Covid-19 Update – What has changed?
The Government roadmap moved to Step 4 on July 19th, but what does this mean for workplaces? This guide will provide you with an overview of how to manage Covid-19 in the workplace from this date.
You are still required to have a suitable and sufficient risk assessment in place for Covid-19 measures. The risk assessment must be recorded if you have 5 or more employees. Risk assessments are to be updated whenever there is a significant change, therefore with the new measures announced, it would be expected that your Covid-19 risk assessment is review and updated by a competent person.
Wearing face coverings are now voluntary in all settings such as shops, hospitality and public transport. However, wearing them on some methods of public transport is still being maintained, particularly in London.
Whilst the legal requirement to wear face coverings has been lifted, the need for wearing them should still be considered within your risk assessment. We expect businesses to adopt a sensible approach to and continue enforcement of face coverings when there is higher risk, particularly in crowded and confined spaces, where social distancing is not possible, and ventilation is poor.
Social Distancing and Working from Home
The “one-metre plus” rule on social distancing has now been lifted (with the exception of specific circumstances such as at a border) and the government is no longer instructing workers to keep apart from people they don’t live with. This means that those working from home can return to the workplace. Businesses, such as nightclubs and music festivals, that have been closed are now allowed to re-open, and there are no limits on capacity.
Although social distancing is not enforced, businesses should exercise this with caution and use their risk assessment to ensure that a sensible approach is adopted. It would be expected that reasonable steps are taken to minimise the risk through distancing and employers introduce a gradual and phasing return to the workplace over the summer.
Rules of self-isolation remain in place for now, and you must self-isolate if:
- You have Covid symptoms (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)
- You test positive for Covid-19
- Someone you live with has symptoms or tested positive
- You have been in contact with someone who has tested positive and are told to isolate by NHS Test and Trace
- You arrive in the UK from a ‘red’ list country, or ‘amber’ list county and not been fully vaccinated – refer to the government website for more information.
Even if you have had both jabs you must follow the same rules as other people for self-isolation. is likely to change from 16 August, so continue to monitor and review government guidance to stay abreast of changes.
Anyone with coronavirus symptoms can get a free NHS test.
What remains unchanged?
The following workplace controls remain unchanged:
- Adequate ventilation
- Sufficient cleaning
- Good hand hygiene
You must continue to consult your workforce on health and safety matters, which includes the risk of coronavirus, and talk to workers and their representatives helps to reduce risks.
Whilst restrictions have been lifted, businesses must continue to control the risk of Covid-19 in the workplace. This can be achieved by maintaining sensible and proportionate measures in line with a suitable and sufficient risk assessment. You can use the government guidance on working safely for further information and advice on measures covering a range of different types of work.
Published by James Flint, Senior Health & Safety Consultant