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Keeping workplaces safe as coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions are eased – sources of advice

This page provides the latest information on any changes related to workplace safety during the pandemic, following the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

It also provides details of advice from public health bodies and other government departments on requirements that aren’t enforced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

HSE will update this guidance to reflect any reviews of social distancing or other long-term measures, as set out in the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments’ responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

Easing of restrictions

On 22 February 2021, the UK government announced a four-step roadmap to ease restrictions across England and provide a route back to a more normal way of life.

In England from 21 June, there’s a 4-week pause at Step 3 of the roadmap. After 2 weeks, the government will review the data to see if the risks have reduced. It’s expected that England will move to Step 4 on 19 July.

The latest GOV.UK guidance includes guidance on going to work. You should continue to work from home if you can. There is also information if you are in an area where a new COVID-19 variant is spreading.

There are different approaches and timescales for easing of restrictions (and how any easing is affected by variants) in Scotland and Wales.

You can check the latest GOV.Scot and GOV.Wales guidance on working safely.

Businesses should continue to follow the relevant government guidance on working safely and put in place measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

The following workplace controls remain unchanged:

Working safely

It is vital that workplaces continue to be COVID-secure following on from completing a COVID risk assessment.

Please refer to your relevant guidance:

We have advice on talking to your workers with examples of questions you can ask to help them understand the risks and contribute to decisions on reducing the risk of transmission.

These include talking about changes in your workplace, such as site rules, one-way systems and arriving at work.

Advice from public health bodies and other government departments

The UK government, and those in Scotland and Wales, have introduced several public health measures to support reducing transmission of coronavirus.

The following guidance from public health bodies and other government departments covers matters that are not enforced by HSE, including:

  • vaccinations
  • workplace testing
  • testing, tracking and tracing
  • face coverings
  • mass asymptomatic testing in education settings

Vaccinations

The NHS in each nation is leading the COVID-19 vaccine programme. The order in which people will be offered the vaccine is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

Read the latest JCVI advice on priority groups for the COVID-19 vaccination on GOV.UK.

Separate guidance applies for the vaccination rollout programmes by the NHS in Scotland vaccination rollout and Wales vaccination rollout.

There is Acas advice on getting the coronavirus vaccine for work.

Workplace testing

Public health departments across Great Britain lead on workplace testing, HSE is not responsible for producing guidance on testing programmes.

Please refer to guidance relevant to your location:

Businesses should ensure that workplace testing is carried out safely and control measures are in place to manage the risk of COVID transmission during the testing process.

There is Acas advice on testing staff for coronavirus.

Testing, tracking and tracing

HSE does not have a role in establishing or enforcing the different testing and tracking approaches across the UK.

In England, you can find information on NHS Test and Trace service in the workplace, where there is helpful advice on how they:

  • provide free testing for anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus to find out if they have the virus
  • get in touch with anyone who has had a positive test result to help them share information about any close contacts they have had
  • alert those contacts, where necessary, and instruct them to self-isolate

The government is also working with relevant local councils in England on surge testing for new COVID-19 variants.

You can find details of how separate information and guidance apply in Scotland and Wales and both websites have updates on the approaches being taken to tackle new variants.

Face coverings

Face coverings are a public health protection measure largely intended to help protect others. They are not classified as personal protective equipment (PPE) and are therefore not covered by health and safety legislation.

We have a page explaining the difference between face coverings and surgical face masks.

For England, read the latest advice on face coverings and where to wear one on GOV.UK.

Separate regulations and guidance apply for public and workplace use of face coverings in Scotland face coverings and Wales face coverings.

Mass asymptomatic testing in education settings

The UK and devolved governments’ education or public health departments lead on testing in education settings. HSE is not responsible for producing guidance on testing programmes.

Please refer to your relevant guidance:

Education settings should ensure that workplace testing is carried out safely and control measures are in place to manage the risk of COVID transmission during the testing process.

This page is reviewed regularly and updated to reflect any changes in the guidance.

Page last reviewed: 17 June 2021

Next review due: 30 June 2021

2021-06-17