Can I still operate my online and delivery service?
Please note that the intention here is not to advise you what to do in your individual businesses, but to help you consider your business’s circumstances in light of government instructions. It has been prepared by Heather Allen, Bognor Regis BID Co-Ordinator, and draws on information published by the UK Government, accurate as at 25th March 2020. The Prime Minister’s message to the country on Monday 23rd March was very clear: “Stay at home”. The instructions allowed people to leave their homes for a limited number of reasons, and only if essential. The government identified a sectors of businesses considered to be “essential”, and ordered all other physical businesses that did not fit into those categories to close. This is very clear and unambiguous. You can check the published list of businesses that are considered to be essential by following this link. In addition to the essential businesses that can remain open, the government also states that: “Takeaway and delivery services may remain open and operational in line with guidance on Friday 20 March. Online retail is still open and encouraged and postal and delivery service will run as normal.” On Tuesday 24th March, the list of reasons people could leave their homes was amended to include: “work (where this absolutely cannot be done from home)”. The conflict between businesses wanting to continue operating their online service, but not wanting to break the rules on “staying at home” is causing a dilemma for a number of our business owners. Reaching a decision: “Going to work” outside of your home also includes getting there and back, which may put you in contact with other people. It may include working in the same location with staff members that live outside of your household. Providing a delivery service could put you in contact with people from other households, whether that be your delivery driver or the customers you’re delivering to. The fundamental question to ask yourself is this: If I absolutely cannot operate my online business from home, will I be able to follow all of the rules on social distancing if I have to go to a physical place of work to operate?
What are the rules on social distancing? NB: I’ve focused these bullet points on the info most relevant to the situation being considered here – you can follow this link for the full list on the source document. Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce social interaction between people to help reduce the transmission of coronavirus. You should rigorously follow the social distancing advice in full, by: • Avoiding contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) • Avoiding non-essential use of public transport when possible • Working from home, where possible. • Avoiding large and small gatherings in public spaces • Avoiding gatherings with friends and family. This is PARTICULARLY important for people who: • are over 70 • have an underlying health condition • are pregnant In the workplace, employers are instructed to ensure “that employees are able to follow Public Health England guidelines. including, where possible: • maintaining a 2 metre distance from others • washing their hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds (or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available). Equally, if you work alone, you must ensure that you have the same facilities for handwashing and sanitising. In light of this, ask yourself again, “if I have to go to my physical place of work to operate my business’s online service will I be able to follow all of the rules on social distancing?”, then make the decision that is right for you, your family, for the NHS and for the country.
Kindest regards, Heather
Heather Allen, BR BID Co-Ordinator