Business Healthy Newsletter, 17 February 2021

This newsletter is designed to provide a roundup of news, updates and information that may be useful in helping you to keep your workforce healthy and well. It is written in a way to make it easy for you to cut and paste content to share across your internal communications channels. If there is a way we can make this easier, please let us know here.

Business Healthy is funded and delivered by the City of London Corporation’s Public Health team, supporting the City Corporation’s statutory obligations to ensure the health and wellbeing of the more than half a million people who work in the Square Mile each day.

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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 please bear in mind that 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. This includes encouraging workers who can do so effectively to work from home during the winter. The measures employers put in place to maintain social distancing and other preventative measures – such as the need for staff and visitors/ customers to wear face coverings – will depend on their individual business circumstances, including their working environment, the size of the site and the number of workers. The guidance will support employers to make an informed decision and extra consideration should be given to those people at higher clinical risk.

In addition, there are penalties for employers who threaten self-isolating staff with redundancy if they do not come into work.

For individuals needing to attend the workplace, employers should encourage them to follow guidance on travelling safely during the coronavirus outbreak, which includes considering all other forms of transport before using public transport, avoiding the busiest times and routes, maintaining social distance, wearing a face covering when travelling on public transport and washing or sanitising hands regularly.

Workplaces with more than 50 employees invited to set up rapid COVID-19 testing on their own sites

The Government has announced that businesses with more than 50 employees are now able to apply to be able to deliver rapid (lateral flow) COVID-19 testing on their own sites.

Rapid COVID-19 tests are available for people without coronavirus symptoms, who cannot work from home and who are working in public-facing roles, or those in security, health or social care, cleaning, and facilities management, or those that attend courts. They provide same-day results. Recommended testing frequency is every three to five days.

Around one in three people with COVID-19 have no symptoms. The aim of rapid testing for people without symptoms is to proactively identify positive cases among the workforce as early as possible, to enable self-isolation where required and therefore minimise harm to health and also to business operations.

By making rapid COVID-19 testing available at their place of work, it is hoped that this will help businesses and workers alike to access rapid testing more easily and frequently.

Businesses interested in setting up rapid COVID-19 testing on their sites can register directly via this form. If they are deemed eligible by Government, they will be invited to take part in an introductory webinar and supported with follow-up steps.

Rapid COVID-19 testing is available to all eligible City workers and volunteers at the 80 Leadenhall Street site in the Square Mile, as well as other local locations. Appointments must be booked in advance, via this portal.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms (a new, persistent cough, high temperature, or loss/ change in their sense of smell/ taste) can access a PCR test by visiting, or by calling 119. There is a testing centre, at Guildhall Yard (EC2V 5AA), which is open seven days a week, 8am-8pm.

Promoting rapid (lateral flow) COVID-19 testing to your eligible workforce

Public Health England has made a series of posters available to download, which are aimed at encouraging workers in routine, service and manual roles – such as commercial cleaners, delivery drivers, retail assistants, construction workers,  and other key/ frontline workers – to get tested regularly for COVID-19 if they do not have symptoms of coronavirus.

The posters can be accessed on the PHE Campaign Resource Centre website for displaying on your premises and sharing with your workforce. In addition, these posters have been translated into a range of different languages, including Polish and Slovak – available here.

Alongside sharing these resources you may also like to signpost workers to book a rapid test at the centre in the City at 80 Leadenhall, or to use the postcode look-up tool to find the nearest centre to where they live.

COVID-19 vaccine: What does it mean for employers?

The COVID-19 vaccination programme continues across the UK, and is an important tool in bringing the pandemic to an end. It does, however, raise some questions for employers around how vaccines fit in with workplace health and safety requirements, as well as wider employment regulations and laws.

The CIPD has produced some useful resources for employers 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. These include:

Employers can be influential in encouraging – rather than compelling – their staff to take up the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s offered to them, whether that’s by signposting them to clear and evidence-based information about the vaccine (such as sharing information from reputable sources such as the NHS and local health and care partners, and promoting events such as the one listed below), promoting the benefits of vaccination, assisting them to take time off work to get vaccinated, and providing sick leave in case mild side effects are experienced. In addition to vaccination, existing infection prevention control measures remain crucial.

Online “Community Conversation” event on COVID-19 and the vaccine, for our local Black communities

City workers are invited to attend a free online “Community Conversation” event on COVID-19 and the vaccine, taking place on the evening of Thursday 18 February, 5.30-7.30pm and aimed at our local Black communities.

The session is hosted by the City and Hackney Healthcare Partnership, with the panel featuring community leaders, including Director of Public Health for the City and Hackney – Dr Sandra Husbands and Professor Donald Palmer – Associate Professor of Immunology at the Royal Vetinary College, University of London, among others.

This is a chance to have honest conversations and to ask the questions you want answers to with regards to COVID-19 and the vaccine. To find out more and to register, visit the Eventbrite page.

Further FAQs resources about the COVID-19 vaccine

  • 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 on 10 February, looking at the central role that vaccines play in healthcare and in tackling an increasing range of diseases, including COVID-19 and cancer. Through the lecture he seeks to adress four key questions around vaccination: when is a disease worth vaccinating against? How likely is the vaccination to work? What about side effects? And how should they be deployed? Access the online lecture here.

Returning to work after a positive COVID-19 test result

Workers who have received a positive Covid-19 test are able to return to the workplace after ten days from when their symptoms started, or after ten days from taking the test, as long as:

  • they have not developed symptoms during that time and are feeling well
  • they have not been instructed by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate as they have been identified as a contact as someone else who has tested positive and/ or they are not required to self-isolate because a member of their household has tested positive

Provided these conditions are met, as outlined in the Government’s guidance for workplaces, employers should not require their staff to receive a negative test before returning to the workplace. This is because there is a chance that they may continue to test positive over the next 90 days (despite not having the virus or being infectious). It is therefore not appropriate for workplaces to require a negative test result for return to work.

Expansion of the definition of Clinically Extremely Vulnerable to COVID-19 (“shielding”) criteria

The Government has expanded its definition of the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable to COVID-19 criteria, and is sending letters to notify eligible individuals and advise them to shield.

people who are defined as clinically extremely vulnerable are thought to be at very high risk of serious illness from coronavirus. There are three ways someone may be identified as clinically extremely vulnerable:

  • They have one of the conditions listed on the GOV.UK website
  • Their clinician or GP has added them to the Shielded Patient List because, based on their clinical judgement, they deem them to be at high risk of serious illness if they catch the virus
  • They have been identified through the COVID-19 Population Risk Assessment as potentially being at high risk of serious illness if they catch the virus

People who have been asked to shield are strongly advised by Government to work from home, and that if they cannot work from home, then they should not attend work. Further information about reasonable adjustments, furloughing and financial support available in this instance can be found within the “Work” section in the Government guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19.

Preventing and managing 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.

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

Financial support for employees

A £500 Isolation 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”

Employers are asked to consider the increase in cases among working-age adults and to continue to share and reiterate messages with their employees, visitors and customers about the importance of following preventative measures to stop the spread of coronavirus. This includes minimising the number of unnecessary visits to offices, for example for meetings and by revising schedules for contractors delivering services, as outlined here.

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.

Preventative measures, such as regular handwashing (“hands”), wearing a face covering (“face”) and distancing (“space”), are the best ways to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Please help us to continue to share these messages.

Downloadable PHE 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. Thorough handwashing is one of the most effective ways to help stop the infection from spreading.


Samaritans’ findings on the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic

Samaritans has provided emotional support over 1.2 million times since March 2020. Taking insights drawn from its helpline usage over this time, it has published a series of brief updates on their findings of the pandemic on the mental health of some key groups that they serve, and who had already been identified as particularly high-risk of self-harm and suicide prior to March 2020. These are middle-aged men, young people (aged 16 to 24) who self-harm, and people with pre-existing mental health conditions.

Read this short blog on the Business Healthy website, which looks at these findings, as well as the support services available to City workers to assist their mental health and wellbeing.

Business Healthy will be delivering its next Suicide Prevention Awareness session for the City’s business community, in partnership with Samaritans volunteers, on the morning of Thursday 25 February. Only a few places remain; to find out more and to register your interest, please visit the Eventbrite page.


Thought of the Week

“The evidence is clear, Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and COVID-19 share common underlying risk factors. People with pre-existing CVD, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure are not only at greater risk of having a heart attack, stroke or developing some forms of dementia, but are known to experience more severe outcomes from COVID-19, including hospitalisation, ventilation and death. From March 2020 to January 2021, COVID-19 was one of the contributing causes of more than 2,750 CVD deaths.

As the impact of COVID-19 continues to be assessed, it’s possible that we will also begin to see the impact of delayed access to the management of cardiovascular diseases.”

Katherine Thompson, PHE’s Head of CVD Prevention Programmes and Lisa Thompson, PHE’s Programme Manager for NHS Health Check and Healthy Communities – write for Public Health England’s “Public Health Matters” blog on “Cardiovascular Disease: Building Back Better”

Expert Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) prevention online sessions led by St Bart’s Heart Centre’s Consultant Cardiologists are now available for City businesses and their workers. Their aim is to reduce the CVD risk in the local community and within the City’s workforce.

These sessions form part of wider work being undertaken by the East London Prevention Group (ELoPE) from Barts Health NHS Trust, in partnership with the British Heart Foundation, on raising awareness of CVD prevention across the community, including in schools and other settings.

Webinars are part of a series delivered, and include sessions on “How to prevent a heart attack”, for example.

There is no set fee, but firms will be asked to make a donation in return for the session delivery to help raise funds for this important initiative.

If your firm would like to benefit from this excellent and unique offer, please email the Business Healthy team.


What’s on?

City BIDs’ Virtual Wellbeing Series, 15 February – 19 March

The City’s Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and Parnerships – Aldgate Connect BID, Cheapside Business Alliance, Eastern Cluster Partnership, and Fleet Street Quarter – have teamed up to deliver several weeks’ of events from some great local businesses, in a Virtual Wellbeing Series.

Activities include mindfulness workshops, creative classes, food and drink sessions, workouts, tours of the City, and more. It’s a great opportunity to connect online with colleagues.

Spaces for some of the activities are limited, so book early to avoid disappointment.

Further information about the series and booking can be found on the Aldgate Connect BID website.

Creating a blueprint for the future of the Square Mile

The City of London Corporation’s Recovery Taskforce is inviting City workers, businesses, residents, students and visitors to share their thoughts on what the future of the Square Mile could and should look like through a short online survey. They are keen to hear from as many people as possible, from a wide range of backgrounds and communities.

The findings of the survey will shape plans for how the Square Mile can remain internationally competitive and locally vibrant. The Recovery Taskforce’s mission is to ensure the Square Mile is the world’s most innovative, inclusive and sustainable business ecosystem, and an attractive place to work, live, learn and visit.

The survey closes on Thursday 25 February. Please share with your colleagues and contacts.

Dragon Cafe in the City online sessions, fortnightly on Wednesdays

The award-winning Dragon Café in the City continues to deliver its fortnightly online programme of free and creative activities to help City workers and residents to release the pressure.

Joining Dragon Cafe in the City activities is an opportunity to try something new, no matter where you’re working.

For details and to register for the online sessions (Zoom), please visit Dragon Cafe in the City’s website.

A poetry competition celebrating the UK’s key workers

City-based ethical cleaning company – Clean for Good –  is launching a poetry competition – “Poetry for Good” –  aimed at celebrating the UK’s many key workers and the hard work they do, which is often unseen.

Three poets, including Cecilia Knapp – the Young People’s Laureate for London – will be judging the submissions, which can be submitted in three categories: Spoken Word, Written Word, and Growing Word (for short poems written by chilren and young people aged 11 to 15 years).

The deadline to submit is Friday 26 March. Find out more on the Poetry for Good website.


Coming up…

Work, Worklessness, and Wellbeing: COVID-19 and beyond

The Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) is teaming up with Public Health England to deliver a series of free webinars focusing on key issues relating to work, worklessness and wellbeing during the pandemic and beyond. The series is part of a wider project guided by a steering group comprising experts and employers’ organisations.

These webinars are aimed at employers of any size and their employees. Register by clicking on the links below:

“This is Me” 2021 launch event, Wednesday 3 March, 9.30 – 11.00am

This Is Me” is an initiative led by the Lord Mayor’s Appeal, which aims to change attitudes towards mental health in the workplace by reducing stigma, dispelling myths, and raising awareness to improve employee wellbeing.

Since its inception in 2016, over 1,000 organisations across the UK and internationally have registered for This Is Me and have made a commitment to ending the stigma in their workplaces. The initiative is delivered in partnership with Barclays and Samaritans, with support from Business Healthy, the City Mental Health Alliance, Mind, Thrive LDN and more.

Join This Is Me’s 2021 launch event to hear from the Lord Mayor’s Appeal and speakers about the initiative and how it can support your organisation to end the stigma around mental health in your workplace.

This international webinar is open to businesses and organisations in all sectors. it’s aimed at businesses that have not yet registered for This Is Me, or for those that have registered, but are yet to start using This Is Me.

Find out more and RSVP by visiting the registration page.

Don’t forget to order your Green Ribbons for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16 May). More details are available here.


Free and useful resources

Support available to help Londoners manage debt and money worries

According to Thrive LDN, a growing number of Londoners face problem debt and financial insecurity due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. There is free and confidential support available for City workers through the City Corporation-commissioned City Advice service, provided by Toynbee Hall. City Advice can be accessed by calling 020 7392 2919, or by emailing

For staff working elsewhere in the capital, free support can be accessed through Debt Free London (0800 808 5700)  for advice on all types of money worries, including rent, council tax arrears, credit card, and catalogue debt.

A dose of culture: The Great Fire of London 101

Londoners have been through some monumentally difficult times in history – and have thrived despite them. It’s the kind of motivation we all need right now, so head over to the Museum of London’s website to learn everything there is to know about the Great Fire of London. Resources include video streams of how the Great Fire started and ended, common myths surrounding it, and its cultural legacy.