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Social Distancing and Hygiene

The government has developed social distancing guidance for food which advises measures for specific food business settings including food retail stores and food businesses offering a collection service. The guidance is available here.

The government’s ‘Working Safely During Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance also covers social distancing measures that can be considered for shops. The guidance is available here.

For the government’s guidance on social distancing for restaurants offering a delivery service, click here.

Face Coverings - Official Advice

Following the updated advice from the Government, ACS has collated the key information relating to face coverings below.

The Government has updated its official advice on face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Wearing a face covering is optional and is not required by law, including in the workplace. Face coverings are referenced in the new guidance Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) and Staying alert and safe (social distancing). The Government’s press release on face coverings is available here.

In the guidance to the public, the Government states that “face coverings can help us protect each other and reduce the spread of the disease if you are in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas, for example on public transport or in some shops.” The guidance also recommends that people make their own cloth face coverings and guidance on this is available here.

In the guidance to employers, the Government states that “there are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not developed symptoms.” The guidance also states that the evidence of the benefit of using a face covering to protect others is weak and they should not be used as a replacement for other risk management measures such as social distancing and handwashing. This guidance states that face coverings can be disposed of in your usual waste.

The key information to communicate to employees using face coverings is:

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, 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
  • practice social distancing wherever possible

What do retailers need to do if a member of staff shows symptoms of COVID-19?

The government’s guidance on 20th May stated that disposable or washing-up gloves and aprons should be worn for cleaning.

If anyone develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the business or workplace they should be sent home and advised to follow the stay at home guidance.

If a member of staff has helped someone who has developed symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves. They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell with symptoms consistent with coronavirus infection.

It is not necessary to close the business or workplace or send any staff home unless government policy changes. You should keep monitoring the government response to coronavirus for further updates.

The Food Standards Agency’s fitness for work guidance for staff who handle food products provides advice on managing sickness in a food business. Understanding this guidance and applying it on both a personal and business level can help to prevent the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

For more information, click here.

The government guidance on 20th May also states that:

Public areas where a symptomatic individual has passed through and spent minimal time, such as corridors, but which are not visibly contaminated with body fluids can be cleaned thoroughly as normal.

All surfaces that the symptomatic person has come into contact with must be cleaned and disinfected, including:

  • objects which are visibly contaminated with body fluids
  • all potentially contaminated high-contact areas such as bathrooms, door handles, telephones, grab-rails in corridors and stairwells

Use disposable cloths or paper roll and disposable mop heads, to clean all hard surfaces, floors, chairs, door handles and sanitary fittings, following one of the options below:

  • use either a combined detergent disinfectant solution at a dilution of 1,000 parts per million available chlorine


  • a household detergent followed by disinfection (1000 ppm Follow manufacturer’s instructions for dilution, application and contact times for all detergents and disinfectants


  • if an alternative disinfectant is used within the organisation, this should be checked and ensure that it is effective against enveloped viruses

Avoid creating splashes and spray when cleaning.

Any cloths and mop heads used must be disposed of and should be put into waste bags as outlined below.

When items cannot be cleaned using detergents or laundered, for example, upholstered furniture and mattresses, steam cleaning should be used.

Any items that are heavily contaminated with body fluids and cannot be cleaned by washing should be disposed of.

More information is available here.

Should PPE equipment be worn by staff working in convenience stores?

The government’s guidance on 20th May stated that disposable or washing-up gloves and aprons should be worn for cleaning. These should be double-bagged, then stored securely for 72 hours then thrown away in the regular rubbish after cleaning is finished. More information is available here.