With the current situation in Scotland and around the World, I have combed through both the Scottish & British Government guidelines and picked out the information that matters to you.
I’ve tried to consider everything from good hygiene we should be implementing in our venues to what you should expect as a business owner going forward.
COVID-19 helpline for Scottish businesses
A helpline providing businesses across Scotland with advice and guidance on COVID-19 has been announced by Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop.
The business helpline number is 0300 303 0660. The helpline will be open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm. Callers should select option one to speak to the COVID-19 team.
Based at Scottish Enterprise’s existing call centre in Clydebank, advisers across Scotland will answer questions from businesses related to COVID-19. The helpline will also help the Scottish Government identify the current challenges facing businesses.
I’m sure we all know the symptoms but a reminder from the Scottish Government:
“Common symptoms include:
- new continuous cough
- high temperature
These symptoms can range from a mild-to-moderate illness to severe acute respiratory
infection. For most people COVID-19 will be a mild infection. COVID-19 is more likely to
cause severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and
those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.”
As the employer and venue operator you have a duty if care to protect your staff and customers. Make sure everyone knows what the symptoms are and keep an eye out for a change in employees/customers health.
How long can the virus survive on environmental surfaces?
This is important to understand, this is how the virus can spread:
“This depends on a number of factors, for example the surface the virus is on; whether that
surface is exposed to sunlight; environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity;
and exposure of the surface to decontamination products e.g. detergents and disinfectants.
Under most circumstances, the amount of infectious virus on any contaminated surfaces is
likely to have decreased significantly by 72 hours.
We know that similar viruses, are transferred to and by people’s hands and therefore
frequent hand hygiene and regular decontamination of frequently touched environmental
and equipment surfaces will help to reduce the risk of infection transmission.”
Make sure all staff are washing hands regularly and try to minimise contact with customers.
A few simple steps could be taking contactless payments only (no cash payments), asking customers to return glasses to the bar, using a new glass for every drink, wiping down bar area and tables on a regular basis, if possible suggesting no one sit’s at the bar. These might seem like extreme measures, but it will help everyone. Thinking over the top is the best way to go when it comes to cleaning and protecting yourself.
What can be done to prevent spread of COVID-19?
Taking some steps mentioned above can help stop the spread of the virus but on a personal level everyone must act and make changes to their lifestyle.
“There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. However, there are general principles
organisations and individuals can follow to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses,
including COVID-19, such as:
- Ensure that all members of the organisation are aware of the requirement to self-isolate if they develop symptoms and support them in doing this.
- Consider whether individuals are able to work or study from home, especially those at higher risk of illness (elderly, immunocompromised and pregnant).
- Consider how you can change working practices to reduce risk of spread of infection.
- Consider staggering start and finish times to reduce commutes at high volume travel times.
In the workplace:
- Routine cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched objects and surfaces (e.g. telephones, keyboards, door handles, desks and tables).
- Ensure regular environmental cleaning is done.
- Promote hand hygiene by making sure that staff, contractors, service users and visitors have access to hand washing facilities and where available alcohol based hand rub.
- Ensure any crockery and cutlery in shared kitchen areas is cleaned with warm general purpose detergent and dried thoroughly before being stored for re-use.
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- Use alcohol based hand rub where available if you don’t have access to soap and water.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Not come to work if they have symptoms of COVID-19.
- Wherever possible, avoid direct contact with people that have a respiratory illness and avoid using their personal items such as their mobile phone.
- Cover the nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when sneezing, coughing, wiping and blowing the nose, Dispose of all used tissues promptly into a waste bin. If you don’t have any tissues available, they should cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow.”
Again, make sure all staff are practising good hygiene regularly, every time they arrive at work and regular intervals throughout the day, most importantly after any contact with a customer.
Making sure we practise good hygiene is the best way to slow down the spread of the virus. If any members of staff feel unwell or are showing symptoms, they must stay away from the workplace.
If possible, you should stop using public transport to get to work, driving or walking/cycling.
It is worth putting up a poster reminding customers not to come in if they feel unwell and wash their hands regularly. Putting hand sanitiser around the venue for customers to use is also good practise.
Keep staff updated on actions being taken to reduce risks of exposure in the workplace. It is worth making sure everyone’s contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date now in case you need them.
Actions to take if someone who may have COVID-19 becomes unwell whilst on site at your organisation
If the actions above are adhered to then there shouldn’t be a situation where someone takes unwell in the venue. However, it’s always worthwhile setting out an action plan in case it does. If you know what you’re doing you can remain calm and follow these steps:
“In preparation, make sure that all staff and individuals in your workplace / organisation, including children and young people, know to inform a member of staff or responsible person if they feel unwell.
If they have mild symptoms they should go home as soon as they notice symptoms and self-isolate. Where possible they should minimise contact with others i.e. use a private vehicle to go home. If it is not possible to use private transport, then they should be advised to return quickly and directly home. While using public transport, they should try to keep away from other people and catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue. If you don’t have any tissues available, they should cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow.”
If they are so unwell that they require an ambulance, phone 999 and let the call handler know you are concerned about COVID-19. Whilst you wait for advice or an ambulance to arrive, try to find somewhere safe for the unwell person to sit which is at least 2 metres away from other people. If possible, find a room or area where they can be isolated behind a closed door, such as a staff office or meeting room. If it is possible to open a window, do so for ventilation. The individual should avoid touching people, surfaces and objects and be advised to cover their mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when they cough or sneeze, and then put the tissue in the bin. If no bin is available, put the tissue in a bag or pocket for disposing in a bin later. If you don’t have any tissues available, they should cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow.”
The guidelines are straight forward here, anyone that feels unwell or shows symptoms should self-isolate as soon as possible. Return home quickly and where possible do not use public transport.
If they can’t return home on their own accord, or so unwell they need an ambulance, self-isolate them in a room away from everyone. If that is not possible put them in a corner of the venue and set a quarantine of at least 2 meters or just as much space as you can afford. Hopefully this shouldn’t happen as people will be staying away if they are feeling unwell in anyway.
Make sure all staff know what to do, best to be prepared and hope it doesn’t happen.
Cleaning and disinfection after a possible case has left a workplace or other non-healthcare setting
Again, hopefully you won’t need to implement these actions, but they are worth knowing:
“Cleaning and Disinfection
Once a possible case has left the premises, the immediate area occupied by the individual should be cleaned with detergent and disinfectant. This should include any potentially contaminated high contact areas such as door handles, grab-rails etc. Once this process has been completed, the area can be put back into use.
Any public areas where a symptomatic individual has only passed through (spent minimal
time in) e.g. corridors, not visibly contaminated with any body fluids do not need to be
further decontaminated beyond routine cleaning processes.
Environmental cleaning and disinfection should be undertaken using disposable cloths and
mop heads using standard household detergent and disinfectant that are active against
viruses and bacteria. All cloths and mop heads used must be disposed of and should be put into waste bags as outlined below. The person responsible for undertaking the cleaning with detergent and disinfectant should be familiar with these processes and procedures.
In the event of a blood and body fluid spillage, keep people away from the area. Use a spill kit if available, using the PPE within the kit or PPE provided by the employer/organisation
and follow the instructions provided with the spill-kit. If no spill-kit is available, place paper
towels over the spill, and seek further advice from the local Health Protection Team
Ensure all waste items that have been in contact with the individual (e.g.; used tissues and
disposable cleaning cloths) are disposed of securely within disposable bags. When full, the
plastic bag should then be placed in a second bin bag and tied. These bags should be
stored for 72 hours before being put out for collection. Other household waste can be
disposed of as normal.”
It is worthwhile stepping up cleaning of the venue generally, maybe send more time at night or in the morning to give public areas a more thorough clean, wiping down seats, doors, tables and the floor. Giving glass wear and extra rinse at night and again in the morning could be good practise. It’s expected that footfall will drop significantly over the next few days and weeks, you could set aside selection of glass wear you will use so you don’t need to wash everything.
Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees
As an employer you will need to know the rights of your employees:
“We will bring forward legislation to allow small- and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:
- this refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19
- employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible – the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
- employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19
- employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note
- eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of Statutory Sick Pay to those staying at home comes into force
- the government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible”
It is worth letting your employees know they will be paid for sick time. We need to encourage employees that feel unwell to take the time off work and self-isolate, this is the only way we will stop the spread of the virus. If you are still unsure what you need to do speak to your BDM, we have lawyers and legislation experts at our disposal, we’re here to help you anyway we can.
Employment and Support Allowance
For self-employed people and for employees earning below the Lower Earnings Limit that are not entitled to claim SSP, contributions-based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) may be available. ESA will be paid from day 1 instead of day 8 for those affected or in self isolation without symptoms. The government has announced that they have set aside £330 billion to help businesses. Again, if you are unsure how to claim ask your BDM and we will point you in the right direction.
Businesses should check with their insurance provider if they are covered. Many businesses are unlikely to be covered as most business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property, which will exclude pandemics. Some businesses may have purchased a specific add on relating to notifiable diseases, but some of these will still specify damage to the building. Some businesses may have purchased supply chain or denial of access cover which may meet their needs in this case.
Consider if your stock levels are appropriate for your projected level of business. It will be a balancing act considering what items may become in short supply and ensuring you do not run out, against having too much cash tied up in stock. Think about what stock you really need and what you can let run down. You need to remember cash flow will slow down so only but essential stock, just concentrate on your most popular drinks/food, customers will understand.
If you run a food offer look at a reduced menu, think about waste stock. Foods that can be frozen are better than fresh. You want to minimise as much waste as possible. If you need a new condensed temporary menu, send information to your BDM and we can help with the design and printing of menus.
Most importantly stay calm, it’s easier said than done but try think everything through before acting. Thinking not only about the business but about who can be affected, staff, customers and the potential consequences to the more vulnerable members of our communities.
If you require more information contact your BDMs or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We might not know the answer straight away, but we will find out and get back to you. The situation is changing daily, but we are keeping on top of it as best we can.
Remember you’re not the only one in this position, the whole country world is in a similar position, this is the time to support each other any way we can.
REMEMBER GREAT PEOPLE RUN GREAT PUBS!