Read: Letter to businesses with advice on keeping Covid rates down

Liverpool’s Director of Public Health, Matthew Ashton, has written to local businesses with advice on how they can support the city in keeping levels of Covid infection low.

Liverpool and the wider city region is entering Tier 2 next week – the only area of the country to come out of lockdown in a lower tier than it entered it.

The text of the letter is below.

Coronavirus Update: Call to action & protecting our most vulnerable

Dear Liverpool businesses and organisations,

As you know Liverpool will be placed into the Government’s Tier 2 of restrictions at midnight on Wednesday December 2nd.

We are aware that restrictions have been challenging for businesses, employees, charity and voluntary organisations, community groups and residents.  However, they are essential to stop the spread of the virus.

The rate of infection in the city has dropped from around 700 per 100,000, to the current level of under 150 per 100,000. This is great news and we are grateful to the people of Liverpool for their discipline in adhering to the lockdown measures during what has been a challenging time, and this has helped to reduce that infection rate. However, it is important that we now keep the virus under control within the city, so that we don’t return to a higher level of restrictions. With your help and support, the new tier of restrictions will help us to do that.

The guidance can be found at:  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-restriction-tiers-what-you-need-to-know#high-alert. The restrictions will be reviewed every two weeks, along with the rate of infections and the impact on hospitals and deaths. 

Hands-Face-Space

The most effective way to stop the virus spreading is to keep 2m between you and others where you can, and avoid busy places. Wear a face covering, and regularly wash your hands with soap and water, or use hand sanitiser.

Important Guidance for Business

Businesses will be required to comply with the Covid Secure Guidance for working safely during the Coronavirus pandemic: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

In addition, there is important guidance that will help to stop the spread of the virus in Liverpool: 

1.         Work from home:

Where possible, work from home for the winter. Where staff cannot work from home, they should remain in one work-location which is COVID-secure and with the same team or shift to reduce the number of people who are in contact with each other.

2.           Guidance on support Bubbles:

In Tier 2, you must not socialise with anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place. The is important to be clear on what a support bubble is when taking bookings for restaurants, hotels, and visitor attractions.  

A support bubble is an exclusive close support network between two households. It means you can have close contact with that household as if they were members of your own. From 2 December, one household can form a support bubble with another household, if at least one has:

  • only one adult; (including a household where any children are under the age of 18)
  • only one adult carer (i.e. living with any additional adult(s) in the household that have a disability and require continuous care);
  • a child under 1 (regardless of how many other adults are in the household); or
  • a child under 5 with a disability that requires continuous care (regardless of how many other adults are in the household)

3.         Guidance for businesses that work in other people’s homes

If your staff work in households where somebody is vulnerable or aged over 70, contact the customer in advance to make arrangements to avoid any face to face contact, for example when answering the door, and ensure that staff keep 2 metres away, wear face coverings, wash hands and that windows are open. See further guidance at:

4.         Carry out risk assessment to protect risk assessment of Vulnerable staff       

The Clinically Extremely Vulnerable staff can return to work from the 2nd December. This is particularly important for employees who are clinically extremely vulnerable to the virus (previously shielding), or if their family-members were previously shielding. Where staff cannot work from home, they should be assigned to non-public facing duties wherever possible.

Risk assessments for clinically extremely vulnerable employees should be reviewed. You can use the NHS risk assessment guidance to support this risk assessment.  https://digital.nhs.uk/coronavirus/shielded-patient-list

5.        Car-sharing: 

Avoid car-sharing if possible. Car-sharing helps the virus to spread. Someone may not have any symptoms and still be able to spread the virus to others in the car.    If you have to car-share:

  • keep windows open
  • sit side by side or behind each other rather than face to face if possible
  • sit as far as possible away from each other
  • clean your car between journeys using standard cleaning products – especially door handles
  • driver and passengers should wear a face covering

6.         Self-isolation:

The main 3 symptoms of COVID are new continuous cough, fever or loss/change in smell or taste. If you develop symptoms self-isolate and order a test. If test is positive self-isolate for 10 days from the day you became ill. If someone in your household has symptoms or has tested positive, you need to isolate for 14 days.

Self-isolation payment for low paid workers / staff on zero-hour contracts and agency staff

Everyone told to isolate is legally require to.  Residents, staff, staff on zero hours contracts, agency workers, etc who may experience financial difficulties through self-isolating, could be eligible for a payment of up to £500. Visit here for more information:

Self-isolation telephone line for payments

Previously financial support has only been available where people have been formally advised to self-isolate by NHS Test & Trace, but can now also be triggered by other settings such as employers providing their lists of work related contacts when they have a positive case. A self-isolation telephone line is available for employers and other establishments to call when they have had a positive case.  This allows those contacts who are eligible to receive a self-isolation support payment from their Local Authority. Without the NHS Test & Trace reference (known as a CTAS number), they cannot receive financial support, even if eligible.

Any setting that provides advice to people to isolate should call 020 3743 6715 as soon as possible, with the following essential details:

  1. CTAS ID of the person who had a positive case in your setting 
  2. List of appropriate contacts for the positive case in your setting. 

7.         Keeping Records of Staff, Visitors and Customer for businesses open to the public:

Please maintain accurate records of staff, visitors, agency /temporary staff on site to ensure they can be contacted if there is a case or outbreak. Businesses which are open to the public need to have a system in place to record customer details, and can utilise the NHS Test & Trace QR Code to support this.

You can create and a QR code by following the link to the webpage: https://www.gov.uk/create-coronavirus-qr-poster

8.       Reporting Cases and Managing Outbreaks:

If there is a case or outbreak in your workplace, nominate a Single Point of Contact within your workplace.  If you identify a case, who is either symptomatic, or who have had a positive test, they must stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days. You will need to identify close contacts of those cases and ensure they also self-isolate for 14 days. Contacts should not get a test unless they develop symptoms of COVID. If someone has been identified as a close contact, they still need to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they test negative, so they cannot return to the workplace.

Contacts should not get a test as it makes no difference to the need to isolate, and would mean there would not be enough tests for those people who are ill.

Definition of close contacts are:

•           Direct contact: Face to face contact with a case for any length of time, within 1m, including being coughed on, a face to face conversation, unprotected physical contact (skin to skin) or travel in a small vehicle with a case. This includes exposure within 1 metre for 1 minute or longer

•           Proximity contact: Extended close contact (between 1 and 2 metres for more than 15 minutes) with a case.

Single Cases:

For advice on managing a potential outbreak, please contact the Liverpool City Council Environmental Health Team on environmental.health@liverpool.gov.uk

You will need to provide the name, address and contact details of the case, date of onset, as well as the workplace name and contact details for the single point of contact.

Two or More cases:

In addition to notifying the environmental health team of confirmed cases, please also contact the Cheshire and Mersey Health Protection Team with the same information. The agencies will provide advice and guidance to your business on what you will need to do to prevent further transmission.

This could include advice on which staff will need to isolate, cleaning, improving Covid Secure guidance implementation/practice, requesting staff/visitor information, as well as helping to review details of customers that may have been exposed to the virus.

Cheshire and Mersey Health Protection Team (Public Health England)

0344 225 0562 (option 1)

Out of hours advice 0151 434 4819

Email: candmhpu@phe.gov.uk

Thank you

Finally, we wanted to thank all of our businesses and organisations for their continued support and efforts to date.  Your support and understanding are appreciated.

Kind Regards.

Matthew Ashton

Director of Public Health

Liverpool City Council