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Working safely during COVID-19

The UK government, in consultation with industry, has produced ‘COVID-19 secure’ guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible.

The new guidance covers 8 workplace (available in full below) settings which are allowed to be open, from outdoor environments and construction sites to factories and takeaways.

This also sets out practical steps for businesses focused on 5 key points, which should be implemented as soon as it is practical:

  • Work from home, if you can
  • Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions
  • Maintain 2 metres social distancing, wherever possible
  • Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, manage transmission risk
  • Reinforcing cleaning processes

To help you prepare your workplace for the safe return of workers we have developed four simple tips which you can follow.

Follow the tips below or download the full tip sheet here.

Under the government guidelines, the following “essential” retail businesses are authorised to stay open, subject to following stringent social distancing rules:

Food shops including supermarkets and market stalls; pharmacies; petrol stations; home and hardware stores; garages; car rentals; pet shops; corner shops; newsagents; post offices; banks; bicycle shops; off licences; laundrettes and dry cleaners. From 13th May, garden centres may re-open. In addition, food deliveries, takeaways and on-line retail are permitted.

“Non-essential” businesses are not currently permitted to open, these include:

Restaurants, bars, cafes, clubs; hair and beauty salons; tattoo and piercing parlours; massage parlours; retailers such as clothing shops; outdoor and indoor markets that do not sell essential goods; auction houses; car showrooms.

If your business is permitted to open and you wish to consider a phased or full re-opening, continue reading the steps below for further information to guide you through this process.

Find out more here.

There are several steps a business will need to take before it is ready to reopen safely, complying with strict social distancing guidelines. It is likely that your business will open in stages. To help evaluate these steps in relation to your business, there is a wealth of advice available either online or via our Growth Platform advisers.

The steps are summarised below, with further detail provided in the following sections:

1. Prepare your building – your premises and any shared areas

2. Prepare your staff – plan and communicate

3. Review transport accessibility

4. Prepare a Social Distancing Plan for your business operations

5. Review your touch points and access risks – for staff, visitors and customers

6. Communicate with confidence to staff and customers

Step 1: Prepare the Building – your premises and any area controlled by a landlord

You must ensure the building within which you operate is clean, in accordance with government guidelines.

Review the following questions, taking into account any common areas that your landlord (if applicable) has responsibility for:

  • Building Access: How will building access for employees, visitors and customers change during the re-population?
  • Building Common Areas: How will common and shared spaces like receptions, lifts, canteens, toilets, bicycle storage areas etc be cleaned and maintained until things return to normal?
  • Cleaning Protocols for Cleaning Staff: Are cleaning staff trained on safety protocols and cleaning methods? Will they wear masks and protective gear while cleaning? Will they change gear between tenant spaces?
  • Cleaning Specifications: If you need additional cleaning services in your premises, how will those be provided?
  • Air Filtration: Will air filters be changed and will filter material be upgraded to higher filtration and efficiency?

Step 2: Prepare your staff

Key to reopening your business is demonstrating to your employees that sufficient steps have been taken to ensure their safety and wellbeing on returning to work.

Communication prior to and during the re-opening period.

  • Understand the employee base
  • Review the employee/customer journey within the workplace
  • Determine occupancy impact
  • Develop protocols
  • Evaluate social distancing options for the specific business

Step 3: Review Transport Accessibility

The transport planning teams within Liverpool City Region are working on detailed back to work plans to enable safe use of trains and buses, together with increased cycling and walking capacity on the local roads. Car use is discouraged where possible to avoid increased congestion and air pollution.

Further information on services with detailed timetables will be issued shortly. For more information visit Merseytravel.

Step 4: Prepare a Social Distancing Plan for your business operations

Each business needs to prepare a tailored plan to ensure that staff, customers and visitors can be accommodated safely. There is significant support online to assist with creating the plan and access to advisers if one to one advice is needed. There is also new specific guidance, covering 8 workplace settings which are allowed to be open, from outdoor environments and construction sites to factories and takeaways. These 8 workplace guidance documents are now available under Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance.

Step 5: Review your access risks for deliveries and customer; reduce Touch Points and Increase Cleaning

To minimise the risk of the Covid-19 virus being spread, it is essential to reduce the potential for employees, visitors and customers to share touch points. This should be ensured through increased cleaning procedures and control of access and touch points.

Areas to review are:

  • Touchless ingress/egress, clean desk policy, food plan (e.g. staff bring own lunches and eat separately) and cleaning common areas.
  • Supply disinfectants near or on each desk or work area, particularly those that are shared.
  • Protocols for safety and health checks, building reception, shipping/receiving goods, lifts, visitor policies and customer engagement.

Examples of modifications may include:

  • Controlling the entry points including deliveries
  • Reconfiguring gathering (e.g. kitchens) and lobby areas for social distancing
  • Implementation of temperature screening
  • Installation of plexiglass screens
  • Clearly communicating building protocols by signage and floor markings

Step 6: Communicate for Confidence

Once Building and Personnel strategy are determined, agree with stakeholders the protocols and processes for re-occupancy and communicate to staff the steps that are being taken, as well as the behavioural changes needed to keep the returning staff safe. Clearly set employee expectations with an emphasis on making them feel secure, e.g. HR policies regarding illness, support for caregivers and guest and visitor policies.

If your employees are members of a recognised trade union, consult with the union on your safe return to work plans. The TUC has prepared a report, setting out considerations to be made to ensure a safe transition from lockdown, looking at how to safely return to work outside the home, the enforcement measures needed to protect employees, and how best to protect employees’ livelihoods. Find out more here.

If your employees are not members of a recognised trade union, you may consult with your local HSE representative. Find out more here.

Ensure you review the latest Government guidance for when remaining businesses and premises can safely open as the Covid-19 pandemic response evolves. This will have an impact on how businesses operate, for example, restaurants may open initially with outside seating and table number restrictions, easing to full capacity over a period of several months.

Click here for the latest Government Advice and Guidance.

Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep employees safe.

Construction and other outdoor work

Guidance for people who work in or run outdoor working environments here.

Factories, plants and warehouses

Guidance for people who work in or run factories, plants and warehouses here.


Guidance for people working in, visiting or delivering to home environments as well as their employers here.

Labs and research facilities

Guidance for people who work in or run indoor labs and research facilities and similar environments here.

Offices and contact centres

Guidance for people who work in or run offices, contact centres and similar indoor environments here.

Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery

Guidance for people who work in or run restaurants offering takeaway or delivery services here.

Shops and branches

Guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments here.


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 here.

Promote good workplace hygiene

Public Health England have produced a selection of posters and materials to help you encourage good workplace hygiene.

Download information and posters

Guidance for Safer Travel and Safer Transport Operations

Safer transport guidance for operators available here.

Guidance for passengers on how to travel safely:

  • Keeping 2 metres apart wherever possible;
  • Using contactless payment where possible;
  • Avoiding rush hour travel where feasible;
  • Washing or sanitising your hands as soon as possible before and after travel;
  • Following advice from staff and being considerate to others.

From 15 June, face coverings will be required while using public transport in England.

All the latest guidance for people using transport or working in the transport sector during the coronavirus outbreak can be found here.