Business Healthy Newsletter, 13 July 2021

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Updates for businesses

Employers want to keep their staff informed about the COVID-19 pandemic. There is lots of information and misinformation out there, so please ensure that any advice or guidance you are sharing only comes from a reputable source, such as the GOV.UK website.

This information was accurate at the time of sending the newsletter, but the situation is changing and the most up to date information and guidance can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Employers must continue to follow health and safety workplace guidance for their sector, and to refuse entry to their workplace/ premises for workers, visitors or customers who are displaying symptoms of COVID-19.


Advice to businesses ahead of Step 4 of the Roadmap – free webinar: Wednesday 14 July, 2-3pm

The City of London Corporation and Hackney Council Public Health and Environmental Health teams will be hosting a free webinar providing advice to local businesses of all sizes and sectors on Wednesday 14 July, 2-3pm, online.

Please join to hear about what you can do after 19 July to keep your staff, visitors and customers healthy and safe.

The webinar will cover:

  • The current COVID-19 situation
  • Step 4: regulations, guidance, Infection Prevention Control and Health and Safety, testing and vaccines
  • Looking ahead to autumn and winter
  • Supporting staff health and wellbeing during hybrid working

There will also be opportunities to ask questions to the speakers.

Speakers include Dr Sandra Husbands – Director of Public Health, and Chris Lovitt – Deputy Director of Public Health for the City and Hackney.

Register your place through this form: (registrations will close at 10am on Wednesday 14 July).


Supporting workers who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) to COVID-19

People who have been identified as being Clinically Extremely Vulnerable to COVID-19, and who had previously been asked to “shield”, have been advised by Government to take extra precautions from 19 July, as they are at higher risk of severe illness from the disease.

The guidance reiterates that employers have a legal responsibility to protect their employees and others from risks to their health and safety, and so reasonable adjustments to reduce risks in the workplace must be considered.

This guidance applies whether they have received one or two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, or none. Read the full document here.


Preventing, managing, and reporting COVID-19 outbreaks within your workplace

All settings, such as offices, shops, and hospitality venues, should have a designated COVID-19 “Single Point of Contact”, who is responsible for ensuring proper infection prevention and control measures, such as COVID-19-specific risk assessments – are in place.

The Single Point of Contact (SPoC) is also responsible for reporting incidents and outbreaks within their setting to Public Health England’s London Coronavirus Response Cell (PHE LCRC) and to the Local Authority. Both PHE LCRC and the Local Authority can provide support to the SPoC as and where required.

Information about the roles and responsibilities of SPoCs, PHE LCRC and the Local Authority across a range of different settings, including workplaces, retail and close contact services, takeaway outlets, and restaurants, bars, and dine-in cafes, is outlined in a series of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) available on the City Corporation’s COVID-19 Local Outbreak Prevention and Management webpage. This also includes key contact details.

Please note that the content of these SOPs is in the process of being updated in line with Step 4 of the roadmap.

For any queries relating to the SOPs or COVID-19 outbreak management, please email


Financial support for employees

A £500 Test and Trace Support Payment is available for people on low incomes, who can’t work from home and will lose income as a result of self-isolating because they or their household have COVID-19 symptoms, have tested positive, or have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. Full details can be found here.

Self-Isolation Service Hub

This is a telephone line for employers and establishments to provide to NHS Test & Trace with a list of people who have been identified as contacts of a case of COVID-19 in their establishment, and therefore who must self-isolate.

It is critical that employers follow up and call 020 3743 6715 as soon as they have had a positive case in their establishment (and every time thereafter), because all contacts identified are then formally logged with NHS Test & Trace. This allows those contacts who are eligible to receive a self-isolation support payment from their home Local Authority.  Without the NHS Test & Trace reference, they cannot receive financial support.

Employers will need the CTAS ID of the person who had a positive case, in order to be able to record the contacts from your establishment, and will be asked to collect this from the employee/person at their establishment who tested positive as soon as they receive it. This means the employer will be able to call the hub without delay, to be able to support their employees and visitors at the earliest opportunity.


Continuing to share preventative messages about “Hands, Face, Space, Fresh Air”

Consider the airborne risks of COVID-19. Ventilation is just as important as washing hands, wearing a face covering, and keeping distance, to stopping the spread of coronavirus. Good fresh air circulation in workplaces and other businesses can help to further minimise transmission, as can avoiding face to face meetings indoors.

If a staff member (or someone in their household), or a visitor to your premises has symptoms of COVID-19, you must turn them away.

Please help us to continue to share “hands, face, space, fresh air” messages with your workforce. Downloadable posters with information on handwashing, keeping your distance, face coverings and more, can be accessed here.

An NHS video on the best way to wash your hands can be viewed here. Please watch and share and keep sharing.


COVID-19 testing for workplaces

Accessing free rapid COVID-19 tests for staff without symptoms

Twice-weekly rapid testing of staff without symptoms is a useful tool in helping to keep staff and customers safe, and minimise disruption to business operations, including needing to close down the premises.

Rapid COVID-19 tests are free and available to everyone in England without symptoms of COVID-19. They are quick and simple to do and provide results in 30 minutes.

One in three people with COVID-19 don’t show any symptoms and could be spreading the virus without knowing.  Alongside other infection prevention control measures, such as wearing of face coverings, maintaining distance, ventilating spaces, regular washing of hands, and using QR codes to check in, rapid testing is a valuable tool to stop the transmission of COVID-19, and should be followed by everyone, whether they have received a COVID-19 vaccination, or not.

Employers are highly encouraged to have a form of rapid testing regime in place for their workforce. City workers are encouraged as much as possible to test at or near to home, before travelling to their place of work, and to record the result, whether positive or negative.

City businesses can collect free home rapid testing kits for their staff from the COVID-19 Testing Site (Aldermanbury, London, EC2V 7HH). There’s no need to pre-order, just turn up between 9am and 3.15pm, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Up to 54 kits (containing 7 tests each) can be collected at any one time, and businesses will be asked to provide some basic details upon collection.

There are lots of ways City businesses and their workforce can access free rapid COVID-19 tests. To find out more, visit the City of London Corporation website.

Anyone receiving a positive result from a lateral flow (rapid) test will need to undertake a follow-up confirmatory PCR test within two days.

Posters and other promotional materials to help share information about rapid COVID-19 tests can be accessed on the PHE website.


PCR testing for people with symptoms

If you have any symptoms of COVID-19: a high temperature, new continuous cough, or a loss/ change to your sense of taste or smell, you must self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test to check whether you have COVID-19 or not. PCR tests can be booked here, or by calling 119. There is a testing centre, at 65A Basinghall Street (EC2V 5DZ), which is open seven days a week, 8am-8pm.


COVID-19 employer testing duty

If you are an employer that requires staff to travel regularly across UK borders – in jobs that qualify for travel exemptions – you must take reasonable steps to facilitate your employees to take tests (a rapid test for those without symptoms, and a PCR for those with symptoms).

Detailed guidance can be found on the GOV.UK website.


COVID-19 vaccines and the workforce

Employers have an important role to play in helping their workforce – employees and those working on their sites – to get the vaccine when they are invited to by the NHS. This includes sharing accurate information and FAQs, from a trustworthy source, about the vaccine and its benefits, and providing time off to attend their vaccine appointments, for example.

Anyone in England aged 18+ is able to get a COVID-19 vaccine, whether they are registered with a GP or not.

Useful resources:

  • The CIPD has produced some useful resources for employers on the COVID-19 vaccine and the workplace, outlining the role that employers can and should play in encouraging and facilitating the vaccination of their workforce, and the legal considerations they must address.
  • The East London Health and Care Partnership website has a set of comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions on the COVID-19 vaccine – feel free to share them more widely.
  • Professor Chris Whitty – England’s Chief Medical Officer – delivered a lecture to the City of London’s Gresham College, focusing on the central role that vaccines play in healthcare and in tackling an increasing range of diseases, including COVID-19 and cancer. Access it here.
  • The Government has issued a press release on ways in which large employers, including Metro Bank, have been supporting their workforce to get vaccinated.


COVID-19 vaccination site in the City of London

Boots pharmacy at 120 Fleet Street (EC4A 2BE) is the Square Mile’s dedicated NHS COVID-19 vaccination site, and is offering free vaccinations to City workers and residents.

An appointment must be booked before turning up, by visiting or ringing 119.

In addition to vaccination, existing infection prevention control measures remain crucial.


Thought of the Week

“COVID-19 has raised ‘wellness’ up the agendas of corporations like never before – and not always in a good way. Many companies have introduced exercise classes, fruit and other sticking-plaster solutions, rather than measures that assess risk, focus on prevention and prioritise ‘decent work’ as a driver of both wellbeing and productivity…

In trying to improve worker wellness…here are some things [companies] should keep in mind:

  1. Health and productivity can and must coexist
  2. Lifestyle evangelism is no substitute for decent work
  3. Context is everything
  4. Employers: beware of ‘fool’s gold'”

– Stephen Bevan, Head of HR Research Development at the Institute for Employment Studies, Lancaster University, shares his thoughts on how employers can meaningfully support staff health and wellbeing.

The What Works Centre for Wellbeing has a wide range of useful and evidence-based resources for employers, including strengthening the understanding of wellbeing at work and its drivers, measuring employee wellbeing, and assessing the cost-effectiveness of workplace wellbeing interventions.


Free resources and webinars

“Acting quickly to prevent suicides” webinar, Thursday 15 July, 9-9.45am

In light of a number of suicide-related incidents that have recently taken place in the Square Mile,  the City of London Corporation and London Samaritans are hosting a short,  free, and open-access webinar on acting quickly to prevent suicides.

The webinar will be delivered online and will provide a brief overview of the current situation, as well as how to identify when someone may be in suicidal crisis, as well practical insights on what – and what not – to do to best assist them.

It is suitable for anyone working or studying in the City of London, no matter their level of understanding of suicide prevention or mental health awareness.

To find out more and to register, please visit the Business Healthy website.


Training on HIV awareness and prevention

Positive East is an organisation commissioned by the City of London Corporation and Hackney Council to provide HIV prevention and support services to our local populations, and works closely with a wide range of groups, including LGBTQ+ people and Black African communities.

As part of its offer, Positive East delivers a range of training courses through the year; upcoming sessions may be of interest to your organisation:

Positive East are able to deliver training sessions to City firms about HIV awareness and prevention. To find out more about this offer, please email us here.

You may also be interested in this recording of a webinar hosted by Fast-Track Cities London and The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, marking 40 years since the first description of AIDS, and exploring the progress that has been made in treatment for HIV.

Accessing sexual health support in the City of London

Anyone working, living or studying in the City can access sexual health advice and support locally, for example at 80 Leadenhall in the Square Mile. Services available also include free PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), which is a tablet taken by people who are HIV-negative, to reduce their risk of getting the virus. Find out more about the services available and how to access them here.


Travel guidance for businesses, from Transport for London

While some people will continue to work from home, others may be planning a return to the office over the coming weeks and months.

Transport for London (TfL) has created travel guidance for businesses, which includes information on how TfL is working to keep customers safe and secure on its network (including its cleaning regimes and ventilation systems).

It also has guides on encouraging travel outside of peak times, flexible travel and fares, information about active modes of travel (walking and cycling), cycle parking and specific guidance for those working in areas of concentrated construction activity, including the City.

Some workers may not have used public transport for a long time, especially not during busier periods of the day, and TfL has recommended the following to support them to feel more confident and comfortable:

  • For the first few weeks, travel at quiet times and gradually build up to using busier services, if travelling off-peak is not possible
  • Wait on the platform for quieter trains, the back of the train is normally the quietest
  • Look at alternative routes, at least for part of the journey; can you alight a stop earlier and walk, or vice versa? Can you walk instead? Think about cycling instead, using the Santander bike hire scheme.
  • Thameslink across London can provide some really good alternative journey opportunities, providing more personal space.
  • Make sure you eat breakfast before travelling, even if it’s something light. Sometimes panic attacks or fainting can occur if someone hasn’t eaten and their blood sugar level is low.

TfL has also made available its “Go” app, which has a range of features, including showing which Tube lines are busy.


“The Aging Population: Why it’s time to take notice” – employer guide from Aon

Aon has published a guide for employers on the aging workforce, from an employee benefits perspective. This guide looks at projections relating to an aging population and what this means for their workforce and customers. Access the guide here.


Supporting the “hidden” workforce

“Hidden” workers, such as security guards, cleaners, and people working in hospitality and retail may have different requirements when it comes to their health and wellbeing while at work, compared with colleagues who are desk-based.

These two articles  – one on “Looking after security guards’ wellbeing with technology” and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of retail staff provide some useful insights into challenges that workers in routine, service and manual roles may face, and practical steps that employers can take to address them.


And finally…

Congratulations to the Bow Bells Association, which hosted its first Street Party for local businesses on 24 June, supported by the Cheapside Business Alliance. Many businesses from the City’s historic Bow Lane, Watling Street, and Well Court areas  – as well as their patrons  – celebrated the reopening of the Square Mile, with street entertainment, socially distanced smiles, and more. The Lord Mayor Alderman William Russell also attended this vibrant event.

Cheapside Business Alliance Ambassadors join guests of the Bow Bells Association Street Party

Cheapside Business Alliance Ambassadors join guests of the Bow Bells
Association Street Party

Guests of the Bow Bells Association Street Party enjoyed live music performances

Guests of the Bow Bells Association Street Party enjoyed live music performances

Street entertainment at the Bow Bells Association Street Party

Street entertainment at the Bow Bells Association Street Party

Xenia Koumi

Xenia is a Public Health Specialist at the City of London Corporation and leads the Business Healthy programme