Over the weekend First Secretary of State and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was on Sophy Ridge on Sunday Sky News discussing the lockdown. He announced there are no plans to lift the lockdown. However, with DIY store such as B&Q reopening and bakery chain Greggs planning to trial a delivery service other businesses may feel the rules unfairly apply.
During the daily press conference on 25th April Home Secretary Priti Patel outlined the guidance on self-isolation, staying at home and enforcing social distancing measures in relation to businesses.
All businesses and venues outlined by the Government must remain closed until further notice. However, takeaway, delivery services and online retailers can remain open if they operate in line with social distancing guidance.
Equally essential offices or construction firms can remain open if operating within the social distancing guidelines. These businesses include banks and post offices. This also applies to construction sites, such as new build sites.
However, it is arguably likely that once the five tests are met which are:
- Protecting the NHS and ensuring the service can cope
- A continued and consistent fall in the daily death rate from coronavirus
- A continued and consistent fall in the rate of infection
- Testing and PPE is widely available and that supply chains can meet the demand
- Ensure adjustments can be made to prevent a second peak of infection
The next phase will begin. Therefore, as a business you should be preparing now by drafting your Social Distancing Policy.
This should include:
Business Modelling – Can your business move online either in its entirely or partly. Elements such as taking orders and booking appointments for example could be done digitally. This is particularly important if you are a sole trader. Depending on the industry tools such as those within Facebook or Google could be used and are often free.
Operations – As a business owner you will need to comply with the Government’s social distancing guidelines. This applies to both employees and customers. If elements of the guidance cannot be followed due to the nature of your work appropriate measures should be taken. For example, if you are a hairdresser you will be unable to cut hair from 2 metres away, therefore it is likely you will have to consider PPE.
Likewise, you may wish to consider the health risk of accepting cash. Accepting card payments online or by using a card reader would be safer.
You will also need to consider how many people can be in your premises at one time.
If you are a service provider, such as an estate agent, the staff who work from your office may have to be reduced. Consequently, some staff members will need to continue to work from home. Equally estate agents will need to consider visual property tours and the social distancing method of achieving this.
Attwells would recommend you prepare for this now. For example, you can start by creating ‘safe zones’ using floor tape. ‘Safe zones’ need to be 2 metres apart, remembering also that the coronavirus can move side-ways, diagonally and backwards. If queuing is likely outside your shop or office, you may wish to consider where and how your customers queue. Again 2-metre marks should be made, and an effort made not to block public pathways.
Cleaning stations may also be required, a basic table with hand sanitiser, anti-bacteria wipes and a bin.
Pricing: Due to all these changes you may have to increase your prices as you factor in money spent on PPE, maintaining your cleaning station and digital solutions you now require. In addition, you may not be able to serve as many customers in the same period of time. These are all important pricing factors.
Any policy effecting your employees or customers should be published. You can do this via your website or by simply printing a copy and displaying it at your premises. Signs and notices should also be visible and placed in appropriate locations whilst considering the needs of those needing to read them.
If all of this seems a bit daunting, please don’t worry. Our employment and business legal experts can help. Attwells Solicitors can draft your Social distancing Policy, review your HR documents and employment contracts all for a fixed fee.
For more information on protecting your business during and after the lockdown please call Lloyd Clarke on 01206 239761.