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Prepare to reopen checklist

From 19 July, the UK government aims to remove all legal limits on social restrictions (Phase 4). This checklist can help you tick off the key things you have to do to protect your customers, employees and business.

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Decide if you want to require face coverings to be worn on your business premises. even if not legally required. 

Remain mindful of equality and discrimination laws (eg not everyone may be able to wear a face covering). Consider updating Terms and conditions to reflect this and displaying signs about your business’ mask policy.


Consider removing social distancing stickers and signage as most social distancing guidelines (eg the 1 meter plus rule) have been relaxed. 

Be aware that some industry-specific social distancing rules may still be in force.


Prepare to reopen if your business is currently closed (eg a nightclub, theatre or adult entertainment venue).


Choose whether you wish to continue to maintain records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace (and for customers to scan a QR code when entering premises). The legal requirement to do so has come to an end. 

However, if you choose to continue collecting such data you should:

  1. Identify what data may be collected, how this data should be maintained and recorded and when this data can be shared with NHS Test and Trace

  2. Display an official NHS QR Code poster for customers/visitors to ‘check-in’ as opposed to providing their contact details

  3. Register with the ICO and familiarise yourself with the ICO’s data protection guidance for handling data for contact tracing purposes

  4. Handle data in accordance with GDPR, understand how to process personal data legally and how to properly handle data

  5. Be sure that your staff know exactly what they should and shouldn’t do with this data by creating or updating a Data protection policy

  6. You need to explain to people why you are collecting this data. This can be done using a template privacy notice provided by the UK Government. Note that this is intended for non-sensitive venues only


Consider the use of the NHS COVID Pass to reduce the risk of transmission at your venue or event. This is a method of COVID-status certification allowing people to demonstrate that they’re at a lower risk of carrying COVID-19 and transmitting it to others (eg through vaccination, testing or natural immunity).

Remain mindful of equality and discrimination laws (eg not everyone may be able to get vaccinated). Consider updating Terms and conditions to reflect this and displaying signs about your business’ COVID-status certification policy.


Understand the rules and guidance on COVID-19 for your business from the UK Government and the Health and Safety Executive.


Create a Return to work risk assessment and a Health and safety policy to demonstrate legal compliance with health and safety regulations. Find out more about managing risk.


Take reasonable steps to protect your staff and customers from harm. Be sure to understand the guidelines around cleanliness and handwashing and ventilation. You may also need to stock personal protective equipment (PPE).


Create a Working from home policy or a Temporary working from home policy if your staff are working from home. These policies set out guidance your staff should follow. If you recall your staff to your premises, their personal needs and responsibilities may have changed so you may wish to consider flexible working.


Remember, even if your staff are working from home, you still have the same level of health and safety responsibilities. Ensure you’re aware of key considerations for homeworkers.


Some of your staff may be vulnerable. You have a legal duty to protect your workers and implement measures that reduce risk. Make sure you consider the risks to these workers and implement additional safeguards.


Before you conclude your policies, be sure that everyone who works for you irrespective of employment status (eg contractors) are taken into account.


Once you have made your requisite policies, consult and/or explain them to your staff. This will ensure everyone is aware of the changes you’re planning.


Strategise how you plan on bringing your staff back into the workplace (especially since the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ended on 31 September 2021), especially if your business won’t be operating at full capacity. You may wish to offer limited hours or recall a small number of individuals.


For employees that were furloughed under the Scheme, make a Recall an employee from furlough letter to notify employees of your intention to change their employment status and bring them back to work.


Even with the Government’s vaccination programme, staff may still become unwell due to COVID-19 or other illnesses. Create a Sickness policy to set out procedures for reporting and managing sickness absences. Find out more about sick pay.


Unfortunately, challenging trade conditions may persist causing you to make redundancies. Be sure to understand the laws and regulations around redundancy, redundancy pooling and selection and how to make someone redundant.


Consider how you will manage your employees during any challenging trading periods after reopening to ensure you’re prepared, including, where necessary, lay-offs and short-term working and coming to an agreement with staff about any changes to employment terms.


Communicate regularly with your staff and customers to increase awareness of your health and safety practices and how your business will be operating. You can do this by holding staff training sessions for your employees and have posters or newsletters for customers.


When you reopen, create zero hours contracts to remain flexible amidst changing demand. Make a Zero hours contract that sets out the employment status and rights and obligations of your zero-hours staff.


You may need to make adjustments to your employees’ employment terms and conditions. Make a Change to employment terms letter if you want to notify employees of any changes to their employment contract.


As part of the Chancellor’s 2021 Budget, various levels of support are being offered to businesses. Make sure you’re aware of what you help you may be entitled to.


If you are a hospitality business, be aware that the legal limit for groups (previously groups of 6 indoors and groups of 30 outdoorsno longer applies. You may wish to update your Terms and conditions to reflect this.


Consider creating a Business continuity plan to prepare your business in case of future emergencies.

Make your Return to work risk assessment
Get started
Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest

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