What Does Omicron Mean For My Small Business?

The Omicron variant of Coronavirus has been featured widely across the news in recent weeks, with government guidelines for businesses and the general public changing with this in mind. There are several rumours and questions that this variant has highlighted, but what are the rules and what do they mean for your small business?

Government Guidelines

As of November 30th, the Prime Minister has confirmed new temporary and precautionary measures for businesses following the emergence of the Omnicron variant. Face masks are now a requirement in the following businesses:

  • Shops
  • Banks
  • Post Offices
  • Hairdressers
  • Beauty Salons
  • Tattoo Shops
  • Takeaways
  • Estate Agents
  • Solicitors
  • Loan Providers
  • Veterinary Clinics

They are also required for all public transport including taxis, private hire vehicles, and driving instruction vehicles. Face masks will also be recommended in public spaces within schools for students in Year 7 and above. Furthermore, all contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate, regardless of their age or vaccination status for 10 days, with all international arrivals required to take a Day 2 PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative test.

What Can I Do If Customers Refuse To Wear Masks?

Your employees may be nervous about facing abuse from customers who are not wearing face masks. Advice from experts is to communicate the rules but not challenge anyone directly. Fines will be imposed for people who refuse to wear face masks, initially £200 and doubling on each offence, up to a maximum of £6,400.

The Festive Period

There is a high level of uncertainty surrounding this new covid variant. This uncertainty will cause some discomfort for staff and customers alike. Larger companies are cancelling Christmas parties and festive plans, however, there may be other options worth considering. Smaller teams are still able to socialise if precautions have been taken, such as following government guidelines regarding face masks and social distancing. Lateral flow tests could also be a requirement for attending social gatherings. 

What Can Your Business Do to Help?

There are several steps your business can take to increase safety and comfort for your employees: 

  • Encourage vaccination - helping employees to get vaccinated by providing flexible working conditions to enable them to get vaccinated with little to no friction from work
  • Provide face coverings, hand sanitiser, and safe space for social distancing
  • Provide regular testing, ensuring your staff are safe to work
  • Follow government guidance on hygiene and ventilation in the workplace
  • Allow employees to work from home where possible
  • Consider local transmission rates in any return-to-the-office plans
  • Provide additional mental health support for those adversely affected by the Pandemic

For the most up-to-date information on the Omnicron variant and its impact on how businesses should conduct themselves, refer to the most recent government guidance. If you need help or advice with your business essentials, including business planning and forecasting, please get in touch via our contact form, or call us on 01604 420 420.

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