Helping businesses to stay safe
Helping businesses to stay safe in Cheshire West & Chester
By following the measures put in place by local businesses and staying cautious, residents, workers and visitors can all help to control the spread of COVID-19. The latest stage in the government roadmap should help businesses that have been struggling with fluctuating staff numbers since restrictions were eased in July.
From this week, people who are fully vaccinated against the virus or aged under 18 are no longer legally required to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case.
This applies to under 18s and adults who have received their final dose of the vaccine at least 14 days before they had contact with a positive case. They will not be required to self-isolate while they wait for the results of the PCR test.
The advice is for anyone who has been in close contact to take a PCR test as soon as possible to check if they have the virus and for variants of concern.
Other precautions include wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces and limiting contact with other people, especially with anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable.
Anyone who tests positive following the PCR test will still be legally required to self-isolate, irrespective of their vaccination status or age.
West Cheshire infection rates remain high with the latest data showing a seven-day infection rate of 265 per 100,000 up to 11 August. The rates are highest in the 20-29 age range and more than 70 people of all ages who have tested positive for COVID-19 are being treated in local hospitals.
Councillor Richard Beacham, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Growth, Economy & Regeneration, said: “While many of the regulations have now been removed, the priority is still to lower infection rates and ensure our local businesses can all remain open. Health and Safety at work obligations still remain and getting this right will help businesses manage their business continuity through the rest of this pandemic.
“There are still things we can all do to remain safe. When visiting local businesses please follow all the guidance they provide, it’s for both your safety and to protect members of staff. An increase in transmission of the virus could result in major disruptions if staff are unable to work due to being unwell with COVID-19 and legally required to self-isolate.
“Nobody wants to go back to square one. The best thing businesses can do is to encourage their staff to be fully vaccinated. Please visit the Council’s website to find your nearest clinic. Continue wearing face coverings in crowded indoor areas and we should all continue with regular hand washing. Hands, face, space and fresh air are still the guiding principles to apply. “
Employers have a legal duty to manage risks including a health and safety risk assessment, taking reasonable steps to mitigate any risks identified. Working Safely guidance sets out a range of mitigations employers should consider including:
- cleaning surfaces that people touch regularly
- identifying poorly ventilated areas and taking steps to improve air flow
- ensuring that staff and customers who are unwell do not attend the workplace or venue
- communicating to staff and customers the measures that are in place.
Businesses are also encouraged to continue displaying QR codes for customers to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app, or to continue collecting customer contact details to support NHS Test and Trace, however this is no longer a legal requirement.
Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Regulatory Services team are still visiting businesses to provide help and advice, the COVID-19 Business Tips should still be used.
- Do a COVID-19 risk assessment, communicate it to staff and update it regularly; guidance and a template: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/index.htm
- Encourage all staff to be fully vaccinated and provide you with evidence that this has been done. This will protect your staff from the need to self-isolate if they are contacts of a positive case and test negative on a PCR.
- Make sure all staff and visitors know the three main COVID-19 symptoms – new, continuous cough, high temperature and/or loss or change of sense of taste or smell. Anyone with these symptoms needs to isolate immediately and have a PCR test.
- Continue to engage with the Test, Trace and Isolate process, and increase testing if your workplace has had an outbreak.
- Encourage your employees to get tested if they suspect they have COVID-19 symptoms and self-isolate if positive.
- If you have a positive case, act quickly, use the resource pack to identify and isolate contacts: https://www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/news-and-views/incidents/coronavirus-covid-19/business-information/business-contact-tracing-resources.aspx and contact: HealthProtectionSecure@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk.
Anyone who has had two vaccinations, and those under 18, do not have to isolate unless under local public health outbreak measures.
- Continue to practice good hand hygiene, in particular hand washing and provide sanitising stations for staff and customers and regular cleaning of high frequency contact points.
- Wherever possible, maximise social distancing between staff and customers to give customers confidence in your business. This will protect your staff and help keep your business open.
- Continue to encourage staff and customers to use a face covering when in crowded outside areas, and inside especially when staff are moving around within your setting and dealing directly with customers if not through a screen.
- Ventilation is key – maximise fresh air flow through windows, doors and air vents and air conditioning that draws in outside air.
For the latest information about vaccinations: www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/vaccinepopups
The Government has produced further guides for businesses: how to stay safe and help prevent the spread: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-coronavirus-restrictions-what-you-can-and-cannot-do#businesses-and-venues