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Gloucestershire Business News

Safety warning as country heads back to work

England is starting to head back to work today with updated government coronavirus guidelines urging people who cannot work from home to return.

But employers have been warned they face prosecution if their premises, mainly in the construction and manufacturing industries, are not made COVID-19 secure.

Among further measures designed to get the economy moving again, the Government has lifted the ban on property viewings for house buyers and renters.

And after Chancellor Rishi Sunak extended the Job Retention Scheme - which places workers on furlough on 80 per cent of their pay - by four months until the end of October, the self-employed can can start applying for grants of up to £7,500 under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Coronavirus: How to prepare your business to return safely 

But social distancing rules remaining in place with businesses told to provide adequate hygiene measures such as face masks or hand sanitiser.

The Health and Safety Executive says it could use legal force if those guidelines are ignored.

Chief executive Sarah Albon said: "Inspectors can require businesses to do certain things - enforcement notices, requiring them to take particular kinds of action.

"In the most extreme circumstances if there is a risk of serious injury to an individual employee they can issue a notice which prohibits certain activities from taking place.

"Breach of those kind of enforcement notices is essentially a criminal offence and we can prosecute people who fail to do the right thing."

Gloucestershire businesses warned cleanliness of premises has to be a top priority 

The HSE's budget has been increased by 10 per cent to cover equipment, more inspections and extra call centre staff.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady described the guidelines as a "step in the right direction".

She said: "All employees must now carry out and publish risk assessments in consultation with unions and their workforces."

As long as you observe social distancing guidelines, from today you can:

  • Travel to work if you cannot work from home. Avoid public transport if possible with advice to wear a face covering if you must use trains or buses.
  • Spend time outdoors.
  • Travel to an outdoor open space with someone from your household.
  • Day trips to an open space in a private vehicle.
  • Meet one person from a different household outdoors.
  • Exercise outdoors as often as you like
  • Use a tennis or a basketball court or a golf course with members of your household or one other person.
  • Go to a garden centre.
  • Students can make a permanent move home.
  • Go to property viewings and visit agents for sales and rentals.
  • Nannies and childminders can come to your house to look after your children provided public health measures are adhered to.

Fines for breaking lockdown rules have increased from £60-£100 with repeat offenders seeing the fine double for each subsequent breach to a maximum of £3,200.

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