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Introduction

The guidance is intended to cover all alert levels.

The Coronavirus Regulations impose strict restrictions on gatherings, the movement of people, and the operation of businesses, some of which are required to close temporarily.

Businesses that are permitted to operate, and premises which are allowed to open, must do so safely in a way that complies with the Coronavirus Regulations, in addition to other legal obligations imposed on employers (such as health and safety legislation).

To support businesses and others to work safely, the Welsh Government has adopted five key principles:

  • care: our health and well-being comes first
  • comply: the laws that keep us safe must be obeyed
  • involve: we will share responsibility for safe work
  • adapt: we all need to change how we work
  • communicate: we must all understand what to do

Further guidance on the key principles is available.

This document is to help employers, employees and the self-employed in indoor environments such as offices, contact centres, operations rooms and similar premises to understand how to work safely, taking all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19. When local restrictions or national alert levels are in place then the requirements of those alert levels take precedence. Information on the current alert levels in place (including what is permitted) should be checked regularly for updates.

The Welsh Government has updated the Coronavirus control plan for Wales setting out how we will all work together to manage the risks of COVID-19 and it is recommended that you review the plan.

This updated Coronavirus Control Plan, which takes account of vaccination and the dominant Kent variant, sets out how we will move through the alert levels and how we can help people and businesses plan for the future, as we continue our careful approach to unlocking the current restrictions. 

How to use this guidance

The Welsh Government has issued guidance notes under the Coronavirus Regulations on taking all reasonable measures to minimise exposure to coronavirus in workplaces and premises open to the public and Face Coverings: guidance on measures to be taken by employers and managers of premises. These guidance notes are referred to collectively in this document as the “Statutory Guidance”.

This document builds on the requirements in the Statutory Guidance with practical advice as well as signposting other sector-specific and other relevant guidance. It gives practical considerations of how safe practices could be applied to your business and operation. Each business must comply with the Coronavirus Regulations and have regard to the Statutory Guidance and should use this document to help them decide what specific actions they could take to operate safely, depending on the nature of the business including the size and type of business, how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated.

In the event of any discrepancy between this guidance and the Statutory Guidance, you should have regard for the Statutory Guidance. This guidance is not a substitute for legal advice, which you should consider obtaining where necessary, nor does it supersede any legal obligations including in relation to health and safety, employment or equalities. It is important that as a business or an employer you continue to comply with your existing obligations including those relating to individuals with protected characteristics. Failure to comply with relevant legislation could result in enforcement action by the relevant authorities.

The Coronavirus Regulations set out a specific and separate system of enforcement. This means that enforcement officers from local authorities can require certain (specified) measures to be taken in relation to premises, and they can if necessary close them. Closure can be required either because specified measures are not subsequently taken or because the breach of the requirements is sufficiently serious to justify closing a premises immediately or with only very limited notice. The Welsh Government has issued guidance for enforcement officers that you may wish to review so that you understand what action can be taken if you fail to comply with the Coronavirus Regulations and/or do not take account of the Statutory Guidance.

When considering how to apply this guidance, take into account agency workers and contractors, as well as your employees and anyone else on the premises.

To help you decide which actions to take, Coronavirus Regulations require you to carry out a specific COVID-19 risk assessment, just as you would for other Health and Safety related hazards. This risk assessment must be done in consultation with staff and representatives (recognised trade union or a representative chosen by workers) and be made available to staff. HSE (Health & Safety Executive) provide useful templates to help you undertake a specific COVID-19 risk assessment that will take you through the hierarchy of controls from the most to the least effective.  An overview of the hierarchy of controls can be found in Appendix 1.

This document will be updated over time. This version is up to date as of 29 March 2021.

The Welsh Government reviews the Coronavirus Regulations every 3 weeks. These reviews provide an opportunity to assess the effectiveness and consequences of the provisions and may result in amendments to the regulations. It is important to note that if there is an increase in COVID-19 cases, new rules may be introduced to reduce the spread of the virus and protect public health outside of the standard 3 week review period. In addition, an increase in the transmission of COVID-19, either across Wales or in a specific locality, might affect what is considered a “reasonable measure”, with more measures potentially being needed. In these circumstances, there may be also more activities where the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is such that the only means of minimising the risk is not to do it.  It is therefore important to regularly revisit your COVID-19 risk assessment to ensure that the actions you have taken are in line with the most recent regulations.

1. Thinking about and managing risk

1.1 Thinking about and managing risk 

Objective: That all employers and businesses carry out a specific COVID-19 risk assessment.

As an employer or business operator, you have a legal responsibility to protect employees and contractors; and anyone else on the premises, from risks to their health and safety.  You also need to assess the risks from COVID-19 and take reasonable measures to minimise exposure to the virus.  Risk assessments are used to think about these risks and to determine everything reasonably practicable that can be done to minimise them.

When undertaking your specific COVID-19 risk assessment you must have regard to the Coronavirus Regulations and the Statutory Guidance  and use this document to inform your decisions and control measures, recognising you cannot eliminate all risks.  Risk assessments must be reviewed and updated regularly, whenever circumstances change including whenever the coronavirus alert levels change in Wales.A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about identifying sensible measures to control risk. Your risk assessment will help you decide whether you have done everything you need to. There are interactive tools available to support you from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) at Managing risks and risk assessments at work.

These risk assessments will be the starting point for implementing the reasonable measures that are required to be taken to minimise exposure to the coronavirus on premises open to the public and in workplaces.

This involves considering issues such as:

  • whether ventilation is adequate
  • hygiene factors including hand washing and access to
  • ensuring physical distancing is taking place and if 2m is practical
  • the extent to which the use of screens, PPE and face coverings can mitigate risks

It will also include considering how employers maximise the number of people who can work from home.

Employers have a duty to consult staff on health and safety through meaningful discussion with them and/or their recognised trade union (if one exists).  At its most effective, full involvement of your staff creates a culture where relationships between employers and workers are based on collaboration, trust and joint problem solving.  You can do this by listening and talking to them about the work and how you will manage risks from COVID-19.

The people who do the work are often the best people to understand the risks and will have a view on how to work safely.  Involving them in making decisions shows that you take their health and safety seriously.  You must consult with the health and safety representative selected by a recognised trade union, or if there isn’t one, a representative chosen by staff.  As an employer, you cannot decide who the representative will be.

If you are required by law to have a written risk assessment (if you have five or more employees) then significant findings must be written down and control measures put in place. Risk assessments are a legal requirement for pregnant women, no matter the size of the business and further guidance is available for employers of pregnant women here.

Your assessment should have particular regard to whether the people doing the work are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 (those defined on medical grounds as clinically extremely vulnerable from coronavirus (COVID-19) – previously known as ‘shielding’  or are in the increased risk group).  The online COVID-19 Workforce Risk Assessment Tool is a two-stage risk assessment for NHS and Social Care workers, which is suitable for use for all staff who are vulnerable or at risk of contracting COVID¬19, including people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.  Risk assessments should include staff that are working from home.

If an individual is concerned about the safety measures in any premises where work takes place or a service is provided, then they can report this to the Public Protection services of the relevant local authority (which include environmental health and health & safety).

Where the enforcing authority, such as the local authority, identifies employers or business operators who are not taking action to comply with relevant public health legislation and guidance to control public health risks, they will consider taking a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks. 

Employers and workers should always come together to resolve issues. If concerns still cannot be resolved, an employee can take the following steps:

  • Contact their employee representative
  • Contact their trade union or association if they have one
  • Use the HSE form available here
  • Contact HSE by phone 0300 790 6787

1.2  Managing risk

Objective: To reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking appropriate preventative measures.

All those responsible for work, and premises open to the public, must take reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 on the premises, and reduce the risk of people who have been on the premises from spreading the virus.

Where it is reasonably practicable for a person to work at home, employers should support them to do so by being as flexible as possible and making adjustments to ensure that staff work from home wherever that is possible. This may include issuing staff with laptops or mobile phones and facilitating communication from wherever members of staff may be.

Employees should not be required or placed under pressure to attend a workplace setting if there is not a clearly demonstrated business need for them to do so. Employers who are considering requiring their staff to attend workplace settings should first assess whether alternative arrangements could meet the majority of the employer’s needs. This should be discussed with staff or representatives of staff.

Where there is a demonstrable business need for staff to attend the workplace, you should take all reasonable measures to ensure that a distance of 2 metres (2m) is maintained between any persons on the premises.  This requirement is referred to in this document as the “physical distancing duty”.

The requirement to maintain 2m distance does not apply to persons from the same household, support bubble or an extended household (if permitted at current alert level), or between a carer and the person being assisted by the carer.

In addition to applying the physical distancing duty where possible, you must also take all other reasonable measures to minimise exposure to COVID-19 on your premises and to minimise the spread of the virus by those who have been at the premises, for example, by:

  • limiting the level of face-to-face interaction
  • using physical barriers
  • increasing hygiene, environmental cleanliness and providing reminders about the importance of hygiene
  • washing hands well for 20 seconds with soap, and drying thoroughly, or using alcohol-based hand gels before and after close contact
  • minimising loud noises which will require people to shout over them
  • wearing or providing personal protective equipment where sector specific guidance says it is required and ensuring it is worn correctly
  • requiring face coverings to be worn by staff in parts of the premises that are open to the public and in other parts of the premises where physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • providing information to staff and visitors to the premises about the need to wear face coverings and explaining where in the premises they are required
  • recording contact details of staff, and visitors to support Test, Trace, Protect (TTP)
  • making staff aware of the employer’s compliance with the TTP strategy and the need for employers to release their personal contact information in the event of a TTP enquiry that involves the business/organisation and its employees
  • ensuring that employees are allowed or enabled to self-isolate. If they have tested positive for COVID-19 or been notified they are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19

The extra precautions you may need to take will depend on the nature of the work, for example, if closer working is required that makes observing the physical distancing duty difficult, and the type of premises the work takes place in. Statutory Guidance has been produced to help people understand what “taking all reasonable measures” means, which you must have regard to. Furthermore, you must have regard to the Statutory Guidance on the measures to be taken by employers and manager of premises in relation to face coverings issued by the Welsh Government.   

Your specific COVID-19 risk assessment will help you decide what actions you need to take.

1.3  Sharing the results of your risk assessment

You are required by the Coronavirus Regulations to provide information to those entering or working at your premises about how to minimise exposure to COVID-19. We encourage all businesses to demonstrate to their workers and customers that they have properly assessed their risk and taken appropriate mitigating actions. You should share your actions with your workforce. If possible, you should publish this information on your website, particularly where you are an employer with over 50 workers. A notice that you may wish to display on your premises to show that you have followed this guidance is available: Five key steps to keep wales safe at work.

2. Who should go to work?

Objective: To support employees to work from home whenever possible.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  • Considering who is needed to be on site, for example support staff could work from home if possible. Discuss with them the practicalities of them working from home for some of all of their time, be as flexible as you can and make reasonable adjustments to help them to work from home.
  • Planning for the minimum number of people needed to be on site to operate safely and effectively, for example, workers deemed necessary to carry out physical works, supervise work, or conduct work in order to operate safely.
  • Monitoring the well-being of people who are working from home and helping them stay connected to the rest of the workforce.
  • Providing equipment for people to work at home safely and effectively, for example, remote access to work systems.

2.1  Protecting people who are at higher risk

Objective: To protect people defined on medical grounds as clinically extremely vulnerable from coronavirus (COVID-19) – previously known as ‘shielding’.

All those identified as being at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 (due to a serious underlying health issue) were previously advised to shield by the Chief Medical Officer for Wales. Shielding helped to protect extremely vulnerable people by reducing their contact with other people, and therefore the risk of being exposed to COVID-19.  The Welsh Government will update shielding advice in line with current alert levels.  Depending on the current alert level, that could mean that those on the shielding list are able to go to work if they are unable to work from home, provided their employer has taken reasonable measures to minimise the risk of them being exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace.  However, when possible, and similar to other staff, they should carry on working from home (refer Subsection 1.1 above).

When advised they can attend the workplace, the most important thing is that you make contact with any staff that have been shielding before they return to work to understand the practical implications of them doing so. They might not have left the house for some months and might be very anxious about having contact with ‘outside’ people, so will need reassurance that their safety is being taken seriously, and all risks have been considered and mitigated as far as reasonably practicable.

You will need to undertake a risk assessment to consider what new measures you may need to take as a result of someone that was previously shielding returning to work.

There is also guidance on what to do if you share a home with someone who was previously or is shielding. That guidance is also relevant for employees working alongside individuals that were previously shielding.

In addition, there is another wider group of people at increased risk of serious illness from COVID-19 who are advised to closely follow social and physical distancing measures at all times. You should therefore discuss with all employees who were previously shielding and those at increased risk the practicalities of them working from home. You should be as flexible as you can and make any reasonable adjustments to allow them to do so, for some of, or all of their time.

If it is agreed that they will attend the workplace you will need to take all reasonable measures to minimise their risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. They should be offered the option of the safest available on-site roles which will enable them to stay 2m away from others. 

As for any workplace risk you must take into account specific duties to those with protected characteristics, including, for example, expectant mothers who are, as always, entitled to suspension on full pay if suitable roles cannot be found. Particular attention should also be paid to people who live with people who had been shielding.

Steps that will usually be needed:

2.2  People who need to self-isolate

Objective: To make sure individuals who need to self-isolate do not come into the workplace.

No one should attend a workplace-setting if they:

  • have been told to self-isolate by NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect because they have either tested positive for COVID-19 or have been in recent close contact with a confirmed/positive case of COVID-19, and are still within their self-isolation period as set out in the guidance (self isolation)
  • have COVID-19 symptoms, however mild, and are waiting for a test result;
  • are a confirmed positive case and have isolated according to the guidance (self isolation), but still have a high temperatures
  • are a member of the same household, support bubble or extended household (when permitted) as someone who has COVID-19 symptoms or who has tested positive for COVID-19, and are still within the self-isolation period as set out in the guidance (self isolation)
  • are a member of the same household, support bubble or extended household as someone who has tested positive, and are still within the self-isolation period set out in the guidance

If an employee has a positive test result and/or is told to self-isolate by NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect as a contact of a positive case then they should inform you, as their employer, as soon as is possible and in line with your sickness policies, and in any case before they are due to next attend the workplace and they must not attend the workplace.

You should allow or enable an employee to self-isolate if they have been told to self-isolate by NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect.

If multiple cases of COVID-19 appear in your setting or workplace, an outbreak control team from either the Local Authority or Public Health Wales will, if necessary, be assigned to help you as an employer to manage the outbreak. Employers should seek advice from their local authority.

You should not threaten the security of an employee’s job in order to persuade them to return to the workplace before their self-isolation period ends.

Helping your staff to stay at home for the required self-isolation period will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection households can pass on to others in the community and therefore, potentially, the rest of your workforce.

If possible, and if they are well enough (if they are a confirmed case of COVID-19), you should support staff to work from home while self-isolating.  If they cannot work from home then refer to the guidance for employers relating to statutory sick pay due to COVID-19 (on GOV.UK).

Before an employee returns to work after a period of isolation, you should confirm that:

  • If they were self-isolating because they or someone they live with had symptoms, that a test was taken and the result was negative, enabling them to leave self-isolation before the full self-isolation period was completed.
  • If they have been identified as a contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19, they have completed their required period of self-isolation and have not personally developed COVID-19 symptoms late in their isolation period.
  • If they were the confirmed case of COVID-19, they have completed their required period of self-isolation and do not have, or have not had any continuing symptoms (other than a loss of or change to normal taste or smell) in the last 48 hours;
  • If a member of their household, support bubble or extended household was the confirmed case of COVID-19, they have completed their required period of self-isolation and have not personally developed COVID-19 symptoms late in their isolation period .

If the answer to any of these scenarios is ‘no’, then the employee cannot return to work and you should not insist that they do.

People who are identified as a close contact with someone who has coronavirus will be advised by contact tracers to book a PCR test as soon as possible at the start of their self-isolation period, and again on day 8. If the tests are negative, they will still need to self-isolate for the full 10 day period. There is no requirement of proof of a negative test to return to work. There is no requirement of proof of a negative test to return to work.

Work-related travel to and from Wales must follow the rules set out in our border rules for people travelling to and from Wales.  Currently, there is no direct arrival into Wales from travellers who have been in a country on the 'red list'. This is subject to change at short notice, and so the latest information as to countries affected should be checked regularly here.

 Please note, changes are made regularly to the exempt country list for Wales and that further restrictions preventing any travel abroad or into or out of Wales may be put in place from time to time. Any such restrictions will take precedence to any information given here and should be adhered to. It is therefore advisable to check the latest position before employees’ departure on both the outward and return journeys for any work-related travel. Anyone that develops COVID-19 symptoms at work should be sent home to self-isolate, and their workplace cleaned in accordance with guidance for cleaning in non-healthcare settings (on GOV.UK). Further guidance is provided in Section 3.8 below on what to do if there is more than one case of confirmed COVID-19 associated with your workforce within a 10-day period.

2.3  Equality in the workplace

Objective: To treat everyone in your workplace equally.

In applying this guidance, employers should be mindful of the particular needs of different groups of workers or individuals.

It is unlawful to discriminate, directly or indirectly, against anyone because of a protected characteristic such as age, sex, disability, race or ethnicity.

Employers also have particular responsibilities towards staff that have disabilities and those who are new or expectant mothers.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  • understanding and taking into account the particular circumstances of those with different protected characteristics
  • involving and communicating appropriately with workers whose protected characteristics might either expose them to a different degree of risk, or make any measures you are thinking about implementing inappropriate or challenging for them
  • considering whether you need to put in place any particular measures or adjustments to take account of your duties under equalities legislation
  • making reasonable adjustments to avoid workers with disabilities being put at a disadvantage, and assessing the health and safety risks for new or expectant mothers
  • making sure that the steps you take do not have an unjustifiable negative impact on some groups compared to others, for example, those with caring responsibilities or those with religious commitments

3. Working safely: practical steps to ensure that colleagues and customers are protected

3.1 The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020

The regulations set out specific measures applicable to retail premises that must be taken. The person responsible for the premises must:

  • 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
  • in order to remind customers of the need to maintain 2 metre distance and to wear coverings, display signs or other visual aids like floor markings, and make regular announcements

These specific requirements apply in addition to the more general legal duty to take “all reasonable measures” to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus on premises open to the public and in workplaces.   The primary tool for business owners and employers to mitigate risks in the workplace and on the shop floor is through the completion of a specific COVID-19 Risk Assessment.  This needs to be completed in consultation with staff or staff representatives.  It needs to be kept up to date and closely adhered to (see Section 3.3 below). 

3.2 Providing information to staff on what they need to do

Objective: To ensure that staff understand what they need to do to help minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus whilst they are at work on your premises.

In addition to consulting staff, including agency workers and contractors, on what reasonable measures you intend to take to minimise exposure to coronavirus whilst they work (refer to Section 1. Thinking about and managing risk), you should provide information and training on what they must do to observe these measures.

Retailers must implement the measures as set out in Section 3.1 above.

Other steps that will usually be needed:

  • Reminding staff that the physical distancing duty applies in all areas of the premises, including non-customer facing areas.
  • Mandating that staff and all customers wear face coverings in all parts of the premises that are open to the public, and in non-customer facing areas if physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Providing signs within the premises to explain in which parts of the premises a face covering must be worn (if staff are able to remove face coverings in certain parts of the premises then you should support them to do so safely, for further guidance refer to Section 6 Face Coverings below). The Welsh Government has published safety and physical distancing signs for employers that are available to download
  • Ensuring all staff are aware of changes to cleaning regimes and are clear about what is expected of them.
  • Providing regular, accessible and visible written or verbal communication of key messages regarding the risk of exposure to coronavirus.
  • Considering the particular needs of staff with protected characteristics, such as those who are visually impaired.
  • Providing frequent reminders using, for example, the following:
    • additional signage to remind staff that they should not  turn up for work if they should be self-isolating
    • written communication, verbal communication, posters and informational signs, daily reminders to all staff via noticeboard and/or intranet

The face coverings guidance contains lots of useful information to support people responsible for business encourage members of the public to wear face coverings.

In reminding customers of the legal requirement to wear a face covering, you should be sensitive to the fact that not all reasons why someone may be exempt from this requirement are visible and obvious – for example mental health conditions, a requirement for lip reading, or impairments that are hidden.

Those who have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering should not be asked to give any written evidence of this. For example no person should be required to show a letter from a medical professional about their reason for not wearing a face covering.

We would also encourage those communicating with anyone who relies on lip- reading or facial expressions to understand to temporarily lower their face covering whilst talking.  It is particularly important in those situations to maintain physical distancing.

3.3 Minimising exposure to coronavirus on your premises and reducing the risk of those who have been on the premises spreading the virus.

Objective: To take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus on your premises or the spread of the virus by those that have been on the premises, by maintaining 2m physical distance between everyone on your premises and implementing extra precautions.

As detailed in Subsection 1.2 above, you should implement all reasonable measures to keep everyone on your premises 2m apart, including individuals who have to wait to enter your premises. The physical distancing duty applies to all parts of your premises; including, but not limited to, entrances and exits, toilets, kitchens and break areas, click and collect points and outside. Face coverings are also required to be worn by staff and public in indoor public places and other indoor areas where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Retailers must implement the measures as set out in Section 3.1 above.

Other steps that will usually be needed:

  • assessing the size of the premises and its layout and the number of staff present during a shift, this will enable you to calculate the number of customers who can reasonably follow 2m physical distancing.
  • ensuring staff and customers wear face coverings as required under the Coronavirus Regulations either due to the nature the of premises (mandatory for premises, or parts of premises open to the public) or as a reasonable measure to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus in any premises, or parts of the premises, unless they are exempt from doing
  • providing regular and visible written/verbal communications to your staff and customers
  • staggering staff shift start, end and break times to avoid crowding
  • arranging shifts to maintain same staff working together, where possible
  • considering how staff security checks can be managed while maintaining physical distancing

As well as keeping everyone 2m apart where possible, you must also take other reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus on your premises. The extra precautions you may need to take will depend on the nature of the work, for example, if closer working is required that makes observing the physical distancing duty difficult, and the type of premises the work takes place in. Your premises may have multiple “types of premises” within the overall premises, for example, cafes, pharmacy etc. and some of these may not be permitted to operate at different alert levels. You therefore need to consider each of these areas separately as the measures you might need to take in one part of your premises may be different to those that you take in another part of your premises, You must have regard to the Statutory Guidance, which has been produced to help people understand what “taking all reasonable measures” means.

Your specific Covid-19 Risk Assessment will help you decide what actions you need to take.

Your Covid-19 Risk Assessments will be the starting point for implementing the reasonable measures that are required to be taken to minimise exposure to the coronavirus on premises open to the public and in workplaces.

The completion of a Covid 19 Risk Assessment must be carried out in consultation with staff or staff representatives – staff safety and welfare should be of high importance to all employers in Wales.  They are required by law and will need to be in place upon opening.  Local Authorities have the power to close businesses who do not abide by the rules.  The Welsh Government fully supports using those powers, if the rules are being broken.

If any retail premises plan to hold a sale of goods during this pandemic (bearing in mind that acting in a specific way designed or likely to attract large numbers of people is likely to constitute a breach of the duty to take those reasonable measures), along with any actions to be put in place to minimise risk, this must be specifically covered in your Coronavirus Risk Assessment.  Best practice would suggest restricted and time limited access to sale areas and for those sales areas to be separated from non-sale areas.   . 

Your assessment should also pay particular regard to whether the people doing the work are especially vulnerable to COVID (those defined on medical grounds as clinically extremely vulnerable from coronavirus (COVID-19) previously known as ‘shielding’  or are in the increased risk group). The online COVID-19 Workforce Risk Assessment Tool is a two-stage risk assessment for NHS and Social Care workers, which is suitable for use for all staff who are vulnerable or at risk of contracting COVID-19, including people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.  Risk assessments should include staff that are working from home.

To reassure everyone working on your premises by sharing your risk assessment with them

You are required by the Coronavirus Regulations to provide information to those entering or working at your premises about how to minimise exposure to COVID-19.  We also encourage all businesses to demonstrate to staff and customers/visitors that they have properly assessed their risk and taken appropriate mitigating actions. If possible, you should publish this information on your website, particularly where you are an employer with over 50 workers. A notice that you may wish to display in your workplace or on your premises to show that you have followed this guidance is available here (five key steps to keep wales safe at work).

Steps that will usually be needed:

  • Using additional signage, written communication, verbal announcements posters and informational materials to remind staff about:
    • increased hand washing and doing so well for 20 seconds with soap and then drying thoroughly; and
    • good respiratory hygiene (covering the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, disposing of the tissue immediately and then washing their hands. If tissues are not available always cough/sneeze into the crook of the arm rather than the hands. Remember: catch it, bin it, kill it, wash your hands)
  • Providing alcohol-based hand sanitiser in high traffic/customer interaction areas such as entrance and exit points, Till points, changing rooms (if open), staff rooms, staff entrances and vehicles
  • Reviewing the cleaning regime (on GOV.UK) – especially around high use areas and multi-person contact points, including door handles, keypads.
  • Toilets, if open, should be cleaned regularly throughout the day and at the end of the day.
  • Providing additional pop-up handwashing stations or facilities if possible.
  • Providing soap, water, paper towels and alcohol-based hand sanitiser, if available.
  • Facilitating regular handwashing breaks for all staff.
  • Introducing frequent deep cleaning of work areas, with attention to multi contact points – for example, between shifts, staff change overs and/or during breaks.
  • Encouraging the use of disinfectant wipes to clean all equipment before and after each use and ensure there are sufficient waste disposal points for waste generated
  • Considering alternative tasks for staff at increased risk of coronavirus where they are vulnerable and their individual risk assessment has highlighted that they should not be responsible for public facing tasks.
  • Providing visors and/or other equipment for those colleagues who require them.
    • If you supply re-useable visors ensure colleagues are reminded to clean them regularly during use, before and after each use and to wash their hands before putting them on and after taking them off.
    • You should note that visors are not a replacement for a face covering. Staff that use a visor must also wear a face covering in the areas of the premises where they are required.
  • Reminding staff not to share items for example, pens when signing in or out.  They should not be required to share reusable protective equipment such as visors, face coverings or gloves etc.

3.3.1 Areas outside the store (including customer areas, deliveries and public areas)

Objective: To manage outside areas effectively.

Retailers must implement the measures as set out in Section 3.1 above.

Other steps that will usually be needed:

  • Limiting the number of entry and exit points into and out of the premises. Consider having separate entrance and exit points if possible.
  • Using a colleague to meet customers, explain the physical distancing measures implemented on your premises and control the number of customers entering the premises at any one time. In some circumstances, that colleague may need to be SIA licensed.
  • Considering whether temporary barriers should be available in case it is necessary to stop people joining a queue.
  • Provide clear signage outside the premises to inform those that are entering your premises that a face covering must be worn, unless they are exempt from doing so.
  • Considering those with protected characteristics and who may therefore have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering.
  • Placing clear signage outside the premises explaining the physical distancing measures in place that customers should follow.
  • Arranging clear signage to remind people that anyone experiencing symptoms of coronavirus should be following government guidance (self-isolation) and should not enter the premises.
  • Placing markings outside the premises to assist correct queue spacings.
  • Encouraging customers to shop alone wherever possible. Please bear in mind that this is not always possible, for example where people need to be accompanied by carers.
  • Working with neighbouring businesses and local authorities to consider how to spread the number of people arriving throughout the day for example by staggering opening hours; this will also help reduce demand on public transport at key times and avoid overcrowding.
  • Speaking with neighbouring businesses and relevant partners such as local authorities, landowners, shopping centre managers and BIDs (where they exist) to determine the best way to avoid congestion for queues outside shops. In the event of a dispute between business owners over a contested outside space, we suggest the business owner discusses the issue with their local authority or landlord to help resolve any dispute.
  • Considering whether additional security staff may be required to support and protect staff.
  • Scheduling deliveries to avoid crowding in delivery areas. Consider non-contact stock deliveries.
  • Providing the required cleaning stations at the front of your premises including: alcohol-based hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes or spray and paper towels for cleaning trolley/basket handles.
    • You should be mindful of potential littering and ensure that there are bins available for wipes/paper towels to be disposed of safely.
  • Identifying and regularly cleaning key touch points e.g. door handles, lift buttons, keypads, stair/escalator hand rails.

3.3.2 The shop floor and till areas

Objective: To minimise exposure to coronavirus and the risk of those that have been your premises from spreading the virus by taking reasonable measures to manage specific areas within your premises effectively.

Retailers must implement the measures as set out in Section 3.1 above.

Other steps that will usually be needed:

  • Using floor markings inside to facilitate compliance with the 2m physical distancing requirements outlined above, particularly in the most crowded areas and where queuing is likely.
  • Reviewing the layout of the store to ensure aisles/walkways are as clear as possible to accommodate 2m physical distancing, including the removal of promotional fixtures if necessary.
  • Considering one-way systems using floor markings and signage to highlight system and direction.
  • Setting customer order collection points to ensure 2m distancing either by floor markings or by limiting the number of customers that can wait at a time.
  • Limiting the number of customers in enclosed spaces such as lifts.
  • Erecting physical barriers at Till points using flexi-plastic to provide a barrier between those working on the Tills and customers - it should be noted that staff would need to wear a face covering if they were to step outside of the barrier area.
  • Considering the use of staff to manage the flow of customers to checkouts if necessary.
  • Considering closing every other Till point where Till points are close together, including for self-checkout Tills.
  • Leaving non-essential doors open to minimise the number of people who touch them. This does not apply to fire doors, which must be managed in accordance with your fire management procedures.
  • Removing promotions and features where customers are likely to congregate, such as product demonstrations.
  • Considering restocking/replenishing outside opening hours only. If replenishment must be done in opening hours, assess how this can be done without compromising employee or customer safety.
  • Encouraging cashless purchases.
  • Including physical barriers at Till points in cleaning programmes.
  • Regularly wiping self-checkout touch screens/keypads – If these remain in operation. Ideally do this between each use.
  • Facilitating handwashing breaks.
  • Cleaning Till points between staff using usual regular cleaning products.
  • Making regular announcements to remind staff and customers to follow physical distancing advice.
  • Placing clear signage throughout the premises, reminding customers of the physical distancing measures and asking them to follow these rules.

3.3.3 The handling of goods, merchandise and other materials

Objective: To minimise exposure to coronavirus and the risk of those that have been your premises from spreading the virus by taking reasonable measures to safely manage the handling of goods, merchandise and other materials on your premises.

Retailers must implement the measures as set out in Section 3.1 above.

Other steps that will usually be needed:

  • Staggering collection times for customers collecting items, with a queuing system in place to ensure a distance of 2m is maintained between those queuing, and between other customers on the premises.
  • Encouraging increased handwashing and introducing more handwashing facilities (access to automatic soap dispensers, water and paper towels where possible) for workers and customers or providing alcohol-based hand sanitiser where this is not practical.
  • Limiting customer handling of merchandise, for example, through different display methods, new signage or rotation, or cleaning of high touch stock with your usual cleaning products. People responsible for the business should have regard to goods that may not be sold under different alert levels. The responsibility for not selling certain products cannot be delegated to customers and must be managed by the person responsible for the business.
  • Putting in place picking-up and dropping-off collection points where possible, rather than passing goods hand-to-hand.
  • Setting up return procedures where customers take return goods to a designated area.
  • Encouraging card/contactless purchases and refunds, where possible.
  • Considering placing protective coverings on large items that may require customer testing or use, for example, furniture, beds or seats. Ensuring frequent cleaning of these coverings between uses, using usual cleaning products.
  • Cleaning touchpoints after each customer use or handover. For some examples, such as rental equipment, and test drive and rental vehicles, interior and exterior touchpoints should be considered.
  • Providing guidance to how workers can safely assist customers with handling large item purchases.

3.3.4 Changing rooms, customer seating and special assistance

Objective: To minimise exposure to coronavirus and the risk of those that have been to your premises from spreading the virus by taking reasonable measures in the changing rooms, customer seating areas and by special assistance services on your premises.

Retailers must implement the measures as set out in Section 3.1 above.

Before deciding whether to open fitting rooms you should undertake a risk assessment and if you decide they can be open follow the guidelines below:

  • You should have a member of staff in place at all times to ensure physical distancing is maintained.
  • Provide alcohol-based hand sanitiser in these areas.
  • Use social distancing marking in areas where queues normally form, avoid the creation of bottlenecks and consider a one-in one-out process.
  • Limit cubicle use to one person at a time, except where customers require specific assistance. Keep multi-occupancy fitting rooms closed.
  • Leave a gap of several minutes between customer using the cubicles.
  • Leave any doors or curtains open in vacant fitting rooms to increase fresh air flow.
  • Make hand sanitiser available on entry and exit.  Clean fitting rooms frequently or between every use.
  • Manage clothes that have been tried on to minimise contact between customers and staff.
  • Ensuring any close contact between customers and colleagues, for example fitting assistance, is carried out in line with the guidance on keeping workers and clients safe during COVID-19 in close contact services.
  • Keep the facilities well ventilated, for example by ensuring extractor fans work effectively and opening windows and vents where possible.
  • Where customers require specialist advice/assistance, ensure colleagues giving the advice have a clearly designated position, ideally with a secure barrier as provided at Till points.
  • Removing or limiting customer seating in store. If seating is provided, it should be spaced out appropriately.
  • If you provide in-store products for customers to trial prior to purchase e.g. TVs, headphones, computers, these must be set up to enable physical distancing measures to be followed and provide alcohol-based hand sanitiser in these areas. Consider whether it is better for staff to demonstrate instead of customers touching the item, or stop all services which require direct physical interaction with customers.
  • Specialised make-up and skincare advice can be provided, if strict hygiene and physical distancing protocols are followed.
  • If your business chooses not to assist customers with large purchases e.g. 60” TV to their car, it is advisable to highlight this prior to purchase. If your business is providing this service, should provide suitable protection and advice to your staff for this to be conducted safely.

Specialised fitting and measuring services can be provided, if strict hygiene and physical distancing protocols are followed.

3.3.5 Customer cafes and toilets

Objective: To minimise exposure to coronavirus and the risk of those that have been in your premises from spreading the virus by taking reasonable measures in all public areas and conveniences on your premises safe.

Customer cafes must only be open if permitted.

Retailers must implement the measures as set out in Section 3.1 above.

  • If customer toilets are open ensure they are cleaned regularly, including manual multi-person touch points such as door handles, wash hand basis, flushes, taps etc.
  • Ensure physical distancing within the toilets where possible, by for example, closing every other toilet and every other wash hand basin.
  • Baby changing facilities should be available but increase the frequency of cleaning.
  • Employers, staff and members of the public must adhere to rules on wearing face coverings in indoor public places, and specific rules apply in relation to removing face coverings for the express purpose of consuming food or drink on the premises.

The Welsh Government has produced guidance for tourism and hospitality businesses that includes practical information for cafes and restaurants. If you operate a café, restaurant or similar service at your retail premises then you should consider that guidance. There is also more information available from the Food Standards Agency on adapting restaurants and food businesses for takeaway and food delivery during the pandemic.

3.3.6 Staff only areas

Objective: To minimise exposure to coronavirus and the risk of those that have been in your premises from spreading the virus by taking reasonable measures to keep workers safe in every part of the workplace.

Retailers must implement the measures as set out in Section 3.1 above.

  • Applying physical distancing measures in staff break areas and permitting their use provided staff comply with the measures in place.
  • Enforcing a requirement for the wearing of face coverings in indoor areas for staff where physical distancing cannot be maintained, in indoor areas open to the public and by considering making a requirement in other indoor staff-only areas of high use.
  • Encouraging staff to remain on-site and, when not possible, maintaining social distancing while off-site.
  • Introducing a staggered or extended break rota to avoid crowding
  • Spacing out chairs and tables to ensure a 2m physical distance between them, for example, by removal or marking as “do not use”.
  • Promoting increased hand hygiene and physical distancing via notices placed visibly in these areas.
  • Removing sofas from break areas. You could consider replacing them with individual chairs provided they can be placed 2m apart.
  • Considering providing a takeaway service to avoid crowding in the canteen (further information is available from the Food Standards Agency on adapting restaurants and food businesses for takeaway and food delivery during the pandemic).
  • Permitting food consumption or breaks to be taken outside of usual areas.
  • Restricting the number of people using designated smoking areas at one time. Also, consider increasing the number of designated areas or asking staff to smoke off-site.
  • Providing alcohol-based hand sanitiser at entry/exit points.
  • Canteen staff should wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and dry them thoroughly, and before and after handling food (in accordance with normal food hygiene measures).
  • If possible, increasing the number of hand washing stations available.
  • Cutlery trays should be avoided. Cutlery and condiments can be issued to the person when they purchase any food.
  • Frequently cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products.
  • Placing notices promoting hand hygiene and physical distancing visibly in these areas.
  • Reminding staff to wash their hands regularly using soap and water for 20 seconds and drying thoroughly before and after eating, or using alcohol-based hand sanitisers.

3.3.7 Delivery networks

Objective: To protect the health of employers, contractors and customers when undertaking deliveries or off-site services.

As per the advice in Section 1, all employers must assess risks, and reduce them as far as is reasonably practicable. This applies equally to risks associated with delivery and collection. A thorough coronavirus specific risk assessment will ensure you comply with the law, but if in doubt always seek legal advice. The HSE has more information: Delivering safely (on hse.gov.uk).

The Welsh Government has produced detailed guidance if working in or from vehicles, which you should consider to help you decide what actions you need to take should any staff that you are responsible for operate in or from a vehicle from your premises.

  • Restricting all non-essential visitors to sites/hubs/warehouses.
  • Minimising the number of people outside of a household or extended household/support bubble (whichever are permitted by alert level) travelling together in any one vehicle, for example by maintaining consistent pairing where two-person deliveries are required.
  • Offering non-contact deliveries, where the nature of the product allows.
  • Customer order collection points should be set up to ensure the 2m physical distance either by floor markings or by limiting the number of customers that can enter at a time and face coverings must be worn if these are indoors.
  • Where delivery staff must enter customer homes or premises e.g. delivery of large items, contact the customer on the day of the delivery to ensure that they are not self-isolating or experiencing symptoms. If they are, cancel and reschedule the delivery.
  • Requiring staff to maintain a 2m distance and wear face coverings when entering customer homes or premises and asking customers to do likewise whilst delivery staff are on their premises.
  • Hands should be washed with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, and dried thoroughly, on arrival and departure. Alcohol-based hand sanitiser should be supplied for situations where hand washing is not possible
  • Alcohol-based sanitiser and wipes should be provided in all delivery vehicles and at entry/exit points to sites
  • Ensuring vehicle cabs are cleaned regularly especially between shifts and at the end of day.

4. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) (not face coverings)

PPE protects the user against health or safety risks at work. It can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment, such as face masks

Where you are already using PPE in your work activity to protect against non-COVID-19 risks, you should continue to do so.

At the start of this document we described the steps you need to take to manage COVID-19 risk in the workplace. This includes working from home and taking all reasonable measures to maintain 2m physical distancing on your premises.

When managing the risk of COVID-19, additional PPE beyond what you usually wear is not recommended. This is because COVID-19 is a different type of risk to the risks you normally face in a workplace, and needs to be managed through physical distancing, hygiene and fixed teams or partnering, not through the use of PPE.

The exception is clinical settings, like a hospital, or a small handful of other roles for which Public Health Wales advises use of PPE. For example, first responders and immigration enforcement officers. If you are in one of these groups you should refer to the advice on the NHS Wales website.

Unless you are in a situation where the risk of COVID-19 transmission is very high, your risk assessment should reflect the fact that the role of PPE in providing additional protection is extremely limited. However, if your risk assessment does show that PPE is required, then you must provide this PPE free of charge to workers who need it. Any PPE provided must fit properly.

More information on PPE in Wales here.

5. Face coverings

Wearing a face covering is mandatory for everyone in Wales in the indoor areas of premises that are open to public, and on public transport. This requirement only applies to public areas. 

For any other premises, including the non-public areas of premises that are open to the public, the Welsh Government considers that, if physical distancing cannot be continuously maintained, those responsible for work carried out at those premises should, as a reasonable measure under the Coronavirus Regulations, require staff and visitors to wear a face covering so as to minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 at the premises. This means that a decision not to require staff or visitors to wear a face covering in premises not open to the public, including the non-including the non-public areas of premises that are open to the public, should be based on a COVID-19 risk assessment that provides evidence that there is a compelling reason not to.

A face covering can be very simple; it just needs to cover the mouth and nose. It is not the same face covering as the surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of higher specification PPE. Similarly, face coverings are not the same as the PPE used to manage risks like dust and spray in an industrial context. Supplies of PPE, including face masks, must continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings like those exposed to dust hazards.

The duty to wear a face covering under the Coronavirus Regulations is incumbent on the public who visit, and the staff who work in, indoor public premises. It is important to remember that face coverings are not a replacement for the other ways of managing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and do not negate the need for those responsible for premises open to the public, or premises where work takes place, to take other reasonable measures. Therefore, you must continue to do everything reasonably possible to keep everyone 2m apart and implementing other precautions, including minimising time spent in contact, using fixed teams and partnering for close-up work, ensuring good respiratory hygiene, regular and thorough hand hygiene and increasing surface washing. These other measures remain the best ways of managing risk in the workplace and the Welsh Government would therefore not expect to see employers relying on solely on face coverings as risk management for the purpose of their health and safety assessments.

Effective face coverings should have a water repellent outer layer if possible, and comprise of 3-layers of different fabrics, which are non-stretchy. They should fit well with no air gaps around the sides and under the chin. You can make face coverings at home and this guidance explains how to.

Employers should support their workers in using face coverings safely. This means reminding them of the following information:

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds, (or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser) and dry thoroughly before putting a face covering on, and after removing it.
  • when wearing a face covering, avoid touching your face or the face covering as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands
  • to not hang a face covering from the neck or pull down from the nose
  • change your face covering if it becomes damp or damaged
  • wash your hands regularly
  • change and wash or discard (as applicable) your face covering daily
  • If the material is washable, wash in line with manufacturer’s instructions
  • ifter wearing a reusable face covering, it should be placed inside a plastic bag prior to it being washed to prevent onwards contamination from the used face covering
  • if it is not washable, dispose of it carefully in your usual waste and help keep Wales tidy
  • practicing social distancing and frequent and thorough washing of hands is the most effective way of reducing the transmission of COVID-19

6. Premises ventilation and water supply

Those in control of a premises have a legal duty to ensure effective ventilation. Further advice on air conditioning and ventilation is available from the HSE. 

There is also advice available for building services, particularly around ventilation of buildings, both in use and when returning to buildings which have been closed from the following:

If buildings have been closed or had reduced occupancy water system stagnation can occur due to lack of use, increasing the risks of Legionnaires disease. HSE guidance covering water management and legionella is available.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  • Checking any water supplies - mains water supplies that have to be reconnected (because they were turned off when a premises was closed) will need running through to flush away any microbiological or chemical residue that might have built up while it was disconnected. The Drinking Water Inspectorate are the Regulators and technical experts in England and Wales.
  • Checking whether you need to service or adjust ventilation systems, for example, so that they do not automatically reduce ventilation levels due to lower than normal occupancy levels.
  • Most air conditioning systems do not need adjustment, however where systems serve multiple buildings or you are unsure, advice can be sought from your heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) engineers or advisers.
  • Removing any fans from, for example, workstations, to avoid the recirculation of air.
  • Opening windows and doors frequently to encourage ventilation, where possible, and if it is safe to do so.

Appendix 1: hierarchy of terms

1. Elimination 

Redesign the activity such that the risk is removed or eliminated. E.g. Stop a work activity if it is not considered essential. This may be just one part of a job (e.g travelling to meetings in another part of the country), but other aspects could continue where the risk is acceptable. 

2. Substitution

Replace the activity with an activity that reduces the risk. Care is required to avoid introducing new hazards from the substitution. E.g. Work at home; Use of alternative transport to get to work; online meetings 

3. Engineering controls

Design measures that help control or mitigate risks, such as barriers, guards, etc. Priority should be given to measures that provide collective protection rather than those that just protect individuals or a small group of people.  E.g. Use of screens and barriers; Automatic doors; effective ventilation and sanitation systems.

4. Administrative controls

Identifying and implementing the procedures to improve safety, such as undertaking risk assessments, preparing and communicating mitigating procedures, and increasing signage. E.g. Spacing marked out on floors; Cleaning regimes; Signage to encourage behaviours; provision of hand wash stations 

5. PPE

Personal Protective Equipment: local kit to mitigate the risks to those exposed to the hazard. People must be familiar with the function and limitation of each item of PPE for this to be an effective measure. Ideally, PPE is only considered after all previous measures higher in the hierarchy are identified as not being fully effective in controlling the risks. E.g. Gloves; Facemasks.

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