Coronavirus Business Support

Advice to businesses preparing to reopen

The coronavirus pandemic caused many businesses to close but as plans for recovery are being made, businesses are looking to take steps to prepare for reopening. We understand that there is a lot to consider to ensure you, your staff and customers return to a safe environment. We have put together advice and useful links to help you with your planned reopening:


Guidance on social distancing

You should be encouraging your staff to work from home whenever possible. But if your staff does have to return to the workplace, the Health & Safety at Work Act places a requirement on all employers to take steps to safeguard employees, members of the public and themselves. To fulfil this duty in addressing the risk from COVID-19, all companies must review their risk assessments and put in place measures to ensure social distancing is implemented. The Health and Safety Executive has provided details on how to carry out a risk assessment.

Social distancing is achieved by maintaining a distance of 2 metres between everybody. You should also follow strict hygiene measures, including frequent handwashing with soap and warm water for a minimum of 20 seconds. Full detailed guidance, including guidance on PPE and use of masks, has been released for the following workplaces:

If your business covers a range of these workplaces, you must read all the relevant guidance. If you require further advice you can contact us at envhealth@watford.gov.uk or call 01923 278435.

We have produced a checklist for small independent retailers to help you implement social distancing measures within your premises.


Cleaning

You may wish to carry out a general clean before reopening. If you are a food business you are required to undertake a deeper clean.

All businesses will also need to consider additional cleaning measures to reduce the spread of the disease. This is outlined in the workplace guidance and additional cleaning measures if somebody that has tested positive for coronavirus has been on your premises. See our simplified cleaning guide.


Legionella

Stagnant water systems can support the growth of legionella, these can then be released in an aerosol spray which can result in respiratory infection if inhaled. To avoid this the water system should have been flushed on a weekly basis. If this is not the case and your premises has been closed for more than 1 month, the following measures are recommended:

  • Flush out the system – please refer to the guidance to understand how to do this without risk of infection
  • Disinfect to 50ppm of free chlorine or equivalent biocide
  • Run water heated to 60C through the whole water system
  • Carry out a risk assessment

Further guidance can be found in the Charter Institute of Environmental Health new guidance document: Legionnaires’ disease: lockdown risks and reopening safely or the Health and Safety Executive's information on Legionella risks during the coronavirus outbreak.


Reporting of disease and dangerous occurrences 1995 (RIDDOR)

There has always been a requirement to report accidents and dangerous occurrences in the workplace. Recently there has been a change in the RIDDOR legislation and coronavirus is now reportable if there is a possibility of exposure at work. Further guidance can be found via the RIDDOR reporting of COVID-19 webpage.


Pest control

You should check your premises for any evidence of pest entry. If you find any evidence of pests this should be cleaned away immediately, the area sanitised and reported to your pest contractor. Just because there was no pest activity previously, do not assume that there has been none over the closure period. It is advisable to arrange a visit from your pest control company as soon as possible prior to re-opening. You can find more information about our pest control service on our webpage.


Fire risk assessments

You may have used the closure as an opportunity to refurbish or have created a new one-way system to adhere to the social distancing requirement. You should ensure you have not made any changes that can affect fire risk assessment. More information can be found on the Hertfordshire Fire protection page.


Financial help

If your business has been adversely affected by the current pandemic, you may be eligible for government support. The government has introduced a range of packages to help.


Useful links

  • Advice on adapting your food business during coronavirus from the Food Standards Agency:
  • Hertfordshire County Council Trading Standards can provide advice on packaging, online selling, price hikes and lots more useful advice during this pandemic on the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) website.
  • Hertfordshire Growth Hub has produced a resource page with lots of useful information to help local businesses.
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