As part of the Government’s Spring 2021 Roadmap, on 12 April, England will move into step 2 of its step-by-step plan to ease restrictions. As part of this step, non-essential retail businesses will be able to reopen as well as personal care facilities, close contact services, indoor sports and leisure facilities.
As hospitality venues and retail businesses make preparations over the weekend to reopen, environmental health professionals (EH professionals) across England are working to support those businesses to do so both safely and in compliance with all relevant government regulations and guidance.
The challenge is ensuring that businesses are aware of and comply with the latest version of the regulations and guidance, which were updated by the Government on 29 March. Some requirements remain the same as previous regulations but there are changes. The Government updated its working safely during coronavirus on 8 April. This outlines what businesses need to do to protect staff and customers. It also highlights some of the key changes around requirements such as ventilation, testing, and collection of customer data for tracing purposes. There are new regulations which deal specifically with this particular matter.
Businesses are now required by law to ask people to check in with the NHS QR Code and there must be a record of staff hours at the venue and their contact details. All visitors are required to check in when visiting premises, this does not include children under the ages of 16. Failure to do this could result in financial penalties of £1,000.
EH professionals are always willing to provide guidance and support to venue owners and proprietors to ensure public safety as well as legal compliance to prevent costly or inappropriate interventions intended to make their venues comply. We would encourage any businesses that are unsure about what is required to contact their local environmental health departments. CIEH has supported our members throughout this pandemic and will continue to do so as they seek to ensure that the public remain safe and public health is protected.
Julie Barratt, President of CIEH, said:
“CIEH is calling on the Government to ensure they provide clearer and consistent guidance for those re-opening their businesses next week, which will help ensure that business owners are prepared to trade and keep the public and workers safe.
Although the Government is and will be putting out more regulation and guidance before Monday, CIEH also calls on the Government to take a more forward look at their next steps and approach. Information needs to be put out with longer notice in advance of changes. This is especially important for those parts of the economy that have been closed since the start of the first lockdown.
Environmental health professionals provide an essential service to support businesses in re-opening safely and helping to protect the general public and workers during this time. It is important that guidelines are clear, consistently applied, transparent and accessible for business to implement and for protective regulation.”