Coronavirus

Please see our coronavirus pages for the latest guidance, how services are affected, and what help is available.

Coronavirus guidance for businesses

Latest government guidance

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 (as amended) require the closure of particular businesses. Restrictions are also imposed on businesses which are permitted to remain open.
Regulations and guidance are being reviewed on a regular basis, so please check the links-the latest information on which types of businesses can open is here

The government have produced guidance for different types of business to help them understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic. There are different guides for different business types. Please see the Government's latest guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

The HSE has also prepared guidance for businesses: Coronavirus latest information and advice HSE
All employers and self employed people must assess the risks of coronavirus infection to their staff and others affected by their business. Controls must be put in place to reduce these risks to an acceptable level. The guidance in the documents above will help you to work out what these controls should be.

Getting ready to reopen

As well as thinking about the risks of coronavirus infection you also need to think about some other issues that may have arisen during lockdown.

Legionella

Legionella is a bacteria that can grow in water systems in buildings (including spa pools and water features). It can grow in any water system but if your system (taps, toilets, showers etc) has been unused for sometime the risks are increased. You must take steps to control Legionella bacteria as it can cause serious illness and may be fatal. As well as the information from the Health and Safety Executive there is additional guidance from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health about what you should to do to control Legionella.

Pest Control

If your business has been unoccupied for some time then there is a greater chance that there may have been some pest activity on site. This applies to all businesses but particularly food businesses. Before opening you need to visit the premises and check it for signs of pest activity. If you find signs of pests then you will need to arrange a programme of treatments and thorough cleaning and disinfection of all affected areas. If you run a food business you may also need to dispose of contaminated food and packaging materials. You may need to undertake some maintenance to protect (proof) your businesses to prevent pests from entering.

Speaking to your staff

You need to make sure that your staff do not come to work if they are displaying the symptoms of Coronavirus or if they need to be self isolating. This is to help prevent the spread of the virus. Please ensure that your staff know precisely what these symptoms are, and that in addition to their own health, any household members are also symptom free. You also need to make sure that your staff understand what precautions you have put in place to protect them and others when they come back to work. You will need to give your staff extra training /instructions.

To help get you started

We have prepared a checklist. This should be read in conjunction with the government guidance for your workplace.
Coronavirus (Covid-19) checklist for businesses

Food safety guidance for businesses

The FSA has published guidance for food businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19)

Useful information is also available for those that are involved in any community cooking and food banks.

COVID-19: food delivery and takeaway guidance

Useful links

Food safety for food delivery

Cleaning effectively in your business

Scientific advice is that it is very unlikely that COVID-19 can be spread through food. However, you should continue to implement the same strict food safety controls as previously to prevent food from becoming unsafe. Essentially at this time, you must ensure that all food handlers are fit and well, and free from all of the symptoms of Covid-19.

If you are changing any of your operating procedures or adding any new ones, then you need to consider any new hazards and ensure that you have suitable control measures in place to protect both your customers and your staff. For example: You will need to arrange a suitable collection or drop off point for deliveries that does not place your staff or other customers at risk or involve close contact. Take payments over the phone or internet rather than taking a cash payment to avoid handling cash.

A business should only consider takeaway/delivery activity if they are registered as a food business with a Local Authority. This includes businesses who sale via social media, such as Facebook. You can register your businesses online via: Register a food business

Food safety tips:

The safest way to offer your menu as takeaway or delivery items is freshly cooked, piping hot and ready to eat immediately on receipt by your customers. If you are transporting hot food, it should be kept hot. This may need to be packed in an insulated box. It is recommended to keep distances short and times limited to within 30 minutes.

All foods must be delivered to consumers in a way that ensures that they do not become unsafe or unfit to eat. You will need to consider what containers you will use, and how they are stored during transit to keep safe. Refer to your SFBB pack for more guidance

Foods that need refrigerating must be kept cool while they are being transported. This may need to be packed in an insulated box with a coolant gel or in a cool bag.

You should also review and update your Safer Food Better Business (SFBB) Pack or other Food Safety Management System to include this new activity.

Try to keep delivery runs limited to the absolute minimum number of customers, not just to reduce the time that the food spends travelling, but also to keep on-going social contact to a minimum.

All transportation bags must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after use when returning to site, paying particular attention to parts of the bag where hand contact is made, including the handles.

Allergens

You need to be sure you give consumers correct and accurate information on allergens when making their food choices. There is a wealth of advice for businesses on allergen management on the FSA website.

For further advice on food safety visit our web page Food hygiene & safety.