COVID-19 updates

Cover during difficult times

COVID-19 updates
 
The COVID-19 ‘temporary cover enhancements to your policy’ for unoccupied premises and outstanding risk improvements, that this web page gave to all of our policyholders, will no longer apply from the 1st June 2021 onwards.
 
However, you can still obtain information of the impacts of COVID-19, reopening your business as lockdown restrictions are lifted and risk management below.
 

FCA Test Case - update

15th January 2021 
 
We are very aware that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing hardship across the UK economy and that many are experiencing difficulties in this unprecedented situation. We also appreciate that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has received a number of questions and concerns from customers across the insurance industry where their business interruption policies do not cover COVID-19 losses. 
 
As such, Ecclesiastical Insurance Office Plc (“Ecclesiastical”) agreed to participate in a ‘Test Case’ with the FCA to provide clarity and certainty to customers because we believed this was the right thing to do.  Ansvar is a business division and a trading style of Ecclesiastical.
 
The Test Case High Court Judgement

The High Court Judgement published on 15th September 2020 stated that losses arising from the closure of businesses due to the Government’s action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are not covered by Ecclesiastical’s Business Interruption policies and therefore neither Ecclesiastical or Ansvar are required to pay claims on those policies.
 
We recognise that whilst the ruling supports the position we have taken throughout this period, the Judgement will clearly be disappointing to some customers. We are very mindful that this is an unprecedented situation that has been tough for customers and wanted to take part in the legal proceedings so we could gain maximum clarity for all in the shortest amount of time.
 
Supreme Court Appeal Judgement
 
The Supreme Court issued its Appeal Judgement on 15th January 2021.  The proceedings did not involve Ecclesiastical or Ansvar. The original High Court ruling found that losses arising from the closure of businesses due to the Government’s action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are not covered by our policies and the FCA confirmed in October 2020 that it did not intend to Appeal that decision (see FCA’s summary table).  
 
This means that the Supreme Court Judgement does not change the original High Court ruling that claims on Ecclesiastical’s Business Interruption policies (or Ansvar's) are not payable. We recognise that this has been a difficult and uncertain period for customers and hope the Courts’ rulings provide the certainty and clarity that the Test Case was designed to create.
 
 
Background: What the FCA was doing

As recap, the FCA defined the ‘Test Case’ as
 
The proceedings brought by the FCA to resolve uncertainty as to whether certain non-damage business interruption insurance policies respond to claims related to the coronavirus pandemic.”
 
And that during the Test Case:
 
acting in the public interest, the FCA will put forward policyholders’ arguments to their best advantage. We are aiming to obtain legal guidance in this way more quickly and at a lower cost to policyholders than would be the case if they took their own court actions.
 
Further information from the FCA, legal submissions, transcripts from the Test Case hearings and the Judgement can be found at www.fca.org.uk/firms/business-interruption-insurance
 
The types of claims the FCA was looking at

The FCA set out that:
 
Our view remains that most SME insurance policies are focused on property damage (and only have basic cover for BI as a consequence of property damage) so, at least in the majority of cases, insurers are not obliged to pay out in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.  This case is focused on the remainder of policies that could be argued to include cover.
 
And it has defined a ‘Potentially Affected Claim’ as:
 
A claim made under a relevant non-damage business interruption policy for losses relating to the coronavirus pandemic where the outcome of the claim, including issues of causation, may be affected by the final resolution in the test case, whether or not the insurer has declined the claim by issuing a declinature letter or has made an adjustment or deduction for general causation.”
 
Recap on the Judgement: what it said and what it means

The High Court Judgement published on 15th September 2020 stated that losses arising from the COVID-19 pandemic are not covered by Ecclesiastical’s Business Interruption policies and therefore we are not required to pay claims on those policies.  It was confirmed on 2nd October 2020 that the FCA would not Appeal this ruling.  
We recognise that whilst the ruling supports the position we have taken throughout this period, the Judgement will clearly be disappointing to some customers.  We are very mindful that this is an unprecedented situation that has been tough for customers and wanted to take part in the legal proceedings so we could gain maximum clarity for all in the shortest amount of time.
  
Other forms of help

The Government recognises that its own actions to save lives and beat the virus have resulted in sudden and acute difficulties for businesses large and small. It has announced several very substantial initiatives to help them overcome these, a number of which may apply to your business. We would encourage our policyholders to take advantage of these where appropriate. These include loans on advantageous terms, cash grants, and employment protection measures. We recommend checking the Government website for more details and in Scotland.
 
We are also supporting our customers with advice and guidance, aligned to the Government’s guidelines, to help mitigate the impacts of COVID-19, which is available on our website. For specific risk advice about topics including, health and safety, fire and security, you can contact our risk experts on 0345 600 7531

If you have a complaint that is specifically related to the FCA Test Case ruling please email ansvar.complaints@ansvar.co.uk 

Employees working from home

We understand that the employees of our customers may be working from home, like our own.
 
With that in mind, we would like to remind our customers that most of our charity, faith and commercial products provide an extension for property temporarily away from the premises. Where we provide cover for contents, this includes property held by an employee at their home, under the Temporary Removal of Contents extension.  The amount we cover is usually £2,500 or £5,000 depending on the policy you have bought.  
 
This cover is not available under our Charity Protect, Small Charity Connect, Community Group Connect or Event Connect products.  However, if you have All Risks then this will cover such property at the home of an employee.  
 
Liability – health and safety

Resources for employers are signposted by the Health and Safety Executive on their latest information and advice page. As organisations look to different working models for continuity, they also have useful guidance on homeworking and working alone.  
 
Subject to the terms and conditions of the policy, both Employers’ and Public Liability policies provide an indemnity to the policyholder if they are held legally liable for accidental bodily injury or illness arising in connection with their business. 

Additional Activities

We recognise that as the situation develops, certain organisations may look to support their local community by mobilising their organisation to support those finding it most difficult. Examples of this work, could be delivering shopping for vulnerable people not able to get out of their homes.
 
At Ansvar, local communities are at the heart of what we do and we are keen to give organisations the peace of mind they require in carrying out this work. As such, we would also like to remind our customers that we provide cover for such work:
 
Under our Church Connect and Church Fellowship Connect products:
• Community work (including domestic work and domestic gardening)
• Pastoral Care
 
Under our Charity and Community Connect (and Small Charity Connect where endorsement E216 shown) the following apply automatically but only where the organisations main activities and aims are based on the same work (ie Community Work, Work with vulnerable people, etc):
• Collection and delivery work
• Domestic work, including domestic gardening
 
If the charity is not currently working in such an area (ie clerical training based activities) but would now like to provide support out in the community during this time, we will need to review this, so we can ensure you have the correct cover in place.
IMPORTANT : Cover for any of these activities on any of our products, is subject to your organisation complying with local authority and/or government advice. Following the government’s recent announcement, you should only be providing support services where you can do so within the rules issued and where it is safe for your employees, volunteers and the people you are trying to support.
 
All other policy terms, conditions and exceptions are unchanged. 
 
We hope that this provides the reassurance you need.  If this is not enough to meet the current crisis, or if you are unsure in any way, then speak to your Business Development Manager or one of our underwriters to discuss further.

Helpful information

Arson Prevention Forumwww.stoparsonuk.org/arson/

The selection and use of electronic security systems in empty buildings

Risk Control. Arson Prevention. The Protection of Premises from Deliberate Fire Raising

www.riscauthority.co.uk
HM Government COVID-19 Advicewww.gov.uk/coronavirus

Risk advice line

(provided by Ecclesiastical professionals or external specialists)
Phone: 0345 600 7531 
 
Risk specialists are on hand to advise you on a range of topics, including: 
• property protection, security, business continuity planning
• health and safety, food safety, environmental management 
• construction safety, fire safety, occupational health, water safety or asbestos. 
 
Available Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm (excluding public and bank holidays).
 
For further information speak to your insurance advisor or call us on 0345 60 20 999.

FAQs

Frequently asked questions

Changes due to COVID-19

You can still call our offices and speak to one of our underwriters directly, we would encourage you to use our generic team group numbers and email addresses as per the below.
 
New Business - 01323 744198
 
empty
 
Existing Business - 01323 744199
 
empty
 
Online Team - 01323 744289
 
 
Ansvar Accounts - 01323 744130
 
 
Our claims team has also been relocated but you can contact them in the usual way using the main claims’ telephone number and the usual email which is ansvarclaims@ansvar.co.uk
 
These are challenging times for all of us and our thoughts are with all of you and your people.
 
We will check in with you from time to time to make sure you are getting everything you need. If you do have any concerns then please pick up the phone to your Business Development Manager or any member of the Ansvar Leadership Team.
 
We will keep you updated and informed if anything changes but in the meantime, please keep safe and well.

Claims

During this unprecedented period, we expect to continue servicing our customers as usual and you should continue to contact us in the usual way. If you experience any problems with the telephone network, you can email us on ansvarclaims@ansvar.co.uk and we will respond to you as soon as we can.

FCA Test Case ruling

The High Court Judgment published on 15th September 2020 stated that losses arising from the Covid-19 pandemic are not covered by Ecclesiastical’s Business Interruption policies and therefore we are not required to pay claims on those policies. Please click here for our full statement.

Cover information - COVID-19

There has been a lot of confusion concerning COVID-19 and whether cover is provided under our current products, so we would like to clarify our position for you so that you can address these concerns directly with your customers.     
 
Specified disease definition
In short, there is no cover for COVID-19 under the specified disease definition, as the disease in question is not specified in that list, nor is it related to any of them. Even if made notifiable, and we understand that the Government has already made an announcement about this, there is no cover unless the definition is amended and we have no plans to extend cover to include this. 
 
Employers Liability
From a liability perspective in particular EL, there could be some exposure as specified diseases are not excluded. However, the insured would have to be proven negligent in some way, before any such claim could be considered under the policy. For example if an employer permitted staff to travel to areas which are against World Health Organisation (WHO) or Government (Foreign Office) advice.
 
Business Interruption
For cover under BI, it would have to fall under the ‘Specified Diseases’ extension, and as already stated, COVID-19 is not one of these diseases nor is it related to any of those noted under the policy and as such, no cover will be provided.
 
If you require further clarification see our FAQs or please speak to one of our Underwriting team.

Life after lockdown

Getting your organisation up and running again after lockdown will be a priority for you. However, you will want to do this in a way that makes sure everyone is as safe as possible. Deciding how best to do this to fit with your own circumstances is key.
 
You will have to do everything that is reasonably practicable given the risk presented. There may be a lot to think about initially. You will need to identify workable precautions and make sure these are taken. In nearly all cases, further precautions will be necessary. This will include social distancing, protecting those most vulnerable, maintaining good levels of hygiene and so on.
 
COVID Secure: making a start
You will probably have arrangements and precautions already in place to keep all those who work at, visit or use your premises safe. You will need to review these before reopening. 
 
Things you may want to consider include:
 
  • deciding if you are able to re-open your premises and if staff are able to travel to them
  • working with those you may have appointed to help you review your arrangements and precautions
  • reviewing your risk assessments if you need to complete these to identify any additional precautions you need to take
  • consulting with your staff on managing the risk from COVID-19 and any precautions to be taken
  • making every reasonable effort for staff to work from home whilst ensuring their safety
  • protecting those who are clinically vulnerable (or shielding someone who is) or extremely vulnerable and self-isolating
  • implementing adequate precautions in-line with the COVID-19 Secure guidance or other trusted sources
  • checking that your first-aid arrangements and facilities are adequate
  • providing any necessary training or information for staff to make sure they know how to work safely
  • checking periodically that your precautions remain effective and adequate.
 
Some of these points may be more relevant to you than others and the list is not exhaustive.
 
COVID secure: premises
Before opening your premises, you may want to inspect them to make sure they are safe. You will probably want to clean them and make any adaptations necessary. Whatever the case, you will need to make sure that your staff know about any changes and the additional precautions to be taken before they start work.
 
In starting up any equipment you should make sure that this is done safely following any necessary procedures. You should also make sure that any statutory inspections of equipment are up to date or appropriate action taken.   
 
You may also want to review any business continuity plans you have in place. You may be able to develop contingencies further to deal with any shutdown and start-up events in the future.
 
COVID secure: keeping up to date
As we learn more about the virus and its control, official guidance is frequently changing. You will want to keep up to date as it does, to make sure the precautions you have taken continue to protect people.
 
Want to know more?
 
For more information about getting back to work after lockdown, why not download our guide
 
Village and Community Halls
 
For advice on re-opening your village or community hall, you may find some interesting advice from ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) here:
 
 
 

COVID-19 charity sector

Important guidance concerning help and advice for charity trustees from the Charity Commission about how to respond to the crisis, reiterating Government help to ease the financial pressures applicable to charities, and practical advice on governance matters and communication.
 

Charity guidance and insight

We understand you have an immediate need for funding to help you to meet the day-to-day demands of your charity and the communities you serve. 
 
Nationwide, the demand for charity services has increased while income has declined sharply. With events cancelled and little or no face-to-face fundraising on high streets and elsewhere, the voluntary opportunities for people to give have all but dried up. Corporate partnerships have been hit while those businesses recalibrate their own plans for the future. 
 
That’s why we’ve launched a range of resources to support you, assist fundraising and help you plan new ways of operating. 

COVID-19 Secure Places of worship

The challenges COVID-19 has presented to places of worship have been particularly significant.  Not being able to provide spiritual support face to face in the local community at a time of national crisis being one of them.
 
Making sure everyone remains safe will be a priority for you.   
 
Deciding how to do this in your own particular circumstances will be key.  You will want to do everything that is practicable given the risk presented.  This means following closely any local restrictions that might be in place, official guidance provided by Government or Devolved Administrations and any guidelines provided by your denomination.  In doing this, you will need to apply these whilst recognising you will not be able to eliminate the risk that the virus presents completely.
 
The current position
 
Local restrictions will determine what you can do at your place of worship.  These vary across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  In some cases, it might mean that your place of worship has to close except for certain activities.
 
If you can open it is important to remember that some activities may still not be able to take place .
 
If opening your premises, you will need to follow the relevant guidance applying it to your own particular circumstances.  In many cases, you may have adequate arrangements already in place.  Again, official guidance varies in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  All of this information remains under review, so it is important to keep up to date with the latest directions.  You can follow developments and access the latest advice by using the relevant resources highlighted below.
 
In some cases, you may also need to refer to other guidance depending on the activities at your premises.  Examples include guidance for multi-purpose community settings, tourism, retail, restaurants and other hospitality industries.
 
 
 
Denominational guidance will also help you decide how best to comply with your obligations.  In applying the guidance, the precautions you take will need to reflect your own particular circumstances.  This will take account of the size of your premises; their type and layout; the numbers of employees, volunteers or visitors you have; and the nature of the activities involved there.  You may also need to think about how your premises are organised, operated, managed and regulated.
 
In some cases, it may not be possible to open safely and you may decide to remain closed.
 
If you are an employer, you may also find other information on our COVID hub helpful.
 
You may also need to protect people from discrimination in implementing your precautions.
 
Making a start 
 
With all of this in mind, here are some broad points you may like to consider when opening your premises.  Some may be more relevant to you than others and the list is not exhaustive.  
  • If your premises have been shut for some time, you will want to check that they remain in good condition.  This will include making sure that utilities, heating and water systems, work and emergency equipment (such as, fire-fighting or fire detection equipment) remains safe.  This includes any statutory inspections that might be required.   You may also want to check footpaths and that there are no accumulations of waste that could present an additional hazard.
  • In starting up any equipment, such as heating, you should make sure that this is done safely following any necessary procedures.
  • You may need to carry out additional cleaning, making sure that those involved in this are kept safe.  After that, you will need to decide how frequently this is done and allow enough time for this.  Specific guidance is available here along with the guidance on waste disposal.  For some places of worship the guidance on cleaning historic surfaces prepared by Historic England may also be useful.
  • You will need to implement suitable precautions to: 
protect those who are clinically vulnerable/shielding or extremely vulnerable, making sure that anyone who is showing symptoms of COVID-19 or self-isolating does not physically come to the premises.  Here, remote participation should be considered.  The guidance is different for funerals.  If anyone becomes unwell with symptoms they should go home immediately and be advised to follow the stay at home guidance
 
restrict capacity to maintain social distancing.  This will need to be decided locally taking account of the total floor space, any likely pinch points, busy areas, alternative or one-way routes etc. and applying the information set out in relevant guidance
 
maintain social distancing, including in any car park.  This could include: additional entry/exit points, booking systems, staggering arrival times, floor markings, signage, changing layouts, improving ventilation, protective screens, face coverings, queue management, one-ways systems, preventing access to non-essential areas, staggered exit, using alternative rooms, using different spaces, announcements to advise congregants of the importance of social distancing and hygiene etc.
 
make sure that premises and any equipment remain clean, in particular surfaces touched more frequently e.g.door handles, rails.  You can use standard cleaning products for this and further guidance is available
 
provide adequate sanitation facilities so that good hygiene can be followed.  This includes facilities for washing hands using soap and water or the provision of hand sanitiser.  You may need to provide hand sanitiser in multiple locations.  You should also display signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique
 
make sure toilets remain clean and safe to use.  This could include: social distancing marking, limited entry, good washing facilities or the provision of hand sanitiser, single use paper towels, increased cleaning, good ventilation, additional waste facilities and collection, displaying a visible cleaning schedule, using signs and posters to advise on good hygiene
 
protect young people and children.  This would include: proper supervision, maintaining good standards of hygiene or following the guidance for out-of-school settings or that provided for formal childcare and educational settings if this is appropriate.  If providing outdoor playgrounds, you will need to follow this guidance as well.
 
safely dispose of any waste in accordance with the guidance provided
 
provide information to others about the precautions you have taken or those necessary if people are thinking about coming to your premises.  You may want to inform certain groups of people who may be at increased risk of the symptoms and the current stay at home and social distancing guidance, as well as discouraging them from attending.  Alternatively, you could set aside a time for them to attend for individual devotions.  Any information provided should be available before they first visit, accessible and appropriate
 
The guidance also provides further detail on the use of shared items; the provision of food and drink; singing, chanting and the use of musical instruments; weddings and other life events; outdoor worship; the use of water; and handling cash donations.
 
  • Depending on the precautions you have taken or if you intend to use a different building or space for worship, you may need to revise or complete a fire risk assessment.
  • If you are an employer, you may need to introduce arrangements to support the NHS Test and Trace service.  Further guidance is available here.
  • Even if you are not an employer, you will need to keep accurate records of those attending your premises.  Further guidance about what is required is available here.  A template for collecting consent and contact details is provided in the guidance (see Annex B).
  • You may need to allow for the wearing of face coverings where this is mandatory.
  • In some cases, you may also have to consider any changes to protective security as a result of any precautions you have taken.  The guidance provides detailed information on this as well as signposting useful resources.
  • You will want to carry out periodic checks from time to time to make sure that the precautions you have taken remain effective and adequate.  This may include simple inspections to check that premises remain clean or any equipment is safe.
  • You may need to report an outbreak of COVID-19.  Specific guidance sets out how to recognise an outbreak, report it and understand what measure the local health protection teams may advise in order to contain it.  The guidance also provides an action card for places of worship that you can download to display or refer to.
 
Want to know more?
Information and guidance on managing the risk has been provided by the Church of England, the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church in Wales and the Scottish Episcopal Church.

COVID-19 Secure For employers and others

Responding to the threat of COVID-19 has presented significant challenges across society already.  No one can underestimate the scale of these for us all in managing the risk from this virus.  Making sure everyone remains safe, whilst ensuring the resilience of your organisation, requires unprecedented steps to achieve this.  This is even more so now as lockdown restrictions ease and staff can return to work. 
 
Deciding how best to do this in your own particular circumstances is key.  You have to do everything that is reasonably practicable to protect your staff and others given the risk presented.  This means identifying workable precautions for your own organisation, whilst understanding you will not be able to eliminate the risk that the virus presents entirely.
 
The current position
 
Local restrictions will determine what you can do at your place of work. These vary across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  A range of workplaces can remain open as long as they can do so safely, that is they are ‘COVID-secure’.  For some areas, there may be local restrictions in place that limit this such as in England.
 
If you can open, it is important to remember that some activities may still not be able to  take place .
 
To make your workplace COVID-secure, you will have to apply the relevant Government guidance to your own particular circumstances.  Similar information is available for the Devolved Administrations.  Here, you will need to refer to the guidance for Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland as appropriate.  All of this information remains under review, so it is important to keep up to date with the latest directions.  You can follow developments and access the current advice by using the resources highlighted below.
 
In some cases, you may need to refer to more than one set of guidance to make sure you are doing all that is necessary.  An example might be where you have peripatetic staff based in an office visiting other people’s homes in England.  In this case you would have to apply the guidance for offices, working in other people’s homes and vehicles to suit your own circumstances.
 
 
Making a start
 
In many cases, you will already have tried and tested arrangements in place to keep safe all those who work at, visit or use your premises.  You will need to review these and your existing precautions before restarting work  or where there are changes in local restrictions and guidance.  This will be to check their adequacy given the risk presented by COVID-19 and in the light of the guidance published by the Government and Devolved Administrations.  In nearly all cases, it is likely that you will have to introduce and monitor further precautions.
 
It is important to remember, that any additional precautions you identify should be proportionate.  This will depend on your own specific circumstances.  For example, reflecting the size or type of premises you occupy, the numbers of staff you have and the nature of the work activities involved.  You may also need to think about how your premises are organised, operated, managed and regulated.
 
With all of this in mind, here are some points for you to consider.  Some may be more relevant to you than others and the list is not exhaustive.
 
  • Whilst most workplaces are allowed to open, it may still be worth checking that you can do this legally.  Further information is available here, including any separate guidance issued by Devolved Administrations.
  • If you have appointed someone to help you with your health and safety obligations, work with them to review your arrangements and precautions to make sure they are adequate in the light of the guidance issued.  This should reflect any responsibilities you may have under health and safety law, along with any commitments you have made in your health and safety policy if you have prepared one.
  • If you need to complete risk assessments to meet your responsibilities under health and safety law, you must review these.  This is to make sure that they are valid and have identified any additional precautions you need to take to deal with the risk of COVID-19.  In some cases you may choose to complete a specific risk assessment.  You should use the guidance or other trusted information to inform your decisions about the adequacy of your existing precautions and others that might be necessary.  The guidance sets out useful checklists relating to specific precautions that might be appropriate for certain workplaces.  A sample risk assessment is available here.  You should pay particular attention to protecting those who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 and may be at work.  Once complete, you should share the results of your risk assessment with your staff.  You should also consider publishing it on your website if you have one.  There is an expectation that all employers having more than 50 workers will do this.  A formal notice is available that you should display to show you have followed the guidance.
  • You may need to review other, more specific risk assessments that you have made to comply with legal obligations.  An example would be your fire risk assessment.  This would be in the light of any changes you have made to your premises, its layout or work activities that may have a bearing on them.  
  • You must make sure that your staff are appropriately consulted on managing the risk from COVID-19, including any precautions to be taken.  This may be through established channels you have already set up, including those required to meet any legal obligations you may have.  Further guidance on consulting and involving your staff is available here.  There is also a free leaflet available about talking to your workers during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • As part of your risk assessment and staff consultation, you should determine who can come into your workplace safely.  This will take account of staff journeys, caring responsibilities, protected characteristics, and other individual circumstances.  Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.  You should also consider the impact of your premises reopening on local transport, implementing appropriate precautions where necessary (e.g. staggered start and finish times for staff).  Working from home still remains one option to prevent the risk of virus transmission, although ensuring premises are COVID-Secure will also do this. You will need to treat staff equally and not discriminate against them.  You will also have particular responsibilities towards disabled workers and new or expectant mothers.
  • Where staff continue to work from home, you will need to provide any necessary equipment, keep in touch with them and monitor their wellbeing.  Further information on how to protect those working from home is available here.
  • Where staff are using public transport to return to your workplace, it is vital they continue to follow the latest guidance on travelling safely in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  This includes avoiding peak times where possible, wearing a face covering unless exempt and maintaining a safe social distance.
  • You will need to consider what steps are needed to protect those who are clinically extremely vulnerable (or shielding someone who is).  Generally, they should work from home wherever possible but can return to workplaces that are COVID-secure.  If individuals cannot work from home, they should be offered the option of the safest roles available on-site to help with social distancing.  Alternatively, they could be offered an alternative role or temporarily adjusted working patterns.  You may have to consider arrangements for staff who live with such individuals.  Other steps may also be needed to protect other vulnerable staff.
  • Making sure that anyone who is self-isolating, including those asked to do so under the test and trace service, do not physically come to work.
  • You should implement suitable precautions in-line with the guidance set out by the Government or other trusted sources e.g. recognised trade body.  The risk assessment that you complete, should indicate what will be necessary in your own particular circumstances.  Where social distancing guidelines cannot be followed, you will need to decide if that activity can be redesigned to achieve this (i.e. maintaining a 2m distance or 1m+ with additional precautions).  Additional precautions could include increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning, keeping the activity time as short as possible, using screens or barriers to separate people and so on.  If social distancing cannot be maintained even after redesign, you should consider if that activity is able to continue with other precautions.  
 
In general, common precautions may include those necessary to:
 
maintain social distancing – when moving around buildings and worksites; completing various tasks; when at workstations; for common areas such as canteens; and for meetings
 
ensure good standards of hygiene – by providing adequate washing facilities or the provision of hand sanitiser.  You may need to provide hand sanitiser in multiple locations.  You should also display signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique
 
make sure premises, equipment and vehicles remain clean – before reopening and in general use thereafter, including any toilets, washing facilities, showers and changing rooms along with suitable waste disposal arrangements 
 
re-organise work – to reduce the number of contacts each employee has, for example through introducing shifts or staggering work activities; avoiding unnecessary work travel and keeping staff safe when they need to do this; protecting peripatetic staff or dealing with high absence rates
 
minimise the number of unnecessary visits to premises – from customers, visitors and contractors and to make sure that people understand what safety precautions are needed whilst on-site
 
provide support for staff – who may be anxious about returning to work; self-isolating or shielding others; returning to work after being ill with COVID-19 themselves; or for those managing others so that they are clear on procedures for dealing with things like sickness reporting, sick pay or someone who is taken ill at work.
 
More specific precautions may be necessary for certain workplaces.  Here, you should check the relevant guidance provided.  If you share your workplaces with other employers, you may need to cooperate with them to make sure adequate precautions are in place to protect all.
 
  • In some cases, you may also have to consider any changes to protective security as a result of any precautions you have taken.
  • As regards the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), the guidance makes it clear that   using additional equipment beyond what is normally worn is not beneficial.  The exception to this is in a clinical settings, like a care home or for first responders, where different rules apply.  Outside these settings, employers are advised not to promote the use of additional PPE and their risk assessment should reflect this. Beyond the use of PPE, there are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be beneficial as a precaution.  The guidance sets out additional information on this for each setting.  Face coverings are mandatory on public transport and in a number of settings .
  • You must check that your first-aid arrangements and facilities continue to be adequate for the correct emergency response.  This will include if someone is taken ill with COVID 19 at work.  You may need to review your formal assessment if you need to complete one.  Information on what to do if first-aid cover is reduced is available here along with further information for first-aiders on providing a response.  You will need to make sure that contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date.  In the event of an accident, your existing arrangements for recording and investigating these should apply, suitably adapted to maintain social distancing rules.  For those more serious, you may need to report them and keep certain records.  Clarification on what needs to be reported in relation to COVID-19 is available here.
  • You must provide any additional training and information for staff to make sure they know how to work safely and protect others against COVID-19.  This may include detail about social distancing precautions, personal hygiene or the use of PPE for example.  It may also set out details for following Government guidance on self-isolation, shielding and travelling to work as well as your arrangements for returning to work following illness with COVID-19.  You should keep records of any information or training you provide. These should contain detail relating to the persons who were trained (including their signatures to say that they have received and understood the training); when they were trained and by whom; an overview of the training that was provided etc.  In addition to this, you may want to keep staff up to date with how safety measures are being implemented or updated over time.
  • If your premises have been shut for a period of time, you may want to inspect them to ensure that they remain in good condition.  This will include checking that all utilities, water systems, work and emergency equipment (such as, fire-fighting or fire detection equipment), ventilation systems, access routes including any emergency routes or exits etc. remain serviceable.  You may also want to check that there are no accumulations of waste, stock etc. that could present an additional hazard.  Obviously, before re-opening your premises you will want to complete any necessary workplace adaptations identified by your risk assessment.  You will also want to carry out any required cleaning.  In some cases, you may want to consider resuming work at your premises in stages to help with this.  Whatever the case, you will need to make sure that staff know about any changes and the additional precautions to be taken before they start work.
  • In starting up any equipment, such as heating plant, you should make sure that this is done safely following any necessary procedures.  You should also make sure that any statutory inspections of equipment are up to date or that appropriate action is being taken.  Further information on carrying out thorough examination and testing of lifting and pressure equipment during the coronavirus outbreak is available here.    
  • You should carry out any necessary periodic checks to ensure that the precautions you have taken remain effective and adequate.  This may include simple inspections to check that the premises and any equipment is safe.  If you have completed risk assessments, these will help you identify where these checks will be necessary.
  • If you have prepared a written health and safety policy, update it to reflect any changes to your arrangements for managing the risk from COVID-19.
  • You may need to report an outbreak of COVID-19.  Specific guidance sets out how to recognise an outbreak, report it and understand what measure the local health protection teams may advise in order to contain it.  The guidance also provides action cards for various workplaces that you can download to display or refer to.
  • For some premises you may need to keep accurate records of those attending.  Further guidance about what is required is available here
  • In the event of a claim, evidence of what you have done to manage any risk may be important.  As such, you should keep evidence as you apply the guidance to be able to demonstrate your decision making process and what you have done to manage the risks identified.  This may include specific health and safety documents, such as risk assessments; records of maintenance, inspections and other checks; records of information and training provided; policy etc.  These records should be kept in-line with your document retention policy.
  • As things start to normalise, you may want to review any business continuity plans you have in place.  You may be able to learn from your recent experiences to develop contingencies further to deal with any shutdown and start-up events in the future.  If you don’t have a business continuity plan already, we have developed some guidance that may be of use to you.
 
Keeping up to date

As we collectively learn more about the virus and its control, official guidance is frequently changing.  You will want to keep up to date as it does, to make sure the precautions you have in place adequately protect people.
You can check for updates at www.gov.uk/workingsafely
 
Want to know more?

To help customers and brokers who require further information or have concerns about managing this risk, the resources signposted here may be of help to you.
 
Government advice

This includes general advice which is available here and the specific guidance for particular workplaces: 
 
NHS advice

Information and support is available here.
 
The Health and Safety Executive

This includes general advice which is available here and the specific guidance:

Premises being used as vaccination/testing centres

With the Government announcement that a vaccine is now ready to be administered to the general public, more and more premises will be required to carry out vaccination and testing procedures.
 
Village and community halls and churches
Where premises are to be used by the NHS, you should comply with all current Government guidance for a premises to be used in such a way.  
 
We would expect your involvement to be restricted to normal activities (opening/closing premises, inspections, etc). Any work outside of this should be referred to us.
 
Schools, colleges and universities 
Where you are involved in the testing/vaccination of your own student body, in addition to use of your premises as above:
  • Employees must not carrying out the testing or vaccinations, as these should be given by trained medical professionals.  In most cases, tests are self-administered by the individuals concerned.
  • In some cases, your employees may be involved in the ‘processing’ of COVID-19 tests.  This is acceptable but only where all of the testing equipment is provided by the NHS and documented training is given to the employees.
  • Any cases where your employees are undertaking COVID-19 testing (not any vaccinating) should be referred to us.  
Care Homes
Care Home staff may carry out COVID-19 testing (not any vaccinating), including visitors to the Care Home.  
 
There is guidance provided by the Government for Care Homes, including the provision of testing, click here.  We would require you to follow such advice and the relevant safeguarding measures it refers to, in addition to your visitor policy, regularly reviewed risk assessment and use of PPE.
 
The increased risk of transmission comes from admitting visitors to the staff, residents and the visitors themselves.  Therefore, it is of vital importance to follow, adapt and keep up to date with the advice issued by the Government.