domingo, abril 21, 2024

Coronavirus: New advice for businesses in England on how to reopen safely

Tony Bennett the owner of The Devereux pub in Temple, London Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Pubs are among the venues which will be allowed to open in England from 4 July

Updated guidance has been published on how hairdressers, hotels, pubs and other businesses in England can reopen safely from 4 July.

It includes advice to reconfigure seating, minimise self-service, cancel live acts and stagger arrivals.

Customers will be urged to book in advance, order online or through apps and not to lean on counters.

It comes after Boris Johnson announced sweeping changes to England’s lockdown, including a relaxing of the 2m rule.

Pubs, restaurants, cinemas and hairdressers are among the venues which will be allowed to reopen in ten days’ time.

The updated government guidance includes some general advice for all businesses as well as guidance for specific sectors.

It says businesses should carry out a Covid-19 risk assessment to ensure the safety of their workplace, which should be shared on their website, and also develop cleaning and hygiene procedures.

Guidance for close contact services such as hairdressers says employees should wear a visor where it is not possible to maintain distance and customers could also be separated from each other by screens.

Places like pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers are asked to keep a temporary record of customers and visitors for 21 days, to support the test and trace system.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said he expected people to continue to use «common sense» and follow government guidelines.

But he said there was a «legal duty» for businesses to keep their employees safe and the Health and Safety Executive could take action if not.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of trade union body the TUC, said the more government relaxes lockdown «the tougher it needs to get on health and safety at work».

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it should be a legal requirement for employers to publish risk assessments on their website, adding too many companies were «not doing the right thing».

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Media captionBoris Johnson is cheered as he announces English pubs can reopen from 4 July

In the biggest easing of lockdown yet, Mr Johnson also said the 2m social-distancing rule will be replaced with a «one-metre plus» rule.

This means people should stay at least 2m (6ft) apart where possible, but otherwise should remain at least 1m apart while taking steps to reduce the risk of transmission, such as wearing face coverings.

The 2m rule will remain in Scotland and Wales. In Northern Ireland, ministers have said social distancing of 1m is «safe and appropriate» for children at school.

Announcing the changes on Tuesday, Mr Johnson said the following venues will be able to reopen from 4 July:

  • Pubs, bars and restaurants but only with a table service indoors, and owners will be asked to keep contact details of customers to help with contact tracing
  • Hotels, holiday apartments, campsites and caravan parks but shared facilities must be cleaned properly
  • Theatres and music halls but they will not be allowed to hold live performances
  • In other changes weddings will be allowed to have 30 attendees, and places of worship will be allowed to hold services but singing will be banned
  • Hair salons and barbers will be able to reopen but must have protective measures, such as visors, in place
  • Libraries, community centres and bingo halls
  • Cinemas, museums and galleries
  • Funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks, amusement arcades, outdoor skating rinks and model villages
  • Indoor attractions where animals are exhibited, such as at zoos, aquariums, farms, safari parks and wildlife centres

Some other venues will remain closed by law, including nightclubs, casinos, indoor play areas, nail bars and beauty salons, swimming pools and indoor gyms.

It comes as struggling retailers must pay their quarterly rent to landlords on Wednesday.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said in a tweet that the government’s «aspiration» was to reopen gyms and leisure facilities in mid-July.

However, Mark Sesnan, chief executive of Greenwich Leisure, which runs gyms, pools and leisure centres for councils across the country, said he was «shocked and disappointed» that such sites would not be allowed to reopen on 4 July.

«We had been led to believe that we would be,» he told the BBC, adding that the company had «incurred quite a lot of expense» getting facilities ready.

He said most swimming pools and sports halls were «very large spaces», making social distancing easier. Scientists also say chlorinated water should kill the virus.

Mr Sharma said he understood the «frustration» of businesses that were not yet allowed to reopen but «the proximity that you have to someone in some of these closer settings» posed «a greater risk».

The latest figures show a further 171 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK, taking the total to 42,927.

From 4 July, Mr Johnson also said two households in England will be able to meet indoors and stay overnight – with social distancing.

The meeting of households will not be exclusive so, for example, one set of grandparents could see their relatives one weekend, and the other set of grandparents the next.

But, unlike the bubble system, people will have to maintain social distance – so family members who live apart will not be able to hug.

At Tuesday’s final daily Downing Street coronavirus briefing the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and the chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty stressed Mr Johnson’s plan was not «risk-free».

And Mr Johnson warned all the changes were reversible if the virus were to begin to run out of control.