In a recent public announcement, PM Boris Johnson stated that the majority of shops should be cleared for reopening on the 15th of June. Additionally, a number of hospitality-related services would also be allowed to resume their operations. While most outdoor marketplaces and showrooms have been operational, the indoor locales should be extra-careful, as the safety of the public lies in their hands.
What is considered non-essential?
According to his speech of the 25th of May, Boris Johnson considers the following businesses “non-essential”:
- Clothes retailers
- Shoe stores
- Toy Shops
- Tailoring establishments
- Auctioneering establishments
- Photography studios
The retail sector has been put “on notice” while we eagerly await the arrival of the latest government-approved safety guidelines. Meanwhile, business owners have been given a three-weeks early notice, which was seen as more than enough time to prepare for reopening. Ideally, this measure would provide businesses and clients alike with an additional safety net and minimise the potential of further viral spread. As eager as we all are to return to our usual way of life, caution is advised. The health authorities are urging shop owners to “enforce” social distancing rules to the best of their abilities, as it will be instrumental in preventing further issues.
Furthermore, the use of hand sanitisers and gloves should be promoted for both visitors and on-site workers. Fitting rooms should remain shut, and store owners will have to keep any returned items “on hold” for a minimum of seventy-two hours before making them available for purchase once again. Items and goods that customers are expected to interact with (like beds, sofas, chairs, etc.) should be kept covered at all times.
Should a business fail to adhere to these regulations, the owner stands to be fined, or possibly even face jail time of up to two years.
In response to the announcement, British Retail Consortium CEO Helen Dickinson expressed her outlook on the situation, stating that the Consortium welcomes “the government’s road map for reopening a broader range of shops next month, which provides much-needed clarity on the route ahead.” Mrs Dickinson is positive that these guidelines will be instrumental in the communication between retailers, their employees, and the public at large. “Getting the economy moving again” will, in no small part, be up to the retail industry as a whole, she noted.
Furthermore, officials are also discussing the scheduling of further regulation relaxations, which would also allow people to meet outdoors more freely. This change is planned to encompass social gatherings like picnics, friendly get-togethers and barbeque parties.
Businesses, planning to reopen the doors of their stores after the 15th of June, would be eligible for the so-called “COVID-19 Secure” badge, as long as they follow the guidelines to the letter. Experts see this as a win-win, both for the owners and the customers – the customers get some peace of mind, the owners get a bit of “free” publicity, and everyone is safer.
Beauty establishments, like hairdressers and salons, are scheduled to reopen by July, along with the majority of pubs, hotels and cinemas.
As exciting as this might sound, we’d like to remind you that the officials will only follow this schedule if the infection rates continue going down, as this sadly has not been the case for all countries which have loosened their restrictions.
COVID-19 Secure Badges
If you’re looking for ways to earn a COVID-19 badge for your business, or if you’re a customer, interested in the exact protection measures that business owners will be following, then you’re in luck. The government has published a definitive document, detailing the regulations that eight business sectors are supposed to follow, in order to protect employees and the general public from contamination. Small businesses, demonstrating the ability to follow these regulations to the letter, will become the proud owners of a “COVID-19 Secure” badge.
As of the writing of this article, the eight sectors are as follows:
- Construction and other outdoor work
- Factories, plants and warehouses
- Labs and research facilities
- Offices and contact centres
- Other people’s homes
- Restaurants offering takeaway and delivery
- Shops and branches
How to work safely in a Post-COVID-19 Environment
Here’s a quick checklist of things that you need to consider before reopening your business after the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Risk assessment
- Hygiene and Hygienic Procedures
- Remote Work
- Social Distancing
- Additional Risk Mitigation
Before you’re ready to reopen the doors of your business, you should take the time and:
- Carry out a risk assessment procedure, as detailed in the HSE Guidelines
- Get in touch with your trade or worker’s unions.
- Contact your employees and share the results of the assessment.
- Publish the results of the assessment on your official website
Hygiene and Hygienic Procedures
To further mitigate the risks of contagion, experts advise that you encourage personal hygiene at the workplace as well as ensure that all surfaces undergo frequent cleaning sessions
- Promote personal hygiene and consider the distribution of pamphlets or job-specific guidelines.
- Provide an ample supply of hand sanitiser for your premises.
- Ensure that all objects and high-contact areas are thoroughly cleaned.
- Ask your cleaning agency to pay extra attention to the bathrooms and breakout rooms.
- Consider an additional deep cleaning session for your entire property.
If your employees can perform their duties from the safety of their homes, experts advise that you take all possible steps to facilitate the process. This will serve to greatly minimise the risks of contagion, without impacting the performance of your business.
- Discuss the work-from-home possibilities with your employees.
- Ensure that everyone who works remotely will have access to all necessary tools and equipment (hardware systems, programs, accounts and so on).
- Implement adequate means of communication (Voice Over IP software is highly recommended)
- Take every possible measure to protect the physical and mental health of your remote employees.
Even though the government is loosening the quarantine, social distancing remains a must. Whenever possible, please ensure that your employees and customers maintain a minimum of 2-metre distance.
- Consider the implementation of Social Distancing signs, notes and reminders.
- Do everything possible to prevent the need for shared workstations.
- Consider taping or otherwise marking down specific areas of your property to visually demonstrate the intended interaction distance for your employees and customers.
- If your property allows it, consider the implementation of “one-way traffic” corridors.
- Depending on the type of business, you could also consider switching to an “appointment-only” model for the time being.
Additional Risk Mitigation
In case a 2-metre distance is not feasible at all times, business owners are to implement a variety of additional precautions to further minimise the risks of contagion. You could consider:
- Delaying the reactivation of the non-vital elements of your business.
- Not immediately returning to a full-time schedule.
- Implementing screens to separate your customers and employees.
- Staggering your schedules or working on an “appointment-only” basis.
- Splitting up your teams into smaller groups to minimise person-to-person contact.
Business-specific Cleaning, Health and Safety Tips
How to make your Shop COVID-19 Secure?
According to government regulation, most retail shops fall under this category.
This section is for you if you’re the owner or manager of a: food retailer, chemist store, hardware store, charity store, car dealership, antique store, retail art gallery, photo studio, gift shop in any major tourist or art location, mobile or tech store, tailor or dress fitting studio or a fashion store.
As with all other businesses, open to the public, stores will need to ensure that a distance of at least two metres between customers and employees is maintained at all times. Additionally, you would want to also consider:
- Limiting the number of customers active within your premises at any given moment. If your commercial property spans over multiple floors, you could also implement floor-specific rules.
- Limiting any and all customer service that would interfere with the approved distancing guidelines.
- Setting “fixed working pairs” that would handle product transportation to limit potential exposure. This is especially important if your business sells or transports large or heavy goods.
- Implementing a flexible queuing schedule to facilitate a single-direction customer flow.
- Advising customers to shop alone unless help is a strict requirement.
- Ensuring that customers with young children keep them close.
- Utilising outside space as efficiently as possible for waiting and queuing.
- Ensuring that the entire premises are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected often. If your business relies on baskets, carts or trolleys, they absolutely have to be considered high-contact surfaces.
- Implementing special see-through barriers between your check-out registries and customer waiting lines.
- Promoting a high level of personal hygiene and inter-team communications for your employees.
- Knowing how to report and handle suspected COVID-19 cases.
How to Earn a “COVID-19 Secure” Badge for your Clothing Store?
Now, let’s get down to the specifics. First off, we’ll take a look at businesses, selling clothes and clothing accessories.
- Your fitting rooms are to be kept closed if at all possible. Preparing a fitting room for operation is a challenging task. If your business absolutely cannot function without one, then we’d advise you to consult with a certified commercial cleaning agency before reopening.
- Specialised, protective clothing should be utilised if fitting rooms are a must.
- Clothes that have been tried by customers should be placed “in quarantine” for up to 72 hours before being put on display again.
- Returned, donated and repaired items should be stored in a separate room for 72 hours before interaction. Expedient clothing or shoe repair services should either be temporarily suspended or extensively handled for specific employees, utilising protective gear.
- Customers should not handle merchandise unless they intend to purchase it. Consider separate display cases.
How to Earn a “COVID-19 Secure” Badge for your Café and Retail Stores?
- Any and all areas that customers come in contact with should be kept in pristine condition.
- Frequent deep-cleaning and disinfection sessions are a must.
- High-contact areas and items are to receive extra attention.
- Employee workstations and waste disposal need to be disinfected at the end of each shift.
- On-premises café and lunch areas should be kept closed.
- Customers should only consume food and beverages off-site.
How to Earn a “COVID-19 Secure” Badge for your takeaway restaurant or diner?
In the case of takeaway restaurants and diners, governmental regulations are not all too different from those for your standard workplace, barring a few minor differences.
- First and foremost, please remember that only delivery and takeaway services are currently permitted. Indoor and outdoor sitting areas are to remain closed.
- You should encourage clients to consume their food and beverages outside of your premises.
- Frequent deep-cleaning and disinfection are, once again, going to be your top priority. You will want your entire property to be squeaky-clean and bacteria-free.
- Single-use items like condiment containers and utensil packages should be carefully disposed of.
- Reusable items, like tableware, need to be thoroughly disinfected after each use.
- Kitchen staff needs to keep contact to a minimum.
- Delivery staff should disinfect their hands between each task. Every time food transfers take place, there is a chance of infection.
- Consider installing see-through physical barriers to further protect your employees and customers.
- Provide all of your employees with safe and separate workstations, where they won’t need to come in proximity with each other, as per the social distancing guidelines.
- Consider implementing a staggered break schedule to reduce the potential contact and proximity between your staff and employees.
- Ensure that any and all personnel is kept up-to-date with the latest governmental regulations, regarding COVID-19. This includes everything from handwashing and personal hygiene, all the way to distancing and food handling.
- Encourage customers to pay by using contactless cards or digital services to avoid contact with physical money.
- Even though there isn’t any solid proof about COVID-19 spreading through food packaging, the appropriate precautions should still be observed.
How to Earn a “COVID-19 Secure” Badge for your Office?
Before reopening your offices after COVID-19, please:
- Consider a layout review. If at all possible, reorganise the insides of your office space to facilitate social distancing. Ideally, desks and workstations are going to be at least two metres apart from one another, providing your employees with ample personal space. Additionally, you could also use tape or other types of floor markings to create a visual indication of the desired distance.
- Implement see-through screens to create an additional barrier against possible transmission.
- Consider reopening with a smaller skeleton staff, rather than immediately going for full capacity to facilitate social distancing further.
- Limit the usage of “hot desks” whenever possible.
- Ensure that all workstations and on-site facilities undergo thorough cleaning at the end of each shift
- Ensure that your entire premises benefit from frequent deep-cleaning and disinfection procedures as often as possible
- Communicate all high-contact surfaces and areas to your commercial cleaning provider for optimal results.
After getting all the basics out of the way, you should also think about the specifics. Governmental experts have formulated a number of tips, focused on different areas of office work, like meetings, office supply delivers, lunch breaks and even ventilation.
How to Host Safe Meetings in your Office
Ideally, you and your employees would not have to go through any face-to-face meetings. Modern technology provides us with an ample supply of Voice over IP software and digital meeting tools that you can leverage. If that proves to be unfeasible, however, here’s a list of things to keep in mind:
- Keep your meeting room clean and disinfected at all times. Schedule additional cleaning sessions between each meeting if possible.
- During face-to-face meetings, enforce social distancing regulations at all times. This is non-negotiable.
- Ensure that everyone brings their own office materials, pens, pencils, notebooks and so on.
- Ensure that participants have ample access to hand sanitiser.
- Host meetings in well-ventilated areas or even outdoors if the situation allows for it.
How to Protect Your Employees during their Lunch Breaks?
- Naturally, your employees will want to use their off-time to socialise, share experiences and generally hang out together. This is sadly undesirable under the present circumstances, even with social distancing in place. Here are a few tips on what you can do to minimise the risks for your workers:
- Consider implementing a staggered break schedule. This will both reduce the pressure on your breakrooms and help keep your workers separate.
- Incentivise the use of outdoor areas during breaks. Ideally, your employees would go to a place that allows them to stay at least 2 metres apart.
- If possible, repurpose a couple of areas to provide your employees with additional break room space. If a portion of your staff is working remotely, this is an excellent use of the temporarily freed-up space.
- Reorganise break rooms to facilitate social distancing and avoid close contact or face-to-face interaction wherever possible.
- Consider installing see-through protective screens at reception desks and other places where your employees might be at risk.
- If you’ve got working on-site canteens, consider a “packaged meal” alternative. Work with delivery service providers or takeout restaurants to avoid putting pressure on your locally-staffed canteens.
- Encourage your employees to prepare food at home, instead of purchasing items on-site or on the way to work.
How to handle visitors and supply deliveries to your office?
Here’s what to keep in mind when expecting package visitors or supply deliveries:
- Try to limit or otherwise restrict the amount of non-critical deliveries to your office. Some businesses allow employees to order items, using their work address, but considering the present circumstances, entertaining this approach is ill-advised.
- Implement specific drop-off zones and areas where your employees wouldn’t need to directly interact with delivery people, unless absolutely necessary.
- Minimise the number of outside visitors to your office unless their presence is required for your business.
- Schedule essential services and ensure that visitations are spread out to avoid large gatherings and minimise contact.
- If possible, try to keep a record of all outside visitors.
- Install signs and post notes, notifying outsiders that they need to act in accordance with social distancing regulations. For deliveries and business-critical interactions, prepare detailed instructions where necessary.
- Notify visitors of any additional entrance and exit points and direct them to the safest and least crowded routes they can take through your premises.
Packages and orders for your office
If your business relies on frequent pick-ups and drop-offs, then you should:
- Consider overhauling your schedules to account for social distancing.
- Ensure that delivery agents and your employees are provided with ample space to do their jobs in accordance with social distancing rules
- Look into electronic delivery processing to further minimise contact between your employees and outsiders.
- Whenever possible, have the same employees handle loading and unloading vehicles. According to the governmental experts, this is the safest way to deal with the situation.
Additional Tips – Ventilation and airflow
Experts say that business ventilation is absolutely vital for minimising COVID-19 risks. Here’s a list of things you should do for your ventilation system before reopening your office.
- Carry out a thorough ventilation inspection
- Ensure that your air conditioning system is functioning at optimal capacity.
- Consult with your local HVAC engineers if any adjustments are necessary
- Keep windows open whenever possible to further improve airflow in your building.
And with this, we’ve come to the end of our article. We hope that you’ve all enjoyed and found the information helpful. If you’d like to learn more about FastKlean or if you need any help in preparing your business for reopening, please do not hesitate to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us on 020 8884 9149 for a direct line with our experts.