Environmental Health - Food Safety & Standards

Regulatory Services COVID-19 Business Advice

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

This page has been developed by the Environmental Health Team. Please note that the situation and guidance is evolving and whilst we endeavour to keep this page up to date, please refer to the Government’s website for the latest guidance.

The following paragraphs outline some of the key issues and provide links to external sources for further information. This list is not an exhaustive and does not constitute legal advice.

Socialising

The new “rule of six” simplifies and strengthens the rules on social gatherings, making them easier to understand and easier for the police to enforce.

It means that – apart from a set of limited exemptions - any social gatherings of more than six people will be against the law.

You should not:

  • socialise indoors or outdoors in groups of more than six people  – this includes when dining out or going to the pub
  • interact socially with anyone outside the group you are attending a place with, even if you see other people you know, for example, in a restaurant, community centre or place of worship
  • hold or attend celebrations (such as parties) where there will be more than six people in attendance

The Government have produced Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can't do .

Business Closure – Can I Open?

You must not open your business if it is required to be closed under the current government Regulations: GOV.UK - Closing certain businesses and venues in England .

If your business is not on the list then you may open without committing an offence under these Regulations, however the opening of premises and services must be a decision for you as a business.

Businesses selling food or drink (including cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants), social clubs, casinos, bowling alleys, amusement arcades (and other indoor leisure centres or facilities), funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls, must be closed between 10pm and 5am. This will include takeaways but delivery services can continue after 10pm.

Customers must eat and drink at a table in any premises selling food and drink to consume on site. In licensed premises, food and drink must be ordered from, and served at, a table.

The situation is constantly under review, therefore please ensure that you keep up to date by referring to the Government’s website

Hospitality Venues (Businesses which provide food and drink for consumption on the premises)

Venues that have undertaken a risk assessment following Covid-19 secure guidelines can host more than six people in total, however no one should visit or socialise in a group of greater than six.

It is also important that people from different households (or support bubbles) meeting in a single group remain socially distanced.

There is now a legal requirement that hospitality venues take all reasonable steps to ensure the 'rule of 6' is upheld.

What this means is that businesses should not intentionally facilitate gatherings between a greater number of people than is permitted and should take steps to ensure customer compliance with the limits on gatherings to ensure that:

  • No bookings for tables are accepted for a group of more than six persons
  • No persons are admitted to the premises in a group of more than six
  • No persons mingle with other groups on the premises
  • That appropriate distance is maintained between tables

Appropriate distance means at least two metres or at least one metre if:

  • There are barriers or screens between tables
  • The tables are arranged with back to back seating, or otherwise arranged to ensure that persons sitting at one table do not face any other persons sitting at another table at a distance of less than two metres

Face Coverings

  • Customers in private hire vehicles and taxis must wear face coverings.
  • Customers in hospitality venues must wear face coverings, except when seated at a table to eat or drink. Staff in hospitality and retail are also now required to wear face coverings.
  • People who are already exempt from the existing face covering obligations, for reasons such as having an underlying health condition, will continue to be exempt from these obligations.
  • The requirement to wear face coverings and visors in close contact services has now become law.
  • Staff working on public transport and taxi drivers are advised to wear face coverings.

Health and Safety – How to be COVID Secure

You have responsibilities and duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees and persons not in your employment.

You must take appropriate steps to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic. The Government have produced a 5 Step Guide containing practical actions for businesses to take:

  1. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment
  2. Develop cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures
  3. Help people to work from home
  4. Maintain 2m social distancing, where possible
  5. Where people cannot be 2m apart, manage transmission risk

Where an employer has 5 or more staff, they should document the significant findings of their risk assessment. The Health and Safety Executive have produced a risk assessment template for businesses to use. UK Hospitality have also produced advice and risk assessments for hospitality businesses, including a template risk assessment in Appendix I. It is important that businesses who adopt these risk assessment templates review the content to ensure that they reflect the specific circumstances in their business and also review other existing risk assessments which may be impacted by changes in the business, for example, the fire risk assessment if the layout of the business has changed. We have been running Risk Assessment Webinars to assist businesses and the presentation can be downloaded.

The Government have produced guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely

This has detailed, tailored advice for key sectors and these will continue to be added as we move through recovery. The Government have also issued the following sector specific guidance:

It is noted that much of the guidance on social distancing is currently subject to the caveat of ‘where possible’. Social distancing should therefore not be the only control measure, there are other ways to achieve compliance and some of these are outlined in guidance provided on the Health and Safety Executive website.

If you are planning to host an event, the Licensing Department have produced guidance on how to do this safely.

Team Sport - We know that sport plays an important role in the health and wellbeing of us all and the return to these activities is most welcomed. The risk of COVID-19 in sport cannot be completely eradicated, but with caution and care, risk can be reduced, and the benefits of team sport enjoyed fully again. If you are organising a team sport activity we recommend that you use the Guidance on Return to Team Sport: COVID-19 Secure Checklist.

A toolkit has been produced to assist businesses to communicate some of the covid secure controls measures that you may have adopted.  The toolkit provides template advisory posters and other resources. Businesses should ensure that they have undertaken all steps to risk assess their business activities in line with the government guidance.

The Environmental Health Department urges businesses to consider that these are stressful times for employers and employees, and the impact on employee wellbeing and mental health should be considered as part of your risk assessment. It is important to ensure that there are clear lines of communication between senior managers and all employees. Businesses should review and update their stress at work policies and ensure that any employee assistance programmes in place are adequate, and employees are aware of the help that is available to them. Please visit the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website for more information on stress at work.

Businesses must continue to report accidents and near misses in accordance with RIDDOR. A report must be made under RIDDOR (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) when: 

  • an incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence.
  • a worker has been diagnosed as having COVID-19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. This must be reported as a case of disease.
  • a worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus.

For further information on COVID-19 and RIDDOR, or to make a RIDDOR report, please visit the HSE’s website RIDDOR Reporting of COVID-19.

Please note: these are not legal standards but should be used to guide and assist business decisions and safe systems of operation.  Human behaviour will play a significant role in achieving a safe working environment, therefore training, instruction and supervision play an important role.

This department will be responding to complaints and undertaking interventions with businesses. Organisations that have failed or refused to consider the risk, or implement any control measures, are more likely to be subject to enforcement action.

 

Test and Trace Requirements

The continued opening up of the economy is reliant on NHS Test and Trace being used to minimise transmission of the virus.

It is now a legal requirement for businesses in the hospitality industry - including pubs, bars and restaurants - to have a system to collect NHS Test and Trace data, and keep this for 21 days.

In order to ensure that businesses are able to remain open, you must:

  • Ask one member of every party who visits your premises to provide their contact details to assist NHS Test and Trace. Refuse entry to those who refuse to provide contact details.
  • Have a system in place to ensure that you can collect that information from your customers and visitors, and provide this data to NHS Test and trace, if it is requested. Check what data you need to collect and how it should be managed.
  • Keep a record of all staff working on your premises and shift times on a given day and their contact details.
  • Display an official NHS QR code poster so that customers and visitors can 'check-in' using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details. Official NHS QR posters can be generated online.

 

For further information about Test and Trace please see the Council's Test and Trace Frequently Asked Questions.

The Government have produced action cards to provide instructions to anyone responsible for a business or organisation on what to do in the event of one or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in your organisation.

An information sheet is also available which explains what to do if there is a suspected case of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Re-Opening - Other Considerations

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have produced a helpful checklist for food businesses who are looking to re-open after a temporary shutdown.

The Public Health team have published guidance on the financial support available to businesses.

Guidance Specific for Food Businesses During COVID-19

It is very unlikely that you can catch coronavirus from food. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. It is not known to be transmitted by exposure to food or food packaging.  

The Isle of Wight Council understand that businesses may look to change their business model and diversify in order to maintain their business during this time.

A business will only be in a position do this if they are registered as a food business with the Local Authority.

Further advice has been provided in guidance issued by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

Further advice is also available from Business Companion website.

Cleaning guidance for non-healthcare settings with a suspected or after a case of COVID-19

Public Health England guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare setting, this guidance provides advice for laundry, waste and more for settings where COVID-19 has been present.