The pandemic has affected more than 200 countries. Most of the ones with significant outbreaks have introduced social distancing or 'lockdown' measures to reduce viral transmission.
While the World Health Organisation advises that social distancing is an effective protective measure against the disease and recommends that people keep at least one metre apart, the recommended distance differs between countries. The UK, Switzerland, the US, Spain and Italy are all imposing a 2-metre gap between people, while some are imposing a 1.5-metre (e.g. Germany, Poland and the Netherlands) or a 1-metre distance (e.g. Austria, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Singapore).
Now businesses begin to reopen their doors, it's not uncommon to see directional arrows, one-way systems and spare desks between employees, reinforcing social distancing in the workplace.
As all industries look toward recovery, business leaders should be asking: Are we doing enough to protect those who come into contact with our businesses? What are the risks? What are the correct processes and procedures to put in place?
Here we consider a range of different industries and the steps
that companies can take to manage customers, visitors and
Enclosed places of business such as offices, contact centres, laboratories and research facilities
Manage your contacts to minimise the number of unnecessary visits to the offices and ensure strict measures are put in place to protect your workforce. These may include:
- Encouraging remote visits/contacts
wherever possible. If site visits are required, guidance on social
distancing and hygiene should be explained to visitors on and also
preferably, before arrival. Let people know what to expect.
- Ensuring signs are displayed in
prominent places on entry to the building and in key locations
reminding people to socially distance and practise good hand
- Provide visitors with access to hand
sanitisers and handwashing facilities.
- Operate a strict 'by appointment
only' process and maintain a record of all visitors. It will
allow you to limit visitor numbers and ensure that different
visitors do not cross paths. Contractors providing essential
services and maintenance could be scheduled after working hours,
for example, to reduce interaction.
- Provide visitors with disposal personal protective equipment on entry (for example, gloves, masks). When this is not possible, request in advance that visitors bring their own with them.
Open and mixed places of business such as factories, warehouses and vehicles
Where roles interact and cannot function without doing so, it is essential to minimise the contact risk. Consider:
- Setting shift schedules to reduce
- Principally you should think about
staggered break times and the arrival and departure times in and
out of depots.
- Prepare for delivery and receipt
confirmations in a contactless manner. Invest in technology if you
- Prepare in advance for goods to be dropped off in an agreed area to avoid disease transmission.
Businesses with busy footfall such as shops and restaurants offering takeaway or delivery
With a large number of customers visiting your premises, you should implement strict controls to limit contact. Some options may be:
- Limit your service to pre-booked
collections where possible. Provide clear guidance by phone, on
your website and by email so that customers know what to expect
before they arrive.
- Provide handwashing / sanitising
facilities and encourage visitors to clean their hands, on arrival
and when leaving.
- Limit entry so that your premises do
not become overcrowded - for example, retail outlets within the
Dubai International Finance Centre have been instructed to operate
at a 70% occupancy ceiling. You need to be able to maintain
distancing not just indoors but also at crossing points such as
doorways and payment points.
Originally published 10 June, 2020
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.