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COVID-19

This page contains resources for retailers with regard to COVID-19 (Coronavirus). 

Additional resources are available at the bottom of the page.

If you have any questions or concerns about what to do in your business, contact Layal Wijsmuller (layal.wijsmuller@acs.org.uk)

Below is information for retailers on the current restrictions in England, Wales and Scotland.


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England

From 4am on Tuesday November 30th, face coverings will become mandatory in shops. Customers must wear a face covering whilst in a shop (unless exempt) and colleagues must wear a face covering when in customer facing areas (eg on the shop floor), unless they are exempt. 

The Health Secretary has stated that the rules will be reviewed in three weeks after the initial implementation. ACS is advising retailers to communicate the rules on face coverings, but to avoid challenging those who refuse to wear one as it can lead to abuse. 

Outside of the rules on face coverings, England is currently in Step 4 in the reopening road map.

This means the government has removed the legal requirement for limiting the number of people that can meet indoors and end the one metre plus rule on social distancing. The government are leaving it up to people to make their own informed decisions about how to manage the virus.

Government Guidance

The Government guidance, Working Safely During Covid-19outlines six priority areas for shops to take action on: 

  1. Complete a health and safety risk assessment for the store
  2. Provide adequate ventilation
  3. Clean surfaces more often
  4. Turn away customers or colleagues that display Covid-19 symptoms
  5. Enable people to check in using a Test and Trace QR code
  6. Communicate your procedures to colleagues and customers

The full guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-covid-19/shops-branches-and-close-contact-services

What does it mean for me?

There is no legal requirement for retailers to implement Covid restrictions in stores for their customers.

What do I do now?

  • Check signage and customer communications. Do you want to have any policies on face coverings or distancing in store? You may want to do this to reassure customers and colleagues, or you may want to take away all the signage to avoid it becoming a flashpoint as customers pull other customers up on their behaviour. Whatever you decide, consult with colleagues and make sure they are briefed on the business’s decision.

Signage to make a decision on whether to continue:

  • Limits on number of people in store
  • Social distancing posters and markers on the floor
  • Queueing systems

Rules on Testing and Isolating

OMICRON VARIANT: If you have been identified as a close contact of someone that has been confirmed or is suspected of having the Omicron variant of Covid-19, you must self isolate for 10 days, regardless of vaccination status.

Rules on self-isolating relating to colleagues that have a positive Covid test or are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 remain.

As of 16th August the Government has exempted people who have been fully vaccinated two weeks prior or under 18 from the requirement to self-isolate if they are a close contact of a positive case. Anyone that tests positive for Covid-19 will still be required to self-isolate regardless of vaccination status.

The Government has confirmed in its Autumn and Winter Plan that the Test, Trace and Isolate system will remain necessary through the autumn and winter. Symptomatic testing will continue to be available and asymptomatic testing will be focused on those who are not fully vaccinated, those in education and those in higher-risk settings such as the NHS, social care and prisons

Advice for Retailers on Testing and Isolating

ACS  has set out practical steps for retailers to avoid major disruption to their businesses as a result of notifications to isolate from the Covid-19 app.

  • If you receive a notification from the NHS Covid-19 app to isolate, get a lateral flow test straight away
  • Make sure other colleagues in the business also take a lateral flow test as soon as possible and continue to test regularly
  • For those who test negative, carry on as normal
  • For those who test positive, isolate until Covid-19 can be confirmed with a PCR test

This advice is conditional on no symptoms being shown. Anyone showing symptoms is advised to isolate immediately and get a PCR Test. Additionally, if anyone is contacted by the NHS Test & Trace service (not the app) then they must comply with the requirement to isolate.

Covid Winter Plan

The UK Government has published its five-part plan A for controlling Covid-19 during Autumn and Winter, which is currently in place in England. Plan A focuses on strengthening vaccines and pharmaceutical defences including the roll-out of a vaccine booster programme for individuals in priority groups one-nine. Booster vaccines are being advised to be administered no less than six-months after a second Covid-19 vaccination and will be deployed in the same order of priority as the original vaccine rollout. Plan A also strengthens the testing, tracing and self-isolation programme, which will continue to play a large role in managing the spread of the virus. As part of Plan A, the Government will continue to offer practical and financial support to individuals self-isolating including providing statutory sick pay until March 2022.

The Government has also released a Plan B for if pressures begin to overwhelm the NHS and cases significantly increase. Plan B includes mitigation measures such as legally mandating face masks, requiring working from home where possible and potentially introducing the use of vaccine passports. Plan B has not been enacted in the UK yet. The full plan can be downloaded here.


Regular testing is crucial to stopping the spread of the virus. Individuals can order a lateral flow test kit here: https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests 


Clarity on sick pay for colleagues

The guidance on statutory sick pay remains unchanged and is expected to stay this way until March 2022. Employees are entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP) for up to 28 weeks of work absence if earning an average of £120 per week or more. SSP is paid at £96.35 per week on a pro-rata basis. Employees claiming SSP due to coronavirus are eligible from day one of absence.

SSP and Self-Isolation

SSP is payable to people who are staying at home on government advice, not just those who test positive for covid-19. Employers are advised to use their discretion around the need for medical evidence for a period of absence where an employee is advised to stay at home due to suspected Covid-19

SSP Funding

The Government has introduced a rebate scheme to allow retailers with up to 250 employees to reclaim up to 14 days of statutory sick pay paid for sickness absence due to Covid-19. More information on how to claim is available here.

 


Wales

From 7th August Wales is in Alert level 0. This means that most legal restrictions have been removed such as physical distancing and limits on social gatherings indoors. However it is still the law that face coverings are required to worn in indoor settings and businesses will have to carry out Covid-19 risk assessments. The Welsh government have also published guidance for businesses relating to how they can best protect their customers and colleagues including recommendations to improve ventilation and hygiene.

The Welsh Government has extended the property moratorium banning the eviction of commercial tenants materially impacted by Covid-19 until March 2022. Landlords in Wales will also not be able to use Commercial Rents Arrears Recovery (CRAR) to recover unpaid rent on commercial leases under the same timeframe, or issue statutory demands or winding up petitions.

A UK Government Code of Practice is available to support discussions between landlords and tenants. Retailers in England cannot be evicted until 25th March 2022 or subject to other legal tactics above until 30th September.

Self-isolation

  • If you have any coronavirus symptoms you should self-isolate at home and get a test.
  • If someone in your household has symptoms or has tested positive for coronavirus you should self-isolate and take a PCR test.
  • If your test is negative you can stop isolating. If you have been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus you will not need to self-isolate if you do not have any symptoms. You should get a PCR test on day 2 from your last contact with the positive case (or as soon as possible) and day 8.

Scotland

All of mainland Scotland moved beyond Alert level 0 on 9th August. This means that most legal restrictions are removed in the country including physical distancing measures and limits on social gatherings. Face coverings are still required to be worn indoors by law and businesses and hospitality venues will still need to obtain contact information of customers for the Test and Protect service.

From 9th August, in line with level 0 changes, close contacts of positive covid-19 cases no longer have to self-isolate if they are double vaccinated and obtain a negative PCR result.


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