Business Healthy Newsletter, 9 August 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.

COVID-19 guidance for a wide range of businesses in the City of London

As of 19 July 2021, many of the legal measures in place in England to address the COVID-19 pandemic are removed. However, the legal duties on businesses in terms of health and safety, employment and equalities remain.

Businesses continue to have a legal responsibility to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees, contractors, visitors and customers, and to ensure nobody is harmed by their business activities. COVID-19 remains a workplace hazard and should be considered in this way within the usual risk assessment process.

Limiting the opportunities for COVID-19 to spread among workers and customers also helps to reduce the risk of disruption to business activities, such as having to close if an outbreak occurs.

To support local businesses in reducing risks regards to COVID-19 transmission linked to their business activities, the City Corporation and Hackney Council has made available a series of setting-specific guidance for COVID-19.

These standard operating procedures have been refreshed in light of Step 4 of the COVID-19 Roadmap and cover a range of different settings, including office-based activities, retail and close-contact service businesses, such as hairdressers and beauticians, and gyms and fitness studios.

This guidance can be accessed here, alongside a set of FAQs for businesses, which are available here.

The documents include information on how to report positive cases linked to your workplace, and the support available to you in terms of preventing and managing the spread of COVID-19 within your business.

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

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.

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

Accessing free rapid COVID-19 tests for staff without symptoms

Both PCR and Lateral Flow (rapid) COVID-19 tests are free and provided by the NHS (for non-travel purposes).

PCR tests are for people with symptoms of COVID-19.

One in three people with COVID-19 do not display any symptoms. It is therefore advised that anyone without symptoms of COVID-19 tests twice a week with rapid tests, as this can help people to realise when they are infected and self-isolate quickly without further spreading the virus to others. Ideally, staff and visitors will be testing at or near to home before travelling to the workplace. Results show within 30 minutes.

Regular rapid testing has helped to stop potentially large workplace outbreaks within local businesses and are a recommended control measure.

There are many different ways businesses and their staff can access rapid tests.  For example, there is a local “business collect” service, where businesses can collect bulk orders of home rapid tests for their staff from rapid testing sites in the City of London. For the first order, you will need to visit the site; after this visit you will be given a form to request future orders. More information is available here.

Rapid testing outreach to small hospitality, close-contact services, and retail businesses

Small and independent hospitality, retail, and close-contact service businesses in the City are receiving visits from the local rapid testing outreach team, who are providing information about the benefits of frequent rapid testing of staff, as well as boxes of testing kits. The team are able to answer questions about rapid testing, and can also signpost to additional information and guidance on COVID-19 for workplaces.


Encouraging and supporting workforce vaccination

The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and the best way to protect individuals against severe disease and death from the virus. They can also help to protect others.

While it is not mandatory to get a COVID-19 vaccine, employers have an important role to play in encouraging and supporting staff to get vaccinated. This can include, for example:

The CIPD has published some useful resources on policies and procedures to assist businesses encouraging their staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Please also signpost your staff to local vaccine clinics, for those who would like their first and second dose. There are many clinics taking place through August; just turn up or secure an appointment by calling 119 or visiting The vaccine offer is open to anyone aged 18+. The second dose can be taken 8 to 12 weeks after the first.

For a full list of local vaccine clinics, visit

Anyone living in England, irrespective of their immigration status, has the right to free care from a GP, including support to access the COVID-19 vaccine. Some COVID-19 vaccine clinics and pop-ups are specifically made available for people in vulnerable circumstances  – including migrants  – to access the vaccine, and may also have interpreters available where English language skills are limited.

Information on getting a COVID-19 vaccine if you are not registered with a GP can be accessed here. Information about the COVID-19 vaccine translated into a number of different languages can be accessed here.


Thought of the Week

“One compelling reason to do hybrid work is to improve employee wellbeing, but it must be managed so that employees don’t feel the pressure to be always on. Ultimately, what’s good for the employee is likely to be good for the organisation, and this should inform decisions about future working policies.”

– BT’s whitepaper “From automation to zedonks: the forces shaping the future of the hybrid workplace


Free resources

Transitioning back to the workplace and mental wellbeing

As many workplaces put plans in place for staff to start returning to the workplace, this can be a good opportunity to consider their mental health and wellbeing needs. Many employees may be concerned about returning to work, or a significant change to their routine and ways of working. Face-to-face meetings and busy transport on their commutes may be examples of additional factors that may be causing workers to feel anxious and apprenhensive.

There is a wide range of free support services to signpost your workforce to, to support them to access resources for their mental health and wellbeing.

A full list can be found under the “free services” section here, and include the City Wellbeing Centre, Dragon Cafe in the City, and Able Futures. Able Futures is funded by the Department of Work and Pensions and provides free support to both employees and their employers.

A focus on Women’s Health

Public Health England (PHE) is seeking insights from a wide range of individuals and organisations on women’s reproductive health, to help inform government decision-making and policy.

One of the ways it is doing this is through an online survey about women’s reproductive health experiences. This survey is being used to understand more about women’s reproductive health experiences over time.

The survey is open to women, or individuals who were described as female at birth who are now trans or non-binary, aged between 16 and 55, and who live in England.

Please share this survey with your workforce. The survey and more details about the survey itself and the wider programme of work can be accessed here.

In addition, PHE recently delivered a webinar on “menstrual wellbeing in the workplace”, which can be accessed here (via Microsoft Teams).

Stretch your legs at lunchtime: Sculpture in the City 2021

Sculpture in the City sees the City of London turned into an open-air sculpture park and gallery space, with artworks nestled in among the iconic architecture of the City’s insurance district. The 10th year of Sculpture in the City offers 19 different scultures dotted around the Square Mile, and will be around until spring 2022.

It’s a great way to spend a sunny lunchbreak, get some steps in and see something new. A map of the sculpture locations can be found here.

Lunchtime Streets return in August and September

City streets are transformed into spaces for activities and live music, to celebrate the reopening of businesses and hospitality. Free on-street walking and cycling activities are on offer, including cycle security marking, Dr Bike sessions, and led walks.

Lunchtime Streets is delivered by the City of London Corporation, in partnership with the Cheapside Business Alliance and the Fleet Street Quarter Partnership. Events are being held weekly on Wednesdays in Cheapside, and Thursdays in Carter Lane, between 12 and 2pm, during August and September.

An event programme is available here.

Living healthier lives: Better Health

A nation-wide survey of more than 5,000 adults revealed that over four in ten (41%) of adults in England say they have put on weight since the first lockdown in March 2020. One in five reported putting on a stone or more. Unhealthy eating habits, like snacking and comfort eating, were reported as the main contributor to weight gain during the pandemic.

The vast majority (89%) of adults who said they had gained weight since March 2020 said it was important for them to introduce new healthier habits this summer, with nearly half saying they would like to have a healthier diet.

A new campaign recently launched by Public Health England (PHE)  – “Better Health” – is designed to support and encourage adults across England to lead a healthier lifestyle, including through an improved diet and physical activity.

There are a variety of NHS-endorsed apps to provide support, such as the NHS Weight Loss Plan app. Research from PHE suggests that those who used and followed the NHS Weight Loss Plan app over 12 weeks reported an average loss of almost one stone.

Free apps available to support individuals to make healthier lifestyle changes include:

For more information, visit the Better Health website.


Coming up…

Suicide Prevention Awareness for the City’s business community – Thursday 16 September, 9-11am

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 delivering another short suicide prevention awareness session for the City’s business community.

The session will be delivered online and is open to anyone working in the City, no matter their role, sector, or whether they have undertaken some or no mental health awareness training previously.

To find out more and to register, please visit the Eventbrite page.

World Suicide Prevention Day is on Friday 10 September. Visit the “Resources” section of the Business Healthy website for information and materials for businesses around suicide prevention, including a “guidance on suicide intervention” leaflet.

Know Your Numbers! Week, 6-12 September

Know Your Numbers! Week aims to encourage all adults to get a blood pressure check, to know their blood pressure numbers and take proactive action if needed. An ideal blood pressure is under 120/80mmHg, however 6 million people in the UK have high blood pressure and don’t know it. Getting a regular check can help to us to take proactive steps to look after our blood pressure, to help lead a long and healthy life and avoid strokes, heart attacks, and other illnesses too.

Know Your Numbers! Week is the UK’s biggest blood pressure testing and awareness week, with roughly 1.5 million people getting a free blood pressure check.

Blood Pressure UK has a map on its website where you can locate your nearest Pressure Station for a free blood pressure check.

In addition, anyone in England aged 40 to 72 years old is eligible for a free NHS Health Check, which is a health check-up desgined to spot early signs of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, or dementia. Anyone in this age group without a pre-existing condition should receive a letter from their GP surgery or local council inviting them for a free NHS Health Check every five years. You can also call your GP surgery to book a Health Check, or ask your local pharmacist.

Expert heart health sessions for City workers

Consultant Cardiologists from St Bart’s Heart Centre deliver expert Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) prevention sessions to City businesses and their workforces. The aim is to reduce the risk of CVD in the local community. These webinars are part of a series and include sessions on “How to prevent a heart attack”. For more information, visit the Business Healthy website.

Xenia Koumi

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