Coronavirus (COVID-19): What has changed - 22 September
The government has announced further national measures to address rising cases of coronavirus in England.
- Customers in private hire vehicles and taxis must wear face coverings (this came into force on 23 September).
- Customers in hospitality venues must wear face coverings, except when seated at a table to eat or drink. Staff in hospitality and retail will now also be required to wear face coverings (this came into force on 23 September).
- People who are already exempt from the existing face covering obligations, such as because of an underlying health condition, will continue to be exempt from these new obligations.
- Guidance stating that face coverings and visors should be worn in close contact services will now become law (this came into force on 23 September).
- Staff working on public transport and taxi drivers will continue to be advised to wear face coverings.
- 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 (this came into force on 23 September).
- In licensed premises, food and drink must be ordered from, and served at, a table.
- Customers must eat and drink at a table in any premises selling food and drink to consume on site (this came into force on 23 September).
- Businesses will need to display the official NHS QR code posters so that customers can ‘check-in’ at different premises using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details once the app is rolled out nationally (from 24 September).
- Businesses and organisations will face stricter rules to make their premises COVID Secure (from 28 September):
- A wider range of leisure and entertainment venues, services provided in community centres, and close contact services will be subject to the COVID-19 Secure requirements in law and fines of up to £10,000 for repeated breaches.
- Employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.
- Businesses must remind people to wear face coverings where mandated.
Reopening your business: Coronavirus (Covid-19)
If you are reopening a business, welcoming back more staff, or changing how you operate your business there are a number of things you may need to consider to make sure that staff and customers stay safe. The following provide sources of useful information.
Please note, links to the gov.uk website are regularly updated to reflect ongoing changes. You should ensure you check the updates for the latest information.
Advice for hospitatility businesses
Following the easing of lockdown restrictions, it is important that businesses are aware of the legal duties to ensure staff, customers and visitors are kept safe whilst operating during the Coronavirus Pandemic.
All employers have a legal responsibility under Health & Safety Law to assess and manage the risk of COVID-19 and protect workers and customers. This means businesses need to think about the risks they face and do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them. This responsibility does not just relate to the risks within the business but also to outside areas associated with the business, for example beer gardens and queues that form on the highway/pavement awaiting entry into the premises.
Government guidance is in place and all businesses need to complete a risk assessment showing that they have put in place measures to protect their customers and staff.
It vitally important that customers entering hospitality venues take note and follow instruction provided by business operators. These controls are designed to ensure they are kept safe whilst enjoying the facilities. It is in the interests of everyone to take care of themselves and others at a time when the risk of infection COVID-19 remains in place. It is essential that rate of infection within the community remains under control and further lockdown restrictions are not introduced moving forward.”
- To assist businesses perform a risk assessment and address the risks of COVID-19, the government have issued a guidance document entitled ‘Working Safely during coronavirus - Guidance for people who work in or run restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes or takeaways’.
- Failure to complete a risk assessment which takes account of COVID-19, or completing a risk assessment but failing to put in place sufficient measures to manage the risk of COVID-19, could constitute a breach of health and safety law.
- We continue to provide advice to business operators to support them achieve the required standards, applying the principle of Engage, Explain, Encourage before Enforce. Where deemed necessary, our authorised officers are empowered to take a range of enforcement actions to improve control of workplace risks. This may be through enforcement notices to help secure improvements. Serious breaches and failure to comply with enforcement notices can constitute a criminal offence, with serious fines and even imprisonment for up to two years. There is also a wider system of enforcement, which includes specific obligations and conditions for licensed premises, including the review of premises licences.
- Compliance with the Health & safety provisions and social distancing is monitored by enforcement officers. This is achieved through partnership working with other enforcement agencies, including the Police, Health & Safety Executive and Trading Standards Officers.
Health & Safety Executive 'Working Safely' enquiry service
HSE has launched a 'Working Safely' enquiry service for all duty holders and members of the public to get help and advice about protecting workers against coronavirus in their workplaces.
An online form and phone number are available on the HSE website.
Updated government guidance
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has published guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.
Legionella in hot and cold water systems
When buildings reopen after lockdown, it is essential that water systems are not put back into use without considering the risks of Legionnaires’ disease. There is an increased risk of waterborne pathogens such as Legionella bacteria being present as a consequence of the conditions that lockdown may have created. Premises where action may be required include retail outlets; hairdressers; beauty salons; offices; hotels; gyms; sports clubs; golf clubs; hotels; pubs; clubs; restaurants; camp sites; volunteer-run premises and anywhere that has a water supply which is currently shut down or is experiencing restricted use.
Hair Salons guidance
Guidance has also been issued by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health on matters for consideration prior to opening hair salons, including reducing the risks of COVID-19 and reducing the risks associated with Legionella when re-commissioning your water supply system.
Advice for takeaways and takeaway deliveries
Following the publication of updated government guidance, and in partnership with Cumbria Police, we’re reminding local takeaway providers to follow social distancing rules. As set out in updated government guidance, Social distancing also needs to be followed in takeaway premises:
- Shops should ensure that no orders are taken in person on the premises.
- Shops should only take orders online or by telephone and communicate this to customers by clear signage in store and online.
- Where customers are collecting items, they should have staggered collection times and adopt a one-in-one-out policy.
- Where queuing is taking place, a queue management system should be in place to maintain a safe distance, ensuring the two-metre distancing requirement is applied.
- No goods or food should be physically handed over to the customer.
Following reports of some food business delivery drivers not following government guidelines, we are reminding businesses that provide a takeaway delivery service to:
- Put in place a drop-off system where the order is placed at the customer’s door and contact is made via the bell or phone whilst the driver or rider moves back from the order to allow for a two-metre social space. Food should not be left unattended.
- Ensure payment for takeaway delivery is made at the time of the telephone order, removing the need for payment on delivery.
- Ensure drivers and or riders hand wash or sanitise before and after collection as they could cross contaminate between the restaurant and the customer.
- Provide the driver with alcohol hand sanitiser with an alcohol content of at least 60+%.
Cumbria Police is also reminding takeaway businesses that takeaway delivery drivers need to have business car insurance.
FSA Guidance - Reopening and adapting your food business during COVID-19
This guidance applies to food businesses that can legally operate during the pandemic and to businesses making adaptations or preparing to reopen. The guidance focuses on food safety and should be read in conjunction with sector guidance for ‘Restaurants Takeaway and delivery’.
For specific guidance on infection control in relation to Coronavirus (COVI-19) see:
Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on GOV.UK for guidance for health professionals and other organisations.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) on the NHS website for an overview.