COVID-secure help and advice for local businesses

23 September 2020

Cheshire West and Chester Council is working with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to contact businesses across the borough to make sure they are COVID-secure to help tackle COVID-19. 

Starting this week over 200 hospitality businesses are being telephoned by the HSE to ensure they are up to date with the latest COVID-19 measures and legislation. This will be followed by other sectors including Hair and Beauty salons and sports venues.

Businesses are being asked several questions to check they are operating safely including; if employees can maintain a two-metre working space from other employees and if customers can also maintain two metres, if not what measures are in place to reduce the risk of infection.
Questions are also asked about how safely deliveries can be made and if employees are being able to maintain two metre social distancing.
To support the NHS Test and Trace programme, businesses are now legally required to take customers' contact details so they can be traced if there is an outbreak. Businesses are being asked if these records are being taken and kept for 21 days.

The Council’s Regulatory Services Team has been offering help and advice since the start of the pandemic. Businesses have been helped to re-open safely and in some cases change the way they run their business.

As the number of positive cases is rising, visits are also increasing to check that the latest measures are in place. This week the government announced further measures for the next six months including:
  • Pubs, bars and restaurants to close at 10pm and restricted to table service only, except for takeaways.
  • Businesses face fines of £10,000 if they take reservations for more than six people and do not enforce social distancing, or do not take customers' contact details.
  • People should work from home wherever possible unless they are working in a COVID-secure workplace, and the job requires it.
  • Face masks to be compulsory for bar staff and non-seated customers, shop workers, waiters and taxi drivers.
  • A limit on guests at weddings reduced from 30 to 15.
  • The plans to allow fans to return to sporting events has been paused.
  • ‘Rule of six’ now applies to indoor team sports.
  • Fines for not wearing masks or following rules increased to £200 for a first offence.
From 24 September, businesses will be legally required to display an official NHS QR code poster ahead of the launch of the COVID-19 app. By scanning the QR code poster when visiting venues using their smartphone, residents will be able to check in quickly and easily to the venue. Customer contact details will need to be collected by the venue for those people that have not checked-in using the QR poster and this will be a legal requirement from 24 September.

Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council said: “The calls and visits we are making are to give advice and guidance to protect employees, customers and visitors. 

“We are helping businesses to comply with the latest measures, if necessary, enforcement notices can be issued that can close a business until they are made safe. As a last resort if a business fails to comply, this could lead to prosecution.”

Being COVID-secure needs to be the priority for all businesses, it is a legal duty for businesses to protect their workers and others from harm and this includes taking reasonable steps to control the risk and protect people from coronavirus. 

Common issues across a range of different businesses include failing to provide arrangements for monitoring, supervising and maintaining social distancing, and failing to introduce an adequate cleaning regime particularly at busy times of the day. 

Any business could have an unannounced spot check to ensure they are COVID-secure. Making sure that businesses have measures in place to manage the risks, will help to protect the local community as well as support the local and national UK economy.

For the latest information and safer business guidance, see the GOV.UK website.

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