Context and overview
We all have a responsibility to help minimise thi
There are no longer any restrictions in place on numbers when gathering anywhere outdoors, including in private gardens, public parks and beaches, outdoor areas of regulated premises or for outdoor activities and events.
It is safer to meet outdoors and for this reason, outdoor activity has been permitted without limits on numbers. The likelihood of COVID-19 transmission is lower in the open air than indoors. This restores more freedom to people more quickly while minimising the impact on transmission.
Even as restrictions are lifted, it is essential that everyone carries on with the good habits that reduce transmission: remembering good hand hygiene and getting a test at the first sign of symptoms and staying at home if unwell.
The organiser of the activity also has a legal duty to undertake a covid specific risk assessment and take reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to, and spread of, coronavirus. The risk assessment must also consider ‘pinch point’ areas, such as, queuing to enter or exit the venue, toilets, food and beverage sales points and consider suitable mitigations, including physical distancing measures in these areas.
Businesses and premises will still be required to consider putting in place physical distancing for different groups and for face-coverings being worn in all or some specific areas as part of their risk management regime. The risk assessment and mitigating reasonable measures these venues and premises may need to implement will determine if and where this may be the case.
People will still be required to show the NHS COVID pass to demonstrate they are either fully vaccinated or have had a recent negative Lateral Flow Test, to enter the following venues and events:
- Outdoor non-seated events of over 4,000, where people will be mixing closely for prolonged periods.
- Any event, of any nature, which has more than 10,000 people in attendance.
- Concert halls
Businesses, employers and other organisations have wider legal duties to protect their employees and customers while on their premises.
In line with the latest scientific and public health advice on responding to the omicron variant, these are the key rules in place in law:
- Businesses, employers and other organisations must continue to undertake a specific coronavirus risk assessment and take reasonable measures to minimise exposure to, and the spread of, coronavirus. All businesses will be required to put in place measures to maintain 2m social distancing indoors, this could include measures such as physical barriers and one way systems.
- Everyone must self-isolate for 7 days if they test positive for COVID-19. You should take a Lateral Flow Test (LFT) on day 6 and day 7. If either LFT is positive, you should remain in isolation until 2 negative LFTs or after day 10, whichever is sooner. The rules for close contact of someone who has tested positive are in the Self-isolation guidance.
- Everyone aged 11 and over must continue to wear face-coverings in indoor public places, including in hospitality settings such as restaurants, pubs or cafes where they should be worn except when seated.
- People must work from home where reasonably practicable for them to do so. Employers must allow or require their employees to work from home unless there is a clear business or well-being need that would make working from home impractical, in line with their duties to take reasonable measures.
- Organised events and gatherings must not take place for more than:
- 30 people indoors in private dwellings or holiday or travel accommodation;
- There are no longer any restrictions in place on numbers when gathering anywhere outdoors, including in private gardens, public parks and beaches, outdoor areas of regulated premises or for outdoor activities and events.
- Indoor licenced premises must ensure there is physical distancing between individual households or groups of up to six people from a maximum of six households (not including children under 11 from any of those households or carers of anyone present) in their premises and must provide table service only.
Purpose of this guidance
This guidance is intended to provide the essential information needed to help businesses, employers and other organisations or institutions meet the legal obligations they are under to minimise the risk of people being exposed to, or spreading, coronavirus on their premises.
The guidance sets out what we know about how coronavirus is transmitted and the most effective ways of reducing the spread of the disease. This helps explain why a range of different precautions are necessary to lower risks.
The foundation of the specific legal requirement that applies in Wales is that the risk of exposure to coronavirus on all premises open to the public and workplaces must be assessed and “reasonable measures” taken to minimise that risk. The guidance explains what “reasonable measures” mean and provides illustrations of the measures that can be taken.
Other guidance available
Most sector-specific guidance has been replaced with “Action Cards” which provide examples of specific measures that may be reasonable to take depending on the nature of the premises and how it is used.
There is separate guidance for the publics that focuses on protective behaviours.
The Keeping Wales Safe at Work guidance has also been updated and complements this more detailed statutory guidance. The Keeping Wales Safe at Work guidance can provide a useful prompt for the steps that need to be taken, alongside the Action Cards on particular risks to consider in different settings.
Additional non-statutory guidance is available on managing risks on the Health and Safety Executive website.
Welsh Government guidance is also available in other formats by emailing: Covid19.Legislation@gov.wales
How does coronavirus spread?
The most common ways coronavirus is spread are:
- through the air as an aerosol
- through the air by droplets
- by direct contact with an infected person
- by direct contact with a contaminated surface
This helps us understand what kind of places are most risky. These are places where people come into close contact with others, and places where ventilation is poor meaning that stale air is not removed and fresh air is not introduced, giving coronavirus the opportunity to build up. So the following places are particularly risky:
- indoor places where ventilation is poor
- indoor places where people are together for a long time
- any place, particularly indoors, where people have close contact with others
- any place, particularly indoors, where people are breathing heavily close to others or over extended periods, such as through strenuous exercise, loud singing, chanting, or shouting, coughing or sneezing (this is because an infected person can spread droplets over a larger area)
The different ways coronavirus spreads are illustrated in the diagram below.
Where a premises or activity has any of the above characteristics, particular attention should be paid to these risks when considering the reasonable measures that should be taken. For example, having greater physical distancing when strenuous exercise or singing is involved, or improving ventilation in busier indoor areas.
What can I do to minimise the risk of coronavirus spreading as a person responsible for a premises, employees, event or activity?
Existing legal duty to minimise risks to health and safety
Employers or persons responsible for premises, events or activities, are subject to a long standing legal responsibility to maintain the health and safety of workers, and others attending their premises (on hse.gov.uk).
There is a further requirement that applies in Wales to carry out a specific bespoke coronavirus risk assessment to identify risks and to do everything reasonably practicable to minimise those risks – to take “reasonable measures”. The Welsh Government has for some time imposed a particular legal requirement on people responsible for workplaces and for premises open to the public (called “regulated premises” in the Regulations) to ensure that reasonable measures are taken to minimise the risk of exposure to, or the spread of, coronavirus by those who have been at those premises. This legal requirement forms part of the public health response to the coronavirus pandemic and applies in addition to existing occupational health requirements under health and safety law.
In general terms there are five main ways to minimise risk. These are often described as the “hierarchy of controls”. This provides a framework against which to assess risks and consider reasonable measures to take to minimise those risks. This is a widely accepted system promoted by numerous safety organisations as a way of determining how to implement feasible and effective solutions to reduce the risk of illness or injury.
The controls are summarised below, with some specific examples of reasonable measures under each heading. What may be reasonable is explained later in this guidance.
Aim to avoid or remove the risk of coronavirus being present at the premises. This is the most effective type of intervention as it aims to stop people becoming exposed and infected. This could include:
- Prohibiting people from attending if they feel unwell and advising that they should get a PCR test.
- Ensuring that employees do not attend the premises if they are required to self-isolate, either because they have tested positive or because they are over 18, have not been fully vaccinated, and have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
- Encouraging or requiring employees to undertake routine testing using lateral flow tests to identify any individuals who may be asymptomatic (support for regular testing of staff may be available under the workplace testing programme).
- Encouraging and facilitating vaccination of staff or requiring those coming on to the premises to be fully vaccinated.
- Ensuring that accurate records are kept of which employees (and, where appropriate customers, visitors or clients) have been present so that they can be contact traced if necessary.
- Enabling and facilitating staff to work from home.
Aim to swap a risky activity for a less risky one. This could include:
- Reducing the time that people come into face-to-face contact.
- Changing work patterns so that people work in a fixed group or cohort or arrive at and leave work at staggered times (this limits the number of people that the virus can potentially spread to).
- Moving to working outdoors to reduce potential spread of the virus surface contamination and aerosol transmission.
- Using technology to replace face-to-face interactions, for example using ‘click and collect’ technologies, remote working, phone/video consultations.
- As part of the reasonable measures requirements premises must introduce and maintain physical distancing where possible by, for example:
- Limiting or controlling movement of people, for example one way systems, or limiting number of people accessing confined areas such as lifts, toilet facilities, kitchens or meeting rooms at the same time
- Providing clear signage (e.g. signs, floor tape or paint) for physical distancing, queuing systems, one way systems etc.
- Maintaining a distance between people on the premises
- Limiting face to face interaction
- Installation of partitions at appropriate places (e.g. reception desks or between work stations) to separate staff etc. (where used they should cleaned and disinfected in line with appropriate good hygiene arrangements)
Other measures could include:
- Improving ventilation:
- Increasing fresh-air ventilation in poorly ventilated spaces
- Where fresh air is not possible, ensuring mechanical ventilation meets appropriate standards and is serviced and adjusted accordingly
- Limiting use of shared surfaces:
- Using no-touch (contactless) technologies
- Using anti-microbial surfaces
- Reducing the use of shared surfaces, where this cannot be avoided
- Improving hygiene:
- Providing additional hand wash stations
- Regular handwashing and sanitising, including providing facilities and signage to encourage good behaviours
- Managing numbers and duration:
- Limiting time spent in rooms with little or poor ventilation
- Limiting the number of people present in rooms with little or poor ventilation
- Supporting good behaviour:
- Communicating effectively with those on the premises and acting on feedback on measures taken to minimise risk
- Removing some restrictions when it is safe to do so, in order to promote adherence to the most effective and necessary restrictions
Aim to lower any remaining risks of exposure. This could include:
- providing training on the measures taken explaining why they have been taken (for example the effectiveness of maintaining physical distancing, cleaning etc.)
- avoiding sharing equipment, such as ‘hot-desking’
- reducing how many people are working in a particular location by, for example, encouraging home working or partial home working
- staggering shifts
- maintaining regular communication with staff (in all relevant languages) and ensuring they understand the advice given
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
Aim to protect those present on the premises from residual exposure through use of PPE. These are the least effective interventions, so should be used in conjunction with other measures set out above. Attention must be paid to infection control during wear, removal, storage and disposal. This includes use of:
- fluid resistant surgical face masks or other proper respiratory protection (such as FFP2 and FFP3 grade masks or PAPR helmets) as may be advised in certain circumstances, for example in health or social care settings or other close contact services (where indicated by guidance)
- lower grade face coverings (see guidance on wearing face coverings in indoor public places)
- gloves and aprons
- eye protection
What is the legal requirement on businesses, workplaces, public places and event organisers?
What is the legal basis for requirements?
Regulation 16 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 imposes obligations on people responsible for premises that are open to the public or where work takes place to take reasonable measures:
- to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus on the premises, and
- to minimise the risk of spread of coronavirus by those who have been on the premises.
This guidance (issued under regulation 18 of the Regulations) on the practical application of this legal requirement has been reviewed and updated to coincide with amendments made to the Regulations on 21 January. Key changes include:
- Removal of restrictions on numbers when gathering anywhere outdoors, including in private gardens, public parks and beaches, outdoor areas of regulated premises or for outdoor activities and events
The requirement to carry out a specific coronavirus risk assessment and to take reasonable measures has not changed. These requirements remain in place.
A person responsible for regulated premises that are open to the public or which are a workplace is required to undertake the following steps, which are based on the “hierarchy of controls” principles (referred to above):
- step 1: undertake a specific assessment of the risk of exposure to coronavirus at their premises (and to consult persons working on the premises or representatives of those persons in doing so);
- step 2: provide information to those entering or working at the premises about how to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus. This includes, in particular, information to all those working on the premises about their risk of exposure to coronavirus identified in the risk assessment and the measures to be taken to minimise the risk.
- step 3: for premises, to take all reasonable measures to ensure that a distance of 2 metres between all persons is maintained indoors, or while waiting to enter, their premises except between
- people from the same household (and carers of persons from that household) or
- groups of up to 6 people from different households (not counting those under 11 or carers of persons attending).
There may be limited circumstances where 2 metre physical distancing is not reasonable to implement. In these circumstances it is expected other mitigating measures should be in place to minimise the risks of limited or no physical distancing.
- step 4: reasonable measures are taken to minimise risk of exposure to the virus on the premises. For example by seeking to prevent people who may have coronavirus from being present, by ensuring people gather outdoors instead of indoors where this is practicable, by improving ventilation indoors, by limiting close face to face interaction and contact, and by improving hygiene.
For examples of the particular measures that should considered in different kinds of premises, please see sector specific Reasonable Measures Action Cards.
As a starting point, each of the 4 Steps is required to be taken. However, measures taken under Step 4 that mitigate the risk that occurs where people from different households or permitted groups are within 2 metres of each other may be taken into account when considering what reasonable measures to take under Step 3.
As set out below, there may be limited circumstances when 2 metre social distancing is not always reasonable or where other mitigating measures may be sufficient to mitigate the risks without distancing at 2 metres. Where this is the case, a person responsible for premises would be expected to take additional and strengthened measures under Step 4, alongside maintaining as much physical distancing as reasonable.
The responsible person may have regard, for example, to the fact that people have been tested for coronavirus prior to an event or that the way the premises is set out and managed prevents people from having close face to face interaction. Also important is the extent to which the premises are well ventilated. 2m distancing may not be required as a result if those present are all seated facing the same direction, if those present do not stay for a prolonged period and if the air in the premises circulates effectively using natural or mechanical ventilation. However, 2m distancing should be maintained where additional measures such as these, which mitigate risk, are not in place (or not sufficient to mitigate the risk, for example at pinch-points or where people are moving around, such as ingress and egress points, toilets, concession stands etc.).
This guidance explains below what “reasonable measures” may mean in different settings, including more detail about specific obligations on people responsible for licensed premises and for retail premises.
The Regulations enable the Welsh Ministers to issue guidance on what is expected. and regard must be had to this guidance, and to any guidance, codes of practice or other documents published by other bodies that are incorporated into this guidance.
To whom does the legal requirement apply?
The requirement to take reasonable measures applies in a very broad range of circumstances, including every kind of workplace which is open. This includes for example; public services, health and social care premises, schools and childcare settings, higher education, further education settings (including training centres and adult learning), call centres, hospitality businesses, travel and holiday accommodation, voluntary services, commercial and industrial premises, construction sites and other open sites such as roadworks and outdoor places including livestock markets.
The duty in law to take reasonable measures applies to the person or persons responsible for premises open to the public and on the person responsible for the work being undertaken in any workplace; that is the person responsible for management control of the premises (not necessarily, for example, the owner of a leased factory space or office).
In the case of particular activities that may take place on regulated premises, the duty applies to both the person responsible for the premises where the activity is taking place and the person responsible for the activity.
Similarly in the case of regulated premises that also host other businesses on site, for example hospitality settings that host live music, the duty applies concurrently to both the person responsible for the premises where the activity is taking place and the person responsible for the individual business performing (the band in this example).
And again, in the case of weddings and other celebrations that are organised by an individual but held on regulated premises that involve outside businesses being present during the event, for example, outside caterers, live music, or other such performers, the duty applies to both the person responsible for the premises where the activity is taking place and the person responsible for the individual business present during the event.
The duty to take reasonable measures also applies to taxis and to public transport provision (including indoor areas of transport hubs such as bus stations, railway stations, airports and ferry ports) Additional supplementary detailed transport guidance is also available in relation to public transport.
Although the legal obligations fall on specific persons, everybody in a workplace or on premises open to the public has a personal responsibility both for their own behaviour and also not to frustrate steps taken to ensure that the risk of transmission of coronavirus across Wales is reduced.
Please note that this guidance is not aimed at NHS settings or care homes, which have separate guidance due to the nature of the services they provide. While the general requirement applies to health and social care settings, these settings may also need to be compliant with other sector specific guidance, such as that for infection prevention and control. That guidance would set out what is considered reasonable in those settings to manage risks.
What is the status of this guidance?
This guidance is made under regulation 18 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 and sets out further information on the practical application of the legal requirement under regulation 16.
What must be done to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus?
Regulation 16 requires 4 steps to be taken:
Step 1: Carry out a bespoke coronavirus risk assessment
The Regulations require persons responsible for premises open to the public or for work premises to carry out a specific assessment of the risk of exposure to coronavirus in relation to the premises. So businesses, organisations, employers, and activity and event organisers must carry out a bespoke coronavirus risk assessment, and act upon it. As part of that process, they are required to consult with those who work on the premises or their representatives (such as a trade union). This should be done “in good time” giving those being consulted a meaningful opportunity to contribute to the process.
The obligation to assess the risk that arises specifically from coronavirus applies in addition to the more general requirement to undertake a risk assessment found in regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (S.I. 1999 No. 3242). Where a risk assessment completed under those Regulations already assesses the risk of exposure to coronavirus, this is sufficient to meet the requirement (subject to the need to consult and inform those working on the premises and to keep the position under review). The obligation to provide information to staff already exists under regulation 10 of the 1999 Regulations.
Crucially, outcomes of risk assessments specific for your premises, and all identified risks, should form the basis for determining what reasonable measures should be taken to mitigate risk of exposure to coronavirus. It is not enough to simply conduct a risk assessment – as this is merely a tool to help inform what must be done to minimise risk.
When considering what reasonable measures should be taken at any premises, those responsible should make an assessment of risk which is specific to all of the activities undertaken at the workplace and should be updated if new activities are added. This includes taking into account all individuals who use or visit that setting including permanent and temporary staff, contractors, visitors and members of the public. It also involves taking into account that the level of risk may vary depending on how many people are present on the premises or depending on what is being done at a particular time. Risk assessments are an established part of managing health and safety at work and specific coronavirus risk assessments for your premises should be completed as part of a wider safety management system. Comprehensive guidance is available from the Health and Safety Executive.
This guidance does not cover risk assessments in detail, however the assessments should be undertaken in accordance with the procedural requirements set out in regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (as it has been modified by the Coronavirus Regulations). The risk assessment should be reviewed regularly as changes in the wider threat from the pandemic should be taken into account when considering how the obligation to take reasonable measures to minimise the risk should be met. Risk assessment is a dynamic process which should always involve those working on the premises.
A template has been provided to assist. However, risk assessments must be specific to the workplace, situation or specific activity in question. Measures to mitigate risk referred to on the template are not intended to be seen as an exhaustive list. It is for the responsible person to identify all hazards for their staff, customers and visitors, applicable to indoor and outdoor work, situations and activities.
Employers will need to take full account of the requirement to keep staff safe at work and should offer individual risk assessments for their members of staff, dependent on the roles they play and whether they are at increased risk or clinically extremely vulnerable. This also includes having regard to the physical and mental health of your workforce, particularly as they may be anxious about returning to the workplace environment if they have been working at home. They should also engage with staff representatives, and trade union representatives, in a timely fashion.
While risk assessments do not have to be published, there is a requirement that all those working on the site are informed of their content, and the mitigation measures they set out. Where the responsible person is an employer who employs 5 or more employees the employer must record the significant findings of the risk assessment and any group of employees identified as being especially at risk.
Step 2: Providing information
Providing information to workers and others on premises or in a workplace is key to successful control of virus spread. Information may be given orally or in writing (most obviously in signage), and in line with the Equality Act in terms of formats available.
Generally the information provided will need to:
- explain what measures have been taken to maintain physical distancing indoors or reduce close face to face interaction;
- assist people to follow what is required, for example by giving directions about how to enter and walk around premises if a one-way system has been put in place or by reminding people when they need to wear face coverings and how to use them effectively and responsibly (see separate guidance on face coverings);
- provide users of premises with information on the safe limit of people who can be on the premises.
Some basic signage is available here - safety and physical distancing signs for employers and on the Business Wales website.
Step 3: distance of 2 metres between all persons is maintained
Regulation 16 sets out an obligation to ‘Take all reasonable measures’ to ensure—
(a) that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between any persons indoors on the premises, except between members of a permitted group;
(b) where persons are required to wait indoors to enter the premises, that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between them, except between members of a permitted group
Step 4 - other reasonable measures
What is a reasonable measure?
Regulation 16 sets out an obligation to:
“Take reasonable measures to mitigate the risk of exposure to coronavirus that arises where persons gather on the premises, such as—
(a) seeking to prevent the following persons from being present at the premises—
(i) any person who has tested positive for coronavirus in the previous 10 days,
(ii) any person who has had close contact in the previous 7(or 10 days if day 6 or 7 LFT is positive) with a person who has tested positive for coronavirus,
(iii) any person experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19;
(b) ensuring that persons gathering at the premises gather outdoors where this is practicable;
(c) limiting close physical interaction between persons on the premises, in particular face-to-face interaction, for example by—
(i) changing the layout of premises including the location of furniture and workstations;
(ii) controlling the use of entrances, passageways, stairs and lifts;
(iii) controlling the use of shared facilities such as toilets and kitchens;
(iv) otherwise controlling the use of, or access to, any other part of the premises;
(v) installing barriers or screens;
(d) limiting the duration of time for which persons may be present on the premises;
(e) seeking to ensure that the premises are well ventilated;
(f) maintaining good hygiene on the premises;
(g) providing or requiring use of personal protective equipment.”
However, the measures listed under Step 4 are examples and what constitutes a “reasonable measure” will vary depending on the premises and what is done on the premises. The reasonable measures required will depend on the nature of the premises, and the activity that is carried out. For example those providing close personal services will not be able to maintain physical distancing while providing the service, but they should be able to use PPE and ensure there is good airflow on the premises.
Similar examples can also be found above in the “Hierarchy of Controls” section. The risk assessment undertaken and the “Hierarchy of Controls” system should form the basis for what reasonable measures should be taken.
When thinking about reasonable measures to take, it is important to consider the Alert Level in force and general advice from Welsh Government and public health authorities about the level of risk.
Regulation 16 applies in all circumstances while the Regulations remain in force, it applies at all of the different Alert Levels – including where no Alert Level applies under the Regulations (“Alert Level Zero”). The measures that are reasonable to take at a low Alert Level may differ from those which are reasonable when the Alert Level is high, in other words more is likely to be required to be done at the higher Alert Levels as the risk of exposure to coronavirus is higher.
Hospitality - Licensed premises
There are additional requirements where premises are selling or supplying alcohol for consumption on the premises or allowing alcohol brought to the premises by customers to be consumed there. These specific requirements, set out in regulation 16ZA, apply in addition to the more general obligation to take “ reasonable measures”. They do not apply where the premises are closed.
Licenced premises indoors
Customers must be seated in the premises (in any place other than at a bar) to order, be served and consume food and drink. The person responsible for the premises must ensure that a table service system applies for ordering food and drink (unless food is provided on a buffet basis, in which case customers may select food from the buffet and return to where they are seated). For cinemas and theatres, where a customer is normally seated to watch a performance or show, table service is not required but food and drink should only be consumed when seated.
Outdoor parts of Licenced premises
Customers who wish to eat/drink outdoors can transit through the venue (if applicable) with face coverings to the outdoor area, where they can sit/stand in a group with no limits. In terms of service, for their outdoor areas venues can choose whether to do table service or via another means e.g. outdoor bar, hatch, ordering at the bar indoors for consumption outdoors if it can be managed safely by the venue and any decisions made should be captured within the coronavirus risk assessment (e.g. face covering whilst ordering, straight back outside once they have their drink/food, etc.).
Please note that if food or drink is to be consumed indoors, table service must be provided, therefore customers cannot order at the bar.
All licenced premises should collect contact information from each person at the premises and take reasonable measures to ensure that the contact information is correct.
There is additional guidance for the hospitality sector on how these reasonable measures can be put in place.
Cinemas and theatres and concert halls
For cinemas and theatres, where a customer is normally seated at the premises, table service is not required but food and drink should be consumed where those customers would normally be seated (e.g. for the showing of a film or a live theatrical performance).
2 metre physical distance between individual households or groups of up to six people from no more than six households (not including children under 11 from any of those households or carers of anyone present) indoors.
For theatres and concert halls, in addition to the 2 metre physical distancing requirement between groups, there is also a maximum capacity limit of 200 indoors.
Where retail premises are offering goods or service for sale or for hire, including off-sales or take away, the person responsible for the premises must, under regulation16ZB, partake the specific actions below as part of the reasonable measures they put in place. These specific requirements apply in addition to the more general obligation to take “reasonable measures”. They do not apply where the premises are closed, and they may apply differently depending on whether the premises are allowed to be open in full or only for the purposes of sales by “click and collect”.
- control the entry to the premises and limit the number of customers who are on the premises at any one time;
- provide hand sanitisation products or hand washing facilities for people when they enter and leave the premises;
- ensure any baskets or trolleys used by people on the premises are sanitised;
- display signs or other visual aids like floor markings, and make regular announcements in order to remind customers of the need to maintain 2 metre distance and to wear coverings..
The requirement to control entry can be fulfilled in different ways, depending on the nature of the retail premises and on any equipment available. In larger premises it is likely to mean either having a person on the door to control entry or some automatic means of limiting the number of people who enter. In both cases however, the number entering must be based on an assessment of the maximum number of people who can be present on the premises while being able to maintain at least a 2 metre distance between customers. The starting point for that assessment will be the floor space, however account will need to be taken of the fact that some parts of the premises are likely to be busier than others. Ventilation will also be a factor. Those responsible are encouraged to err on the side of caution in deciding on the maximum number of customers.
Small retail premises can control entry through a combination of use of signage and monitoring by staff who are inside the premises. In the smallest premises, the most appropriate system of control of entry is likely to be that only one person is allowed on the premises at the time. Where customers can see whether somebody is present on the premises, this can be controlled through the use of a sign. In other circumstances, signage indicating that customers should only enter when another customer leaves should be deployed. At times where the premises is quiet, a member of staff could indicate that the customer can enter.
Public transport operators / train operators are mandated to plan in a way to maximise social distancing – (e.g. maximise length of trains, and/or provide supplemental rail replacement services to provide more seats) and do all that they can to promote the need for passengers to socially distance on board.
There will be circumstances where it may not be reasonable to maintain physical distancing, for example when undertaking certain types of safety critical work.
The employer of safety critical workers must always undertake risk assessments, and where it is not practical to maintain physical distancing, employers should consider providing daily lateral flow tests for employees and provide appropriate PPE
Working from home
People must work from home where reasonably practicable for them to do so. Employers must allow or require their employees to work from home unless there is a clear business or well-being need that would make working from home impractical, in line with their duties to take reasonable measures.
Working from home is a very effective way of minimising the spread and the risk of exposure to coronavirus. Employers must be flexible and make adjustments wherever that is possible. For example issuing staff with IT equipment (laptops, monitors, keyboards), office furniture, mobile phones and facilitating communication across locations.
Employees should not be required or placed under pressure to return to a workplace setting if there is not a clearly demonstrated business need for them to do so. If alternative arrangements could meet the majority of business needs, employees should be allowed to work from home in order to minimise the risk of exposure to or spread of coronavirus. This should be discussed with staff or representatives of staff.
Employers must also consider adverse impacts on an individual’s well-being. This includes people who are at increased risk or are clinically extremely vulnerable (who were previously advised to shield and who still need to take high levels of precaution), or because returning to the workplace would cause them severe anxiety. This is particularly the case where work would require them to be in regular or sustained contact with other people or to be share a poorly ventilated space for long periods.
Equally, there may be staff who wish to remain in or return to workplace settings as working from home is adversely impacting their mental health and well-being. In these circumstances, the well-being of staff is a relevant consideration. Although employers’ first priority should be minimising the risk of exposure to coronavirus, this should be balanced against the detrimental effect working from home may be having on an employee’s wellbeing. In these circumstances if employees in this position can return to the workplace setting without a significant increase in the risk of exposure to coronavirus, and it considered that it would not be reasonably practicable for them to work from home because of the risks posed to them, then this should be allowed. In considering this, employers should consider the extent to which the employee returning to the workplace would come into close contact with others both within the workplace but also in travelling to and from work.
Employers could be faced with an improvement or closure notice for failing to allow their employees to work from home where reasonably practicable and when there is not a reasonable alternative.
All businesses and services are required to put in place measures to maintain 2 metre social distancing; this could include measures such as physical barriers and one way systems.
Scope for physical distancing on premises is to an extent constrained by the size of premises; however, regardless of the size of the premises, the starting point is that consideration must be given to how people could be kept physically apart and how close face to face interaction could be prevented or minimised.
The risk assessment required by the Coronavirus Regulations should establish the appropriate number of people who can be present and that information should be made available publicly, such as through signage. There should also be specific controls at the entry and exit to premises to ensure that the numbers on the premises do not exceed this number. That means limiting access, organising the flow of people through the premises, design and planning of work and will likely require measures to be put in place to help people stay apart.
The nature of measures that are reasonable will be specific to the individual workplace or premises, and will reflect the physical environment and the nature of the business or activity being conducted. Examples of ways to support physical distancing include:
- controlling entry to the premises to limit the number of people on the premises at any one time
- increasing the space between people by reducing the total number of people in attendance,
- changing the layout of premises and removing furniture to support physical distancing
- controlling use of entrances, passageways, stairs and lifts
- controlling use of shared facilities such as toilets and kitchens
- increasing space between staff – for example on a production line leaving 2 metre gaps between people and indicating spacing with markings
- considering appropriate provision of rest space, such as providing additional space or staggering breaks
- altering tasks undertaken – making adjustments to the way that work is done, to reduce contact
- staggering shifts to minimise people on site and to reduce congestion at the point of shift changes
In considering whether it is reasonable to maintain physical distancing there are a range of situations in which this is not practicable. Examples include where the location is too small to accommodate distancing, where contact is essential (e.g. personal services), where it is essential for safety, or where proximity is for short periods of time (e.g. sports).
Where premises are open to young children, it may not be practicable to attempt to maintain continual physical distancing between those children (or even between those children and any adults on the premises). This is in part because it is harder for younger children to understand the concept of physical distancing, and in part because appropriate support from carers will often require closer contact.
Maintaining high levels of physical distancing could place some businesses under significant commercial strain. Although protecting public health and maintaining public confidence should be the priority, businesses may opt for alternatives to physical distancing or maintain less physical distancing if the cost implications are such that they would make the business unviable.
The risk assessment should include consideration for what mitigating actions can be taken if physical distancing is more limited or not maintained. If taking other reasonable measures will not sufficiently mitigate the risk of exposure to the virus, this suggests that physical distancing is still required.
Other reasonable measures that can be taken
In all circumstances, but especially where physical distancing will not be possible or enforceable, it is important that other measures are taken. The most obvious measures to take are anything which reduce close face to face interaction and to improve hand washing, avoidance of touching the face with unwashed hands, respiratory hygiene and surface cleaning.
In addition to ventilation, working from home and physical distancing, a wide range of additional measures are set out in the section on the “Hierarchy of controls”. Additional guidance and specific links are provided below for some of these:
- Ensuring the role of Test, Trace, Protect is understood, including how it affects your setting. This includes being clear with staff and visitors that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should not come into work or attend the setting but will need to start a period of self-isolation and arrange a test.
- Collecting contact information from people (including staff, customers and visitors) who have been at the premises and to retain this for 21 days. This allows people to be contacted where they may have been exposed to coronavirus at the premises. Separate guidance on the collection of contact details provides further information on collecting contact details.
- The wearing of face coverings remains mandatory in indoor public places. Separate face coverings guidance has been produced setting out the responsibilities of employers and the managers of premises with regard to face coverings, and you are also required to have regard to that guidance.
The Covid pass could be a reasonable measure to reduce the risk of an infectious person being on the premises. People in Wales can access a NHS COVID Pass to provide proof of vaccination or negative test, . A Covid Pass must be shown to enter:
- Outdoor non-seated events of over 4,000, where people will be mixing closely for prolonged periods.
- Any event, of any nature, which has more than 10,000 people in attendance.
- Concert halls
Relevant considerations to deciding whether measures are reasonable
Those subject to the legal obligation to take reasonable measures have discretion in deciding what measures to take. However, those measures must “mitigate the risk of exposure to coronavirus that arises where persons gather” on their premises, and determining what measures are “reasonable” to take is an objective test. This means that what is reasonable depends on what a reasonable person faced with a similar situation would do.
Subject to that, when considering what measures are reasonable consideration may be given, among other things, to the following factors;
- Cost – is the cost of the measure proportionate to the extent to which risk is reduced by the measure?
- The nature of the work – are the measures practical, or would they undermine the delivery of the service or undertaking of the business so much that they would be unsustainable?
- Can measures be put in place without compromising health and safety in other respects not related to the spread of coronavirus? If measures would increase the health and safety risk, for example in the case of operating machinery, these would most likely not be reasonable measures.
- The nature and capacity of those in a workplace – where a service or business is responsible for looking after or working with vulnerable people, it may not be reasonable to institute rigid physical distancing.
- Measures should command staff and workforce confidence that proper consideration has been given to the level of risk that they face.
Types of reasonable measure that can be taken
In all circumstances, but especially where physical distancing will not be possible or enforceable, a range of measures are likely to be needed to minimise risk.
Ultimately, if the measures that can reasonably be taken are insufficient to mitigate the risks involved, regulation 16 makes clear that reasonable measures may include ceasing to carry out certain activities and closing part of premises. Although regulation 16 is primarily concerned with how things are done, not whether they are done, there may be some activities where the risk of exposure to coronavirus is such that the only means of minimising the risk is not to do it. This option will be particularly relevant at higher Alert Levels.
Set out below are some of the most effective reasonable measures that should be considered and put in place where possible. A fuller set of examples is provided in the section on the “hierarchy of controls”.
Improving ventilation is a particularly important measure. Carrying out activities outdoors will provide natural ventilation. Natural ventilation indoors might be provided by opening doors and windows where this does not contravene fire safety requirements. Improvements in mechanical ventilation will also help minimise risks if done effectively.
It is also a legal requirement under regulation 6 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations that “Effective and suitable provision shall be made to ensure that every enclosed workplace is ventilated by a sufficient quantity of fresh or purified air.” The Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers has guidance available on what is “sufficient”, which is referenced in the HSE’s COVID-19 guidance.
Ventilation can work in combination with other measures such as restricting or reducing duration of activities and enhanced use of face coverings in settings with higher risk of aerosol transmission.
It is important to identify and deal with areas that are not well ventilated. The more people occupying an area that is poorly ventilated, and the longer they remain in it, the greater the risk of spread of coronavirus.
So maximising the fresh air in a space can be done by:
- natural ventilation
- mechanical ventilation
- a combination of natural and mechanical ventilation, for example where mechanical ventilation relies on natural ventilation to maximise fresh air
And risk assessments should consider the following:
- effective fresh air ventilation, working alongside face coverings, distancing and enhanced hygiene regimes
- restricting or reducing duration of activities indoors
- room layout
- using rooms with good ventilation and avoiding the use of those without;
- the use of suitable air quality monitoring systems and air cleaning devices to enhance indoor air quality
- making sure mechanical ventilation systems are maintained in line with manufacturers’ instructions
- avoiding ventilation which only recycles air
- if table or pedestal fans are unavoidable, ensuring that air is not blown from one person (or groups of people) to another person (or group of people) by regularly bringing in air from outside by opening windows or doors
- using ceiling fans and fresh air to improve the circulation of air from outside and avoid pockets of stagnant air forming indoors
Employers should provide employees with clear guidance on ventilation, why it is important, and instruction on how to achieve and maintain good natural ventilation or to operate systems if there are user controls which employees can access.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has updated and expanded its advice to help employers provide adequate ventilation in their workplaces and premises during the pandemic. It also provides guidance on other factors to consider when assessing the risk from aerosol transmission, and determining whether adequate ventilation is being provided to reduce this risk.
Further advice and guidance for employers, building managers and those who are responsible for workplaces, non-domestic public buildings can be found below:
- Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers
- The Building Engineers Services Association
- Royal Academy of Engineering
- Identifying poorly ventilated areas and using CO2 monitors (on hse.gov.uk)
- TM40: health and wellbeing in building services (on cibse.org)
- EMG and SPI-B: application of CO2 monitoring as an approach to managing ventilation to mitigate SARS-CoV-2 transmission, 27 May 2021 - GOV.UK (on GOV.UK)
- EMG: role of ventilation in controlling SARS-CoV-2 transmission (on GOV.UK)
The Welsh Government expects that businesses and others understand the severity of the situation we are facing as a society and will take the reasonable steps necessary.
By working together, it is hoped that that employers, employees and /or volunteers can come to a reasonable judgment on the best way to minimise the risks of exposure to and spread of coronavirus. It is in all our interests for this to happen so that important work can continue.
However, the Welsh Government has included a duty in law is so that enforcement is possible, where it is necessary.
The police, and local authorities, have powers to enforce the requirements on businesses, services and workplaces imposed by the regulations.
- promote and maintain sustained compliance as a preventative measure to help contain the coronavirus;
- ensure action is taken immediately to deal with situations in which there is a risk of coronavirus spreading; and
- ensure that those who fail to comply are held to account.
Local authority Public Protection Enforcement Officers will continue to monitor compliance with the Coronavirus Regulations and those responsible for regulated premises may receive a visit, telephone call and/or an e-mail from their local enforcement officer. This contact is to ensure all have undertaken a risk assessment and that the reasonable measures identified and to be applied are sufficient to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus.
If improvements are needed the local enforcement officer will provide information about what is required either informally or, if they have significant concerns, through service of a Premises Improvement Notice. Where the breach is serious or where there has been repeated non-compliance service of a Premises Closure Notice will also be considered.
A proportionate approach will be taken by local enforcement officers who will assess whether the appropriate reasonable measures are being taken. It is not their role to approve risk assessments.
The enforcement system is set out in Schedules 8 and 9 to the Regulations and is based on the issue of a “Premises Improvement Notice” or a “Premises Closure Notice” or both, depending on the circumstances. More detail is available in the separate guidance - reasonable measures to minimise risk of coronavirus in workplaces and open premises: guidance for enforcement officers.
COVID pass enforcement
The compliance with the new requirements to check evidence of vaccine or testing status in certain venues will be enforced in the same way as compliance with the other requirements under regulation 16 (to undertake risk assessments and put in place reasonable measures) is enforced. This means businesses and events will need to ensure their proposed arrangements and are included in their bespoke risk assessments, including the justification for what it considers to be a reasonable measure.
Examples of considerations could be:
- have they considered staggered entry times to the nightclub or event in order to be able to check individuals’ vaccine or testing status?
- is there sufficient space for people to effectively physical distance in any queue to enter?
A wider offence linked to the provision of false or misleading evidence of vaccination or testing status where that evidence is required as part of the requirement for providing evidence for entry has also been introduced.
Where there are reports of individuals providing falsified or misleading information, a police officer or a police community support officer (PCSO) will be able to take action under the Regulations.
In summary, persons responsible for premises, and who are required to take reasonable measures to minimise risk of exposure to coronavirus on the premises, should consider the following:
- Do people need to be physically present on the premises, or could alternatives such as home working or remote communications be used?
- Where people need to be on the premises, when and where could people be exposed or risk spreading coronavirus?
- What can be done to try to prevent people who have tested positive or who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms from being on the premises?
- What can be done to encourage people to be vaccinated?
- What must be done to keep people at 2 metre physical distance from one another on the premises?
- What can be done to use outdoor space instead of indoors on the premises?
- What can be done to improve ventilation indoors, either through using windows and natural draft or by use of mechanical ventilation systems?
- What can be done to minimise the duration people may be together?
- What can be done to minimise close face to face interaction?
- What can be done to improve hygiene?
- What information is taken to ensure that people can be contacted if they may have been exposed to coronavirus on the premises?