Coronavirus: Advice for businesses - Reopening
As businesses look to reopen, welcome back more staff, or change how they operate there are a number of areas you may need to consider ensuring both staff and customers remain safe.
On this page
- Equipment inspection
- Fire safety
- Food safety
- Gas safety
- Staying safe while shopping
- Water system safety
Further information about working safely during the Coronavirus pandemic can be found on our working safely page.
Despite the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic it is important that you continue to manage the significant potential hazard that equipment failure can pose to staff and the public.
Thorough examinations, written schemes and statutory inspections should still be undertaken if due, while adhering to social distancing measures.
Health and Safety Executive guidance about this, including under what circumstances some examinations and inspections may be postponed, can be found on the HSE website.
Even if inspections are delayed, there remains a responsibility to ensure equipment is safe to use and if it is not, then it must be taken out of use.
All businesses should review their fire risk assessment and emergency plan considering the impact of Covid-19 on their staffing levels, operating times, business processes and evacuation arrangements.
New staff should receive robust fire safety training and all workers should be extra vigilant to potential hazards and risks, particularly if staffing is reduced, or if they are working alone or in an isolated environment.
Advice on keeping your business safe from fire can be found on the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service website.
Guidance for food businesses operating during the coronavirus pandemic can be found on the Government website.
A checklist to support food businesses to reopen safely after a period of inaction is available to download here.
Further detailed advice can also be found on the Food Standards Agency website.
If your business has gas appliances, flues, pipework or safety devices then you must make sure they are maintained and in a safe condition.
If your annual gas safety inspection is due, you must ensure this is undertaken while adhering to social distancing measures.
For further advice see the Gas Safe Register website.
We have received enquiries from licensed premises wishing to diversify in light of Coronavirus concerns and the government advice regarding reduced social contact.
The vast majority of the queries relate to operators wishing to delivery food with an accompaniment of alcohol or to permit off sales of alcohol.
Before applying for a variation we recommend businesses first examine their existing premises licence to clarify what activities are permitted and whether it may already allow them to change their offer.
If however it does not then an application will need to be submitted to us as the licensing authority, with each case dealt with on its individual circumstances.
Further information can be found in the licensing section of our website, or via the links below.
The chartered institute of Environmental Health has advice on helping the public to stay safe when shopping.
You can download it from their website.
When buildings reopen after lockdown, it is essential that water systems are not put back into use without considering the risk of waterborne pathogens that can cause serious illnesses.
If your water systems were not drained, cleaned and disinfected before the premises were left empty, then they are deemed high risk for Legionella – which causes Legionnaires’ disease - and other bacteria.
For more information about the Legionella risks during the coronavirus outbreak and what you should do to mitigate them visit the HSE website’s dedicated page.