Opening your visitor economy business safely for your team, your customers and yourself

Tuesday June 30, 2020

Some are calling it our Independence Day. On 4 July further swathes of the economy in England will be permitted to reopen. Many of these allow the public to get out and enjoy themselves. If your business is among those reopening, you will probably be excited to commence trading again, but there is a lot of work to do to get your operations COVID secure. You may also feel trepidation for the health, and legal, risks you face if you do not get it right.

Scottish businesses will have to wait a little longer (as do the other devolved nations). But, we’d expect many of the safety issues we look at here to be broadly applicable north of the border, although do consult your devolved guidance.

Public houses, historic houses, hairdressers, restaurants and cinemas all have a green light to open the doors, as long as the situation continues to improve. Taking centre stage of any business reopening is a COVID-19 risk assessment. This will give you the roadmap of what to do to specifically get your business COVID secure.

As with other sectors, the government has provided detailed sector guidance. Such government advice should always be your North Star: whether you follow it directly yourself, or use a health and safety consultancy like the H&S Dept. How you apply this guidance will depend on your business. Here we highlight a few of the areas for consideration.

The people factor

By definition, the extra challenge you will have in your sector is visitors. Managing the people visiting your site will require considered thought. The kind of questions you will be asking are:

  • What volume of people can you handle whilst complying with social distancing?
  • How will you manage their movement?
  • Is queuing necessary and how can it be done safely?
  • What provision do you need to make for people with a disability?
  • What impact will you have on other nearby businesses which are reopening, and they on you?

Where mitigating action is necessary after asking these questions, the kind of solutions we are seeing being readied include: staggered opening times (for you and nearby businesses); electronic booking/ordering; queue systems which meet social distancing needs and other safety requirements; one-way visitor flow systems; reducing use of high contact areas such as ordering food at a bar; appropriate hand-washing, toilet and other hygiene facilities; recording names and addresses of visitors for potential track and trace; and clear comms so that your visitors know what to expect.

One point to be extra mindful of is not diminishing your security and anti-terrorism measures when getting COVID secure. For instance, staff monitoring social distancing in queues should still be on the lookout for suspicious behaviour. Street furniture and security features should not be removed to facilitate queuing without assessing the security risk. Where security screening takes place, this should be modified for social distancing, rather than removed.

Other considerations

Of course, managing visitors is just one aspect of the task ahead. Like any other business you will have many other issues to consider including hand-washing, cleaning, staff social distancing and safety, and managing deliveries.

On the staff point, remember the basics that all businesses should be doing: having any staff that can work from home doing so; offering your most vulnerable workers the safest available roles if they can’t work from home; and having contingency arrangements if employees develop symptoms or test positive. Staff, or unions for larger businesses, should be consulted whilst you are planning, and you should share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce.

There is some hard work ahead. If you would like some outside help conducting your risk assessment or putting COVID secure measures in place, please contact our experts at the H&S Dept.

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