‘Is my business COVID-secure?’ The questions being asked on East Devon’s high streets – and the answers

  Posted: 29.04.21 at 14:42 by Francesca Evans

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After shops and other businesses across East Devon reopened last week, it became clear that many traders still have questions about the measures they need to take to be COVID-secure.

The district council’s COVID compliance officers have been visiting high streets to help businesses keep themselves, and their customers, safe.

Andy Squires is looking after Sidmouth and Exmouth, while Rachel Payne is taking care of Axminster, Honiton and Seaton.

We asked them for the questions that are most commonly put to them on their travels – and the advice they give in response.

Question: Do I have to wear a mask behind the counter?

Answer: Yes, unless you are behind a Perspex screen, in which case a mask is not required. As soon as you come out from behind the screen, a mask must be put on.

Question: Can I refuse someone entry if they don’t wear a mask?

Answer: Government guidance says: ‘Businesses do have a right to deny anyone entry to their premises, irrespective of Covid.’
In the first instance though, shops should not simply refuse entry but are encouraged to ask customers to wear one, bearing in mind some people are exempt.

Shops can refuse entry to anyone without a valid exemption, although people do not need to prove they have an exemption.
Staff should not challenge people on why they are not wearing a mask.

A few shops are saying ‘No mask no entry, but we’ll serve you from the door’ - perfectly reasonable.

Question: How many customers can I have in my shop at once?

Answer: Obviously depends on the size of the shop floor, but there needs to be a two metre circle of space around a customer at all times, paying particular attention to bottlenecks like queuing for the tills, and the entrance and exit.

Question: Do I need a QR code in my shop?

Answer: Retail shops are not included within the scope of the NHS Test and Trace system. This is because customers spend a relatively short time in a retail shop, as opposed to sitting down for 30 minutes plus for food and drink.

Question: Can I wear a visor instead of a face mask?

Answer: No. A face covering must adequately cover the mouth and nose, which a visor does not. A visor can be worn together with a mask, but not instead of one.

Question: What support is there for restaurants/cafes with limited outside spacing if they don’t re-open before Step 3?

Answer: The restart grant is live and whether you open partially (outdoors as of 12 April) or not, this doesn’t affect this grant. Please keep an eye on it at our website.

And another question: Andy is frequently asked if he used to be a policeman?

Answer: Yes, he did!

Visit the government website for the latest guidance here.

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