Better consultation sought as Wales mandates coronavirus risk assessment for shops

A man and two women wear face masks as they walk up St. Mary Street on October 19, 2020 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

Welsh Government on 19 January amended regulations making its mandatory for businesses and premises to undertake a specific coronavirus risk assessment.

The move follows the announcement made by First Minister Mark Drakeford last week as cases of coronavirus have increased sharply with the new strain of the virus moving quickly across Wales.

Responding to the development, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has urged Welsh ministers to work in closer collaboration with retailers when they introduce new measures to tackle the spread of Covid-19, noting that the new requirements have been introduced with no advance notice of changes that businesses need to make immediately.

“Local shops in Wales have already been implementing many of the new measures that have been set out in the amended regulations to keep customers and colleagues safe throughout the pandemic. However, the new specifics around controlling entry to the premises and sanitising trolleys require additional resources and staff time which for many of the smallest stores is not something that can just be implemented straight away,” James Lowman, ACS chief executive, said,

“The lack of communication from the Welsh Government means retailers are now reading regulations and trying to devise stop gap solutions rather than focusing on helping customers and colleagues, and maintaining Covid-safe sites – something they have done superbly over the past year. We need better consultation and some notice period to allow stores to prepare.”

The government has said that the risk assessments will be the starting point for implementing measures to minimise exposure to the virus on premises open to the public and in workplaces.

The regulatory changes, which came into effect immediately, include introducing measures for controlling entry to the premises and limiting the number of customers who are on the premises at one time, providing hand sanitisation products or hand washing facilities for use of customers when they enter the premises, introducing measures to sanitise any baskets, trolleys or similar containers provided for use by customers on the premises.

The stores should also remind customers to maintain distance of 2m between each other and wear a face covering. This should be done by displaying signs and other visual aids and making announcements on a regular basis.