[Update] Government guidance updated for close contact services in England
[Update July 14]: The guidance for close contact services in England has been updated ahead of step four in the Government's roadmap, due to start on Monday, July 19. Masks and visors will no longer be mandatory.
The key changes that beauty salons, spas and mobile/home-based therapists need to be aware of are:
- "From Step 4 there is no longer a legal requirement for staff and customers to wear face coverings in retail or close contact service settings".
- However, the guidance still recommends "encouraging the use of face coverings by workers or customers in enclosed spaces" as a valid way to reduce the risk of the virus spreading through droplets.
The guidance states: "In close contact services, having considered the risk of Covid-19, you may decide that in your premises you’re going to ask clients or staff to wear a face covering, especially where practitioners are conducting treatments which require them to be in close proximity to a person’s face, mouth and nose.
"When deciding whether you will ask workers or customers to wear a face covering, you would need to consider the reasonable adjustments needed for staff and clients with disabilities. You would also need to consider carefully how this fits with other obligations to workers and customers arising from the law on employment rights, health and safety and equality legislation."
It also states: "Where you’re already using PPE in your work activity to protect against non-COVID-19 risks, you should keep doing so. Any use of PPE should be determined by an assessment of risks in the workplace."
Until July 19, salons and therapists must follow the current guidance.
The previous update on May 17 included these key changes:
- Since May, salons have been allowed to provide reading materials, such as newspapers and magazines, in client waiting areas
- They have been allowed to provide refreshments in line with the guidance for restaurants, pubs, and bars.
- Saunas and steam rooms were allowed to reopen.
Prior to this, the Government's official guidance for close contact services, including beauty salons, spas and therapists, was previously updated on March 30, 2021, ahead of the April 12 reopening date, with new rules around ventilation and testing.
The guidance included additional information on:
Ventilation should be used as a control measure to reduce the risk of aerosol transmission of Covid-19 in enclosed spaces. Ventilation will not reduce the risk of droplet or surface transmission, so other control measures such as cleaning and social distancing are also required.
There are different ways of providing ventilation, including mechanical ventilation using fans and ducts, natural ventilation which relies on passive flow through openings (doors, windows, vents) or a combination of the two.
The risk of transmission is greater in spaces that are poorly ventilated. HSE guidance on ventilation and air conditioning explains how to identify those spaces and steps to take to improve ventilation.
It’s important that you continue to put measures in place to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission, including maintaining social distancing, frequent cleaning, good hygiene and adequate ventilation, even if your employees have:
- Received a recent negative test result
- Had the vaccine (either one or two doses).
Where you are providing testing on site, you should ensure that workplace testing is carried out in a safe manner and in an appropriate setting where control measures are in place to manage the risk of Covid-19 transmission during the testing process. These include maintaining social distancing where possible, frequent cleaning, good hygiene and adequate ventilation.
You should also ensure that an appropriate setting is available for individuals to wait in while their test is processed.
Anyone with coronavirus symptoms was also allowed to get a free NHS test.
Requirements for collecting data for Test and Trace
Close contact services businesses must:
Display the official NHS QR code poster. Official NHS QR posters can be generated online.
Ask every customer or visitor aged 16 and over to check in to your venue or provide their contact details. Individuals can check in quickly and easily using the NHS Covid-19 app to scan in the NHS QR code poster.
Have a system in place to ensure that you can collect information from your customers and visitors who do not have a smartphone or do not want to use the NHS Covid-19 app. You must keep this data for 21 days and provide it to NHS Test and Trace, if it is requested. Check what data you need to collect and how it should be managed.
Reminder of the Government's Roadmap
The update also included a reminder of the Roadmap set out by the Government on February 22, 2021, which stated how Covid-19 restrictions will be eased over four steps.
The roadmap set out indicative, "no earlier than" dates for the steps which are five weeks apart. The updated guidance reminded the beauty sector that it takes around four weeks for the data to reflect the impact of the previous step and the government will provide a further week’s notice to individuals and businesses before making changes.
The November 2020 update included:
Simplified guidance on PPE: this must take the form of a clear visor or goggles as well as a Type II face mask: a medical face mask made up of a protective 3-ply construction that prevents large particles from reaching the client or working surfaces.
Visors must fit the user and be worn properly. They should cover the forehead, extend below the chin, and wrap around the side of the face. Re-usable visors must be cleaned and disinfected between each client using normal cleaning products.
Goggles may be used as an alternative to a clear visor, when worn with a Type II face mask. To be worn in place of a clear visor, goggles must be close fitting with no obvious openings or vents that would otherwise allow droplets to enter the eyes. Reusable eye protection should be cleaned according.
All clients must wear a face covering unless removal is essential to perform a treatment. However, some people don’t have to wear a face covering including for health, age or equality reasons.
By law businesses must remind people to wear face coverings where they are required, for instance using signage or verbal reminder.
There was also an updated section on risk assessment. As well as calculating how many clients you can have within your salon, and limiting appointment durations in order to reduce infection risk, employers should also ensure any changes to entrances, exits and queue management take into account reasonable adjustments for those who need them, including disabled clients.
The update also included recommendations for ventilating your business. This can differ for different premises, so check the HSE advice on ventilation for information on the best course of action to take.
Additionally, you should also consider ways to protect the extremely vulnerable. The higher-risk groups include those who:
- Are older males
- Have a high body mass index (BMI)
- Have health conditions such as diabetes
- Are from some Black, Asian or minority ethnicity (BAME) backgrounds
The advice also included providing support for workers around mental health and wellbeing. This could include advice or telephone support.
Steps to take in an outbreak: as part of your risk assessment, you should have a plan if there is a Covid-19 outbreak in your business. It should nominate a single point of contact who should be responsible for contacting local Public Health teams.
If there are more than five cases of Covid-19 within 14 days associated with your business, you should contact your local PHE health protection team to report the outbreak.
The update before that (September 2020) included:
Goggles can now be worn as an alternative to face visors. However, a Type II face mask must still be worn by all practitioners. Goggles must be polycarbonate safety spectacles or equivalent.
Clients can now be given hot or cold drinks, providing they are served in disposable cups or bottles. They can only remove their face coverings to drink and must keep them on elsewhere in salon. Food, however, remains off the menu.
In addition, Test and Trace is now mandatory. Salons and therapists must have a system in place that collects the client’s name, phone number, the date and time of their visit, as well as the details of the person who provided the service.
Allowing clients into your premises who have not provided details is now considered an offence and will come with a fine.
This update in England comes after face coverings for people in shops and enclosed spaces became mandatory in Wales.
You can read the Government's updated guidance for close contact services here.
To help you weather the storm while your beauty salon, spa or mobile/home-based business adjusts to the "new normal", we’ve rounded up the best resources to get you through this tough time. Check out our Coronavirus Support Guide.