Seven government documents were drawn up by cabinet office minister Michael Gove and business secretary Alok Sharma this week revealing guidance on how businesses could gradually re-open in the coming weeks and return people to work.
The documents covered workers in seven different settings – hotel and restaurant staff; those who work in other people’s homes; factory workers; people working outdoors; people working in vehicles; shop workers; and office workers.
It is expected that the Prime Minister will announce plans over the upcoming May Bank Holiday weekend to loosen lockdown measures, with some of the initial stages to include allowing restaurants and hotels to open, whilst still maintaining seated areas remain closed. Though the plans are still in the early stages, the lack of mention regarding pubs suggests that they will remain closed during the early, staggered phases of a return-to-work approach.
The guidelines note that businesses with more than five employees must produce written risk assessments of working conditions for their staff if they wish to reopen during the pandemic, however, those individuals who can still work from home must continue to do so.
The guidelines for restaurants and hotels include keeping bar areas and seating areas closed with all food and drink outlets serving takeaway only. Other measures being considered include putting teams into shifts to restrict the number of employees interacting; minimising access to walk-in pantries, fridges/freezers, with likely only one person being able to access these areas at one point in time; minimising contact at “handover” points with other staff, such as when presenting food to serving staff and delivery drivers; hand sanitiser for visitors; and creating a physical barrier between front of house workers and customers.
Mark Laurie, Director at NCASS, commented: “This is a necessary piece of work that is being shared amongst industry leaders for input into how we can begin to lift certain lockdown measures, and work through the main issues that will arise. It’s a welcome document for our industry and goes some way in offering basic guidance, but we’re still very much in the early stages.”
“We as an association are in regular contact with other industry bodies and the Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy to contribute our thoughts to a plan which, we hope when implemented, will best serve the needs of independent catering businesses and the hospitality industry as a whole.”
If you need further help and advice on how to safely operate your business and/or pivot towards a delivery/takeaway/click & collect method during Covid-19, give us a call on 0300 124 6866.