With England having moved to step 4 of the roadmap out of lockdown from 19 July 2021, the government has published updated guidance on working safely during coronavirus. The guidance, which is to be kept under review, has been re-categorised into the following six sector-specific guides:
- construction and outdoor work
- events and attractions
- hotels and guest accommodation
- offices, factories and labs
- restaurants, pubs, bars, nightclubs and takeaway services
- shops, branches and close contact services.
There is also a general step 4 overview which makes clear that the government is no longer instructing people to work from home and businesses no longer need to implement social distancing in the workplace. However, it warns that businesses still have a legal duty to manage risks to those affected by their business, and the way to do this is to carry out a health and safety risk assessment, including the risk of COVID-19, and to take reasonable steps to mitigate the identified risks. The onus is on businesses to decide what mitigations are appropriate to adopt. The guidance also states that the government expects and recommended a gradual return to the workplace over the summer, and employers should discuss the timing and phasing of a return with their workers.
The sector-specific guides each set out six priority actions for businesses to take from 19 July 2021 to protect their staff and customers. These are:
- Complete a health and safety risk assessment that includes the risk from COVID-19
- Provide adequate ventilation
- Clean more often
- Turn away people with COVID-19 symptoms
- Enable people to check in at the business venue
- Communicate and train.
Employers are advised to give extra consideration to workers who are at higher risk, discussing their individual needs and supporting them in taking any additional precautions advised by their clinicians, and those facing mental and physical health difficulties.