In February 2021, the government announced their lockdown easing roadmap: thanks to the success of the vaccine so far, this roadmap detailed predicted dates of when different industries would be re-open to the public, and eventually when we’d be completely free of lockdown restrictions. So, what does this mean for your business?
As well as covering the key dates that you’ll be able to re-open, we’ll also look at what safety measures you’ll need to have in place each stage of the way to ensure that you’re compliant with the latest guidance.
When Can Schools and Colleges Open?
Face-to-face learning has been one of the key priorities outlined in the government roadmap, meaning that all schools, colleges and higher education students on practical university courses in England are to return on 8th March.
Childcare and children’s supervised activities will also be making a comeback on this date to help parents get back to work. This means breakfast and after school clubs as well as school sports activities can resume from this date.
When Can Gyms and Leisure Facilities Open?
Social contact restrictions are partially easing in step 1 of the roadmap on the 29th March. As part of this, outdoor sports facilities such as tennis courts and open-air swimming pools will be allowed to open and people will be able to take part in organised outdoor sports activities.
Indoor gym facilities can open on 12th April but people from different households or support bubbles will not be able to deliberately mix there. By stage 3 (approx. 17th May), saunas and steam rooms will also be allowed to open as people will be allowed to mix indoors again in small numbers.
When Can Non-Essential Shops Open?
Non-essential retailers and shops that haven’t been open during lockdown will be allowed to re-open as early as 12th April in step 2 of the ‘roadmap to freedom’ proposed by the government. Social distancing and regular cleaning measures are still expected to be in place at this stage, however, so make sure you’ve got your shop set up to operate safely.
When Can Bars and Restaurants Open?
Bars and restaurants will be able to take outdoor bookings of up to 6 people from 12th April, making now a great time to get your outdoor area or beer garden ready and set up to allow for social distancing.
Although there will be no need to order a ‘substantial meal’ with a drink and no curfew where businesses will need to shut by a certain time, however table service (where customers are served whilst sat at their table) should be in place.
In step 3 of the roadmap, these kinds of businesses will be able to open indoors too! Again, table service will still be required and venues won’t be able to take bookings of more people than the legal limit of 6.
When Can Hairdressers Open?
Hairdressers, barbers, beauty salons and other personal care services are set to return on 12th April at the earliest, but they will still need to have safety measures in place, such as social distancing or putting up clear banners to separate clients, wearing face coverings and regular cleaning.
When Can Churches Allow Larger Wedding and Funeral Services?
Many have had to put their life events on hold for the past year, but with the lockdown restrictions easing, large religious events like weddings and funerals are in the pipeline again.
In the second step of the roadmap, from 12th March up to 30 people can continue to attend funerals, whereas weddings, receptions and wakes will be increased to 15 attendees.
From as early as 17th May, up to 30 people will be able to attend significant life events such as weddings, receptions, funerals and also other commemorative events like christenings and bar mitzvahs.
It is hoped that starting from 21st June 2021, all restrictions on life events will be listed, meaning church services will be able to run as normal with zero or limited social distancing measures in place.
How to Decide if it’s Safe to Re-Open Your Business
Following the roadmap announcement, some key dates have been set out for returning to your business, however you will still need to make sure you’re following the guidelines and safety measures and operating in a COVID-secure way.
Last year, the government worked with professional bodies across different industries to create a set of specific guidelines on how businesses can approach re-opening as lockdown eased, and many of these will be applicable coming out of Lockdown 3.0 too!
Using these guides and other official advice, we’ve summed up what safety measures you’ll need to implement in order to re-open your business safely.
Can You Implement a Social Distancing Strategy in Your Workplace?
Lockdown may be easing, but social distancing is set to be a long-term measure in preventing the spread of Coronavirus in the UK.
That means you’ll need to take extra precautions to ensure your staff, customers and visitors are all following the correct procedure, and that it’s possible for them to do so.
Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself when setting out a social distancing strategy at work.
Can people keep 2 metres apart?
There are a few different approaches you might take to this. In their guidelines, the government give a series of steps that would usually need to be taken, including:
- Defining the number of customers that can reasonably follow a 2 metres social distancing within your store
- Suspending or reducing customer services that cannot be undertaken without breaking social distancing guidelines
- Working in fixed pairs for jobs that need more than one person to limit the number of people in direct contact with each other
- Introducing queue management or a one-way flow to reduce congestion and contact points
- Managing outside queues with staff directing customers or barriers
See the full guidelines on this here.
Can you work in other people’s homes safely?
If your line of work involves working in other people’s home, this can present other challenges, but it’s definitely possible to do this safely too.
Make sure you agree with the person whose house you’re working in that they understand social distancing and any measure you’ll be implementing before you get there. An email or a flyer works like a treat!
Clear signage is a fantastic way to communicate your social distancing strategy. Encouraging customers and staff with floor stickers, keep your distance posters and by limiting the number of people in an area at one time are all key ways to do this. For more extensive guidance, please see this guidance on how to create a social distancing strategy in the workplace.
Do You Have the Right Health & Safety Signage?
The thing with viruses like COVID019 is that they spread through airborne particles whenever someone who’s infected sneezes or coughs – meaning that there’s an extra risk around frequently touched surfaces like desks and door handles.
Social distancing protects against the actual act of coughing or sneezing, but high hygiene standards are what’ll make the biggest difference when it comes to these surfaces.
Here are a few top hygiene tips the hygiene tips in the latest NHS advice:
- When available, use hand sanitiser
- Wash your hands frequently using soap and water
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
- Only travel when necessary
So, exactly what does the Government recommend for making sure everyone follows the right health and safety procedures? Simply this: clear signage.
From hand wash and hand rub reminder and instruction posters to temperature testing station banners, we’ve created a whole range of Coronavirus safety signage (with free designs!) so you have a definitive list of everything your business needs ready to re-open – we’ve even split it by industry so you can just pick what’s right for you.
Are You or Is Anyone in Your Household Showing Symptoms?
It goes without saying, if you’ve tested positive with Coronavirus, you should stay at home and isolate yourself for 10 days from showing symptoms to prevent the spread of the virus (or, if you’re not showing symptoms, 10 days from receiving your test result). But, you should also stay at home if someone in your household has tested positive as well, for 10 days from their symptoms showing.
Remind employees not to come into work if they’re displaying symptoms over email and reinforce the message by having signs with this messaging on them at the entrance to your building.
If you’re working in other people’s homes, make sure to check whether anyone in that household has been experiencing symptoms and don’t enter their house if they have.
Can You Run a Delivery Service Instead?
Just like how cafés and restaurants are only open for delivery and takeaway services, think about how you could apply this to your business. From florist deliveries to cake-away services, loads of businesses are adapting their services to fit the current guidelines.
We recommend sending out flyers to advertise your new services and to let people know how they can place an order with you – not only are they cheap, but they’re also a quick and easy way to get news about your business out quickly in your local area, which is where the majority of your customers will be for delivery services.
For more advice on how to make sure you’re opening your business safely and tips on getting the most from your safety signs, get in touch with our team for a free consultation now.