Step Four and Working Safely During COVID-19

The UK Government has published guidance to help businesses work safely during COVID-19 following the move to step four on 19 July. 

Step four overview 

  • As part of step four, most legal restrictions have been lifted and all businesses can open.
  • Social distancing guidance no longer applies. You do not need to implement social distancing in your business, workplace or venue. 
  • The Government is no longer instructing people to work from home, so employers can plan a return to workplaces. However, during this period of high prevalence of COVID-19, the Government expects and recommends a gradual return over the summer. 
  • Employers still have a legal duty to manage risks to those affected by their business. The way to do this is to carry out a health and safety risk assessment, including the risk of COVID-19, and take reasonable steps to mitigate the risks you identify. 
  • To support businesses through this next phase, the Government’s ‘Working Safely’ guidance sets out sensible precautions you can take to manage risk and support staff and customers.

Priority actions to protect staff and customers 

The ‘Working Safely’ guidance sets out six key steps to protect yourself, your staff and customers.

  1. Complete a health and safety risk assessment that includes the risks from COVID-19. 
  2. Provide adequate ventilation and make sure there is a supply of fresh air to indoor spaces where people are present. 
  3. Clean more often, especially the surfaces people touch a lot. Remind staff and customers to clean their hands frequently. 
  4. Turn people away with COVID-19 symptoms. 
  5. Enable people to check-in at your venue. You’re no longer legally required to collect customer contact details, but doing so will support NHS Test and Trace to contact those who may have been exposed to COVID-19.
  6. Ensure communication and training procedures are in place to keep workers, contractors and visitors up-to-date on how you’re using safety measures. 

Advice for specific settings and sectors

The Government has published ‘Working Safely’ guidance setting out the precautions businesses in different sectors and settings should take to manage the risks of COVID-19.

The guidance covers:

  • 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.

Useful resources

  • Public Health England has published a series of posters for businesses to display to remind staff and customers of continuing COVID actions.
  • The UK Government has published guidance for employers about what to do if you or someone you employ is required to self-isolate. It also covers how businesses can apply to exempt certain workers from NHS Test and Trace self-isolation rules to prevent major disruption to critical services.
  • The Department for Transport has published new advice on travelling to and from the office.

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