Food, safety and licensing COVID information
Although most legal restrictions have been lifted at step 4, and many people have been vaccinated, it is still possible to catch and spread COVID-19, even if you are fully vaccinated, and we are still in the third wave of this pandemic in the UK.
COVID-19 will be a feature of our lives for the foreseeable future, so we need to learn to live with it and manage the risk to ourselves and others.
As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, it is important that we all use personal judgement to manage our own risk. All of us can play our part by exercising common sense and considering the risks. While no situation is risk free, there are actions we can take to protect ourselves and others around us. Following this guidance will help you stay safe and protect others by controlling the spread. Every action to help reduce the spread will reduce any further resurgence of the virus in the coming months.
All businesses should follow the principles set out in the working safely guidance. Whilst the government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can, the government would expect and recommend a gradual return over the summer.
Employers still have a legal duty to manage risks to those affected by their business. The way to do this is to carry out a health and safety risk assessment, including the risk of COVID-19, and to take reasonable steps to mitigate the risks you identify. Working safely guidance sets out a range of mitigations employers should consider including:
- cleaning surfaces that people touch regularly
- identifying poorly ventilated areas in the venue and taking steps to improve air flow
- ensuring that staff and customers who are unwell do not attend the workplace or venue
- communicating to staff and customers the measures you have put in place
Businesses providing animal welfare services should follow the guidance produced by the Canine and Feline Sector Group (CFSG).
If there is a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus in your workplace, please use the Norfolk County Council flowchart which includes the contact details for the Norfolk Outbreak Management Team. A suspected case is anyone with a new continuous cough and/or high temperature and/or a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell.
The Norfolk County Council business toolkit is a free resource available to businesses that includes downloadable posters and signage. Please make use of these to help remind and encourage your staff/customers to comply with the measures in place which help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides advice on completing a risk assessment which includes free risk assessment templates that can be adapted for your business.
Reopening and adapting your food business during COVID-19
The Food Standards Agency has provided guidance for food businesses looking to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sector guidance has been provided to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely in the food sector. A reopening checklist for food businesses, also produced by the Food Standards Agency is an easy to follow tool that allows you to record progress when restarting your food business following a period of closure.
A temporary pavement licence is a licence granted by the local authority which allows the licence-holder to place removable furniture over certain highways next to the premises in relation to which the application was made.
Mobile traders guidance
If you are a mobile food trader and meet the requirements needed to sell takeaway food, you can do so with the landowner’s permission whilst ensuring you are not causing a nuisance (e.g. odour, noise, waste). Trading on the highway, for example in a lay-by is also permitted provided you follow the guidelines issued by Highways.
While takeaway food outlets and traders may be allowed to operate during this time, businesses must ensure that they protect both staff and the public from coronavirus by following the government guidance.
The guidance from government about staying alert and safe and maintaining social distancing rules is very clear. Please help by following the social distancing guidelines and encouraging your customers to do the same.
If you cannot ensure social distancing by your customers, either in queues or when they are eating the takeaway food, for example on nearby benches or in open spaces, you must close your business. This is to protect against the spread of coronavirus. There are posters on the Norfolk County Council website, which may help you to provide information to your customers.
Relaxed planning restrictions for food deliveries
The government has relaxed planning restrictions for pubs, restaurants and cafes at this time to help businesses adapt and support individuals who are staying at home as a result of coronavirus. This in effect means that we won’t investigate any potential breaches in planning during this period.
The government has advised that it will introduce a time limited permitted development right through secondary legislation (negative SI) to allow the temporary change of use of a pub (A4 - drinking establishment) and a restaurant (A3 – restaurants and cafes) to a hot food take away for a period of up to 12 months only.
Businesses will be required to tell us when the new use begins and ends. If alcohol is to be sold and delivered, this is a licensable activity and cannot take place unless an existing licence is in force which permits you to do so.
You must ensure that allergen information is provided to the customer regarding any food or drink provided at the point of ordering, and with the order itself. Separate, clean food-grade containers should be used for food in transit and ensure steps are taken to minimise the risk of cross-contamination; store raw and ready-to-eat foods separately and exercise good personal hygiene, including washing hands regularly.
High risk perishable food should be transported at a temperature of 8°C or below; hot ready-to-eat food should be transported in insulated containers to keep the food as hot as possible ensuring you limit the distance travelled. Ensure any frozen food does not defrost. Further information can be found on the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health website.
Whilst we are providing this guidance during the current circumstances, please note that this is subject to change. This advice is provided only in the context of temporary arrangements and any permanent changes may require planning permission.