Although dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19 in your venue is the last thing anyone wants, it’s essential to be fully prepared for this eventuality. Having spent the last few weeks supporting venues as they have dealt with COVID-19 outbreaks in staff and customers we thought that we would compile our advice. Ensuring you are fully prepared will mean that it can be managed quickly and safely, with far less disruption to business than if it isn’t handled correctly.
Rather than subscribing to the ‘It won’t happen to us’ school of thought, ensure that if you do face a COVID-19 outbreak, you and your staff know exactly what to do next. We recommend every venue follow these steps:
- Risk Assessment:
A prequel to any COVID-19 outbreak, every venue should have performed a thorough risk assessment to control infection risk as much as possible. Ensure your risk assessment includes these actions:
- Upon booking, instructing customers that anyone who feels unwell or is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms cancels their visit and stays at home. This should also be reflected in signage in your venue, particularly at the entrance.
- Ensuring there is adequate signage around your venue detailing instructions on what a customer should do if they fall ill within 7 days of visiting your premises. This should also be given when booking by telephone, online or by email.
- Advising staff what to do if they fall ill or someone they have been in contact with falls ill. Ensure all employees monitor their health and inform their line manager immediately if they experience symptoms, however mild. Symptomatic members of staff must not come into work and must be sent home immediately if a symptom develops while on shift.
- Carrying out regular reviews of your risk assessment to ensure it complies with the latest guidance.
2. Identify the source:
If an outbreak occurs, you need to try to identify if the source of it is from:
3. Gather information:
In line with guidance, you should be keeping records of customers and staff records for 21 days post-visit. This will help to assist NHS Test and Trace with data requests, thus helping control and contain outbreaks.
Compile the following:
- Name and contact details of all the staff that have come into contact with the staff member who has COVID-19.
- Dates that they worked together.
- Name and contact details of all the customers who were in the building on the dates the infected customer or staff member(s) were in the building.
4. Contact Public Health England:
In the event of an outbreak, you may feel slightly overwhelmed, but taking swift action is essential.
- If the infected person(s) is a staff member:
- Report the suspected outbreak to your local Public Health England health protection team under RIDDOR. You can report if a member of staff has tested positive for COVID-19 by submitting a form on the Health and Safety Executive’s website HERE.
- Provide all above gathered information to Public Health England including rotas.
- If the infected person(s) is a customer:
- Again reporting to Public Health England on this form, supply the name and contact details of all the customers who were in the building on the dates that the infected person(s) were in the building
5. Assist Public Health England Trace and TrackIt’s important to do everything you can to limit the spread of any COVID-19 outbreak. Once you have taken the above steps, follow the official advice from your local Public Health England health protection team. They will advise you on what further action to take, which may include the following control measures:
- Closing your venue. This is only necessary if you have written advice from Public Health England, your local Police or Local Authority forcing you to. Doing so under any other circumstance will not suffice as an insurance policy trigger.
- Putting staff who have been in contact with the virus on sick leave for two weeks.
- Contacting HMRC to claim back the statutory sick pay.
- Deep cleaning your venue.
- Informing customers that person(s) who have been to your venue have tested positive for COVID-19 on your social media.
- Writing to all customers and staff who were in the venue on the identified days.
You should also:
- Assist with staff and customer communications by ensuring you have a ready made press statement and social media posts. This will save you having to create them from scratch whilst you are in the middle of dealing with staff, customers and the local authorities.
- Review your risk assessment to see if any further steps could be put in place to help prevent an outbreak occurring in the future.
While discovering a customer or staff member has tested positive for COVID-19 is undoubtedly concerning, following the correct processes will ensure it’s managed safely and smoothly. In the coming months, brushing shoulders with COVID-19 is something many venues will face, but by remaining calm and adhering to correct procedures, the fallout does not have to be drastic.
If you need help please reach out, our team are here to help you on either firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 07734255807