January 2021 Lockdown

COVID-19 Restrictions

A new variant of the COVID-19 virus has been identified within the United Kingdom. The evidence shows that this new variant spreads more easily and is estimated to be up to 70% more transmissible than the previously circulating form of the virus. Therefore all 4 nations are now in lockdown as there has been a rapid rise in COVID-19 infections throughout the UK. The lockdown restrictions are very much like what they were previously implemented in March 2020. Below is a breakdown of the restrictions, click here for details for England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

England

  • People must work from home where they can. You can only leave home for work purposes where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home, including but not limited to people who work within critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing that require in-person attendance.
  • Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.
  • Public sector employees working in essential services, including childcare or education, should continue to go into work.
  • Early years settings (including nurseries and childminders) can remain open.
  • Vulnerable children and children of critical workers can continue to use registered childcare, childminders, and other childcare activities
  • Where it is necessary for you to work in other people’s homes - for example, for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople - you can do so. Otherwise, you should avoid meeting for work in a private home or garden, where COVID-19 Secure measures may not be in place.
  • Indoor gyms and sports facilities must close.
  •  Outdoor sports venues must close, this includes golf courses, tennis courts and swimming pools.
  • Non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms, betting shops, tailors, electronic goods, mobile phone shops must close. These venues can continue to operate click and collect and delivery services.
  • Hospitality venues such as pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes, and social clubs must close. They can continue to provide food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway until 11 pm by click and collect or drive through. All food and drink including alcohol can continue to be provided by delivery.
  • Hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites must close except for specific circumstances, such as where these act as someone’s main residence, where the person cannot return home, for providing accommodation or support to the homeless, or where it is essential to stay there for work purposes.
  • Entertainment venues must close, this includes theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, indoor play and soft play centres and areas (including inflatable parks and trampolining centres), circuses, fairgrounds, funfairs, water parks and theme parks, animal attractions (such as zoos, safari parks, aquariums, and wildlife centres).
  • Personal care facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons, tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services must also close. These services should not be provided in other people’s homes.
  • Weddings and civil partnerships should only go ahead in exceptional circumstances and is limited to 6 people and can only take place in COVID- secure venues or in public outdoor spaces. Examples of exceptional circumstances are an urgent marriage where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover or is to undergo debilitating treatment or life-changing surgery.
  • Funerals can continue with up to a maximum of 30 people. Wakes and other linked ceremonial events can continue in a group of up to 6 people.
  • You should not travel unless you have a reasonable excuse such as work. If you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town, or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall.
  • If you need to travel, walk or cycle where possible, and plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practice social distancing while you travel.
  • Avoid car sharing with anyone from outside your household or your support bubble.
  • Care home visits can take place with arrangements such as substantial screens, visiting pods, or behind windows. Close-contact indoor visits are not allowed. No visits will be permitted in the event of an outbreak.

The following businesses within England can remain open:

  • Essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, building merchants and suppliers of building products and off-licences.
  • Businesses providing repair services may also stay open, where they primarily offer repair services.
  • Petrol stations, automatic (but not manual) car washes, vehicle repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses.
  • Banks, building societies, post offices, short-term loan providers and money transfer businesses.
  • Funeral directors.
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners.
  •  Medical and dental services.
  • Vets and retailers of products and food for the upkeep and welfare of animals.
  • Animal rescue centres, boarding facilities, and animal groomers (may continue to be used for animal welfare, rather than aesthetic purposes).
  • Agricultural supplies shops.
  • Mobility and disability support shops.
  • Storage and distribution facilities.
  • Car parks, public toilets, and motorway service areas.
  • Outdoor playgrounds.
  • Outdoor parts of botanical gardens and heritage sites for exercise.
  •  Places of worship.
  • Crematoriums and burial grounds.

Scotland

In Scotland, the advice states that people must stay at home as much as possible. By law, in a level 4 area, you can only leave your home or garden for an essential purpose. People are advised to work from home wherever this is practicable.

  • Restaurants, cafes, pubs, and bars must close. Takeaways can still operate as normal, providing food is sold for consumption off premises.
  • All holiday accommodation is closed to tourism. Hotels, B&Bs and self-catering can remain open for essential customers only. This includes anyone using the accommodation for work purposes, to attend a funeral, for homeless people, anyone who uses the accommodation as their main residence. When providing accommodation to workers, this should only be open for essential workers who require accommodation as part of their role.
  • Tradespeople should only go into a house to carry out or deliver essential work or services, this includes

o   Utility safety checks, repairs, maintenance, and installations.

o   Carrying out repairs and maintenance that would otherwise threaten the household’s health and safety.

o   Delivering goods or shopping, where essential.

o   Delivering, installing, or repairing key household furniture and appliances such as washing machines, fridges, and cookers.

  • Close contact services must close. This includes hairdressing and barbers, beauty and nail services, tattoo, piercing and body modification, massage therapies, spa and wellness services, complementary and alternative medicine services requiring physical contact or close physical proximity between persons, but not osteopathy and chiropractic services.
  • Indoor sports facilities must close.
  • All leisure and entertainment premises must close.
  • Driving lessons and motorcycle lessons must stop.
  •  Public buildings such as libraries must close, however, library click and collect services can operate.
  • All indoor visitor attractions such as museums, galleries, heritage attractions, indoor areas of zoos and aquariums must close. 
  • Visitor attractions’ retail and hospitality facilities must be closed.
  • Places of worship are required to close for worship but can open for the purposes of leading an act of worship (broadcast or online), conducting a marriage or civil partnership ceremony or a funeral. ?????
  • Wedding ceremonies and civil partnership registrations can take place with a maximum capacity of 5 people.
  •  Funerals can take place with a maximum capacity of 20, provided the venue’s capacity allows for 2 metre physical distancing.
  • Wedding or civil partnership receptions and post funeral gatherings such as wakes and cannot take place.  
  • Early learning, childcare and school age childcare services can only open to children of key workers and vulnerable children.
  • Schools can only open to in-person learning for children of key workers and vulnerable children, with remote learning for all other children and young people from 11 January to 29 January.
  • Colleges and universities can operate using a more restricted mix of face-to-face and distance learning.
  • Public services will be delivered online where possible. Face-to-face services can continue where this is essential.

The following businesses within Scotland can remain open:

  • Food retailers, including food markets, supermarkets, convenience stores and corner shops.
  • Off-licences and licensed shops selling alcohol (including breweries).
  • Pharmacies (including non-dispensing pharmacies) and chemists.
  • Newsagents.
  • Building merchants and suppliers of products and tools used in building work and repairs.
  • Petrol stations.
  • Car repair and MOT services.
  • Bicycle shops.
  • Taxi or vehicle hire businesses.
  • Banks, building societies, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs, cash points and undertakings which by way of business operate a currency exchange office, transmit money (or any representation of money) by any means or cash cheques which are made payable to customers.
  • Post offices.
  • Funeral directors.
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners.
  •  Dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody services, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health services, including services relating to mental health.
  •  Veterinary surgeries and pet shops.
  • Agricultural supplies shops and agricultural markets.
  • Storage and distribution facilities, including delivery drop off or collection points, where the facilities are in the premises of a business included in this sub-paragraph.
  • Car parks and public toilets.
  • Livestock markets and auctions.
  • Outdoor markets, and outdoor car lots.
  • Golf courses can remain open for exercise purposes. A maximum of 2 people from 2 separate households or members of an individual household or extended household can play together.
  • Outdoor gyms can remain open.
  • Funerals can take place with a maximum capacity of 20, provided the venue’s capacity allows for 2 metre physical distancing.
  • Outdoor workplaces, construction, manufacturing, veterinary services and film and TV production can also remain open.
  • Visiting a loved one in care homes is classed as essential travel – exempt from travel restrictions. Indoor visits must be for essential reasons only. Outdoor visits to care homes to see loved ones via garden or window visits arranged with care home in advance. As a result of the additional risk posed by the new variant, garden visits should now be limited to one visitor and visits by children and young people should be suspended.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the message is stay at home to help manage the pressures on the health and social care system and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

  • Individuals should work from home unless unable to do so. Those who cannot work from home, for example, workers in food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics or distribution can continue to go to work.
  • Hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars, and social clubs must remain closed, except for providing food and drink for takeaway, drive-through or delivery. Businesses providing takeaway services must close at 11.00 pm and off-sales must stop at 8.00 pm. Outdoor areas are not permitted to be used.
  • The provision of food and drink in motorway services, airports and harbour terminals is allowed.
  • Hotels, guesthouses, bed and breakfast establishments, hostels and caravan sites should be closed for holiday, leisure, and tourist purposes. Accommodation can be provided for those already resident; for work-related purposes; for vulnerable people; for those in emergency situations; and people unable to return to their main address.
  • Leisure and entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, inflatable parks, go-karting venues, soft play centres, fairgrounds and funfairs, indoor museums, galleries, visitor, and other cultural attractions must close.
  • Outdoor visitor attractions are not permitted to open, along with drive-in events.
  • Close contact services, such as hairdressers, beauticians, make-up and nails, tattoo and piercing parlours, tanning shops, massage, electrolysis, well-being, and holistic treatments, and driving instructors (except for motorcycles) must be closed. 
  • Garden centres and homeware stores must be closed.
  • Car washes are only permitted to open for the cleaning and disinfection of vehicles for the purposes of food safety, infection control or animal disease control. No domestic vehicles.
  • Indoor and outdoor sport is not permitted, other than at elite level.
  •  All sports facilities such as leisure centres, gyms, health clubs, swimming pools, tennis courts, golf courses, fitness and dance studios must be closed.
  • Personal one-to-one training sessions or group activities such as running, or cycling are not permitted.
  • Marriages and civil partnerships ceremonies are limited to 25 people. This number includes children under 12 and the celebrant. A risk assessment for over 15 people is required. Receptions or post ceremony gatherings are not permitted.
  • Funerals are limited to 25 people. Pre- and post-funeral gatherings are not permitted.
  • Care home visits are recommended to be restricted, with the exception of palliative care facilities and those who are receiving end of life care.

The following businesses within Northern Ireland can remain open:

  • Community halls can remain open but must adhere to current guidelines.
  • Outdoor parks, play areas, outdoor areas of properties operated by the National Trust and the outdoor areas of stately homes, historic homes and castles are permitted to remain open.
  • Libraries can provide 'call and collect' services, and access to the internet. 
  • Theatres and concert halls are permitted to open for rehearsals or a live recording without an audience.
  • Food retailers, supermarkets, convenience stores, off licences and newsagents.
  • Pharmacies and chemists.
  • Fuel suppliers.
  • Building supplies and hardware stores (equipment for building maintenance and repairs - such as keys, locks, nuts, screws, washers, hinges, latches, handles, wire, chains, belts, plumbing supplies, electrical supplies, tools, and machine parts).
  • Bicycle shops.
  • Agricultural supplies shops and livestock markets.
  • Motor vehicle repair shops.
  • Banks, building societies and credit unions.
  • Post offices.
  • Funeral directors.
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners.
  • Dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health services.
  • Veterinary surgeons, dog groomers and pet shops.
  • Places of worship are permitted to open. Numbers attending acts of worship will be determined by the risk assessment.
  • Childcare can continue to be provided by a person registered in accordance with the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 or any childcare provided free of charge. 

Wales

All of Wales is in lockdown and the message is to work from home where you can.

  • All shops can offer click and collect or similar services, whether or not they are required to close their premises. To reduce the number of journeys people make, all goods and services must be ordered in advance online, by telephone or mail order.  
  • Mobile phone operators’ retail stores are permitted to stay open for the purpose of service enquiries and customer support, such as repairs. They should not be open for general sales. 
  • Work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople, can continue as long as it is managed in a safe way and both the worker and household members are well and have no symptoms of coronavirus. However, it is recommend that people consider whether the work can be safely deferred until they are no longer in Level 4.
  • Restaurants, cafes, bars, and public houses including within hotels and member clubs must close. However, they can offer takeaway services. People must not consume food or drinks on site at restaurants, cafés or pubs whilst waiting for takeaway food.
  • Auction houses, car showrooms and dealerships must close.
  • Close contact services – this includes hair salons, barbers, beauty therapists, beauty advanced practices treatment practitioners, make-up artists, nail service technicians, tanning services, tattooing, body piercings, reflexologists, aesthetics, holistic, wellbeing and other practitioners; acupuncture and electrocautery practitioners and massage therapists including sports and clinical massage therapists.  
  • Betting shops must close.
  • Shopping centres, arcades and indoor or outdoor markets. These may be open to the public to the extent that this is required for access to a business or service that can remain open.
  • Hotels, hostels, B&Bs, campsites and boarding houses must close for commercial use. Accommodation can be provided for those already resident; for work-related purposes; for vulnerable people; for those in emergency situations; and people unable to return to their main address.
  • Libraries, museums, galleries, and archive services must be closed. These may be opened for any purpose requested or authorised by a local authority or the Welsh Ministers.
  • Cinema, theatres, and concert halls must be closed. Performances may be broadcast without an audience, whether over the internet or as part of a radio or television broadcast. It is recommended that Public Health Wales guidelines are followed to ensure the safety of staff taking part.
  • Spas and massage parlours must be closed.
  • Swimming Pools, Indoor fitness studios, gyms, spas or other indoor leisure centres or facilities must be closed.
  • Amusement arcades, bowling alleys, soft play centres, trampolining centres and similar, skating rinks and skating parks, funfairs must be closed.
  • Enclosed sports courts and pitches (whether outdoors or indoors), including golf courses, tennis courts, skating ramps, basketball courts and other similar venues must be closed.
  • The following businesses within Wales can remain open:
  • Food and drink shops.
  • Pharmacies and chemists, including non-dispensing pharmacies.
  • Petrol Stations.
  • Bicycle shops.
  • Hardware shops, shops selling building supplies and equipment, plant and tool hire.
  • Veterinary surgeries and pet shops.
  • Newsagents.
  • Off-licences and licenced shops selling alcohol, including those within breweries.
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners.
  • Post offices.
  • Vehicle rental services.
  • Car garages and repair shops, including MOT services.
  • High street banks, building societies, short-term loan providers, credit unions and cash points.
  • Agricultural or aquacultural supplies shops.
  • Livestock markets or auctions.
  • Shops offering maintenance or repair services for telephones or IT equipment.
  • Storage and distribution facilities, including delivery drop off points.
  • Medical services (such as dental surgeries, opticians and audiology clinics, physiotherapy clinics, chiropody and podiatry clinics, and other professional vocational medical services).
  • Money transmission services, savings clubs, cash points, currency exchanges, and cheque cashing services to access or deposit money.
  • Livestock auctions.

All Nations

If your business is classed as essential and operating remember the following:

Self-Isolation

Anyone who meets one of the criteria below should not come to work and follow the Government guidance on self-isolation:

  • Has a high temperature, a new persistent cough, or a loss of – or change in – the sense of smell or taste. 
  • Is a vulnerable person (i.e., over the age of 70, suffers from an underlying health condition, has heightened susceptibility due to clinical condition or is pregnant).
  • Is living with someone in self isolation or a vulnerable person.

What if an Employee Falls Ill?

If any worker develops a high temperature or persistent cough whilst at work, they must:

  • Return home immediately.
  • Avoid touching anything.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue and put it in the bin or, if they do not have tissues, cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow.

Once an employee has been sent home to follow self-isolation procedures, they must not return to work until the full period of self-isolation has been completed and they no longer have a temperature (or have a negative COVID-19 test).

Travelling to Work

Wherever possible, employees required to undertake essential work should be encouraged to travel to their place of work either by walking or cycling where possible or alone using their own means of transport. Avoid car sharing.

If employees need to take public transport, they should avoid busy times and routes. This will allow you to practice social distancing while you travel.

Business Premises Access

  • Stop all non-essential visitors.
  • Introduce staggered start and finish times to reduce congestion and contact at all times.
  • Monitor building access points to enable social distancing – you may need to change the number of access points, either increase to reduce congestion or decrease to enable monitoring.
  • Where possible remove or disable entry systems that require skin contact e.g., fingerprint scanners or pin-entry door release.
  • Require all staff to wash their hands thoroughly before commencing work and before leaving the premises.
  • Allow plenty of space (two metres) between people waiting to enter the building.
  • Regularly clean common contact surfaces in reception, office, access control and delivery areas e.g., scanners, turnstiles, screens, telephone handsets, desks, particularly during peak flow times.
  • Reduce the number of people in attendance at inductions and consider holding them outdoors wherever possible.
  • Drivers should remain in their vehicles if the load will allow it and must wash or clean their hands before unloading goods and materials.

Hand Washing

Hand cleaning facilities should be provided at all entrances and exits – soap and water, wherever possible, or hand sanitiser when water is not available.

It is important that businesses have an adequate supply of soap, hand sanitiser and paper towels which are stored securely. Proactive action must be taken to ensure the increased demand for such supplies are met.

Businesses must also:

  • Provide additional hand washing facilities to the usual welfare facilities if a large spread-out site or significant numbers of personnel on site.
  • Ensure soap and fresh water is readily available and kept topped up at all times.
  • Provide hand sanitiser where hand washing facilities are unavailable.
  • Regularly clean the hand washing facilities and check soap and sanitiser levels.
  • Provide suitable and sufficient lidded rubbish bins for hand towels with regular removal and disposal.

Further information, including a video guide, on how to effectively wash your hands can be found on the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/best-way-to-wash-your-hands/

Toilet Facilities

  • Restrict the number of people using toilet facilities at any one time e.g., use a welfare attendant.
  • Wash hands before and after using the facilities.
  • Enhance the cleaning regimes for toilet facilities particularly door handles, locks, and the toilet flush.
  • Portable toilets should be avoided wherever possible, but where in use these should be cleaned and emptied more frequently.
  • Provide suitable and sufficient lidded rubbish bins for hand towels with regular removal and disposal.

Eating Arrangements

Where it is not possible for equipment, such as kettles, to be cleaned between use, they must be removed.

  • Workers must be instructed to stay on site for the duration of the working day – avoid using local shops.
  • Dedicated eating areas should be identified to reduce food waste and contamination.
  • Break times should be staggered to reduce congestion and contact at all times.
  • Hand cleaning facilities or hand sanitiser should be available at the entrance of any room where people eat and should be used by workers when entering and leaving the area.
  • Workers should sit 2 metres apart from each other whilst eating and avoid all contact.
  • Drinking water should be provided with enhanced cleaning measures of the tap mechanism introduced.
  • Tables should be cleaned between each use.
  • All rubbish should be put straight in the bin and not left for someone else to clear up.
  • All areas used for eating must be thoroughly cleaned at the end of each break and shift, including chairs, door handles and vending machines.

Changing Facilities, Showers and Drying Rooms

  • Introduce staggered start and finish times to reduce congestion and contact at all times.
  • Introduce enhanced cleaning of all facilities throughout the day and at the end of each day.
  • Consider increasing the number or size of facilities available on site if possible.
  • Based on the size of each facility, determine how many people can use it at any one time to maintain a distance of two metres.
  • Provide suitable and sufficient lidded rubbish bins in these areas with regular removal and disposal.

Managing Close Working

Certain essential work may require employees to be in close proximity to one another (i.e., closer than two meters) for the work to be undertaken safely. However, all working activities should be planned to minimise unnecessary contact and close working.

Only essential physical work that requires close contact between employees should be undertaken and work requiring skin to skin contact must not be carried out.

To manage the risks arising from close working:

  • Re-usable PPE should be thoroughly cleaned after use and not shared between workers.
  • Single use PPE should be disposed of so that it cannot be reused.
  • Stairs should be used in preference to lifts or hoists.
  • Where lifts or hoists must be used: - Lower their capacity to reduce congestion and contact at all times - Regularly clean touchpoints, doors, buttons etc.
  • Increase ventilation in enclosed spaces.
  • Regularly clean the inside of vehicle cabs and between use by different operators.

Meetings

Non-essential meetings should be postponed and, where practicable, remote meetings should be undertaken (e.g., conference/video calls) to avoid unnecessary face-to-face interactions.

Where face-to-face meetings are required, only absolutely necessary meeting participants should attend.

  • Attendees should follow social distancing guidelines (i.e., remain at least two meters apart).
  • Adequate ventilation should be provided to facilitate fresh air circulation.
  • Consider holding meetings in outdoor, open areas wherever possible.

Cleaning

Enhanced cleaning procedures should be in place throughout the premises, particularly in communal areas and at touch points including:

  • Taps and washing facilities.
  • Toilet flush and seats.
  • Door handles and push plates.
  • Handrails on staircases and corridors.
  • Lift and hoist controls.
  • Machinery and equipment controls.
  • Food preparation and eating surfaces.
  • Telephone equipment.
  • Keyboards, photocopiers, and other office equipment.

Rubbish collection and storage points should be increased and emptied regularly throughout and at the end of each day.

Stopping the spread starts with all of us

Remember:

  • Wear a face covering.
  • Avoid crowded places.
  • Clean hands and surfaces regularly.
  • Stay 2m away from other people.
  • Self-isolate and book a test if you have COVID-19 symptoms (new continuous cough, fever, or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste).

The Xact team will give your business a free of charge health and safety assessment to ensure that you are legally compliant. Please contact the Xact Team to arrange your free consultation by clicking on the button.