New restrictions on wearing face coverings
The Government has announced new measures to protect against the new variant of COVID-19. From the 10 December 2021, the public and staff in public facing areas will be required to wear face coverings. Further information on when you must wear a face covering can be found on GOV.UK.
Businesses should display a poster telling customers they are required to wear a face covering unless exempt. If you do not display a clear and visible poster at the entrance to your business, you must put in place other robust measures to inform customers they are required to wear a face covering.
These are new legal requirements. Failure to undertake either of these measures may result in a Fixed Penalty Notice of £1000 for your business.
You can download a copy of a face covering poster to display at your business.
The Police remain the authority responsible for ensuring individuals wear a face covering. They can also issue fines to individuals who do not wear a face covering and do not have a valid exemption. You can report individuals failing to wear a face covering.
You can find further advice and guidance on GOV.UK.
COVID-19 cases remain high in Bedford Borough and businesses are encouraged to consider sensible precautions and controls that can remain in place to protect their employees and customers. Businesses still need to manage risk associated to Covid-19 in order to comply with legal requirements for managing the health and safety of their employees, and ensuring measures are in place, as far as reasonably practicable, to protect customers and those who’s health and safety may be affected by their work activities.
‘Working Safely’ guidance has been updated to provide examples of sensible precautions that employers can take to reduce risk in their workplaces. Employers should take account of this guidance in preparing the risk assessments they are already required to make under pre-pandemic health and safety rules.
The HSE provide guidance on completing a Covid-19 risk assessment to help you continue working safely and manage the risks associated with running your business at this time.
This includes practical measures you should take, including:
The HSE guidance can be found here Risk assessment - Working safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
How maintaining control benefits your business
- Forms the basis of your Business Continuity Plan: Keeping the business open and profitable.
- Ensures your local communities are protected now and in the future.
- Boosts consumer confidence: Enhances business reputation as a 'safe' business to visit.
- Reduces the risk of transmissible disease and, therefore, protect staff, customers and your business. This is very important, as infections are still relatively high, which increases the likelihood of being infected.
- Gives staff and customers confidence to interact with each other safely.
- Supports employee wellness and mental health.
- Reduces staff sickness and increases staff retention.
NHS Test and Trace app QR code
Businesses are strongly encouraged to display QR codes for customers to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app, to support NHS Test and Trace, although it is no longer a legal requirement.
Businesses can visit the gov.uk website to create their own QR code poster. Businesses can create an official NHS Test and Trace app QR code and find more guidance on the NHS website.
When to self-isolate
Businesses must not require a member of staff who is self-isolating to come to work. Business should also make sure that staff who feel unwell do not come to work and customers who feel unwell, do not enter the business premises. Further guidance on when to self isolate can be found at when to self-isolate and what to do - Coronavirus (COVID-19) - NHS.
Government support and advice for businesses
There is lots of COVID-19 advice, guidance and support for businesses and employers including business rate relief, business grants and loans.
- Coronavirus financial support for businesses
- Coronavirus business advice
- Coronavirus guidance for employers and businesses to help them get their businesses back up and running and workplaces operating as safely as possible.
Local business support from SEMLEP’s Growth Hub
SEMLEP’s Growth Hub is a government-funded local business support service.
Its business advisers can help you to navigate the current COVID-19 financial support measures and official guidance, and help you to work through options if you are not eligible for the Government schemes.
They can support you directly on your business continuity planning and overall business resilience.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0300 01234 35.
Restaurants and pubs - sale of takeaway food
There is a temporary change of use from restaurant and pubs to allow the sale of takeaway food. This means that the usual requirement to secure planning permission for these changes is not needed.
The following types of businesses can now sell takeaway food, in addition to all that fall within Class A5 (hot food takeaways) and any hot or cold pre-prepared food for takeaway or delivery.
- Class A3 (restaurants and cafes)
- Class A4 (drinking establishments)
- Mixed use within Classes A3 and A4
- Drinking establishment with expanded food provisions, to a use for the provision of takeaway food,
The temporary change of use applies for any period up to 23 March 2022, but the operator must notify the Planning Department that the property is, or will be, used for providing takeaways during this period.
After 23 March 2022 or when takeaway food is no longer provided, if earlier, the use of the building reverts to its pre-covid status.
Check that your lease does not prevent takeaway use, as changes in planning legislation do not negate any restrictions or covenants imposed through your lease.
How to apply for a temporary change of use
Email email@example.com to implement this temporary change of use.
Please provide the following with your notification:
- “GPDO 2015, Schedule 2, Part 4, Class DA” in the subject line
- Contact name, address, email address and phone number
- Name and address of the business premises in question
- The date you intend to implement the temporary change of use
More details can be found in The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Order 2020.
Lateral flow testing in the workplace
Employee vaccine toolkit
Along side the work place testing scheme, Public Health England has produced a toolkit containing information and various media to help employers support their workforce in the push for getting people vaccinated. The kit contains Q&A documents, messaging, an employer briefing sheet and many other useful tools and is available at: Employer Toolkit - Coronavirus Resource centre
Resources for businesses
Businesses seeking more information relating to Managing Covid-19 within their workplace, can find additional information here.
Posters (PDFs) that can be used in business premises:
- Face coverings required by law
- Covid-19 general precautions
- Stay apart floor arrows
- Stay apart floor feet
- Maximum room occupancy
- Only one person in each lift
- Only one person in these toilets
- Max number of people permitted at any one time
- Follow the arrows right
- Follow the arrows left
- Hands, face, space, fresh air (landscape)
- Hands, face, space, fresh air (portrait)
COVID-19 – Bedford Borough Council Commercial Tenant Survey
We want to know about how your business has been affected by COVID-19 lockdown since March 2020. This short questionnaire will help us understand your situation and how we can best assist you.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if your query cannot be answered by the guidance above.