Advice for businesses after the move to Step 4 of the government's roadmap - Updated 19 July 2021
The majority of the legal restrictions relating to coronavirus were lifted on 19 July. However, cases are still high nationally and further transmission, hospitalisations and deaths are expected. There has also been a significant increase in the number of people being contacted by NHS Test and Trace, as a result of the high transmissibility of the Delta variant. This is posing an issue for businesses in the region who suddenly find that too many of their workforce are having to self-isolate for them to remain open.
For accommodation providers: what you can do to limit the risk to your business
The Council has an evacuation scheme in place to support the Public Health effort to keep the islands safe, but we cannot guarantee that visitors will always be evacuated to the mainland in the event that they are required to self-isolate or test positive. Further information on the evacuation scheme can be found on the Council website. The limitations of the scheme mean that we must all still do everything we can to ensure the islands businesses remain resilient this summer.
There are a number of things you can do to help as an accommodation provider to limit the risk to your business and to support the wider pandemic response on the islands. Please consider the following regardless of the changes to restrictions in the coming weeks:
- Make sure your Business Continuity Plan is up-to-date (see the Business Continuity Institute website for free information and resources to help you improve your business continuity plan) and sets out:
- how you plan to deal with guests if they are required to self-isolate. For example, how will you communicate with them/feed them etc? You can get advice on this by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance.
- how you plan to deal with the knock-on effects that self-isolation may have on other bookings. For instance, do you have any spare rooms, or other accommodation you could use to house your incoming guests, whilst you wait for your self-isolating guests to leave? Do you have any agreements in place with other accommodation providers?
- how you will cope if your staff are required to self-isolate.
- Check that your Terms and Conditions are up-to-date.
- Please refer your guests to the latest information for visitors on the Council's website before they travel and make them aware of the latest information relating to accessing a test whilst on the islands.
- Make sure your guests are aware of the implications if they are asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, or because they have symptoms. This will depend on what you have put in place to support self-isolating customers.
- Have a clear policy on face coverings and social distancing. The safest approach is to continue to wear face coverings in crowded spaces and indoor settings. You may wish to provide your staff with a form of words for dealing with customers who are not willing to comply.
- Make sure your working practices are as safe as possible and contact the Council’s environmental health team for the latest advice and further support if required. Some of the things you should consider are:
- Regularly appraising yourself of updates to the relevant government guidance.
- Ensuring your staffing arrangements keep interaction between individuals/teams to a minimum so you can remain open in the event that a staff member is asked to self-isolate.
- Providing your staff with clear direction in terms of what you will and will not accept in terms of customer behaviour, based on your own policies.
- Making sure you can contact your customers easily throughout their stay.
From 16 August, anyone in England who has had both COVID-19 vaccinations will no longer be asked to self-isolate if a close contact tests positive for COVID-19. Anyone in this position will continue to be advised to take a PCR test, and anyone who then gets a positive result or develops symptoms will be required to self-isolate. However, this also means that anyone who has not received both vaccinations will still be required, by law, to self-isolate in the event they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
Things you may wish to consider when writing a coronavirus policy for your business
We recognise the call from businesses and residents for a united approach to retaining some of the measures which have kept the islands comparatively safe throughout the pandemic. Our Public Health team appreciate you taking your responsibilities as employers and service providers seriously and are supportive of local businesses doing everything they can to continue encouraging safe working practices and behaviours on the islands.
You should consider having your own coronavirus policy ready for use after the changes to legal restrictions on 19 July. This policy should reflect the actual working practices that you are committing to as a business. You may wish to include some of the following points within your policy:
- This business takes staff and customer safety very seriously and we want to do everything we can to support our community and protect our local services during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Cases of coronavirus are still widespread, and this presents a risk to our staff, customers and to our ability to keep our business open.
- Our best chance of reducing the impact of coronavirus on Scilly is by retaining the safe behaviours that have been so successful in reducing spread and keeping people safe. Our coronavirus policy therefore applies even after 19 July.
- The policy will remain in place until we consider that it is safe to change these working practices.
- We really appreciate your help in keeping Scilly safe and showing support to our staff. Thank you for your valued custom.
- We ask that you:
- wear a face covering. Please wear a face covering inside this premises. If you consider that you have a reasonable exemption to wearing a face covering, please make us aware of this before or on arrival.
- maintain social distance. Please keep a reasonable distance from other customers and staff wherever possible. This will help prevent spread and is respectful to those who may be particularly vulnerable or are anxious about the easing of restrictions.
- keep groups separate. The advice from government is to continue to keep numbers low when socialising, so we ask that you do not interact with other groups when in this premises
- keep within our advertised capacity limit. We have risk assessed this premises for a particular number of people. Please do not exceed this limit.
You should also:
- consider what you will ask of your staff and to what extent you will be able to stick to any rules you set out in a policy. For instance, are you able to refuse service in the event of non-compliance? Will you insist that your staff report all incidences of non-compliance to you? How will you ask your staff to handle exemptions? Will you give your staff a script to help them deal with customers challenging the policy or requests?
- check the guidance relating to your business regularly and update your policy in accordance with it. Make changes to the policy as necessary in order to keep it current.
There are a number of similar coronavirus statements from local businesses on their own websites already (including Tresco Estate, Isles of Scilly Steamship Company, Bryher Campsite, for example), so it may also be worth having a look at a selection of other businesses coronavirus policies before finalising your own.
Environmental Health Support
We cannot advise on the exact wording of your policy as each business will have its own particular set of circumstances and legal requirements and will have its own health and safety and business continuity risk assessments. However, our environmental health team are here to offer advice to businesses in relation to safe working practices on a case-by-case basis and can be contacted on 01720 424403, or 07780 585 139, or at email@example.com for additional support. For any queries relating to coronavirus, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Our environmental health team are on standby to answer any queries or address any concerns relating to the restrictions placed on businesses due to coronavirus. They have also put together the following advice pages for businesses on Scilly:
Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace
Further advice and financial support
The government has issued comprehensive guidance and advice relating to the support available for businesses during the pandemic. Find out more here.
Businesses can access further support regarding eligibility and interpretation of the guidance from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Growth and Skills Hub.