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Coronavirus: How to stay safe at work, on transport and visiting shops

Sky News logo Sky News 12/05/2020

Shoppers observe social distancing © Getty Shoppers observe social distancing

As the government introduces measures to ease the lockdown in England, the public are having to adapt again to a new way of life.

But how can more people return to their workplaces, use transport and visit the shops which are allowed to open while still minimising the risk of catching coronavirus?

Here, Sky News looks at the official guidance which the government says will help people stay safe.

Destinations and tourist attractions affected by the coronavirus outbreak


New "COVID-19 secure" guidelines have been issued to UK employers which the government says will "help them get their businesses back up and running and workplaces operating as safely as possible".

The new guidance covers eight workplace settings which are allowed to be open under the new measures for easing the lockdown.

They are: construction and other outdoor work; factories, plants and warehouses; labs and research facilities; offices and contact centres; other people's homes; restaurants offering takeaways or deliveries; shops and branches; and vehicles.

The government says it has five key points for businesses to implement "as soon as it is practical":

  • Work from home if you can - the government says its "message is clear" that people who cannot work from home, and whose workplace has not been told to close, should go to work
  • Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions - the government says employers should publish the results of their risk assessments on their website if possible, and it expects all businesses with more than 50 employees to do so
  • Maintain two-metres social distancing wherever possible - employers should re-design workspaces, stagger start times, create one way walkthroughs, open more entrances and exits, or change seating layouts in break rooms
  • Manage transmission risk where people cannot keep two-metres apart - employers should look into putting barriers in shared spaces, creating shift patterns minimising the number of people in contact with one another, or ensuring colleagues are facing away from each other
  • Reinforcing cleaning processes - workplaces should be cleaned more frequently and close attention should be paid to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards. Employers should provide hand-washing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points


More on coronavirus:

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Ministers have issued travel safety advice for walking, cycling, using private cars and vans, taxis and public transport - although the public has been urged to avoid the latter where possible.

People who shouldn't travel include anyone experiencing coronavirus symptoms, people self-isolating due to sharing a house with somebody with symptoms, and people who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

Walking and cycling

The government says "where possible" pedestrians and cyclists should:

  • Try to maintain social distancing of two metres from others
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands before and after cycling

Public transport

The government says commuters should:

  • Travel at off-peak times if they can and ask employers to agree alternative or flexible working hours
  • Book travel online or consider using contactless payment to buy tickets
  • Wear a face covering on public transport if possible, although the government has stressed this is optional and not required by law. It has also insisted surgical masks or respirators should be reserved for frontline health and care workers, and issued guidance on how people can make face coverings
  • Avoid physical contact and try to face away from other people in situations where social distancing is not possible
  • Be careful not to touch your face, and cover you mouth and nose with a tissue or elbow when coughing or sneezing
  • Avoid consuming food and drink on public transport where possible
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands after the journey
Commuters wearing masks are seen at a London Underground station © Reuters Commuters wearing masks are seen at a London Underground station

Taxis and private hire vehicles

The government's advice is broadly the same as that for public transport, but it adds that passengers should follow the advice of the driver, such as being asked to sit in the back left hand seat if travelling alone.

Private cars and vans

The government says that people who have to travel in private vehicles with others from outside their household group should share the transport with the same people each time and keep to small groups.

It advises:

  • Wear a face covering if in contact with people you do not normally meet
  • Keep two-metres away from cyclists at traffic lights
  • Limit the time spent at garages, petrol stations and motorway services and pay by contactless
  • If people from different households use a vehicle, clean it between journeys, particularly door handles, the steering wheel and other areas that people may touch
  • Keeping the car windows open to allow good ventilation and face away from each other
  • Consider seating arrangements to optimise distance between people in the vehicle
  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise hands when arriving and leaving

Aviation, ferries and maritime transport

The government's advice for travelling on planes or ferries includes avoiding physical contact and try to face away from others.

It adds:

  • Be careful not to touch your face and cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing
  • Wear a face covering if you can
  • Follow instructions from the transport operator which may include notices about which seats to use or how to queue; additional screens, barriers or floor markings and requests to board through different doors or to move to less busy areas
  • Do not congregate near entrances or exits while waiting
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands as soon as possible
Pharmacist Raj Matharu working at the Broadway Pharmacy in Bexleyheath, Kent. © Getty Pharmacist Raj Matharu working at the Broadway Pharmacy in Bexleyheath, Kent.


The government is now advising people to wear face coverings in shops where social distancing is not possible.

It has also issued guidance to retailers that are currently open, such as chemists and shops selling food, as well as others which are still closed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that, if the circumstances were right, other types of shops might be able to open next month - such as fashion retailers.

The guidance suggests all of these businesses should use the following measures:

  • Define the number of customers that can reasonable follow two-metre social distancing within the store
  • Limit the number of customers in-store at any one time
  • Suspend or reduce customer services that cannot be done without adhering to social distancing guidelines
  • Encourage customers to shop alone where possible
  • Remind customers accompanied by children that they are responsible for supervising them at all times and they should follow social distancing guidelines
  • Take measures to reduce congestion and contact between customers, such as queue management or a one-way system


Stay at home as much as possible to stop coronavirus spreading - here is the latest government guidance. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland, anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.


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