Easing Lockdown – reopening branches and trade counters

As the UK Government continues relaxing the lockdown, many GAI member companies are starting to reopen their branches and trade counters.  

GAI has researched various websites throughout UK and Ireland which will assist member companies in preparing to reopen. Please bear in mind that as each jurisdiction is subject to separate advice, we have also provided links for each region also.

Specific guidance

This UK Government website provides specific guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments, (this does specifically mention hardware stores). The advice has been prepared by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) with input from firms, unions, industry bodies and the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and in consultation with Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

It sets out guidance on how to work safely and gives practical considerations of how this can be applied in the workplace. Each business will need to translate this into the specific actions it needs to take, depending on the nature of their business, including the size and type of business, how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated. Much of this advice will be of use to GAI member companies. It is a thorough document which gives specific detail on the following:

  • Managing risk and risk assessment, bearing in mind that an employer has a legal responsibility to protect workers and others from risk to their health and safety.
  • Who should go to work, including protecting people who are at high risk, those who need to self-isolate. It also specifically looks at equality in the workplace in these circumstances.
  • Social Distancing at work, this includes coming to and leaving work, moving around buildings and stores, procedures for meetings, protection of common areas and prioritising safety during incidents/accidents.
  • Managing customers, visitors and contractors including how to minimise contact.
  • Cleaning the workplace and making sure any site or location that has been closed or partially operated is clean and ready to restart.
  • PPE and face coverings.
  • Workforce management including shift patterns, work related travel and communications and training.
  • Inbound and outbound goods, with the objective of maintaining social distancing and avoiding surface transmission when goods enter and leave the site, especially in high volume situations.

Please also note that the British Retail Consortium has published some excellent guidance on warehouse and distribution centre implementation practices which can be downloaded from here.

Guidance on construction sites

Construction sites operating during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic also need to ensure they are protecting their workforce and minimising the risk of spread of infection.  The Construction Leadership Council's official guidance on how construction sites should be managed in the current environment - the Site Operating Procedures (Version 3) - were reissued on 15 April 2020. This important document can be downloaded here. GAI members can review specific guidance on these procedures here.

Risk Assessments

In addition to the measures above, businesses will need to prepare, and publish (for businesses with over 50 workers), a coronavirus-specific risk assessment about how they will keep people safe at work. 

GAI has researched various examples of risk assessments and checklists, and have published these on the GAI Members Hub, once logged in, members can view some of our findings and templates which we feel would be of most use to members. (Note that these are examples only and must be reviewed/amended to suit your own business practices and working environment).  

On the GAI website you will now see examples of:

  • A risk assessment dealing with managing COVID-19 in the workplace (social distancing)
  • A risk assessment for the use of PPE 
  • A generic risk assessment from the HSE in Northern Ireland that covers relevant coronavirus issues
  • A social distancing site monitoring checklist

A further risk assessment from Health and Safety Executive for those working in shops which could be tailored for GAI members is also available here.

Useful further websites specific to regions of UK and Republic of Ireland are as follows:

Scotland: Coronavirus (COVID-19): business and physical distancing guidance see here for website.

Wales: Coronavirus regulations: frequently asked questions. See here for website.

Northern Ireland: Coronavirus: Workplace safety guidelines and social distancing. See here for website.

Republic of Ireland: COVID-19 (Coronavirus): latest information. See here for website.


Should anyone have any specific questions relating to this, please contact GAI Technical Manager Douglas Masterson on technical@gai.org.uk.