On 21 February, the Prime Minister announced the end of all remaining legal restrictions as part of the governments Living with COVID Go to https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-living-with-covid-19 (opens new window) strategy.
While the government is confident it is appropriate to remove legal restrictions, the future remains uncertain. The pandemic is not yet over and rates in Bristol remain high. It is possible that we will see further spikes and waves of infection both locally and globally.
As we learn how to live with COVID-19 in the long term it is more important than ever to look at your organisations business continuity plans and consider the measures we outline here.
Businesses in higher risk settings, such as care homes or cold stores, should consider stricter levels of control to prevent further COVID-19 outbreaks.
There's no longer a legal requirement to wear a face covering in any setting.
Public health advice will remain in place, recommending that you continue to wear a face covering:
- in crowded, enclosed spaces
- when you are mixing with people you don't usually meet with
This will help reduce the chance of catching or spreading COVID-19 on to others.
We recommend you to encourage customers to wear a face mask and to keep social distances where possible.
Staff are recommended to wear appropriate protection, especially when dealing with customers.
We recommend that you:
- place posters in the window so they are clearly visible on entry and use signage to encourage customers to wear face masks and make space
- clearly indicate the measures you have put in place
Social distancing posters for businesses including face masks must be worn and social distancing messaging.
Ventilation is important to remove harmful virus particles from the air.
Business owners must identify areas of the workplace that are not well ventilated and:
- include them as a priority in your risk assessment
- introduce control measures to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 as far as is reasonably practicable
Ways to ventilate
Natural ventilation: it is best not to recirculate air from one place to another. Opening windows and doors allows fresh air in and for air to circulate.
Mechanical ventilation: uses fans and ducts to bring in fresh air from outside. It can be used where natural ventilation is not practical, for example in a nightclub.
With COVID likely to be with us for many years, you should prefer long term solutions to short term fixes. Where applicable, you should also make sure you keep volume down in line with your licence conditions, to prevent undue noise and disturbance to your neighbours.
It is just one safety measure and must be used in combination with other COVID-secure measures to mitigate against the risk.
To help keep your business open, and to keep you, your staff and your customers safe, we recommend you continue to use COVID-safe measures, such as:
- ask customers to remain seated to prevent a build-up of people at the bar or till area
- continue using app-based ordering and payment systems
- use outdoor space to allow for additional tables and chairs
You should also make sure that:
- staff and customers clean their hands regularly by providing soap or alcohol gels
- you clean surfaces that people frequently touch
- staff and customers do not come onto the premises if unwell
You must apply for an outdoor hospitality licence to have tables, chairs and other temporary furniture or structures on the pavement or road outside your premises. This will make sure your insurance policy is valid while you are trading on the highway.
You should talk to us before you start work on any outdoor structure or shelter, to make sure it:
- fits with the licence conditions
- is suitable and safe for use on the highway
The domestic NHS COVID pass is no longer available for venues or events to use as a condition of entry.
Vaccinations will help protect your workforce and you should encourage all your staff to get their vaccinations.
People in England can book their COVID-19 vaccination Go to https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/ (opens new window) on the NHS website or by calling 119.
The protection from vaccines reduces over time, so it is important to top up your immunity by getting a COVID-19 booster jab and flu jab if you're eligible.
To visit a local walk-in clinic, visit www.grabajab.net Go to http://www.grabajab.net/ (opens new window) for an up-to-date list and to see who can attend.
Lateral flow device (rapid) tests (LFD) are for people with no symptoms, to help identify cases and prevent the spread of the virus.
Anyone who receives a positive lateral flow test result is advised to:
- self-isolate immediately
- report their result Go to https://www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result (opens new window) on GOV.UK
Free lateral flow (rapid) tests and PCR tests are no longer available for the general public.
In line with other countries, tests will be available to purchase from a range of retailers.
PCR tests for those with COVID symptoms will remain free for the clinically vulnerable, those in the higher age groups and those at the highest risk from COVID-19.
Testing can provide confidence to your workers and customers and help protect those around you. They're quick and available to anyone without COVID-19 symptoms, giving you the result within 30 minutes.
You should get tested before going into crowded places or spending time with people at greater risk from COVID-19, to check you are COVID-free and not at risk of spreading the virus without knowing.
There is no longer a legal requirement to self-isolate. However, we advise people who test positive to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for at least 5 full days, and then continue to follow the guidance until they have received 2 negative test results on consecutive days.
For mental health support, call the 24/7 Support and Connect helpline on 0800 0126 549.
There is no longer a requirement to work from home.
You can return to the workplace or agree alternative working arrangements with employees.
If you’re reopening your business after a period of closure, you should remember to:
- complete a COVID-19 risk assessment (hse.gov.uk) to help you manage risk and protect people
- make sure there is good ventilation in enclosed areas of the workplace to reduce the spread of the virus
- assess the risk of legionella within your hot and cold water systems
- increase how often and how thoroughly you normally clean your workplace, and be sure to clean surfaces that you do not normally clean
- check and test the equipment you have not used while your business was closed
Visit the government website Go to https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-to-england-from-another-country-during-coronavirus-covid-19#red-list (opens new window) to check the latest guidance for travel to England from another country including COVID-19 tests and quarantine rules.