Businesses have been busy preparing to reopen safely and now that they have opened the main feedback from the public and enforcing authorities was that all businesses had done an excellent job of making their premises COVID-19 secure. Yet, more work was needed in managing queues outside of businesses. Cheltenham Environmental Health must stress the importance of doing your best in the interests of public health.
The BID and the authorities understand that having the necessary controls within the premises will mean that capacity is limited, and things take longer. This has an impact for the public queuing; however, businesses need to try and not compromise their controls within the premises.
Points for consideration:
- If you are part of a national organisation, ensure you have followed any controls identified by your Head Office or Primary Authority. If the controls given do not work for you or you cannot implement them, you must speak with your Head Office to find a solution. You know your business best and will come up with the most appropriate control.
- If your assessment identifies a control, then put it into place otherwise this may constitute negligence.
- Try and identify the causes for the excessive queue and address that issue.
- Is it the way customers are allocated or shown to their seating?
- Is it the way people sign in for the purpose of track and trace?
- Is it because there is insufficient management of the queue by staff?
- Is it down to location and other ‘pinch points’ in your locality?
- Is there a pattern to excessive queuing? Is it a one off or is it a more permanent issue?
- Are you advertising something that is drawing too many customers at once? Promotions, broadcasts etc.
Change you controls based on the above
- Can extra door staff be employed?
- Can you work with other businesses in your locality to share door staff to manage queues outside?
- Can existing staff improve communication with customers along the line?
- Can you ask customers to return later?
- Can signage be displayed when queue gets too long to discourage others from joining?
- Can customer’s pre book or use a virtual queuing system?
- Can signage be improved along the queue and 2m distance along the pavement?
- Can you manage customer expectations better through your website and social media?
- Can you advise the public on your expectations of them?
- Are you discussing your concerns with the Enforcing Authorities or the BID who may be able to offer some changes in the public realm?
Who is responsible for managing the public queue?
It is all of our responsibility, the business, the public and the enforcing authorities (Police and Environmental Health Officers). Where there is not a safe system of work for managing people within your business and on the ‘curtilage’ or the access or egress from the premises is not safe then this may fall foul of The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Where the public are not socially distancing and forming a public gathering, then this may fall foul of the Health Protection (Corona Virus Restriction) regulations 2020.
We all need to do the right thing to prevent any sporadic upsurges of Covid-19 in the region.
As always, I am here to try and help businesses navigate through this difficult period. You will not get everything right first time, but the important thing is that you review your controls and if a control does not work as hoped then try something different.
Bernadette Reed – Senior Environmental Health Officer