Reopening businesses

Below is some practical advice regarding the reopening of a business which had previously been required to close during the Coronavirus emergency period.

Upon reopening, consideration and implementation is required of Public Health England guidance regarding social distancing, cleaning and disinfection and PPE.

Covid-19 Business Reopening Survey - SMEs

If you are a small to medium sized, customer facing business in South Cambridgeshire, we are interested in finding out your views on reopening of your business, so that we can offer the right support.

Complete our business reopening survey

To reduce the spread of Coronavirus to others that visit your business, frequent cleaning and disinfections will be required especially on objects and surfaces that are touched regularly.

Consider the following points when cleaning:

  • Wear disposable or washing-up gloves and aprons for cleaning. These should be double-bagged, then stored securely for 72 hours then thrown away in the regular rubbish after cleaning is finished
  • Using a disposable cloth, first clean hard surfaces with warm soapy water. Then disinfect these surfaces with the disinfectant product you normally use
  • Ensure a disinfectant solution at a dilution of 1,000 parts per million available chlorine is used. See disinfectant labels for information. An example could be 450ml cold water added to 50ml of bleach (without a detergent added)
  • Pay particular attention to frequently touched areas and surfaces, such as clocking in/out machines, bathrooms, grab-rails in corridors and stairwells, door handles, trolley/basket handles and Chip and Pin machines
  • Wash hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds, and after removing gloves, aprons and other protection used while cleaning
  • In relation to laundry, wash items in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest water setting and dry items completely. Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an unwell person can be washed with other people’s items.
  • Consider implementing a cleaning and disinfection schedule whereby staff sign to show that cleaning and disinfection has been undertaken at certain times throughout the day. An example hourly cleaning schedule can be found here
  • Review and update your health and safety documentation including COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) information to ensure that staff members remain safe when cleaning

Further guidance regarding cleaning and disinfection can be found on the website. 

To assist you when reopening the business, the following example checklists may be useful to think about practices required.

Having good personal hygiene practices in place is crucial in preventing Coronavirus from spreading.

The following points should be considered in the workplace:

  • Staff should be reminded to wash their hands regularly using soap and water for 20 seconds and particularly after blowing their nose, sneezing or coughing
  • Staff should also continue to wash hands after eating/drinking, smoking, handling waste, after cleaning and after using the toilet
  • Hands should be washed after handling cash
  • Where facilities to wash hands are not available, hand sanitiser should be used. If facilities for hand washing are available, these should be used
  • Workers should cover any coughs or sneezes with a tissue, then dispose of the tissue in a bin and immediately wash their hands
  • Ensure that wash hand basins have an adequate supply of running hot and cold water
  • Ensure there is an adequate supply of soap and disposable hand drying materials, for example, paper towels
  • If the tap used for hand washing is not automatic or elbow/knee operated, use the paper towel to turn the tap off, preventing hands from becoming contaminated
  • Signage could be installed at your premises showing the correct hand washing technique
  • Staff are to wear clean clothing in the workplace

As your business may have been closed for a number of weeks, consider the following points prior to reopening:

  • Read the Government's 5 Steps to Working Safely
  • Review and update your risk assessments to include Coronavirus. View the Health and Safety Executive risk assessments
  • Consider the risks of Legionnaires Diseases in the water system. See the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health's guidance document for further details. 
  • Check the structure of the premises for any damage
  • Check work equipment for signs of damage
  • Check the condition of stock, for example, for pests and expiry dates
  • Undertake a trial run of any procedures which have been changed to ensure they work as expected
  • Ensure you have adequate supplies of disinfectant, cleaning cloths, soap, hand drying material and rubbish bags
  • Before opening, clean and disinfect the premises
  • Train staff in suitable cleaning procedures, personal hygiene, management of social distancing and new working practices
  • Do you have sufficient numbers of staff/experienced staff to operate safely
  • Install signage and social distancing markers
  • Provide staff with a Coronavirus briefing, for example, when they shouldn't come to work, hand washing and social distancing

Signage at your business can be used to show what is expected from your staff and customers. Try not to add conflicting messages or too many notices that they then become “lost” in all the other messages.

Signage may be required at entrances/exits, throughout the workplace, at high volume areas (for example, payment areas) and employee noticeboards.

Signage covering the following topics may be useful:

  • Do not attend work/the business if you have symptoms of Covid-19
  • Messages regarding social distancing to staff and customers
  • Limiting numbers to the business and what to do if a customer cannot enter
  • How to clean and disinfect
  • Messages regarding types of payment accepted/process for payment
  • Touch less – only handle what you intend to buy
  • If you have use of a Public Address system (for example, tannoy system), provide regular verbal messages regarding controls/guidelines
  • Handwashing techniques for staff

Copies of example notices can be seen below:

Social distancing involves reducing day-to-day contact with other people as much as possible, in order to reduce the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Current government guidance highlights the “2 metre rule” regarding social distancing which businesses should look to incorporate into their premises. This may mean that working practices will have to temporarily change or stop.

Measures that could be incorporated into your work practices include:

  • Businesses and workplaces should encourage their employees to work at home, wherever possible. If you cannot work from home then you can still travel to work
  • To protect staff and customers, you should manage entry into the premises, only allowing a limited number of people into your store at any given time. Consider how you would go about limiting the numbers inside and what the maximum number of people (including staff members) may be
  • You should put up signage to ask customers with symptoms not to enter the store, and to remind both staff and customers to always keep 2 metres from other people, wherever possible
  • If staff are aware that customers are not complying with social distancing guidelines whilst within the premises, remind the customers/colleagues of the guidelines in a polite, friendly and professional manner
  • Introduce a one-way system where suitable
  • Make regular announcements to remind staff and/or customers to follow social distancing advice and wash their hands regularly
  • To help customers identify a 2m distance, you could install markings on the floor at suitable distances. This could also be done outside if safe queuing outside is practical/required, for example, chalk markings
  • Move work spaces or close work areas to keep a 2m distance, for example, if you have three payment counters in a line close to each other, close the middle till
  • If feasible, you could install plexiglass barriers at all points of regular interaction to further reduce the risk of infection for all parties involved, cleaning the barriers regularly. You should still advise staff to keep 2 metres apart as much as possible
  • To protect your staff, you should remind colleagues daily to only come into work if they are well and no one in their household is self-isolating
  • Encourage the use of digital and remote transfers of material where possible rather than paper format, such as using e-forms, emails and e-banking
  • Consider how to collect payment, for example, does cash need to be taken and change provided or can payment by card be taken? If cash is required, can an approach be used to prevent customers and employees touching
  • To help reduce congregation of staff, consider staggering start, end and break times
  • Where it is not possible to remain 2m apart, staff should work side by side, or facing away from each other, rather than face to face if possible
  • Where face-to-face contact is essential, this should be kept to 15 minutes or less wherever possible
  • As much as possible, keep teams of workers together, and keep teams as small as possible
  • Ensure that the business’s social distancing measures are effectively communicated to all staff
  • Discuss with your suppliers/delivery drivers how you will be implementing social distancing procedures when products are delivered to your business

To help give an indication of the maximum number of people in a premises, use simple maths to work out the area of the public space/working space and divide down to work out how many 2m spaces are available.

Further advice about social distancing in the workplace can be found on the website or the HSE website.

Any member of staff who develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) (a new, continuous cough and/or a high temperature, loss or change of sense of smell/taste) should be sent home and should stay at home for seven days from onset of symptoms. If the member of staff lives in a household where someone else is unwell with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) then they must stay at home in line with the stay at home guidance.

If these symptoms develop whilst at work they should be sent home, returning home quickly and directly. If they have to use public transport, they should try to keep away from other people and catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue.

If a member of staff has helped someone who was taken unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves. They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell with symptoms consistent with coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

It is not necessary to close the business or workplace or send any staff home, unless government policy changes.

Members of staff who are vulnerable or extremely vulnerable, as well as individuals whom they live with, should be supported as they follow the recommendations set out in guidance on social distancing and shielding respectively.

Staff may be feeling anxious about coming to work and also about impacts on livelihood. Workplaces should ensure staff are fully briefed and appropriately supported at this time.

Employees will need your support to adhere to the recommendation to stay at home to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) to others.

With the implementation of the NHS Test and Trace service, employees may be contacted to self-isolate if they have come into close contact with a person who has tested positive for Coronavirus.

Further guidance regarding cleaning and disinfection can be found on the website. 

Waste generated from your business needs to be disposed of correctly to reduce the likelihood of infection spread. Procedures should be put in place to protect your employees and those that collect the waste.

Provide extra bins for staff and customers to throw away their face coverings and PPE, and any other additional waste, such as takeaway packaging and disposable tableware and make sure bins are emptied often so they do not overflow and create litter.

Consider the following points when storing and disposing of waste:

  • Waste items should be put in a plastic rubbish bag, tied and placed in a second bin bag and tied.
  • When full, place the bin bag in a suitable container/bin store area
  • Waste should be put in a suitable and secure place
  • Waste should be stored safely and kept away from children. You should not put your waste in communal waste areas until waste has been stored for at least 72 hours
  • Waste should be removed and disposed of by our Commercial Waste Team or a licensed waste collection company
  • Contact your Commercial Waste Collector to agree a schedule/return to collection date
  • If storage for at least 72 hours is not appropriate, arrange for collection as a Category B infectious waste by a specialist clinical waste contractor. They will supply you with clinical waste bags for you to place your bags into so the waste can be sent for appropriate treatment
  • Ensure you keep waste transfer documentation for at least two years

See more information about our commercial waste service.

Further guidance regarding cleaning and disinfection can be found on the website. 

Due to our ongoing responsibilities regarding Covid-19 and supporting local businesses, we wanted to share this message from Dr Liz Robin, Director of Public Health for Cambridgeshire, regarding Public Health, safe work practices and what to do if your workplace has suspected or confirmed Covid-19 cases. This information was shared with local businesses in mid-August. 

Another useful source of guidance on what to do in the case of an outbreak in your business is Public Health England's Action Cards which can be downloaded to keep to hand in your business. 

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