The Fitzrovia Partnership is a Business Improvement District representing businesses in the heart of London’s Fitzrovia.

Telephone: 020 3146 4260

11 -13 Bayley Street, London, WC1B 3HD

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Social Distancing & Face Coverings

Recovery Phase

Social Distancing General

Government guidance states you must maintain social distancing in the workplace wherever possible

Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full in relation to a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and, if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between their staff.

Mitigating actions include:

  • further increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning
  • keeping the activity time involved as short as possible
  • using screens or barriers to separate people from each other
  • using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible
  • reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’ (so each person works with only a few others)

Social distancing applies to all parts of a business, not just the place where people spend most of their time, but also entrances and exits, break rooms, canteens and similar settings. These are often the most challenging areas to maintain social distancing.

Social distancing general considerations

  • Stagger staff shift start, end and break times to avoid crowding
  • Arrange shifts to maintain same staff working together, where possible
  • Consider splitting teams – minimise occupants physically in the workplace
  • Consider using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible
  • Consider how staff are travelling to/from work. Public transport users should be offered additional flexibility
  • Facilitate home/remote working to minimise workplace exposure
  • Offer staff alternative tasks if concerns are raised
  • Creating additional space by using other parts of the workplace that have been freed up by remote working
  • Providing more storage for workers clothes and bags
  • Consider what steps will be taken by managers and staff where visitors/occupants/customers are not following social distancing measures. Shop Floor and Till Areas in a Retail setting, Reception and communal areas in an Office setting.

  • Use floor markings inside to facilitate compliance with the social distancing advice of 2 metres, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, particularly in the most crowded areas and where queueing is likely
  • Place clear signage throughout the workplace reminding visitors/customers/occupants of the social distancing measures and asking them to follow these rules
  • Review the layout of the workplace to ensure aisles/walkways are as clear as possible to accommodate 2m social distancing, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, including the removal of fixtures and obstacles as necessary
  • Consider one-way systems using floor markings and signage to highlight system and direction
  • Make regular announcements to remind staff/customers/visitors/occupants to follow social distancing advice
  • Erect physical barriers at reception areas and till points using flexiplastic to provide a barrier for those operating the space. These should be included in workplace cleaning programmes
  • If necessary, use staff to manage the flow of people in high footfall areas
  • In a retail setting, where till points are close together, consider closing every other till point. Assess whether this is also necessary for self-scan tills
  • In an office setting, consider social distancing for reception staff and contactless methods of registering visitors and occupants
  • Leave non-essential doors open to minimise the number of people who touch them. This does not apply to fire doors.
  • Customer order collection points should be set up to ensure the 2m social distancing, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable separation either by floor markings or by limiting the number of customers that can wait at a time
  • Consider limiting the number of customers or workplace occupants in enclosed spaces such as lifts
  • Remove promotions and features where customers are likely to congregate, such as product demonstrations or visual display units displaying non critical information in reception areas.
  • In retail settings, to limit congestion, consider restocking/replenishing only outside of store opening hours. If replenishment must be done in opening hours, assess how this can be done without compromising employee or customer safety
  • Encourage cashless purchases
  • Self-checkout/touch screens/keypads – If these remain in operation a member of staff must be available to regularly wipe these areas. Ideally between each use.
  • Staff maintain a 2 metre distance where possible, because the risk of transmission is small at this distance.
  • Where they cannot keep a 2 metre distance, they should reduce the risk to themselves and others by maintaining a 1 metre distance where possible, and taking suitable precautions.
  • Limit the number of people or households that staff come into contact with, for example by avoiding the busiest routes, as well as busy times like the rush hour
  • Wash or sanitise hands regularly
  • Use a face covering on public transport and in substantially enclosed areas of transport hubs
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Cover mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of elbow when coughing or sneezing
  • Travel side by side or behind other people, rather than facing them, where seating arrangements allow
  • Touch as few surfaces as possible
  • Stay outdoors, rather than indoors, where possible
  • Minimise the time spent close to other people, where possible
  • Avoid loud talking, shouting or singing
  • Dispose of waste safely, including items such as used disposable face coverings.

Face coverings

By law businesses must remind people to wear face coverings where they are required, for instance using signage or verbal reminder. If necessary, police can issue fines to members of the public for non-compliance. Businesses will not be required to provide face coverings for their customers.

Please be mindful that the wearing of a face covering may inhibit communication with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound.

Face coverings are not a replacement for the other ways of managing risk, including minimising time spent in contact, using fixed teams and partnering for close-up work, and increasing hand and surface washing. These other measures remain the best ways of managing risk in the workplace and government would therefore not expect to see employers relying on face coverings as risk management for the purpose of their health and safety assessments.

Face coverings are mandatory on public transport and in a number of indoor premises.

Face coverings are not mandatory in offices, although they are required for customers and staff in some businesses that are customer facing, such as:

  • banks
  • building societies
  • post offices
  • premises providing professional, legal or financial services
  • estate agents
  • auction houses

Staff in these settings must wear face coverings when in areas that are open to the public and where they are likely to come within close contact of a member of the public, unless they have an exemption. A close contact is someone:

  • you have had face to face contact (within 1 metre for any length of time) or skin to skin contact with or someone you coughed on
  • or, has been within 1 metre of you for 1 minute or longer
  • or, has been within 2 metres of you on one or more occasions during a single day for at least 15 minutes in total (when all times added up together)
  • has travelled with you in a small vehicle

People are also encouraged to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces where there are people they do not normally meet. If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and before and after taking them off.

Find further detail on when and where to wear face coverings.

Some people don’t have to wear a face covering including for health, age or equality reasons.

Employers should support their workers in using face coverings safely if they choose to wear one. This means telling workers:

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, and before and after removing it
  • when wearing a face covering, avoid touching your face or face covering, as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands
  • change your face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it
  • continue to wash your hands regularly
  • change and wash your face covering daily
  • if the material is washable, wash in line with manufacturer’s instructions. If it’s not washable, dispose of it carefully in your usual waste
  • practise social distancing wherever possible

Please be mindful that the wearing of a face covering may inhibit communication with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound.

You can make face-coverings at home. Find guidance on how to wear and make a face-covering on GOV.UK.

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