Easing of Lockdown Restrictions

The exit plan for lifting COVID-19 restrictions has now been announced and businesses must prepare for reopening safely. To read a detailed breakdown of the plan, head to our summary here, or read the full plan on gov.uk.

There is full guidance on what businesses can do to prepare for reopening here.

The dates set by Government are dependant on the COVID-19 data at each point and so businesses must also be prepared for each step to be extended.

Workplace testing programme expands to offer free rapid home testing

Business owners are now able to offer their employees free, rapid and regular testing that can be taken at home, helping to protect your staff and your business.

Lateral flow testing is a fast and simple way to test people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19, but who may still be spreading the virus.

Businesses can apply to receive testing kits until 12th April to use on site for those employees that cannot work from home. Even if your business is currently closed, you should still consider registering to order tests for when your business is allowed to reopen in the future. To apply for the kits, please click here.

 

NHS Test and Trace in the workplace

As part of the Government’s roadmap out of the current lockdown for England, from 12 April 2021 some businesses are permitted to reopen.

The rules on what businesses need to do when a group enters their venue have changed. As a business owner you must ask every customer or visitor to scan the NHS QR code using their NHS COVID-19 app, or provide their name and contact details, not just a lead member of the group.

Display NHS QR code posters at your business to support contact tracing.

Find out what this means for your business here. 

Employer testing duties

To help protect the country from coronavirus, there are testing regimes in place for those who travel regularly across UK borders. If you are an employer that meets the following criteria, then you must take reasonable steps to facilitate the taking of tests by your employees:

  • you employ more than 50 employees, of which some or all are required to take workforce tests, including agency workers you are responsible for
  • your employees are required to complete testing after international travel

As an employer your ‘reasonable steps’ to facilitate the taking of tests might include:

  • establishing workplace coronavirus (COVID-19) testing or providing your employee with home testing
  • supporting access and signposting employees to testing outside of the workplace

Find out more here.

Working safely during COVID-19

If you’re a business, employee or self-employed individual that is not able to work from home there is guidance available to make sure you help stop the spread of the virus and protect yourself and your business at the same time.

This page on gov.uk sets out what steps businesses and individuals could be taking to ensure they are working safely during the pandemic.

You can also download a ‘Staying COVID-Secure’ poster for your workplace here.

8 Priority Actions for Businesses

  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. Remind your customers to wear face coverings where required to do so by law. That is especially important if your visitors 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. Social distancing applies both inside and outside of vehicles. Make it easy for everyone to do so by putting up signs or introducing a one-way system that your staff and visitors can follow.
  5. Consider ventilationRead advice on air conditioning and ventilation from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
  6. Take part in NHS Test and Trace by keeping a record of all staff and contractors (not customers) for 21 days. 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. Employers must not require someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work. Any employer asking an employee to break self-isolation to work is committing an offence.
  8. Consider the mental health and wellbeing aspects of COVID-19 for yourself and others. The government has published guidance on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Financial support for reopening

Ahead of reopening, business owners should check the financial support on offer from their local council or government. Schemes such as the Job Retention Scheme, Restart Grants and Recovery Loans are available for businesses to take advantage of in order to open back up successfully.

For the very latest financial support on offer, visit our financial support for businesses page.

To speak to one of our expert advisors about what help is available, call us on 03330 00 00 39.