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Return to work guidance for retail and leisure businesses

COVID 19 Coronavirus

By Frederick Gentile | March 26, 2021

The following checklist provides guidance for retail and leisure operators on areas to be considered as they resume business following the latest lockdowns across the UK.

The devolved Governments of the United Kingdom have set out dates for when the retail and leisure and hospitality sectors may be able to reopen again, as the vaccine roll-out protects an increasing share of the population.

As we begin to adjust to this new dynamic, we need to consider aspects such as the work environment, health and safety compliance (COVID-19 risk assessment), fire safety management precautions, allied perils and security systems, and health and safety policies.

The following checklist is intended to provide retail and leisure & hospitality operators with suggested areas for immediate consideration as preparations are made to resume business. Our focus is on property and premises, however suggestions on other key risk areas are provided for reference.


Fire safety arrangements in all premises must comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in England and Wales1 or Fire (Scotland) Act 20052 in Scotland; Provisions will include:

  • Fire risk assessment – ensure this is up to date and relevant to the current business activities, for instance storage and use of (highly flammable) hand sanitiser.
  • When switching on mechanical and electrical services that may have not been used for some time, ensure that heating and electrical appliances are clear of combustible items, gas appliances have not been left on and that sink taps and other plumbing devices have not been left open.
  • Automatic fire alarm system – where installed for life safety purposes ensure it is fully functioning (including weekly testing), maintained and any remote signalling system is operational and connected.
  • Means of escape – ensure exit routes are kept clear and doors are unlocked when the property is occupied by staff, guests, visitors or customers. Also ensure emergency signage is present and clearly visible and emergency lighting is tested and operational.
  • Staff training – ensure staff receive refresher training in what to do in the event of fire, including raising the alarm and emergency evacuation.
  • Electrical safety – over age and use, all electrical installations deteriorate and therefore safety checks commonly referred to as “Periodic Inspection and Testing” are required for fixed electrical installation. Five yearly testing intervals are suggested for most commercial properties, but more frequent testing maybe required, such as annually for swimming pools. Ensure fixed electrical wiring testing, thermal imagery (where carried out) and portable appliance testing are all up to date.
  • Cooking – ensure appliance maintenance is up to date (particularly thermostats to regulate temperature of cooking oil), cooker hood filters and grease traps are cleaned and a specialist contractor employed to check the build-up of grease/fat in ventilation ductwork with the full length cleaned, as necessary.
  • Escape of water – after turning on water systems, where possible visibly check pipework/joints for leaks. This is particularly important following the freezing temperatures experienced in parts of the UK over recent months.
  • Building maintenance – inspect accessible areas of the building for signs of damage or deterioration, build-up of leaf and other debris in rainwater guttering and blocked downpipes/drains, stagnant water etc. Effect any necessary repairs to avoid water and other damage.
  • Security – inspect doors and windows for signs of damage and effect any necessary repairs. Where fitted, ensure the intruder alarm system is fully functioning, maintained and any remote signalling operational and connected.

To download the full guidance which also includes sections on: health and safety; human resources; supply chain; defending potential claims and health and wellbeing, please click on either one of the below pdfs.




Kelvyn Sampson
GB Industry Lead- Retail, Leisure and Hospitality

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