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COVID -19 Information for Essential Retail Businesses, including Food Takeaways & Off-licences

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​​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. 

Essential Services and Businesses

Risk Assessment

If your business is classed as ‘essential’ 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  The HSE have also published information and guidance on Coronavirus 

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

Essential businesses which are remaining open must ensure a distance of two metres between all persons – this includes between employees, between employees and customers, between customers, and between any other visitors such as delivery personnel. 

Social distancing must be strictly adhered to and examples of measures that should be considered as part of your risk assessment include: restricting numbers of customers permitted in the premises at any one time, one in - one out procedures, designated employees positioned safely at entrances to manage queues, encouraging customers to phone in their order and allocate a collection time, floor stickers 2m apart both inside and outside the premises as necessary to ensure safe distancing whilst queueing, introduction of one way systems where possible, provision of hand sanitiser at entrance with signage to encourage safe use, counter staff protected by use of plastic/perspex screens, use of floor stickers to outline 2m distance for customers to stand when purchasing items and use of cashless payment systems.  Clear signage and information describing the need to maintain social distancing is recommended. 

Where social distancing is not achievable due to the small size of a premises such as some food takeaways, businesses should consider telephone/online ordering only and/or deliveries of food to customer houses to ensure employees and customers are not put at any unnecessary risk.  

Guidance on implementing safe food delivery systems 

Staff working in the premises must maintain strict social distancing, management must review work areas and make adjustments where necessary to ensure maintenance of social distancing including in communal areas such as stairways, corridors, store rooms, walk-in chillers, staff rooms, clock in areas, smoking areas, toilet areas etc. Management must ensure controls are promoted and suitably enforced.  You may also need to restrict numbers using facilities by staggering breaks and start/finish times, to ensure social distancing restrictions can be achieved.  Management and employees have responsibilities to ensure that the requirements of social distancing are firmly adhered to. 

Further information on social distancing

Cleaning

Equipment and surfaces that are touched regularly, must be frequently cleaned and disinfected, taking care not to spread any potential contamination.  Such areas include: counters, shelving, payment machines, tills, computers and keyboards, telephones, fridges, kitchen equipment, water coolers, door handles, light switches etc. 

Further advice on cleaning

Hygiene

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 

All employees should be advised 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 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.  

 

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 General information on PPE 

Vulnerable Employees

Employees from vulnerable groups should follow the government’s advice

Management Arrangements

It is important to regularly 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. 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  

Posters, Training and Other Information

Posters, leaflets and other materials are available from the links below and should be displayed in prominent positions to help inform employees and customers. 

Social media is also a useful platform for informing customers about new coronavirus controls and practices.  Regular toolbox talks are a good way to engage with employees and provide up to date advice and guidance and encourage any concerns to be raised. 

Further guidance can be found at:

https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/news/covid-19-coronavirus 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                                

 

Further information and guidance is available on Coronavirus (Covid-19) and on general health and safety

 

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