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New guidance for businesses

The Isle of Man Government has removed any legal requirements for social distancing in our community. All businesses can open as normal.

Businesses will no longer be required to take steps in relation to social distancing, such as encouraging employees to work from home, or limiting the number of customers in shops.

The Government decision to remove requirements for social distancing is based on the fact that there have been no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 for 34 days (as at 23 June 2020) and there are no active cases of COVID-19 on Island. This means that there are now extremely low, and probably zero, levels of virus circulating in the community here.

This does not mean that the risk of COVID-19 has gone away entirely. The main risk is that cases could be imported by people arriving here from areas (including the UK) which still have COVID-19 spreading in their communities. The Government will continue to control that risk as much as possible through border controls and self-isolation for people arriving here.

People who develop symptoms that could be COVID-19 (whether or not they are recent arrivals) should continue to follow guidance to self-isolate and call the COVID testing line on 111 for clinical assessment of their symptoms and to arrange a test if appropriate. The Department of Health and Social Care will continue to offer tests to groups of people with no symptoms (e.g. people attending Nobles Hospital for non-COVID related reasons) to monitor whether there is virus circulating here without causing illness. DHSC will also continue with the antibody testing programme to measure how many people have been infected here since the start of the pandemic. The Contact Tracing Service will remain in place in order to respond rapidly should a new case be reported. This will enable sporadic cases to be managed without setting off renewed spread more widely through the community.

Whilst COVID-19 is spreading anywhere in the world, it will remain a potential risk for the foreseeable future and you must manage this risk in the same way you would manage any other risk to your staff or customers, in line with Health & Safety legislation. You may wish to continue to implement some enhanced hygiene and social distancing measures should this be deemed an appropriate and proportionate way to manage risks. You are encouraged to remain vigilant: in the event of an increase in infections, the Isle of Man Government may choose to re-implement social distancing, including physical distancing requirements. You should prepare plans for how your business could accommodate such changes, in case they are required. You are likely to already have records of visitors in place, and it may be useful to review your record-keeping, should this be required for contact-tracing purposes.

Some of your employees and customers may be anxious about the removal of social distancing requirements. You may wish to consider putting in place measures to reassure these people while your business transitions back from social distancing. If your workplace has been closed, you may wish to consider having the area fully cleaned and should consider the Health & Safety implications of workplaces potentially being unattended. This includes ensuring that any out-of-date stock is disposed of safely. Consider the risk of legionella in water systems and conduct a suitable risk assessment.

The following guidance may be of use:

People with COVID-19 symptoms should continue to self-isolate and refer to or COVID 111 for advice.

If an employee or customer becomes unwell on the premises and believes they may have COVID-19, they must:

  • Go home, self-isolate and complete the online assessment tool.  If their symptoms indicate possible COVID-19, the tool will advise them to contact 111.  111 will provide clinical assessment, offer testing if appropriate and provide guidance on self-isolation.  If they are advised (through the self-assessment tool or 111) that the symptoms are not possible COVID-19, they do not need to self-isolate and can return to work when they feel well enough. If they’re waiting to be picked up to go home, they should stay in a designated room at least 1 metre away from others and if possible open a window for ventilation. If the weather permits, remain outside but at least 1 metre away from others.
  • Cordon off the area that person was working in; an area 1 metre from each point around a workstation/desk would suffice.
  • Cleaners should be contacted to clean all surfaces that the person has been in touch with as soon as possible (especially the cordoned off area and high-traffic areas such as, kitchens, communal break-out area, toilets, etc.).

If the person indicates that they have been near someone infected with COVID-19 or if they later test positive for COVID-19:

  • Arrangements should be made for the premises and communal facilities to be temporarily closed to be decontaminated. Dependent on the cleaning process, in most cases the office will be able to be re-opened and functioning the day after the decontamination is carried out. High risk or close contacts of a positive case as assessed by the Contact Tracing Team (CTT) will be contacted by the CTT who will advise and monitor them through the self-isolation period.