COVID-19 Containment: Update for Businesses
23rd March 2020
Guernsey remains in the containment phase of the COVID-19 virus. That means at this stage, work can continue in business environments where there is effective physical distancing of persons and strict hygiene guidance is being followed. Businesses, employees and customers MUST behave responsibly and follow the public health guidance (set out below).
Guernsey’s Public Health authorities continue to monitor the situation on an hourly basis. If the situation changes and there is evidence of community transmission of the virus, then advice will be issued to businesses directing home working to be put in place with immediate effect.
Given that the situation may change in the coming days, it is prudent for those businesses who can move to a model where staff are working from home to now do so as soon as possible – starting from today. As a first step, businesses can move all non-critical staff to work remotely or from home.
Moving to home or remote working means that staff health can be protected, and also that any business continuity glitches in moving to home or remote working can be ironed out now.
Those businesses that have not yet tested home and remote working are strongly advised to now do so immediately, in order to prepare for a rapid switch if/when this might be required.
For those businesses who have seen a reduction in business or who may not be able to implement home working, and might therefore have to curtail their business activities, the States of Guernsey has put in place initial business support measures:https://www.gov.gg/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=123531&p=0. Further support measures will be announced later this week.
Changes have also been made to the population management approach to support workers with permits: https://www.gov.gg/article/176884/Proactive-Adjustments-to-Population- Management-Regime
While the States of Guernsey is issuing this guidance, it is not possible to provide bespoke guidance for each and every business and each and every situation. Businesses must look at their own practices and find ways of adhering to the guidance from Public Health. What that means for your business will differ depending on its nature, be it retail, construction, hospitality, services or office-based work; but you have a responsibility to take the necessary steps.
Best practice guidelines from Public Health for customer interaction
The guidance below sets out the best practice for ensuring that workplaces (including those where there is interaction with customers) are able to introduce measures to mitigate against the potential spread of the virus while Guernsey is in the containment phase.
However, if there are concerns or indications that people are working when unwell or visiting these workplaces when unwell, we may reconsider the decision to allow these types of businesses to continue trading.
In short – businesses, employees and customers must behave responsibly.
Furthermore, if we detect or have any concerns about potential community transmission of the virus this guidance will change immediately.
During the containment phase, when an individual has tested positively for the COVID-19 virus, a contact tracing process begins immediately. During the contact tracing process, the individuals who we consider to be at elevated risk of having been exposed to the virus are those who have interacted with a confirmed case in any of the following ways:
- Lived in the same household;
- Had direct physical contact (e.g. hug, kiss, handshake);
- Had unprotected contact with secretions from an individual with the virus (been
sneezed or coughed on, touched used tissues with bare hands);
- Had face to face contact within two metres for a total of more than 15 minutes;
- Provided healthcare to an individual with the virus without the recommended
personal protective equipment; and/or
- Sat within two rows in any direction of an individual with the virus on an aircraft or
We can use these risk scenarios as a guide for how to minimise our chances of infection whenever we interact with others. As general precautions, to minimise their risk during any interactions, people should:
- Keep interactions brief;
- Put as much distance as possible between oneself and others;
- Avoid physical contact (e.g. hugs and handshakes);
- Avoid non-essential air and sea travel;
- Wash or sanitise hands frequently;
- Stay away from anyone who is visibly unwell;
- Stay at home if you are unwell (no matter how mild your symptoms); and
- Familiarise yourself with coronavirus guidance on www.gov.gg/covid19guidance and
encourage others to do the same.
With this in mind, we recommend local businesses follow social distancing and implement enhanced cleaning practices.
For those whose work involves them visiting homes or other workplaces such as plumbers, electricians, IT providers and decorators:
- Do not work if you are even mildly symptomatic;
- Only visit if deemed necessary;
- Call ahead and ascertain if anyone in the area is symptomatic, a suspected case or a
case: If so, defer a visit;
- If the call ahead determines that the people in the household or workplace are
asymptomatic, then when attending the premises advise that the residents remain in
another room or more than two metres away if in a larger workplace;
- Use handwashing and hand hygiene regularly; and
- Do not touch your face.
If working in a reception or customer facing role:
- Do not work if you are even mildly symptomatic;
- Review the business model and check if the need for visitors to the premises are
- Consider making or providing a physical barrier to prevent people approaching the
area too closely;
- Avoid the need to sign in;
- Provide handwashing or sanitising facilities; and
- Keep contact as brief as possible.
If you are a retailer, in addition to the advice above:
- Introduce social distancing measures on your premises, including around contact points such as checkout areas;
- Limit the number of people in the premises by using a one out, one in system;
- Ensure those queuing to enter the premises observe social distancing measures (e.g.
more than 6ft (2m) apart;
- Do not allow “social” shopping – discourage customers from coming in groups to
browse, they should shop only because they need to make a purchase.
If working in a role where there is physical contact, such as hairdressing or beauty therapy:
- Although beauticians, hairdressers and those in roles with similar physical contact cannot meet social distancing guidance, if they are not symptomatic and the clients are not symptomatic, as we are not at a community transmission stage the risk seems low at the moment;
- As regards beauticians, they can choose some of the higher risk (performed at close proximity) treatments and not offer those at the moment;
- This is only if customer and service provider are both well and the business has good hygiene practices, as well as spacing between clients as has been put in place for restaurants.