Government publishes guidance on how businesses can reopen premises
As the lockdown measures are gradually eased, we have an overview of the latest guidance available to those businesses permitted to reopen.
Updated - 14 August 2020
As the Government permits more businesses to open, it releases guides for employers on how to re-open their workplaces safely. The guides explain what Covid-secure measures businesses should adopt. They also list any limitations to the services specific sectors can provide. There is more detail here.
Towards the bottom of this page we've included guidance on how to account for and finance changes to their workplace to make them COVID-19 secure
Please be aware that additional and different measures may be in place by the respective governments of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. For more details on these, visit the Health & Safety Executive website here.
Businesses unable to open yet
Sadly not all businesses are permitted to open yet. For more details, see here.
The following businesses should remain closed until further notice
- Nightclubs, dance halls, discotheques
The following businesses and venues are permitted to reopen from 15 August - Bowling alleys, Indoor skating rinks, Indoor play areas (including soft play), Casinos, Exhibition halls and conference centres (although this should only be for government endorsed pilots).
Specific advice for different workplace settings
Specific guidance documents have been produced for the following workplace settings. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. Businesses are encouraged to refer to all the guides that are relevant to their operations. An overview from the Government can be found here.
Close contact services - including hair salons and barbers, beauticians, tattooists, sports and massage therapits, dress fitters, tailors and fashion designers - see here (Note: more close contact services are permitted from 15 August see here)
Construction and outdoor work - see here
Factories, plants and warehouses - see here
Heritage locations - see here
Hotels and other guest accommodation - including holiday homes see here
Labs and research facilities - see here
Offices and contact centres - see here
Other people's homes - see here
Performing arts - including arts organisations, venue operators and participants - see here
Providers of grassroots sport and gym/ leisure facilities - see here
Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services - see here
Shops, stores and branches - see here
Vehicles - couriers, haulage, on-site transit etc - see here
The visitor economy - hotels and guest accommodation, indoor and outdoor attractions, and business events and consumer shows. - see here
Getting your business Covid-secure
Business permitted to open can do so as long as they take the relevant measures to be Covid-secure. To help businesses the 2m social distancing measure has been reduced to 1m+ . The plus indicates that where a 2metre distance cannot be maintained, a 1 metre distance with additional measures used to prevent infection transmission are permitted.
Each sector has specific actions it must follow, however the actions are based around 5 main steps.
1. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions
The latest guidance operates within current health and safety employment and equalities legislation and employers will need to carry out COVID-19 risk assessments in consultation with their workers or trade unions, to establish what guidelines to put in place. If possible, employers should publish the results of their risk assessments on their website and the Government expects all businesses with over 50 employees to do so. The Government is also making an extra £14 million available to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to fund extra call centre employees, inspectors and equipment.
2. Develop cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures
Employers should increase the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning - including providing guidance and signage, making hand sanitising and cleaning products freely available on their premises and implementing a regime of regular cleaning.
3. Help people to work from home
All reasonable steps should be taken by employers to help people work from home. This means discussing home working arrangements, ensuring employees have the right equipment for remote access, including them in all necessary communications and looking after their physical and mental well being.
4. Maintain 2metre social distancing where possible
Where possible, employers should maintain 2m between people by putting up signage, using floor tape or paint to mark out 2m areas, avoiding people having to share workstations, arranging a one-way traffic flow through the workplace if possible and switching to seeing visitors by appointment if possible.
5. Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, manage transmission risk
Employers should look into putting barriers in shared spaces, creating workplace shift patterns or fixed teams minimising the number of people in contact with one another, or ensuring colleagues are facing away from each other.
Accounting for and financing changes to the workplace to be COVID-19 secure
When it comes to making alterations and changes to a premises, or purchasing equipment to be COVID-19 secure, businesses can utilise a number of measures to ease the initial financial challenge. Here are some helpful reminders from our specialist team, although do speak with your usual Shipleys contact for advice specific to your business circumstances:
- Make the most of your Annual Investment Allowance for equipment purchases - currently the allowance is £1,000,000 until 31 December 2020, but is set to reduce to £200,000 from 1st January.
- Make the most of any other relevant Capital Allowances for property improvements - there's a brief summary here, however talk to our team for more detail about your particular business operations.
- Don't forget the current 0% VAT rate on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - see here
- Don't forget the required cleaning costs and products will be tax deductible as a revenue expense for your business.
- Consider one of the Government-backed loans to provide the short-term cash you need. The new Bounce Back Loans are proving easier for smaller businesses to access. See here.
- Consider leasing equipment, if appropriate, and you are unlikely to need the equipment long-term once the COVID-19 secure measures are lifted by the Government
- Investigate introducing the Cycle To Work salary sacrifice scheme in light of the Government's encouragement for returning workers to avoid public transport. See here and here. There is now no cap on the purchase price of a bike in this salary sacrifice scheme. To qualify, strictly 50% of the bike’s journeys need to be for work, which for this purpose can include the daily commute.
For more advice on accounting, financing and tax treatments for alterations, modifications and equipment required to ensure premises comply with COVID-19 secure guidelines, please speak with your usual Shipleys' contact or talk to one of our team.
Our specialist HR team can also advise on changing organisations' working policies to align with the latest Government measures. They are also supporting organisations with the process to furlough and unfurlough employees.
Specific advice should be obtained before taking action, or refraining from taking action, in relation to this summary, if you would like advice or further information, please speak to your usual Shipleys contact.
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