who test positive for COVID-19 will continue to be asked to self-isolate to reduce the risk of infecting other people, any changes to this will be considered on an ongoing basis. Please note that employees are still legally required to notify their employer as soon as possible if they are not able to attend work due to self-isolating.

 

England

Thursday 24th February: People who test positive for COVID-19 and contacts who are not fully vaccinated are no longer legally required to self-isolate. People who test positive for COVID-19 should continue to stay at home and avoid contact with other people, but this is a recommendation only. Fully vaccinated contacts are no longer advised to test for 7 days. As an employer, unlike Scotland, your employees are no longer legally required to inform you of their requirement to self-isolate which could lead to them attending work despite government advice.

Businesses are “no longer recommended” to display NHS QR posters or collect contact details from visitors and are now asked as destroy any collected data in accordance with ICO guidelines.

Friday 1st April: Employers no longer have a legal obligation to view COVID-19 as a separate risk when reviewing how to keep employees and customers safe.

The free provision for lateral flow and PCR tests will be removed for the majority of people.

 

Wales

Friday 18th February: The COVID-19 pass is no longer a legal requirement for entry to venues and events. Like Scotland, the app is still available if you’d like to continue requesting this on a voluntary basis to protect your staff and customers.

Monday 28th February: Face coverings remain a legal requirement in retail, on public transport, salons, health and care settings – if you work in these sectors it’s important to continue enforcing this. If you work in any other sector then you can still ask your staff and customers to wear a mask, but it’s again on a voluntary basis.

The Welsh government has advised that the remaining regulations could be lifted by the end of March.

 

Northern Ireland

Tuesday 15th February: All legal COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.

  • Face coverings are no longer legally required, and are now instead guidance. You can still ask staff and customers to wear masks on a voluntary basis.
  • Hospitality venues are “strongly encouraged” to continue using COVID-19 passports, and those travelling can still request a certificate if needed.
  • The requirement for businesses to maintain social distancing using reasonable measures has been removed, but for the moment you are still required to address the risk of COVID-19 in your risk assessments.
  • Unlike the rest of the UK, the guidance for working from home where possible, self-isolation have not changed, and the testing and contract tracing system remains active.

 

So, what can you do to protect yourself, your employees and customers?

 

1. Continue considering risk

You’ll have your COVID-19 Risk Assessment, but when it’s not legally required it may feel cathartic to throw it away and forget about it altogether. Instead, combine it into your standard risk assessment documentation and continue to consider reasonable adjustments that may be needed for people with disabilities. Share this with your employees, and keep it updated and relevant.

2. Keep adequate ventilation

Where there are people present, you should continue to ensure there is an adequate supply of fresh air in indoor spaces. This can be natural ventilation through opening windows, doors and vents, mechanical ventilation using fans and ducts, or a combination of both. Do not prop fire doors open! Specifically identify any poorly ventilated spaces in your premises that are usually occupied and take steps to improve fresh air flow in these areas – sometimes installing a CO2 monitor can help identify a poorly ventilated space.

3. Clean more often

Keep cleaning! It’s tempting to go back to our pre-pandemic routines but it continues to be especially important to clean surfaces that are frequently touched. You should continue to ask your staff and your customers to use hand sanitiser, and to clean their hands frequently.

4. Feeling ill? Keep away!

The stay at home message for COVID-19 infected people remains the same, but it’s no longer a legal requirement to self isolate in England and Northern Ireland. Your employees and customers who have any of the main symptoms of COVID-19 (or a positive test result) should follow the public health advice to stay at home, not attend work, and avoid contact with other people. Review your current position on self-isolation and sick pay to ensure you and your employees are up to date and keeping everyone as safe as possible.

5. Communicate

Keep all your employees/workers, contractors, and visitors up to date on how you’re using and updating safety measures. Unsurprisingly, most of us are feeling uncertain and unsure so keeping everyone in the loop and being proactive rather than reactive will help us feel confident as we get back into the swing of things.

Having trouble with the recent guidance or don’t know how to move your business forward safely? Contact us on 0131 516 1767 or enquiries@armour-risk.co.uk to see how we can assist your organisation in keeping people safe.