London business updates - 6 things you need to do to follow COVID rules

Pandemic protocols may not have figured on your business plan at the start of 2020. But today, it’s a matter of public and professional interest to keep your employees protected from COVID-19.

Corporate COVID testing is one of the surest ways to shield your company from an outbreak. But there’s a number of other rules and regulations for responsible employers to follow, too.

Keeping your business running while the virus is in circulation

In the first half of 2020, protection from the virus came from limiting social interaction of any kind — offices were shut, teams were told to work from home, and schools and universities remained closed as well.

But even during the UK’s “Lockdown 2”, or “Lockdown lite”, certain corporate, commercial and educational spaces can stay open. This is great news for business, but it carries certain risks as well. Here’s how to navigate this new phase of the pandemic:

Protect vulnerable employees

Public Health England (PHE) has identified various groups who are more at risk from COVID-19. They fall into two categories: those at higher risk, and those who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable.

Higher risk groups

Higher risk groups include:

  • People aged 60 or over
  • People with a high BMI
  • People with health conditions such as diabetes
  • People from some Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds
  • People who are pregnant

The clinically extremely vulnerable

Some people are considered clinically extremely vulnerable. This category includes people who are being treated for cancer or who have a severe lung condition.

Under England’s second lockdown, these workers are advised to work from home or, if that isn’t possible, to stay away from work altogether.

What you can do to protect higher risk and clinically extremely vulnerable employees

Extra consideration should be given to higher risk and clinically extremely vulnerable team members.

You should try to accommodate home working wherever possible, or consider changing an employee’s schedule so they come into contact with fewer people. You may also want to temporarily change their duties so they are less at risk.

It’s a good idea to meet with anyone who falls into these categories, to discuss the measures you’ve put in place and address any concerns they might have.

Manage any outbreaks according to the guidelines

If an outbreak occurs at your place of work, you must follow the steps below:

Step 1: Identify

NHS Test and Trace or your local Public Health England (PHE) team will get in touch if a positive COVID case has been identified at your workplace. If you are notified of two positive cases within 14 days of each other, go to Step 2.  

Step 2: Report

You should contact your local PHE team immediately to provide information and get advice.

Chances are, you will be asked to provide information about who has entered your workplace, when, and how often. To avoid unnecessary worry or a last-minute scramble for data, it can be helpful to keep a record of who was present (staff and customers) at your workplace on any given day.

Step 3: Respond

Your local PHE team will work with you to assess the risks and decide what action to take. They may assign an Outbreak Control Team to help you manage the situation.

Conduct corporate COVID testing

Company-wide corporate COVID testing is possible in London. And this proactive approach is highly effective in managing the risk of an outbreak.

Regular corporate testing can help to pick up asymptomatic cases that would otherwise go undetected. These cases have the potential to spread COVID-19 through the workplace, putting both team members and customers at risk.

Corporate COVID testing also reduces a company’s reliance on the government’s Test and Trace system.

With as few as 60% of Test and Trace’s COVID-19 contacts being reached and asked to self-isolate, the system is far from perfect. In contrast, private corporate COVID testing gives a reliable and up-to-the-minute view of the situation.

Visit the Corona Test Centre website to learn more about corporate COVID testing in several convenient London locations.

The continued need for strict hygiene standards

The government’s current messaging, “Hands. Face. Space”, continues to hold true in corporate settings. Companies should maintain the same rigorous procedures for health and hygiene, including:

Complete (and updating) risk assessments

In order to comply with current COVID-19 rules, any risk assessment you already have in place should be updated to address the risks posed by the pandemic.

A good risk assessment will help you to protect your workers, and make sure you’re in line with the latest advice from the government.

Create a COVID-secure workplace

COVID-19 can be spread via shared work surfaces. But keeping your office or workplace clean can help to prevent an outbreak.

Additional cleaning

You should arrange for all surfaces — including bathrooms, kitchens, desks, and communal areas — to be disinfected more regularly than usual.

High touch surfaces, like door handles, light switches, and handrails, should be prioritised.

Tools or equipment in communal use should also be cleaned or quarantined after each use.

Additional hand washing

Regularly washing our hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds can help to stop the spread of COVID-19. At times when soap and water aren’t available, hand sanitiser is the next best thing.

In order to be COVID secure, businesses should make additional hand-washing or sanitising facilities available to their staff.

Hand sanitising stations are a good solution. Staff and customers should be encouraged to use hand sanitiser as they enter and exit the workplace, and throughout their day.  

Additional protective equipment

Depending on your place of work, additional protective equipment can help to keep team members safe. 

Plexiglass screens help to prevent the spread of droplets in places where people talk face to face, at a reception desk for example.

Some employees, such as first aiders, are required to be in close contact with others in order to fulfil their role. You can further protect these workers by providing them with additional equipment, such as face shields and single-use gloves.

Signage

We’re all still getting used to the changing rules and regulations associated with COVID-19.

Signs can help to remind both employees and visitors to your workplace about what is expected. Encourage people to wear masks, to socially distance and to sanitise their hands.

Encourage social distancing

Limiting the physical contact we have with others is another way to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Working from home is the best way to reduce contact between employees. But if working from home isn’t possible, here’s what you can do:

Keep a distance of two metres

Employees should stay at least two metres away from each other at all times. Where this isn’t practical, the government advises they keep a distance of one metre and use additional safety measures.

Additional safety measures include:

  • Wearing face coverings
  • Sitting side by side, rather than face to face
  • Being outside or in a well-ventilated room

Stagger shifts and create bubbles

Staggering shifts allows you to reduce the number of team members in the workplace at any one time. You could also establish bubbles within the workplace. This means that people work within the same small group and don’t have contact with the entire team. 

Keep your teams working, with corporate COVID testing

Corona Test Centre is a private coronavirus clinic running corporate COVID testing in London.

We offer both antigen and antibody tests for up to 750 employees per day, giving same-day results for minimal workflow disruption and speedy isolation of anyone who tests positive.

Get in touch to book your corporate COVID testing package today.