England has moved to Step 4 in the government’s roadmap out of lockdown (as of Monday 19 July), which sees the majority of COVID-19 guidance and legal restrictions removed.
What do the changes mean for North East businesses?
- All remaining closed businesses and venues, such as nightclubs, will be able to reopen
- All capacity limits at sporting, entertainment, and business events will be lifted
- Hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants and bars will no longer be required to provide table service or follow other social distancing rules
- There will be no limits on guests at weddings, civil partnerships, funerals and other life events (including receptions and celebrations)
- Whilst the Government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can, the Government would expect and recommend a gradual return over the summer
- The Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport.
What key protections will remain in place?
- Testing when you have symptoms and targeted asymptomatic testing in education, high risk workplaces and to help people manage their personal risk.
- Isolating when positive or when contacted by NHS Test and Trace. (From 16 August, people who have been fully vaccinated will be exempt from the requirement to self-isolate if they are a contact of a positive case. People will instead be advised to take a PCR test as soon as possible).
- Encouraging and supporting businesses and large events to use the NHS COVID Pass in high-risk settings (see section below on ‘NHS COVID Pass for higher risk settings’).
Working safely guidance for employers
All businesses should continue to follow the principles set out in the working safely guidance. Employers still have a legal duty to manage risks to those affected by their business.
The way businesses can do this is to carry out a health and safety risk assessment – including the risk of COVID-19 – and to take reasonable steps to mitigate the risks identified. Working safely guidance sets out a range of mitigations employers should consider including:
- Cleaning surfaces that people touch regularly
- Identifying poorly-ventilated areas in the venue and taking steps to improve air flow
- Ensuring that staff and customers who are unwell do not attend the workplace or venue
- Communicating to staff and customers the measures you have put in place.
NHS COVID Pass for higher risk settings
Organisations in higher risk settings are encouraged to use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry, in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19. This will especially be the case in large crowded settings where people are likely to be in close proximity to others outside their household.
To support organisations and individuals in these settings, the NHS COVID Pass will be made available through the NHS App, NHS.UK, or as a letter that can be requested by ringing NHS 119. Visitors will also be able to show text or email confirmation of test results. Organisations should ensure they are in compliance with all legal obligations, including on equalities.
There are some settings where the NHS COVID Pass should not be used as a condition of entry, in order to ensure access for all. This includes essential services and essential retailers which have been able to stay open throughout the pandemic.
Use of NHS COVID-19 app to check-in at venues
Businesses are also encouraged to continue displaying QR codes for customers wishing to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app, or to continue collecting customer contact details to support NHS Test and Trace, however this will no longer be a legal requirement from 19 July.