Public Health – Advice for businesses
Winter Strategy update 10 November 2021
The Island is seeing an increase in cases of COVID-19 as we move into the winter months. As set out in the Government’s Winter Strategy, the colder months mean more risk from the impact of COVID19 and other winter illnesses to all Islanders. We all continue to play an important role in supporting protective measures for the Island’s workforces to avoid disruption to business continuity and our economy, whilst ensuring we protect our health service provisions and vulnerable over the coming months.
Vaccination continues to play a vital role in reducing severe illness and death, but it cannot be the only precaution we take. As we see an increase in case rates, Ministers have announced a number of measures that form Step 1; Islanders have shown that we can come together to follow voluntary advice when infection levels have increased.
It is strongly recommended to all businesses and organisations that:
- COVID-19 workplace risk assessments are updated to prepare businesses in the event of cases of COVID-19 in the workplace, considering practical measures that can support business continuity
- staff members are encouraged to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and flu as soon as possible. It is not too late to get first and second doses and begin to receive protection. Seasonal staff are also entitled to receive vaccination
- workforces know their COVID-19 status, by increasing the frequency of lateral flow testing (LFT) to twice weekly (through workforce testing or home testing programme)
- visitors and customers are encouraged to know their COVID-19 status using LFT, for example before attending organised events, gatherings and in COVID Safe Spaces, such as health, community and education settings
- staff in any setting do not come to a workplace if they are symptomatic with COVID-19 and arrange a PCR test. Additionally, if a LFT result is positive they also should also immediately arrange for a PCR test
- wear face coverings in indoor settings whenever it is practical. Risk assessments should be updated to take into account anywhere indoors where distancing cannot be guaranteed, where there is poor ventilation, and working with visitors or customers
To prevent staff absence and keep businesses and other services functioning we must continue practicing these key behaviours and actions over the winter months. These effective mitigation behaviours and actions form the guiding principles below.
While COVID-19 remains a global pandemic we must remain ready to adapt and adjust our daily lives to the challenges of living in a pandemic. If you need any support or advice you can email the Covid Support team.
The following general principles are to help each business and service provider to mitigate the ongoing risk of COVID-19.
Businesses should continue to apply a detailed, ongoing risk assessment of their own environment throughout the winter period. Risk assessments should include the following general principles which will help prevent workplace transmission, staff absence and protect business continuity. In addition, an updated risk assessment including the below principles will help ensure compliance under both the Health and Safety at Work (Jersey) Law 1989 and Article 4 of the Covid-19 (Workplace Restrictions) (Jersey) Order 2020.
- ensure staff and customers are aware of COVID-19 symptoms and do not attend if they are experiencing symptoms or have a positive test result. Anyone with symptoms or a positive LFT result should immediately isolate, request a PCR test and not attend until they have received a negative PCR test result;
- strongly recommending and supporting the use of mouth and nose coverings for staff. For example, where physical distancing and/or good ventilation cannot be guaranteed, when passing through shared indoor areas, in lifts and confined spaces, when working with members of the public or visitors from other workforces. More information on mouth and nose coverings;
- a clear plan outlining how to manage a customer, staff member or other visitor who develops symptoms or receives a positive test result while in the setting. This should include how they safely seek health advice if necessary and safely exit the setting without putting others at risk
- maximising indoor ventilation and fresh air exchange or using outdoor spaces. The risk of respiratory droplets and aerosols can be reduced by using mechanical ventilation, HVAC or HEPA systems if fitted, keeping windows or doors open, and avoiding the use of rooms which cannot be ventilated.
- actively promoting cleanliness and personal hygiene measures. This includes use of clear signage, regular handwashing, ensuring adequate availability of hand sanitiser (minimum of 70% alcohol content), and continuing enhanced cleaning regimes with close attention to shared surfaces and touchpoints using EN 14476 surface sanitiser (or similar);
- encouraging as much physical distancing between individuals and reducing crowding where possible to do so. Contact Tracing continues to identify close contacts as anyone within 2 meters of a positive case for 15 minutes or more, so maintaining up to 2 meters of physical distancing remains the safest option. It is acknowledged that for many businesses this is not always possible and so space should be maximised where able to do so. This can include using outdoor spaces if available, using floor markers, one-way systems, splitting people into mutually exclusive groups/zones/cohorts, increasing high use facilities if you are able to (e.g. number of toilets, break areas), or reducing capacity in some or all areas of the setting. Some settings should also consider how large crowds will enter and exit the area;
- continue to apply measures to prevent staff sickness and protect business continuity. You should ensure you are taking additional measures to protect your workforce by taking part in the workforce screening programme using regular LFTs at least twice a week, encouraging vaccination within your workforce, having a policy if staff become direct contacts, supporting remote working where appropriate, using flexible hours or team working, and strongly recommending the use of mouth and nose coverings in confined or busy areas, or when working face to face with visitors or customers.