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COVID-19 – Information Note for non- Essential Businesses

On 24 March 2020, the Executive Office in Northern Ireland published a list of essential businesses that are permitted to remain open to members of the public during the Coronavirus emergency.  This information can be found here: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-essential-businesses-and-services.

Under Regulation 4 of The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 a person responsible for carrying on a business, not listed in Part 3 of Schedule 2, of offering goods for sale or for hire in a shop must, during the emergency period—

(a) cease to carry on that business or provide that service except by making deliveries or otherwise providing services in response to orders received— (i) through a website, or otherwise by on-line communication, (ii) by telephone, including orders by text message, or (iii) by post;

(b) close any premises which are not required to carry out its business or provide its services as permitted by sub-paragraph (a);

(c) cease to admit any person to its premises who is not required to carry on its business or provide its service as permitted by sub-paragraph (a).

As your business is not listed in Part 3 of Schedule 2 of The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 you must ensure that you strictly adhere to the above. The Police Service for Northern Ireland are responsible for enforcing the provisions of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 and you should seek advice from the police on compliance with the requirements of this legislation.

If your choose to continue operating and abiding by the above Regulation 4 requirements you must risk assess your activities and implement effective measures to ensure that you are doing enough to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in order to protect your employees, members of the public and anyone else you may encounter (e.g. delivery personnel etc.).  An example coronavirus related risk assessment template has been created by HSENI which can be downloaded at:  https://www.hseni.gov.uk/news/example-risk-assessment-covid-19-workplaces  The HSE have also published information and guidance on Coronavirus at: https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/coronavirus.htm   

The following information, while not exhaustive, are examples of the type of matters that you must consider as part of your risk assessment. You must ensure that any control measures that you implement are relevant to your business activities, are suitable and sufficient and are implemented effectively on an on-going basis.

Social Distancing

Employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home. Businesses which are remaining open and satisfy the above Regulation 4 requirements must ensure a distance of two metres between all persons – this includes between employees, between customers (who are queuing outside of your premises), between employees and customers (outside of your premises) and any other visitors (e.g. delivery personnel).  Effective queue controls and distance markers may be required outside of your premises to ensure safe and effective separation is maintained. Management and employees must ensure the requirements of social distancing are firmly adhered to.  Further information is available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-coronavirus-covid-19

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Where suitable PPE is required for employees to carry out their work activities safely, employers must provide this free of charge and ensure there is enough available.  Examples, may include: gloves, face masks, aprons etc.  Further general information on PPE is available from: https://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/ppe.htm

Hygiene & Cleaning

Businesses must ensure that there are suitable facilities for employees to wash their hands with soap and hot and cold running water and ensure that they do this regularly for at least 20 seconds each time.  Information on effective handwashing can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/best-way-to-wash-your-hands/  

Ensure to catch all coughs and sneezes with tissues, binning them immediately after, the provision of tissues to employees and the display of posters to promote the message of CATCH IT, BIN IT, KILL IT, will help achieve good respiratory hygiene (see links to posters below).

While not a substitute for effective hand washing, hand sanitiser should also be provided for employees and, the provision of hand sanitisers and towels/tissues at work areas should also be considered.  You should also consider providing hand sanitisers for customer use when entering and leaving your premises and ensure that these are managed effectively. 

Equipment and surfaces that are touched regularly, should be frequently cleaned and disinfected, taking care not to spread any potential contamination.  Further advice on cleaning is available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings

Vulnerable Employees

Employees from vulnerable groups should follow the government’s advice available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people

Management Arrangements

It is important to keep all employees updated on actions being taken to reduce risks of exposure in the workplace.  Ensure all employee contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date.  Ensure managers and supervisors know how to spot symptoms of COVID-19 and are clear on any relevant processes, such as sickness reporting and appropriate procedures if someone in the workplace is potentially infected or displaying symptoms. If someone becomes unwell in the workplace with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they should be sent home, advised to stay at home and follow the public health advice available at: https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/covid-19-coronavirus

Posters and Other Information

Proactive steps must be taken to remind everyone of the key public health advice, to help reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).  Some posters, leaflets and other materials are available from the links below and should be displayed in prominent positions to help inform both employees and members of the public.

https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/publications/advice-covid-19-coronavirus  https://campaignresources.phe.gov.uk/resources/campaigns/101/resources/5016

Compliance

It is absolutely essential that everyone follows the ongoing advice and rules set down by government to deal with and prevent the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19).  Further information and guidance is available from the links below:

Advice for Employers and Businesses:                                         https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-coronavirus-covid-19

Daily Updated list of Related Guidance:                       

https://www.gov.uk/search/all?topical_events%5B%5D=coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response&order=updated-newest

 

Examples of Business Support Information:    

 

The Council’s Business Team can be contacted for further support at: [email protected]

Please Note: The above are not an exhaustive list of example precautions and guidance and it is your responsibility to do all this is required in your particular circumstances, to ensure your efforts are effective.

Should you wish to discuss any matter with a member of the Health & Safety and Consumer Protection Team, please do not hesitate to contact us on 028 71 253253 or by email at [email protected]

Further information and guidance on Coronavirus (Covid-19) and on general health and safety, is available from our team’s website at: https://www.derrystrabane.com/healthandsafety and https://www.derrystrabane.com/Subsites/Health-Community-Wellbeing/Covid-19