As the UK enters a more relaxed phase of lockdown, it is crucial that businesses do everything they can to ensure public safety.
Offices may need to introduce new socially distanced rotas, and businesses handling food and drink need to be absolutely dedicated to cleaning. Whether you run a corporate business, an independent cafe, a busy city centre gym, or a boutique hotel — no one is above the hygiene regulations.
You may not be open now, but fingers crossed you will be soon. So here’s what you need to know to be prepared:
Social distance should continue to be a priority
While we’re all familiar with the 2m rule by now, it might not be possible to keep customers or staff separated to this extent all of the time.
Most smaller stores have aisles and checkout areas that are smaller than 2m. Many small offices will not have the space to keep even a skeleton workforce far enough apart either.
Don’t panic though, there is still plenty you can do if this applies to you:
- Rethink shift patterns to minimise the number of staff coming and going at the same time
- Introduce one-way systems around stores and offices that otherwise wouldn’t allow people to pass each other safely
- Increase the use of contactless communication, either via radio, phone or video chat
- Avoid having people work face-to-face with one another
- Cohort workers into groups and don’t allow employees from different groups to work together — this will help reduce the risk of widespread infection across the business
- If you can, continue to allow your staff to work from home
Remember, social distancing should apply to everyone – among your group of employees and between them and the public!
Clean surfaces and objects regularly
Think about how often a door handle, door entry system, lift control panel, till or POS machine will be touched during the average day. There could be hundreds of people using them, and you can’t assume that all these people are washing their hands correctly!
There are likely a number of other surfaces and objects in your workplace that are touched often, too. If you’re drawing a blank, why not walk through a customer or employee’s journey in your store, cafe, or gym. Anything that you’d go to touch to perform an action, makes it on the ‘to be cleaned’ list.
But a quick wipe won’t be enough — make sure you disinfect regularly, in line with advice from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Check soap and sanitiser levels daily
This is a task that’s easily forgotten, but you’ll quickly come up short if you don’t stay on the ball.
Every morning before you open your doors, or every evening once the workplace is empty, check on how much soap there is in the bathroom, and how full your hand sanitisers are.
If you’re running low: replenish!
You might find that having a note on your desk or pinned to the door will ensure this gets done, and always keep a few days’ worth of soap and sanitiser in reserve in case of emergencies.
Better still, some hand sanitiser suppliers (like CleanedUp) are able to deliver a fresh bulk batch every week/month, straight to your door.
CleanedUp Hand Sanitiser Dispensers
Ensure you have the right type of sanitiser
Not all hand sanitisers are created equal, particularly when it comes to stopping the spread of COVID-19.
The World Health Organisation advice is to use a sanitiser that contains a minimum of 60% alcohol. At CleanedUp we use the WHO approved formula, with 70% alcohol, to guarantee its effectiveness against coronavirus.
Display hand hygiene information
Let’s be clear: this is a legal requirement for any business that will be opening under the relaxed lockdown measures — not a mere nice to have.
But don’t break out the felt tips just yet. Your local NHS Trust likely has a handy infographic available, similar to this one from the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust.
Simply use this or find another one from your local trust and put some copies up around key staff areas. You’ll also need to display updated information regarding the new guidelines, to show that you understand and are complying with them. You can download this directly from the gov.uk website via this link.
Keep some areas off-limits
In retail, changing rooms and customer toilets should arguably be kept off limits for now, as it’s simply too challenging to stay on top of users coming and going.
However, if you are staggering shifts or asking workers to stick to smaller groups, then you may need to designate different break areas, keeping certain doors closed.
And we know this one isn’t going to be popular, but corporate buildings should consider keeping on-site canteens and kitchens shut, too. Asking staff to bring in their own food and drink might go down like a lead balloon, but hopefully they will understand the hygiene reasons behind your decision.
What to do if you have a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 in your workplace
Let’s say one of your staff members becomes ill and tests positive for COVID-19, or you get a message via test and trace that someone with the virus has visited your workplace — what do you do?
Two things: conduct a rigorous cleaning of any areas they have been, and closely monitor everyone else in the business for symptoms.
And don’t take any chances when cleaning up. The minimum recommended PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is disposable gloves and an apron. But if you suspect an area is heavily contaminated, an employee’s desk area for example, then further protection for eyes, nose and mouth wouldn’t go amiss.
Once you are sure all relevant areas and surfaces have been cleaned, remove all PPE and store in a sealed bag for 72 hours before disposing of it. Wash your hands thoroughly after removing and bagging it up.
If anyone else in your business develops symptoms, they can get tested by following the guidance available here. Essential workers can self-refer any time for a drive through or home test.
As well as the advice above, using common sense will be key. Yes, businesses and shops are starting to open again, but COVID-19 has not gone away. The only way that happens is if we continue to look out for one another, follow the guidelines, and do our part to stop the spread.
We have also written some additional guidance on re-opening your business which you can read here if you're interested.