Environmental Health - Food Safety & Standards

Regulatory Services COVID-19 Business Advice

The situation and guidance changes regularly and we will try to keep this page up to date. For the latest advice, please refer to the Government's COVID-19 guidance.

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

The Government have set out a roadmap for easing restrictions.

COVID-19 risk assessments and regulations

The removal of most legal restrictions at step four means that all businesses can open. It means hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants and bars are no longer required to provide table service. They also do not need to follow other social distancing rules.

However, infection rates are increasing and this is likely to continue as restrictions are lifted. A cautious approach is advised to limit hospital admissions and potential business disruption.

All businesses should follow the principles set out in the working safely guidance. The Government is no longer instructing people to work from home. The expectation and recommendation is for a gradual return.

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. This includes the risk of COVID-19, and the steps to mitigate the risks you identify. The working safely guidance sets out a range of mitigations employers should consider including:

  • cleaning surfaces that people touch regularly
  • providing hand sanitiser
  • maintaining supplies of soap and drying facilities at wash basins
  • identifying poorly-ventilated areas and taking steps to improve air flow 
  • ensuring that staff and customers who are unwell do not attend the workplace or venue
  • communicating to staff and customers the measures you have put in place

The legal requirement to wear face coverings has been lifted. The Government expects and recommends that workers and customers wear face coverings in enclosed and crowded areas. Please refer to the working safely guidance for your sector for more information.

Businesses are also encouraged to continue displaying QR codes for use with NHS COVID-19 app. Collecting customer contact details can also continue. Both will no longer be a legal requirement.

Organisations in certain settings are encouraged to use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry.

For queries, please refer to the relevant working safely guidance for your business sector. This should assist you in reviewing your COVID-19 risk assessments now we are at step four.  Please continue to check this guidance for updates. Further guidance and support is available by emailing covidregs@iow.gov.uk.

Face coverings

COVID-19 spreads through the air by droplets and aerosols that are exhaled from the nose and mouth of an infected person. The Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport.

COVID-19 in the workplace

A guide for employees and Managers at work.

If you have had or suspect a case of COVID-19 in the workplace our information sheet explains what you need to do.

If an employee has symptoms

As soon as an employee shows COVID-19 symptoms they must go home immediately to self-isolate. Symptoms include a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste. The staff member should also book a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test immediately online or by calling 119.

It is highly recommended that you and your work colleagues continue to do rapid response, Lateral Flow Tests (LFT) twice per week. These are free from local pharmacies and help to identify people who have COVID-19 without symptoms. This online tool helps you find your nearest pharmacy.

If a rapid response LFT test comes back positive, then the employee should isolate immediately and book a PCR test.

Employer's responsibilities when an employee has symptoms

You need to ensure that individuals who are advised to stay at home do not physically come to work. Enhanced hygiene, hand washing and cleaning regimes should take place in line with the COVID-19: cleaning in non-healthcare settings guidance.

Employers may need to keep staff informed about suspected COVID-19 cases among their colleagues. If possible don’t name the individual. Use the opportunity to remind everyone about the symptoms and make sure they are aware of the process to follow to isolate and get tested.

If the employee’s PCR test comes back negative, they will not need to self-isolate any more. They should return to work if they feel well enough.

If the test is positive, the employee should complete the rest of their 10-day isolation period.

They will be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace. They should provide contact details for people they have been in close contact with in the 48-hours before they started to develop their symptoms. These details will be held in strict confidence and will only be used in compliance with data protection laws.

If a co-worker is at risk because of close contact with the positive case, then they will be notified by the NHS Test and Trace service.

Contact tracing in the workplace

Employers should call the Self-Isolation Service Hub on 020 3743 6715 as soon as they are made aware that any of their workers have tested positive.

Employers will need to provide the 8-digit NHS Test and Trace Account ID (sometimes referred to as a CTAS number) of the person who tested positive, alongside the names of co-workers identified as close contacts. This will ensure that all workplace contacts are registered with NHS Test and Trace and can receive the necessary public health advice, including the support available to help people to self-isolate where required.

In the event of an outbreak in the workplace, employers should follow their established outbreak processes and seek advice from their local health protection team as appropriate.

When you are aware of a positive test result you should identify any close contacts of the confirmed case in your workplace, using the ‘close contact’ definition given by the government. Remember, contact might occur in a car if car-sharing or in staffrooms on breaks. Talk to the employee who has tested positive and make a full list.

It is important to begin this process as soon as possible instead of waiting for and relying solely on NHS Test and Trace.

Outbreaks

This is when more than one confirmed case is associated with your premises or business.

Early outbreak management and intervention remains critical to contain any outbreak and minimise possible wider cases in the community.

You can contact the PHE Hampshire and Isle of Wight Health Protection Team on 0344 225 3861 who can give support and advice to help you manage the situation.

Legal changes to self-isolation

If you develop COVID-19 symptoms or have a positive rapid response LFT test you must self-isolate immediately and arrange to have a PCR test. If your PCR test is positive you must still isolate even if you do not have symptoms.

You can read more about self-isolation on the government website.

If you are a close contact you should take a PCR test as soon as possible even if you are not required to self-isolate. You may also consider limiting close contact with other people outside of your household, or those who are clinically extremely vulnerable, especially in enclosed spaces and wearing a face covering where it is difficult to maintain social distance for 10 days since last contact.

However, you should not arrange to have a PCR test if you have previously had a positive PCR test result in the last 90 days, unless you develop any new symptoms.

Read more information about self-isolation and the support available on the Island.

Keeping customers updated

If your business is affected by COVID-19, good, factual and appropriate communication is critical to support your staff, reassure customers and the community. It will also help manage your reputation.

Useful contacts

PHE Hampshire and Isle of Wight Health Protection Team

  • Telephone: 0344 225 3861

Environmental Health

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.

Businesses in the hospitality industry are asked to have a system to collect NHS Test and Trace data, and keep this for 21 days. This is not law, but will help tracing contacts of people with COVID-19.  You can keep written details or display an official NHS QR code poster which can be generated online.

We have produced a guide for employers and businesses to explain what to do if there is a suspected case of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Guidance for food businesses

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

We understand that businesses may look to change their business model and diversify during this time.

A business will only be in a position to do this if they are registered as a food business with us.

Further advice is available from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. Advice is also available from the Business Companion website.

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