This article relates to returning to work in England. You should confirm with your employer the steps it is taking regarding returning to work.
The Government is encouraging people to stay alert as many take their first steps back to their workplace.
Millions of people followed the initial advice to stay at home, and those who can do their jobs at home are still encouraged to do so.
However, some businesses are re-opening, and many have never closed. We look at how you can travel safely to work, and how companies have adapted to the challenges coronavirus has put in front of everyone.
CASE STUDY 1: STRAWBERRY FIELDS
‘I’m so proud to be ready for farm’s harvest’
There are signs that the country is looking forward to beyond the coronavirus lockdown with a Leeds-based farm all set to harvest its first crop of strawberries.
Annabel Makin Jones is a farmer, mother and businesswoman and said that the run up to “berry season” is hectic at the best of times but this year was one for the record books.
She runs Annabel’s Deliciously British, a brand of premium English strawberries grown on her family’s farm, Sturton Grange near Garforth, and is preparing the first pick later this month. She said: “The run up to berry season is always hectic, but this season is one for the record books. There have been so many complexities to contend with.
“We’ve adapted, planned, negotiated and coped with multiple challenges. I am proud to say, we’re ready.”
Annabel has had to balance protecting her staff with managing market demand after lockdown was implemented. She said: “Our teams come to us every year and they work as part of an extended family.
“We devised a meticulous system of keeping our teams in communities of eight teams of 10 for socialising, laundry and shopping.
“We’ve done their shopping and washing to help keep them shielded safe and healthy.If one team came down with symptoms and needed to isolate, we could rely on the other teams to fill in. Everyone is fit and well and ready to go.”
CASE STUDY 2: TONG GARDEN CENTRE
Green light for garden centres
Whether they were hankering for compost, lawn seed or bedding plants, gardeners were keenly anticipating the reopening of the vast majority of the UK’s garden centres.
And after an eight-week lockdown which made a washout of three of their four biggest selling weekends of the year – including Easter and the early May Bank Holiday – garden centres have been furiously busy getting ready to serve customers again.
Customers can now expect supermarket-style social distancing queues, one-way systems and limits on the numbers allowed inside.
Restaurants and children’s play areas will stay closed and for the time being it will not be a place to while away an afternoon.
Just 90 people at a time are allowed into Bradford’s Tong Garden Centre under rules which allow one person per 1,000 square feet.
Managing director Mark Farnsworth said they were excited, but nervous about “making sure we do everything safely for the team and customers.”
Mr Farnsworth said he expects people to make fewer visits, but buying more when they do, mirroring the way food shopping habits have changed. Everything has been worked out, so people can get around the garden centre safely.
The five steps that will ensure safer working
The Government says there are five practical steps that companies can take to ensure everyone is working safely. They are:
- Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment in line with the HSE guidance that includes consultations with workers and trade unions, and sharing the results of the risk assessment.
- Develop cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures such as increasing the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning.
- Help people to work from home by discussing home working arrangements and ensuring they have the right equipment, including them in all necessary and looking after their physical and mental wellbeing.
- Maintain 2m social distancing, where possible. This includes putting up signs to remind workers and visitors of social distancing guidance, avoid people sharing workstations, using floor tape to help people keep to a 2m distance.
- Where people cannot be 2m apart, manage transmission risk by considering whether an activity needs to continue for the business to operate, keeping the activity time involved as short as possible, using screens or barriers to separate people from each other and staggering arrival and departure times.
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Consider walking, cycling or driving
The Government has issued advice on how people can travel to work safely during the coronavirus outbreak.
- You should avoid using public transport where possible. Instead try to walk, cycle, or drive.
- If you do travel, thinking carefully about the times, routes and ways you travel will mean we will all have more space to stay safe.
- You should not travel if you are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms, are self-isolating as a result of coronavirus symptoms or sharing a household with somebody with symptoms, are clinically extremely vulnerable.
- Consider if your journey is necessary. This will help keep the transport network running and allow people who need to make essential journeys to travel.
- Walking and cycling will reduce pressure on the public transport system and the road network. Consider walking and cycling. Consider all other forms of transport before using public transport. If you can, wear a face covering if you need to use public transport.
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