Covid-19: Advice for businesses - Reopening

On the 22 February 2021 the Government announced a "roadmap" out of national lockdown - Details of this can be found here.

As businesses will 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.

To show customers that you are doing all you can to keep them as safe as possible, we urge you to sign up to our Covid Compliant Assurance Scheme here.

On this page

Further information about working safely during the Coronavirus pandemic can be found on our working safely page.

Webinars and information for specific industries

As part of our work to support businesses in Newcastle to reopen safely we, working with NE1, held a series of webinars and presentations to offer advice and guidance to the retail and hospitality sectors, and close contact services.

Presentation slides can be viewed and downloaded via the links below:

    Equipment inspection and safety

    Despite the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic it is important that duty-holders 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.

    Pre-use checks should be undertaken and if the conclusion is that the equipment cannot be used safety, then it must be taken out of use.

    Fire safety

    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 and temporary staff should receive robust fire safety training and awareness. Staff should be extra vigilant of potential hazards and risks, particularly where staffing levels have been reduced, or if staff 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.

    Food safety

    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.

    Gas safety

    All employers and the self-employed are to ensure that gas appliances, flues, pipework or safety devices 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.

    Licensable Activity

    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.

    Application to Vary a Premises Licence

    Application for a Minor Variation

    Public Access to Newcastle City Council Licensing Portal

    Safe Shopping

    The chartered institute of Environmental Health has advice on helping the public to stay safe when shopping.

    You can download it from their website.

    Water system safety

    When buildings reopen after lockdown, it is essential that water systems are not put back into use without considering the risk of Legionnaires’ disease. There is an increased risk of waterborne pathogens such as Legionella bacteria being present because of the conditions that lockdown may have created.

    Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia which can cause serious respiratory illness. It can occur when tiny droplets of water (aerosol) containing Legionella bacteria are breathed into the lungs of susceptible people. If your water systems were not drained, cleaned and disinfected before the premises were left empty, then these systems are deemed high risk for Legionella and other pathogenic bacteria.

    Before you consider reopening:

    • Flush through simple hot/cold water systems with fresh mains water for a minimum of 5 minutes (e.g. taps, w.c. cisterns, urinals and any other water outlets connected to the water system).
    • It is advisable to temporarily increase the temperature of the hot water system to above 60°C if possible before drawing it through the system. However, you must ensure that the system is capable of delivery water at safe temperatures by checking temperatures before reopening.
    • Check that that the hot-water supply is a minimum of 50°C after one minute. With a TMV fitted, water temperatures at the hot tap should not exceed 44°C. The cold-water supply should be a maximum of 20°C or below after two minutes.
    • Flush through larger hot/cold water systems (including tanks, showers, calorifiers etc) for a significant period.

    Flushing the water outlets can generate water droplets, you must ensure you flush gently to reduce the risk of producing aerosols or remain at a safe distance.

    For more information about the Legionella risks and what you should do to mitigate them visit the HSE website’s dedicated page.

    Complex and specialist water systems

    Separate guidance is available for specialist and complex water systems. These should already be subject to detailed arrangements and control measures. Owners and operators are advised to seek advice from a competent water treatment consultant.

    Public toilet safety and hygiene

    The following guidelines have been developed by Newcastle City Council to provide some general principles to help you reopen public and customer toilets safely and hygienically. It is important that shops and other venues provide toilets and hand washing facilities for everyone where possible. 

    These guidelines are based on various government guidance:

    The above guidance may be subject to change, so it is important that you keep regularly updated on this.

    Visual communication is a good way to remind people of the importance of hand washing and general hygiene measures. 

    Recommended measures to be put in place:

    • Provide hand gel in multiple locations in addition to washrooms, such as entrance and exits.  Consider placing on wall or table outside toilet areas if people have had to come through doors.
    • Provide additional waste facilities and ensure that they are disposed of more frequently.
    • Provide disposable paper towels in hand washing facilities where possible.  Electric hand driers are not recommended.
    • Provide liquid soap where possible.
    • Ensure that social distancing is achieved where possible.  Provide markings or barriers to make this clear.  Encourage queues with 2-metres between people.  Where this is not possible, consider limiting the number of people entering the area.
    • Provide enhanced cleaning for busy areas, such as doorways and areas that get frequently touched.
    • Provide baby feeding facilities where possible; toilets are not suitable. Breastfeeding women will need a chair and access to hand washing facilities. 
      Close the washrooms during cleaning to ensure that cleaning staff can work safely. 
    • Provide cleaning staff with either disposable aprons and gloves, or reusable uniforms. 
    • Ensure that they can safely dispose of items or place their reusable uniforms in a bag to be cleaned. 
    • Ensure that cleaning staff understand the need to wash their hands and lower arms after removing their uniforms.

    Cleaning staff should not need additional PPE such as face masks, as they should not be coming into contact with people during their duties. 

    Further information on cleaning in non-healthcare premises can be found here.

    Download a checklist of the above recommendations here to show what action you have taken.

     

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