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Coronavirus advice for employers

People who can’t work from home should be “actively encouraged” to go to work. That was one of the key messages from Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week. Mr Johnson mentioned construction and manufacturing as examples of the sorts of industries where restarting would now be explicitly encouraged. On Saturday, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said that, as part of a cautious phased return, children in reception, Year 1 and Year 6 will be allowed to return to school on 1 June, but only if rates of infection are decreasing.

Wednesday’s Briefing



Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden led yesterday’s daily briefing from Downing Street. He was joined by Stephen Powis, National Medical Director at NHS England. Some of the main points included:

  • Mr Dowden pledged £150m from dormant bank accounts to support social enterprises;

  • A task force has been set up to examine how to resume sports and arts activities without crowds, featuring figures from football, TV, the arts and technology;

  • The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 has fallen below 10,000 for the first time since March;

  • Mr Dowden denied that issues with infections in care homes have been “glossed over”, saying that testing was available “right from the very beginning” and the number of infections was coming down;

  • Mr Dowden said talks about the Premier League playing behind closed doors could create a “win-win” by allowing additional matches to be broadcast free-to-air. He said existing TV rights could be respected, but concerns about competing with matchday attendances would be removed.

Other developments:

  • The HSE has announced it is restarting “proactive” inspections of construction sites;

  • A trial to see whether two anti-malarial drugs could prevent COVID-19 has begun in Brighton and Oxford;

  • People in England have been warned against using coronavirus antibody tests sold by some retailers;

  • EasyJet will resume some flights on 15 June, with all passengers and cabin crew told to wear face masks;

  • The number of people infected worldwide has now reached five million, according to data collated by Johns Hopkins University;

  • Greece has announced that its tourism season will start in June, adding that international flights will resume in July.

Latest figures

AccordHSEing to figures from Worldometer, there are:

Globally:

  • 5,090,977 confirmed cases;

  • 329,761 deaths.

UK:

  • 248,293 confirmed cases;

  • 35,704 deaths.

Ireland:

  • 24,315 confirmed cases;

  • 1,571 deaths.

HSE to restart “proactive” inspections of construction sites

The move follows a government announcement of more cash for the organisation and prime minister Boris Johnson promising the body would carry out “spot inspections” to make sure businesses were safe places to work. However the head of the union representing HSE inspectors has warned the organisation remains too small, reports Construction News.

The safety watchdog stopped carrying out routine inspections after the lockdown announcement in March, despite sectors such as construction continuing to operate.

HSE to prosecute and lockdown eased in England

The HSE is prepared to use its enforcement powers when necessary and will also consider criminal prosecutions, its Chief Executive Sarah Albon said. She said last week, she is aware of a small number of firms “not doing the right thing or not sure what the right thing is to do”.

Government strategy and workplace guidance

The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy

An outline to the Government’s plan for rebuilding and recovering from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has now been published.

The government is proposing a three-step plan. In summary:

  1. Step one, starting on Wednesday 13 May:

  • Workers who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open, and workplaces should follow new “Covid-19 Secure” guidelines;

  • More vulnerable children, who are already able to attend school, are urged to do so.


  1. Step two, which will begin no earlier than 1 June:

  • Nurseries and primary schools will begin a phased return. At first this will only involve early years, reception, and years one and six. But the government’s ambition is that all primary school children in England should return to school for a month before the summer;

  • Some businesses will be able to re-open and sporting events will be able to take place behind closed doors – but not hairdressers or beauty salons;

  • The government is seeking advice on allowing people to expand their household group and examining how small weddings can be better facilitated.


  1. Step three, which will start no earlier than 4 July:

  • more businesses will be able to open – although some, which are crowded by design, will not be able to open.


It is stressed that all dates could be delayed if not enough progress is made in tackling the virus, and restrictions could be reintroduced. And the government stress that changes are dependent on the rate of infection staying down.

“COVID-19 Secure” guidelines

Many measures require the development of new safety guidelines that set out how each type of physical space can be adapted to operate safely. The Government has been consulting relevant sectors, industry bodies, local authorities, trades unions, the Health and Safety Executive and Public Health England on their development.

To make workplaces less infectious, the guidelines promotes, for example:

  • Keeping a distance between people outside their household;

  • Keeping the hands and face as clean as possible. Hand sanitiser should be carried when travelling and applied where available outside the home, especially when entering a building and following contact with surfaces. Clothes should also be washed regularly, as there is some evidence that the virus can stay on fabrics;

  • Limiting the number of people that any given individual comes into contact with regularly. Employers can support this where practical by changing shift patterns and rotas to keep smaller, contained teams. Evidence also suggests the virus is less likely to be transmitted in well-ventilated areas.

Lifting restrictions step-by-step

Step 1

In terms of work, the key messages in Step 1 include:

  • For the foreseeable future, workers should continue to work from home rather than their normal physical workplace, wherever possible;

  • Parts of the economy that are allowed to open should do so, including food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research;

  • Employees in these industries are now asked to return to work but should avoid public transport on their commute where possible;

  • As soon as practicable, workplaces should follow the new “COVID-19 Secure” guidelines;

  • The advice says that these industries will be asked to follow new “COVID-19 Secure” guidelines which are set to be published, but will likely include asking employers to take steps to reduce unnecessary contact between workers;

  • Hospitality and other non-essential shops will remain shut during this period.

Other measures relate to schools, travel, face coverings, public space, shielding, international travel, and enforcement.

Step 2

The Government’s current aim is that the second step will be made no earlier than Monday 1 June, subject to conditions being satisfied.

The current planning assumption for England is that the second step may include as many of the following measures as possible, consistent with the government’s five tests. Organisations should prepare accordingly, it says. The measures cover schools, a phased re-opening of all non-essential retail businesses, cultural and sporting events, and social and family contact.

Step 3

The final part of the Government plan is not expected to come into force before 4 July and relies on scientific and medical advisers being satisfied the previous measures have not caused a spike in the infection rate.

During this final stage, the government would hope to reopen at least some of the remaining businesses, including personal care (such as hairdressers and beauty salons) hospitality (such as food service providers, pubs and accommodation), public places (such as places of worship) and leisure facilities (like cinemas). They should also meet the COVID-19 Secure guidelines.

5 steps to working safely

This government advice sets out practical actions for businesses to take based on five main steps.

The relevant guide for each workplace should also be read (see below) as these contain specific actions for businesses to take based on these steps. Further guidance will be published as more businesses are able to reopen, says the government.

  1. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment

Before restarting work you should ensure the safety of the workplace by:

  • carrying out a risk assessment in line with the HSE guidance

  • consulting with your workers or trade unions

  • sharing the results of the risk assessment with your workforce and on your website.

  1. Develop cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures

You should increase the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning by:

  • encouraging people to follow the guidance on hand washing and hygiene

  • providing hand sanitiser around the workplace, in addition to washrooms

  • frequently cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces that are touched regularly

  • enhancing cleaning for busy areas

  • setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets

  • providing hand drying facilities – either paper towels or electrical dryers.

  1. Help people to work from home

You should take all reasonable steps to help people work from home by:

  • discussing home working arrangements

  • ensuring they have the right equipment, for example remote access to work systems

  • including them in all necessary communications

  • looking after their physical and mental wellbeing.

  1. Maintain 2m social distancing, where possibl

Where possible, you should maintain 2m between people by:

  • putting up signs to remind workers and visitors of social distancing guidance

  • avoiding sharing workstations

  • using floor tape or paint to mark areas to help people keep to a 2m distance

  • arranging one-way traffic through the workplace if possible

  • switching to seeing visitors by appointment only if possible.

  1. Where people cannot be 2m apart, manage transmission risk

Where it’s not possible for people to be 2m apart, you should do everything practical to manage the transmission risk by:

  • considering whether an activity needs to continue for the business to operate

  • keeping the activity time involved as short as possible

  • using screens or barriers to separate people from each other

  • using back-to-back or side-to-side working whenever possible

  • staggering arrival and departure times

  • reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’.

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  6. Returning to work…

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Workplace Guidance: Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Guidance published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is for employers to help them get their businesses back up and running and workplaces operating safely.

The ‘COVID-19 secure’ guidelines aim to help make workplaces as safe as possible and give people confidence to go back to work during coronavirus pandemic. The documents have been developed in consultation with approximately 250 businesses, unions, industry leaders as well as devolved administrations.

The new guidance covers eight workplace settings which are allowed to be open, from outdoor environments and construction sites to factories and takeaways.

Practical steps for businesses are focused on five key points, which should be implemented as soon as it is practical:

  1. Work from home, if you can

All reasonable steps should be taken by employers to help people work from home. But for those who cannot work from home and whose workplace has not been told to close, our message is clear: you should go to work. Staff should speak to their employer about when their workplace will open.

  1. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions

This guidance operates within current health and safety employment and equalities legislation and employers will need to carry out COVID-19 risk assessments in consultation with their workers or trade unions, to establish what guidelines to put in place. If possible, employers should publish the results of their risk assessments on their website and we expect all businesses with over 50 employees to do so.

  1. Maintain 2 metres social distancing, wherever possible

Employers should re-design workspaces to maintain 2 metre distances between people by staggering start times, creating one-way walk-throughs, opening more entrances and exits, or changing seating layouts in break rooms.

  1. Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, manage transmission risk

Employers should look into putting barriers in shared spaces, creating workplace shift patterns or fixed teams minimising the number of people in contact with one another, or ensuring colleagues are facing away from each other.

  1. Reinforcing cleaning processes

Workplaces should be cleaned more frequently, paying close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards. Employers should provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points.

A downloadable notice is included in the documents, which employers should display in their workplaces to show their employees, customers and other visitors to their workplace, that they have followed this guidance.

The guidance applies to businesses currently open. This also includes guidance for shops which the government believe may be in a position to begin a phased reopening at the earliest from the 1 June. It is noted that guidance for other sectors that are not currently open will be developed and published ahead of those establishments opening to give those businesses time to plan.

The following documents are also available:

  1. Construction and other outdoor work: guidance for people who work in or run outdoor working environments;

  2. Factories, plants and warehouses: guidance for people who work in or run factories, plants and warehouses;

  3. Homes: guidance for people working in, visiting or delivering to home environments as well as their employers;

  4. Labs and research facilities: guidance for people who work in or run indoor labs and research facilities and similar environments;

  5. Offices and contact centres: guidance for people who work in or run offices, contact centres and similar indoor environments;

  6. Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery: guidance for people who work in or run restaurants offering takeaway or delivery services;

  7. Shops and branches: guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments;

  8. Vehicles: Guidance for people who work in or from vehicles, including couriers, mobile workers, lorry drivers, on-site transit and work vehicles, field forces and similar.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): charter for safe working practice

This Charter has been launched to enable housebuilders to make a common commitment to operate in line with government safe working guidance. Signatories to the Charter have publicly committed to safe working practices in accordance with government and Construction Leadership Council guidance. It has been co-produced by the government and the Home Building Federation.

Through adherence to this Charter, the aim is that the industry can continue to provide much needed additions to housing supply and play its part in the country’s economic recovery while delivering on its top priority: protecting the health and safety of the home building workforce, visitors to site and the local community.

According to HBF: “The Charter is a public facing commitment which supports the very detailed protocols individual builders have in place to ensure safe working on sites.”

Working safely during the coronavirus outbreak – HSE advice

This HSE guidance is for employers and those who are self-employed and work with or near other people. It may also be useful to workers and their representatives.

During this time of unprecedented disruption, it is important for businesses to operate where it is safe to do so. It is understood working safely during this time is important and this guide is designed to help control the risks associated with running a business at this time.

The guidance explains measures that can be taken to help you carry on working safely during coronavirus, for example by putting in place social distancing measures, staggering shifts, providing additional handwashing facilities and how to talk with workers to help them stay safe.

This HSE guidance covers steps you should take to help manage the risks of coronavirus in your business. These include taking measures to work at home where possible, maintaining social distancing, cleaning and hygiene.

This guide is aimed at all employers and those who are self-employed and work with or near other people. It explains how you can protect people from coronavirus (COVID-19) in your workplace, for example by putting in place social distancing measures, staggering shifts and providing additional handwashing facilities.

The guidance may also be useful to workers and their representatives.

Assessing risk

As an employer, you must protect people from harm. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect your workers and others from coronavirus. This is called a risk assessment and it’ll help you manage risk and protect people.

You must:

  • Identify what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus;

  • Think about who could be at risk;

  • Decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed;

  • Act to remove the activity or situation, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk.

If you have fewer than five employees, you don’t have to write anything down, but it might help if you do.

In terms of ‘Talking to your workers’ – separate guidance is available to help employers let people know what they need to do to protect themselves – see below.

This guidance goes on to cover who should go to work; protecting people who are at higher risk; getting into and leaving work; the work area; moving around; common areas; good hygiene; information and guidance; and PPE.

Talking with your workers about preventing coronavirus

This guide is aimed at all employers. It explains how you can talk to your workers about preventing coronavirus (COVID-19) in your workplace, for example by putting in place social distancing measures, staggering shifts and providing additional handwashing facilities.

The guidance may also be useful to workers and their representatives, and those who are self-employed and work with or near other people. The law requires all employers to assess the risk of returning to work while the coronavirus outbreak is ongoing and to put steps in place to manage that risk.

This guide is designed to help you consult with workers as one part of putting in place measures to manage the risks of coronavirus in the workplace while continuing to work.

By talking to your workers, the guidance suggests that you can:

  • Reassure them by explaining the changes you are making;

  • Get their thoughts and ideas about how to change the workplace to keep people safe and to ensure those changes are workable;

  • Continue to operate your business safely during the outbreak.

The guide describes five different themes and suggests questions you can discuss with your workers. They are designed to get you talking with your workers about managing the risks of coronavirus.

Actions can then be taken to make sure your plans are working safely, and people have been listened to. You can hold conversations before returning to work so that plans can be developed and put in place before going back. You could then have further discussions soon after return to make sure the actions are working and are being followed.

You may also decide to repeat the discussions if something changes, for example: if new guidelines are published; or if lockdown restrictions change.

Importantly, the guidance points out that you should make sure that there is time available for managers and workers to have these conversations. The guide relies on both managers and workers having an open and honest conversation.

COVID-19 roadmap taskforces

Reopening other (currently closed) businesses and public places will take place when the science allows, says the Cabinet Office, and when they can meet new COVID-19 secure guidelines, which relate to their specific activities. To support the development of such guidelines, the government will establish five ministerially-led ‘taskforces’. These are detailed in this guidance.

To support the development of such guidelines, the government will establish five ministerially-led ‘taskforces’:

  1. Pubs and restaurants (Department for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy);

  2. Non-essential retail (including salons) (Department for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy);

  3. Recreation and leisure, including tourism, culture and heritage, libraries, entertainment and sport (Department for Culture, Media and Sport);

  4. Places of worship, including faith, community and public buildings (Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local government);

  5. International aviation (Department for Transport).

Coronavirus – Guidance on access to green spaces

This guidance on using green spaces and protecting yourself and others has been updated to reflect recent changes. The risk of the coronavirus being passed on to others outdoors is considered to be low as long as people maintain social distancing.

In England you can leave your home to exercise and spend time outdoors for recreation.

You can now:

  • spend time outdoors, including exercise, alone, with your household, or with one person who is not in your household as long as you stay two metres apart

  • exercise more than once a day

  • take part in other outdoor sports and activities, including fishing – on your own, with your household, or with one other person while adhering to social distancing rules

  • drive to outdoor open spaces, including beaches and beauty spots, irrespective of distance. You should travel in a private vehicle, alone or with members of your own household.

  • you should check first if facilities, such as car parks, are open to receive visitors and, when in the countryside, continue to follow the Countryside Code by respecting the local community and protecting the natural environment

  • go swimming in either lakes or the sea as part of daily exercise provided that social distancing guidelines are observed – you cannot use public indoor and outdoor pools

  • all forms of water sports practiced on open waterways, including sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, rowing, kayaking, surfing, paddle-boarding and the use of privately-owned motorised craft (in line with the guidance issued by the relevant navigation authority) are allowed. You can continue to use towpaths for walking, running and cycling, being mindful of other users and people living in boats along the water.

Staying alert and safe (social distancing)

This guidance applies in England – people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should follow the specific rules in those parts of the UK.

The government has set out its plan  to return life to as near normal as is possible, for as many people as possible, and as quickly and fairly as possible in order to safeguard livelihoods, but in a way that is safe and continues to protect the NHS.

This guidance explains the measures that will help you to stay safe as the response to the challenges of coronavirus continue. Key parts of these measures are underpinned by law, which set out clearly what you must and must not do – every person in the country must continue to comply with this. The relevant authorities, including the police, have the powers to enforce the law – including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

How to wear and make a cloth face covering

People in England are being advised to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces where they come into contact with other people – including on public transport.

Issued by the Cabinet Office, this guidance emphasises that people should use home-made coverings, not the specialist masks used by healthcare workers, for example. It provides advice on:

  • Wearing a face covering;

  • Making a simple cloth face covering using either a T-shirt or cotton fabric.

Scotland: public use of face coverings

The Scottish Government has issued its own advice on this issue.

It says that Physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene, are the most important and effective measures we can all adopt to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Therefore, it is stressed that the wearing of facial coverings must not be used as an alternative to any of these other precautions.

Wales: Unlocking our society and economy: continuing the conversation 406109

This document sets out the steps the Welsh Government are considering in order to lead Wales out of the coronavirus pandemic.

It builds on the approach set out in the document published on 24 April (Leading Wales out of the coronavirus pandemic: a framework for recovery) which identified three pillars:

1 Measures and evidence

2 Principles underpinning adjustments to restrictions

3 Public health purpose.

It is felt that there is a growing risk that changed behaviours could lead to a rapid, possibly uncontrolled increase in the spread of the disease. To avoid this, the document notes that Wales needs to move at a pace which is matched by its capacity to identify and shut down new outbreaks of the disease – to test, trace and protect those who become ill or have the virus without symptoms and ensure that they self-isolate to protect onward transmission.

It says the next few weeks need to be spent adapting workplaces,  public spaces and other places where people come in contact with each other to the necessity of maintaining social distancing.

A traffic light-style system is set out, which is based on four stages to determine how those rules could be lifted – lockdown, red, amber and green – and includes the reopening of schools, seeing family and friends, playing sports and running businesses.

There are no dates given in the document, as changes can be only made when the scientific and medical advice says it is safe to do so, it says.

The document gives some detail to how life would look under each category:

  • Lockdown – Schools are only open to vulnerable pupils’ children and children of key workers, people are advised to stay at home, only leaving home for essential travel and to work from home if possible.

  • Red – Schools enabled to manage increase in demand from more key workers and vulnerable pupils returning; local travel, including for click-and-collect retail allowed; people allowed to provide or receive care and support to/from one family member or friend from outside the household

  • Amber – Priority groups of pupils to return to school in a phased approach; travel for leisure allowed together with meeting with small groups of family or friends for exercise; people able toaccess non-essential retail and services; more people travelling to work;

  • Green – All children and students able to access education; Unrestricted travel subject to ongoing precautions; All sports, leisure and cultural activities, as well as socialising with friends permitted, with physical distancing.

The Welsh government stressed that it is monitoring the “R rate” to decide what can be lifted and when.

Northern Ireland: NI Executive publishes plan for easing lockdown

A five-stage plan for easing the COVID-19 lockdown in Northern Ireland has been published by the Executive. The document sets out the approach the Executive will take when deciding how to ease restrictions in the future.

The plan does not include a timetable, but it is hoped to reach the final stage by December.

In making decisions, the Executive will consider three key criteria: the most up-to-date scientific evidence; the ability of the health service to cope; and the wider impacts on health, society and the economy.

Measures detailed in the plan include, amongst others:re

Step 1:

  • encouragement to those unable to work from home to return to work on a phased basis

  • large outdoor-based retail can open including garden centres, though associated cafes and restaurants can only offer takeaway or collection

  • groups of four to six people who do not share a household can meet outdoors maintaining social distancing. With the exception of people who are shielding, visits to immediate family allowed indoors where social distancing is possible

Step 2:

  • non-food retail can open where numbers are limited, with social distancing

  • groups of up to 10 can meet outdoors

  • as demand increases on public transport within social distancing requirements, people encouraged to walk and cycle for short journeys where possible

Step 3:

  • phased return to office and onsite working subject to risk assessment. Work that can be done from home should still be done from home

  • schools expand provision for priority groups on a part-time basis, using a combination of in-school and remote learning

  • gatherings can accommodate up to 30 people while maintaining social distancing

Step 4:

  • other “contact” retail (hairdressers, fitness studios, tattoo and piercing parlours) can open subject to mitigations following risk assessment

  • schools expand provision to accommodate all pupils on part-time basis with combination of in-school and remote learning

  • reducing and staggering demand for public transport at peak times through continued home working and staggered start times for businesses

Step 5:

  • all able to return to work subject to mitigations. Remote working still strongly encouraged

  • hospitality retail (restaurants, cafes, pubs) can open subject to risk assessment, initially on a limited basis

  • expand early-year school provision to full-time basis

  • public transport operating full service but subject to ongoing risk assessment.


Coronavirus guidance for schools

Managing school premises during the coronavirus outbreak 

This guidance is for schools and other educational settings on managing premises during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

It is aimed at leaders of schools and other educational settings; and members of staff with responsibility for managing premises.

Schools are advised to review their arrangements for all building-related systems but in particular:

  • Hot and cold water systems;

  • Gas safety;

  • Fire safety;

  • Kitchen equipment;

  • Security including access control and intruder alarm systems.

While schools should review their arrangements for all building-related systems, says the guidance, in particular the following areas are important:

  • Water systems – drinking water, hot water services;

  • Ventilation – good ventilation is essential at all times in classrooms and particularly during this period;

  • Fire safety – fire safety management plans should be reviewed and checked in line with operational changes;

  • Cleaning – new cleaning arrangements in line with coronavirus preparations should also include regular systematic checks on drainage systems, where toilets are put back into use;

  • All other systems – recommission all systems before re-opening, as would normally be done after a long holiday period.

Safe woking in education, childcare and children’s social care 

This guidance is for:

  • all staff in educational, childcare and children’s social care settings

  • children, young people and other learners

It applies to:

  • children’s homes, including secure children’s homes

  • residential special schools or colleges

  • fostering services

  • visits to family homes

  • alternative provision

  • early years and childcare settings

  • schools, including special schools

  • colleges, including specialist post-16 institutions.

This guidance explains the principles of infection prevention and control to enable safe working during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings

The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy outlines an “ambition” for all primary school children in England to spend a month back at school before the summer holidays.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that if the level of infection remains low enough, children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 in primary schools might begin to return, from 1 June “at the earliest”.

As a result the government is asking schools, colleges and childcare providers to plan on this basis, ahead of confirmation that these tests are met.

The advice in this document aims to support staff working in schools, colleges and childcare settings, to deliver this approach in the safest way possible, focusing on measures they can put in place to help limit risk of the virus spreading within education and childcare settings.

The guidance addresses the following:

  • Effective infection protection and control;

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) including face coverings and face masks;

  • Shielded and clinically vulnerable children and young people;

  • Shielded and clinically vulnerable adults;

  • Living with a shielded or clinically vulnerable person;

  • Class or group sizes;

  • How to implement protective measures in an education setting before wider opening on 1 June.

Actions for education and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020

This guidance sets out how educational and childcare settings should prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020, including information on:

  • Year groups in first phase of wider opening;

  • The latest science;

  • Managing risk and rate of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

It sets out a range of protective measures to ensure education settings remain safe places, including:

  • The undertaking of a risk assessment before opening in every setting. The assessment should directly address risks associated with coronavirus (COVID-19), so that sensible measures can be put in place to control those risks for children and staff. All employers have a duty to consult employees on health and safety, and they are best placed to understand the risks in individual settings;

  • Reducing the size of classes and keeping children in small groups without mixing with others;

  • Staggered break and lunch times, as well as drop offs and pick ups;

  • Increasing the frequency of cleaning, reducing the used of shared items and utilising outdoor space.

Preparing for the wider opening of schools from 1 June

This is a planning guide for primary school leaders to help prepare them to open their schools for more pupils during the coronavirus outbreak.

It aims to help school leaders prepare for extending their opening to include all pupils in reception, year 1 and year 6 from the week commencing 1 June, alongside priority groups (vulnerable children and the children of critical workers).

Re-opening the workplace after coronavirus

What’s expected in health and safety criminal law and how can you avoid prosecution?

Your organisation is looking ahead to stepwise resumption of operations once the COVID-19 lockdown starts to be eased. But what are your health and safety criminal law obligations for the return to work and what do you need to do to stay on the right side of the criminal law? Click here to read Simon Joyston-Bechal’s advice…

Barbour Resources: Re-opening work premises after COVID-19 – Technical Guide and Director’s Briefing

The UK Government is coming under increasing pressure to review their lockdown measures, particularly in terms of the reopening workplaces.  Whilst this discussion is evolving, the purpose of this guidance from Barbour is to outline to employers the range of issues that they must consider (where relevant) in preparing their offices, factories and warehouses for reoccupation.

The guidance is set out in four main sections:

  • Building Safety;

  • Plant and Equipment Safety;

  • Management of Safety;

  • Managing Wellbeing.

It does not cover construction sites, or health and social care activities. These have their own sector specific guidance in place.

Existing risk assessments may not cover COVID-19 hazards in sufficient detail, and as such employers may wish to develop a specific risk assessment as part of their reoccupation planning.  They must also consider how the key findings and controls from the risk assessment are effectively communicated to staff and other interested parties and how they are implemented. The guidance sets out topic areas that a reoccupation risk assessment might cover.

Director’s Briefing

Barbour’s Director’s Briefing addresses some key questions that employers may have around re-opening the workplace following the COVID-19 lockdown:

  • I want to reopen my site – where do I start? What issues do I need to think about in terms of building safety? (fire safety; water management; asbestos containing materials; deep cleaning for re-occupation)

  • What about plant and equipment safety?

  • Do I need to make changes to the overall management of safety on site?

Coronavirus (COVID-19): returning to the workplace guide 

Guidance from the CIPD aims to help organisations plan the next steps following a period of furlough or once lockdown measures start easing.

Following the Government’s announcements on 10 May to begin easing lockdown restrictions in England, businesses are advised to consider all the options so that they have the capability to move quickly. Employers, it says, should start thinking about the following areas, bearing in mind that the physical, emotional and mental well-being of the workforce must remain the key principle:

  • managing returning to the workplace

  • dealing with redundancies and related issues once the furlough scheme ends

  • managing holidays, sickness and other absences.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Flexible working measures for returning to the workplace 405935

One of the proposed measures for allowing employees to safely return to the workplace is to introduce staggered shifts or hours. This would reduce the likelihood of large numbers of people travelling at peak times and therefore, hopefully, reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection.

This CIPD guidance outlines some of legal and practical considerations that are involved in introducing staggered shifts or working hours.

Guidance for Businesses Re-opening after Temporary Closure 

[Northern Ireland]

The purpose of this guidance note is to provide information to those responsible for premises that have been closed for a period of time and where the water supply has not been in regular use.

It is applicable in the current situation when buildings are re-opened following a period of closure as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, but it is also relevant to a period of closure for any reason. It provides guidance to ensure water quality is maintained when the water supply within a building is returned to use.

Government guidance: Relieving pressure on public transport

Coronavirus (COVID-19): transport and travel guidance

Safer transport guidance for operators

This guide is to help organisations, agencies and others (such as self-employed transport providers) understand how to provide safer workplaces and services for themselves, their workers and passengers across all modes of private and public transport. It outlines measures to assess and address the risks of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the transport sector across England.

The guidance aims to ensure that stations and services are regularly cleaned, making clear to passengers how to stay 2 metres apart where possible in stations, airports and ports, and to ensure routes for passengers are clearly communicated to avoid crowding. The government’s guidance also sets out steps operators should take to provide safe workplaces and services for their staff and passengers across all modes of private and public transport.

Safer travel guidance for passengers

This guidance provides advice on how passengers should make journeys safely, following the publication of the government’s roadmap and strategy for the next phase of the pandemic. It urges people to consider cycling, walking or driving to help ensure there is enough capacity for those who need to travel on public transport to do so safely.

The advice sets out that if people who cannot work from home and have to travel for work, they should first consider alternatives to public transport. Those driving their own cars have been asked to avoid busy areas.

The guidance includes checklists for safer travel; these cover planning your journey and what to take with you.

Relieving pressure on public transport

The government has announced plans for boosting active transport, in an attempt to relieve pressure on public transport.

Pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus-only corridors will be created in England within weeks as part of a £250 million emergency active travel fund – the first stage of a £2 billion investment, as part of the £5 billion in new funding announced for cycling and buses in February.

Following unprecedented levels of walking and cycling across the UK during the pandemic, the plans will help encourage more people to choose alternatives to public transport when they need to travel, making healthier habits easier and helping make sure the road, bus and rail networks are ready to respond to future increases in demand.

The government will fund and work with local authorities across the country to help make it easier for people to use bikes to get around – including Greater Manchester, which wants to create 150 miles of protected cycle track, and Transport for London, which plans a “bike Tube” network above Underground lines.

Statutory guidance for local authorities

Fast-tracked statutory guidance, effective immediately, tells councils to reallocate road space for significantly-increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians. In towns and cities, some streets could become bike and bus-only while others remain available for motorists. More side streets could be closed to through traffic, to create low-traffic neighbourhoods and reduce rat-running while maintaining access for vehicles.

Vouchers will be issued for cycle repairs, to encourage people to get their old bikes out of the shed, and plans are being developed for greater provision of bike fixing facilities. Many more will take up the Cycle to Work scheme, which gives employees a discount on a new bike, the government has said.

The government as announced that an updated Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy will be launched by the Prime Minister in the summer, with further measures to transform cycling and walking to deliver the government’s aims to double cycling and increase walking by 2025 – including:

  • The creation of a national cycling and walking commissioner and inspectorate;

  • Higher standards for permanent infrastructure across England;

  • Getting GPs to prescribe cycling and exercise;

  • Creating a long-term budget for cycling and walking similar to what happens for roads.

The government will also be launching a campaign to encourage more people to look at alternative ways to travel, to walk or get on a bike for their commute instead of public transport.

E-scooter trials will also be brought forward from next year to next month to help encourage more people off public transport and onto greener alternatives.

Staggering the commute

Further efforts to encourage drivers to ake the switch include the upcoming launch of a consultation which hopes to make charging electric vehicles just as easy as filling up a traditional petrol or diesel car. It will explore measures such as requiring rapid charging points – which are fundamental for longer journeys – to offer contactless payment, improving transparency on pricing and giving drivers better access to information about the chargepoints available on their journey.

The government says it is also working alongside the tech sector to see how technology could be used to help commuters stagger their journeys and advise on alternative modes of travel.

The government guidance Reallocating road space in response to COVID-19: statutory guidance for local authorities is available here.

The statutory guidance is made under section 18 of the Traffic Management Act 2004.

Also published is a document illustrating traffic signs to support social distancing – it is availabl here.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): getting tested

You can get a throat and nose swab test for whether you currently have coronavirus. This is part of the 5-pillar strategy for coronavirus testing. Testing is most effective within 3 days of symptoms developing, says the government.

Additionally being tested are:

  • social care workers and residents in care homes, with or without symptoms, both to investigate outbreaks and, following successful pilots, as part of a rolling programme to test all care homes (see the guidance for care home residents and workers in England)

  • NHS workers and patients without symptoms, in line with NHS England guidance.

In addition, also being tested are:

  • social care workers and residents in care homes (with or without symptoms) both to investigate outbreaks and, following successful pilots, as part of a rolling programme to test all care homes;

  • NHS workers and patients without symptoms where there is a clinical need, in line with NHS England guidance.

Testing is most effective within three days of symptoms developing. Other who can now register for a test include, police officers, teachers, those in the justice system, transport workers,  supermarket and food production workers, public and environmental health staff, journalists and transport workers.

This applies to England only.

COVID-19: Government Action Plan for Adult Social Care

This plan sets out how the government will support the adult social care sector in England throughout the coronavirus outbreak.

It covers how the government plan to:

  • Control the spread of infection in care settings;

  • Support the workforce;

  • Support independence, supporting people at the end of their lives, and responding to individual needs;

  • Support local authorities and the providers of care.

PPE

A UK-wide plan to ensure that critical personal protective equipment (PPE) is delivered to those on the frontline responding to coronavirus (COVID-19) has been published by Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock. The plan can be found here.

The 3-strand plan aims to provide clear guidance on who needs PPE and when they need it, ensure those who need it can get it at the right time and sets out action to secure enough PPE to last through the crisis.

THE guidance COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) is available here. It covers use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by health and social care workers, in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic. It supersedes previous PPE guidance.  A document outlining the main updates to infection prevention and control guidance is available here.

The following posters are available:

Considerations for acute PPE shortages 

A Public Health England document notes that where there are acute shortages of PPE, and where it is safe to do so, the HSE approves the sessional and reuse of PPE. It has agreed that the use as outlined in this document is appropriate within health and safety legislation and provides appropriate protection for health and care workers.

It was updated on 3 May to reflect the HSE’s position on use of FFP2 respirators:

  • HSE has examined the use of FFP2 respirators as an alternative to Type IIR surgical face masks in non-surgical settings

  • iIa risk assessment identifies a need for FFP2 respirators the user must be face fit tested to ensure they are providing the intended level of protection

  • In circumstances where a lower level of user protection is required, such as that provided by a surgical mask, an FFP2 worn without a face fit test will offer protection similar to the levels from a surgical face mask

  • This is a pragmatic approach for times of severe shortage of respiratory protective equipment (RPE), FFP2 respirators being used in this way will not be carrying out the function they were designed to perform

  • All healthcare settings are reminded that where their risk assessment has identified the requirement for a tight-fitting respirator users must pass a face fit test for that respirator model before it can be used

  • Employers and users of respirators need to be assured protective equipment is protecting the wearer.

These are exceptional circumstances and do not reflect HSE’s standard approach. HSE expects Trusts to have an agreed action plan to support implementation which includes a consideration of all measures to manage usage effectively.

COVID-19: how to work safely in care homes

This guidance is for those working in care homes providing information on how to work safely during this period of sustained transmission of COVID-19. It includes:

  • PPE recommendations for care home staff;

  • frequently asked questions on the use of PPE in care homes;

  • examples which help to identify the correct use of PPE when undertaking activities that require physical contact or activities which do not require physical contact but are carried out in close proximity to residents;

  • guide to putting on PPE for care homes.

Posters are also available, illustrating best practice in relation to PPE:

It is noted that note that this guidance is of a general nature and employers should consider the specific conditions of each individual place of work and comply with all applicable legislation, including the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Offer coronavirus (COVID-19) support from your business

The government is calling on businesses to apply to help with services. Use this service to tell the government how your business might be able to help with the response to coronavirus.

The support needed includes things like:

  • Medical testing equipment;

  • Medical equipment design;

  • Protective equipment for healthcare workers, such as masks, gowns and sanitiser;

  • Hotel rooms;

  • Transport and logistics, for moving goods or people;

  • Manufacturing equipment;

  • Warehouse or office space, for medical use or storage;

  • Expertise or support on IT, manufacturing, construction, project management, procurement or engineering;

  • Social care or childcare.

Click here to apply.

Advice from the HSE

The HSE has issued advice within a document titled: Social distancing, keeping businesses open and in-work activities during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. It covers guidance on social distancing, essential and non-essential work, and in-work activity.

Also released is guidance covering RIDDOR, first aid and chemicals:

RIDDOR reporting of COVID-19

What to report?

  • Dangerous occurrences: if something happens at work which results in (or could result in) the release or escape of coronavirus you must report this as a dangerous occurrence

  • Cases of disease: exposure to a biological agent: if there is reasonable evidence that someone diagnosed with COVID-19 was likely exposed because of their work you must report this as an exposure to a biological agent using the case of disease report.

First aid cover and qualifications during coronavirus (COVID-19)

If first aid cover for a business is reduced because of coronavirus or the first aid training needed is not available, this advice points out that there are some things that can be done to still comply with the law.

Arrangements for regulation of chemicals during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak 

The HSE has made some administrative changes in the provision of services for regulating chemicals during the coronavirus outbreak. These are set out for each chemical regime, with updated details on how to contact the HSE.

Online isolation notes

People unable to work for more than seven days because of coronavirus (COVID-19) can obtain an isolation note through the online service.  Isolation notes will provide employees with evidence for their employers that they have been advised to self-isolate due to coronavirus, either because they have symptoms or they live with someone who has symptoms, and so cannot work.

As isolation notes can be obtained without contacting a doctor, this will reduce the pressure on GP surgeries and prevent people needing to leave their homes.

For the first seven days off work, employees can self-certify so they don’t need any evidence for their employer. After that, employers may ask for evidence of sickness absence. Where this is related to having symptoms of coronavirus or living with someone who has symptoms, the isolation note can be used to provide evidence of the advice to self-isolate.

People who need to claim Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance because of coronavirus will not be required to produce a fit note or an isolation note.

The notes can be accessed through the NHS website and NHS 111 online.

For more information, click here.

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NHS asks people to share their coronavirus symptoms to help others

A new coronavirus Status Checker that will help the NHS coordinate its response and build up additional data on the COVID-19 outbreak has been launched by Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock.

People with potential coronavirus symptoms are now being asked to complete the status checker and answer a short series of questions which will tell the NHS about their experience.

It is open to anyone in the UK to use on the NHS website and in its initial phase the NHS is particularly keen for anyone who thinks they may be displaying potential coronavirus symptoms, no matter how mild, to complete it.

Status Checker users are clearly told at the beginning and the end of the survey that it is not a triage or clinical advice tool, and that they should visit 111 online for medical advice about their symptoms.

The information gathered will help the NHS to plan its response to the outbreak, indicating when and where more resources like oxygen, ventilators and additional staff might be needed and will provide valuable insight into the development and progression of the virus across the country.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Technology and data is playing a vital role in battling coronavirus and supporting our heroic NHS frontline workers to save lives, protect the vulnerable, and relive pressure on the NHS.

“We must learn as much as possible about this virus, and we are asking the whole nation to join this effort.

“If anyone has experienced symptoms of COVID-19 I would urge you to use our new status checker app to help us to collect essential information on the virus and allow us to better allocate NHS resources where they are needed most.”


The tool is live now and people can complete the survey either for themselves or on behalf of someone else with their permission.

It asks them:

  • why they are staying at home

  • to choose from a series of options to describe how they are feeling

  • whether they have any other health problems

  • their date of birth

  • their postcode

  • how many people are living in their home.

The survey can be accessed on the NHS website here.

Emergency bill to strengthen coronavirus (COVID-19) response plans

The Coronavirus Bill, introduced in the House of Commons on 19 March 2020, received Royal Assent on 25 March 2020 and is now in force.

The purpose of the Act is to enable the Government to respond to an emergency situation and manage the effects of a covid-19 pandemic. A severe pandemic could infect up to 80% of the population leading to a reduced workforce, increased pressure on health services and death management processes. The Bill contains temporary measures designed to either amend existing legislative provisions or introduce new statutory powers which are designed to mitigate these impacts.

Vulnerable groups

Chief medical adviser Prof Chris Whitty advises that the group of people who should take “particular care to minimise their social contact” are:

  • People over the age of 70

  • Other adults who would normally be advised to have the flu vaccine (such as those with chronic diseases);

  • Pregnant women.

Stay at home: Guidance for households with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection

Public Health England stay at home guidance is intended for:

  • People with symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus, and do not require hospital treatment, who must remain at home until they are well;

  • Those living in households with someone who shows symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus.

Coronavirus symptoms: UK adds loss of smell and taste to list

Loss of smell or taste have been added to the UK’s list of coronavirus symptoms that people should look out for and act upon. Until now, only a fever and cough were triggers for people to shut themselves away in self-isolation in case they had and could spread the infection. Ear, nose and throat doctors had been warning for weeks that more symptoms should be included. Scientific advisers told the government to update the advice.

If you or someone you live with has any of these symptoms – a new, continuous cough, fever or loss of smell or taste – the advice is stay at home for seven days to stop the risk of giving coronavirus to others.

Loss of smell and taste may still be signs of other respiratory infections, such as the common cold. Experts say fever and cough remain the most important symptoms of coronavirus to look out for.

Stay at Home guidance for households – illustration

An illustration document has also been produced, explaining criteria for staying at home.

This guide, aimed at younger people, explains that to stop coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading, everyone should be staying at home as much as possible, described as ‘social distancing’. This guide is about social distancing and what this age group can do whilst staying at home at this time.

Guidance for households with grandparents, parents and children living together where someone is at increased risk or has symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)

Recently issued guidance is for households with grandparents, parents and children living together where a member of the household is aged 70 or over, meaning they are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus. Clinically vulnerable people include anyone aged 70 or over, as well as those under 70 with an underlying health condition (listed in the guidance).

Government launches plan to tackle loneliness during coronavirus lockdown

The Government has launched a major effort to tackle loneliness and social isolation during the coronavirus outbreak and period of social distancing. Led by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, the plan will aim to ensure that, for people of all ages and backgrounds, staying at home does not need to lead to loneliness.

The latest #Let’sTalkLoneliness public campaign has been rolled out to get people talking openly about loneliness, which includes new public guidance offering useful tips and advice on what to do to look after yourself and others safely.

In a wide-ranging cross-Government and cross-sector plan, Dowden has also announced that:

  • Smaller, community-based organisations in England helping people to stay connected in local communities will benefit from being a priority category of the £750 million package of support for charities announced by the Chancellor on 8 April;

  • National loneliness organisations will be allocated a guaranteed £5 million worth of funding to continue and adapt their critical work at this time;

  • As part of the national effort, loneliness charities including Age UK will be supported to work with NHS Volunteer Responders in their communities.

More information about ‘Let’s Talk Lonliness, can be found here.

Health and wellbeing considerations for home working and self-isolation

Many businesses have begun to embrace the idea of flexible working and working from home and, in the current climate, more and more of us may find ourselves plunged into doing so for longer than the one to two days a week, which employers and employees adapt to fairly easily, potentially leading to increased work-related stress and mental health conditions for employers.

It is predicted that by 2020, half of UK’s workforce will work from home, according to the Office for National Statistics. SHP, Barbour EHS and The Healthy Work Company have compiled a home working hub to provide research, case studies, videos and resources to enable you to lead this transition in a way which safeguards the health and wellbeing of your teams and maximises the opportunity to embrace new ways of working for the future and how to maintain a positive mental health and limit stress, as well as helpting to create a healthy workplace for individuals.


How do I know if I have coronavirus?

BBC News’ Health and Science Reporter, Laura Foster, takes a look in this short video.

Can employers be prosecuted if employees are exposed to COVID-19?

Amidst all the coronavirus headlines, some commentators have speculated that employers may be about to face prosecution if they don’t take all precautions possible to protect staff and third parties from infection. Is this really the case, find out here?

UK Budget 2020

Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a £30bn package to help the economy get through the coronavirus outbreak in his Budget on 11 March. He added that the NHS would get “whatever resources it needs”.

The measures put in place to mitigate the effect of the coronavirus outbreak include:

  • £5bn emergency response fund to support the NHS and other public services;

  • Statutory sick pay will be paid to all those who choose to self-isolate, even if they don’t have symptoms;

  • Those on employee benefits who get ill will be able to “claim from day one instead of day eight”;

  • A £500m “hardship fund” to be given to local authorities to help vulnerable people in their areas;

  • Firms with fewer than 250 staff will be refunded for sick pay payments for two weeks;

  • Small and medium-sized businesses will be able to access “business interruption” loans of up to £1.2m;

  • Business rates will be abolished for firms in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors with a rateable value below £51,000. The measure will apply to firms including shops, cinemas, restaurants and hotels;

  • “Fiscal loosening” of £18bn to support the economy this year, taking the total fiscal stimulus to £30bn.

Coronavirus pandemic

On 11 March, the outbreak was labelled a coronavirus pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO Chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the number of cases outside China had increased 13-fold over the past two weeks. He said he was “deeply concerned” by “alarming levels of inaction” over the virus.

A pandemic is a disease that is spreading in multiple countries around the world at the same time.

How does coronavirus spread?

When someone who has COVID-19 coughs or exhales they release droplets of infected fluid. Most of these droplets fall on nearby surfaces and objects – such as desks, tables or telephones.

People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects – and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. If they are standing within one meter of a person with COVID-19 they can catch it by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled bythem. In other words, COVID-19 spreads in a similar way to flu.

Preventing coronavirus in the workplace

The guidance stresses that employers should start taking these the following measures now, even if COVID-19 has not arrived in the communities where they operate:

  • Make sure your workplaces are clean and hygienic.

  • Surfaces (eg desks and tables) and objects (eg telephones, keyboards) need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly.


  • Promote regular and thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors and customers.

  • Put sanitizing hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the workplace. Make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled;

  • Display posters promoting hand-washing;

  • Offer guidance from occupational health and safety officers;

  • Make sure that staff, contractors and customers have access to places where they can wash hands with soap and water.


  • Promote good respiratory hygiene in the workplace.

  • Display posters promoting respiratory hygiene. Combine this with other communication measures;

  • Ensure tissues are available at your workplaces, for those who develop a runny nose or cough at work, along with closed bins for hygienically disposing of them;


  • Advise employees and contractors to consult national travel plans before going on business trips.

  • Brief your employees, contractors and customers that if COVID-19 starts spreading in your community anyone with even a mild cough or low-grade fever (37.3 C or more) needs to stay at home.

  • Make clear to employees that they will be able to count this time off as sick leave.


The guidance goes on to advise on procedures for employees who travel (before travelling, during and after), and sets out advice for getting a business ready should COVID-19 arrive in the workplace. It is stressed that simple a precautionary measure and planning can make a big difference. Action now will help protect your employees and your business.

COVID-19 – What does your organisation need to do to stay on the right side of the criminal law?

Your organisation is now making preparations for the coming coronavirus pandemic and you are deluged with specific concerns, information and action plans that need to be developed. Amongst the many questions being asked by the Board, should be a cut through question: ‘What are our health and safety criminal law obligations in dealing with the Coronavirus, what do we have to do and how can we protect ourselves from blame if we get it wrong?’

Read Lawyer Simon Joyston-Bechal’s take on it here.


How the UK dealt with coronavirus

The initial response to the outbreak had the fundamental objectives to deploy phased actions to Contain, Delay, and Mitigate any outbreak, using Research to inform policy development. The different phases, types and scale of actions depends upon how the course of the outbreak unfolds over time, said the plan. The overall phases of the plan to respond to COVID-19 are as follows:

  • Contain: detect early cases, follow up close contacts, and prevent the disease taking hold in this country for as long as is reasonably possible;

  • Delay: slow the spread in this country, if it does take hold, lowering the peak impact and pushing it away from the winter season;

  • Research: better understand the virus and the actions that will lessen its effect on the UK population; innovate responses including diagnostics, drugs and vaccines; use the evidence to inform the development of the most effective models of care;

  • Mitigate: provide the best care possible for people who become ill, support hospitals to maintain essential services and ensure ongoing support for people ill in the community to minimise the overall impact of the disease on society, public services and on the economy.

Ultimately, the response to COVID-19 is guided by the international situation, the advice of organisations such as the WHO, surveillance, data modelling based on the best available evidence and the recommendations of expert bodies.


System wide response plans for pandemic influenza, focused on the continuity of public and critical services and the stability of the economy, have been adapted for COVID-19, based on the best available scientific evidence and advice. Click here for the latest information on the current situation.


It is stressed that the nature and scale of the response depends on the course of the disease, which cannot be predicted accurately at this point. As understanding of the disease increases and its impact becomes clearer, the government will issue further detailed advice about what to expect if/when further measures become necessary.


Coronavirus delay phase

In addition to actions taken as part of the Contain phase, the plan emphasises the actions that people can be taking themselves to help delay the peak of the infection; especially encouraging people to wash hands more often; and the catch it, bin it, kill it strategy for those with coughs and sneezes.

Delaying the spread of the disease requires everyone to follow the advice set out in this document. The benefits of doing so are that if the peak of the outbreak can be delayed until the warmer months, the risk of overlapping with seasonal flu and other challenges (societal or medical) that the colder months bring can be significantly reduced.


Coronavirus: Advice for businesses

The UK Government is advising businesses to build their own resilience by reviewing their business continuity plans and following the advice for employers available here.

Businesses should also ensure that they keep up to date with the situation as it changes at.

Click here to read the government’s plan in full.

Emergency support

The TUC is calling on the government to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak by providing emergency support for the millions of UK workers who are currently missing out on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

In a letter to Matt Hancock and Thérèse Coffey, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady warns that inadequate provision of sick pay could stop people taking up public health advice, since many workers will struggle to meet basic living costs if they can’t attend work for a prolonged period.

As a result, some may feel they have no choice but to go to work while ill, or against government advice.

Currently, nearly 2 million of the lowest-paid workers don’t earn enough to qualify for statutory sick pay. According to TUC analysis this includes:

  • 34% of workers on zero-hours contracts;

  • 1 in 10 women in work;

  • More than a fifth (22%) of workers aged 16-24;

  • More than a quarter (26%) of workers aged 65 and over, identified by government as one of the groups most vulnerable to the virus.

WHO warns that supplies of PPE is “rapidly depleting”

In his daily briefing in Geneva on March 4 WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that supplies of PPE, such as the gloves, medical masks, respirators, goggles, face shields, gowns, and aprons used by health workers fighting coronavirus are “rapidly depleting” and warned against “hoarding and misuse”.

“We are concerned that countries’ abilities to respond are being compromised by the severe and increasing disruption to the global supply of personal protective equipment … caused by rising demand, hoarding and misuse,” he said.

Healthcare workers rely on personal protective equipment to protect themselves and their patients from being infected and infecting others. But, says WHO, shortages are leaving doctors, nurses and other frontline workers dangerously ill-equipped. “Without secure supply chains, the risk to healthcare workers around the world is real. Industry and governments must act quickly to boost supply, ease export restrictions and put measures in place to stop speculation and hoarding. We can’t stop COVID-19 without protecting health workers first,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, prices have surged. Surgical masks have seen a sixfold increase, N95 respirators have trebled and gowns have doubled.

Supplies can take months to deliver and market manipulation is widespread, with stocks frequently sold to the highest bidder.

WHO has so far shipped nearly half a million sets of personal protective equipment to 47 countries,* but supplies are rapidly depleting.

Based on WHO modelling, an estimated 89 million medical masks are required for the COVID-19 response each month. For examination gloves, that figure goes up to 76 million, while international demand for goggles stands at 1.6 million per month.

Recent WHO guidance calls for the rational and appropriate use of PPE in healthcare settings, and the effective management of supply chains.

WHO is working with governments, industry and the Pandemic Supply Chain Network to boost production and secure allocations for critically affected and at-risk countries.

To meet rising global demand, WHO estimates that industry must increase manufacturing by 40%.


Governments should develop incentives for industry to ramp up production, says WHO. This includes easing restrictions on the export and distribution of personal protective equipment and other medical supplies.


Every day, WHO is providing guidance, supporting secure supply chains, and delivering critical equipment to countries in need.


The Department of Health and Social Care is evaluating the potential impact of coronavirus on the supply of medicines and medical goods.

There were no current medicine shortages in the UK linked to the situation in China but the UK government is taking precautionary measures to help continue the uninterrupted supply of medicines to patients in the UK.

Coronavirus: no evidence that food is a source or transmission route

EFSA is closely monitoring the situation regarding the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that is affecting a large number of countries across the globe. There is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of the virus.

EFSA’s Chief Scientist, Marta Hugas, said: “Experiences from previous outbreaks of related coronaviruses, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), show that transmission through food consumption did not occur. At the moment, there is no evidence to suggest that coronavirus is any different in this respect.”

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has said that while animals in China were the likely source of the initial infection, the virus is spreading from person to person.

£800,000 worth of ‘coronavirus related’ cyber scams recorded

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has warned the public to be aware of scams and fraudulent emails relating to the coronavirus outbreak. Similar scams have reportedly already tricked the UK public out of £800,000, according to the police.


Originally published on: https://www.shponline.co.uk/asia/coronavirus-advice-for-employers/

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