Coronavirus (COVID-19): staying safe outside your home

There are steps everyone can take to help reduce the risk of catching or spreading coronavirus (COVID-19). These steps will help to keep you safe when you are outside your home.

Keeping your distance from people outside your household

You should maintain a social distance of at least 2m (6ft) between you and anyone outside of your household, to minimise your exposure to the virus and the potential to spread the infection.

The risk of infection increases the closer you are to another person with the virus. The key thing is to not be too close to people for more than a short period of time, as much as you can.

Keeping your hands and face as clean as possible

Washing your hands properly is one of the most important things you can do to help prevent and control the spread of many illnesses.  Where available, use sanitiser outside your home, especially as you enter a building and after you have had contact with surfaces.

Avoid touching your face.

Working from home if you can

With the proper equipment and adjustments, many people can do most or all of their work from home. Your employer should support you to find reasonable adjustments to do this. However, not all jobs can be done from home, see information on travelling to work below.

Avoiding being face-to-face with people if they are outside your household

You are at higher risk of being directly exposed to respiratory droplets (released by talking or coughing) when you are within two metres of someone and have face-to-face contact with them. You can lower the risk of infection if you stay side-to-side rather than facing someone.

Reducing the number of people you spend time with in a work setting

You can lower the risks of transmission in the workplace by reducing the number of people you come into contact with regularly, where you can. Your employer can support with this (where practical) by:

  • changing shift patterns and rotas to match you with the same team each time
  • splitting people into smaller, contained teams

Avoiding crowds

You can lower the risks of transmission by reducing the number of people you come into close contact with. For example, avoid peak travel times on public transport, where possible.

If you have to travel think about how and when you travel

To reduce demand on the public transport network, you should walk or cycle wherever possible. If you have to use public transport, you should try to avoid peak times.

Employers should consider staggering working hours, expanding bicycle storage facilities, providing changing facilities and providing car parking.

Washing your clothes regularly

There is some evidence that the virus can stay on fabrics for a few days, although usually it is shorter. Therefore, if you are working with people outside your household, wash your clothes regularly.

Changing clothes in workplaces should only be considered where there is a high risk of infection or there are highly vulnerable people, such as in a care home. If you need to change your clothes, avoid crowding into a changing room.

Keeping indoor places well ventilated

Evidence suggests that the virus is less likely to be passed on in well-ventilated buildings and outdoors.

In good weather, try to leave windows and doors open in areas where people from different households come into contact, or move activity outdoors if you can.

Use external extractor fans to keep spaces well ventilated and make sure that ventilation systems are set to maximise the air flow rate.

Heating and cooling systems can be used at their normal temperature settings.

Face coverings

It is recommend that you should think about using face coverings in particular circumstances - short periods in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible. 

In practice, these circumstances will largely mean on public transport and in shops.

The use of face coverings will not be mandatory.

Crucially, do not get a false sense of security about the level of protection provided by wearing a face covering. It is essential that everyone continues to:

  • practise social distancing as much as humanly possible
  • wash their hands thoroughly throughout the day
  • ‘catch it, kill it, bin it’ when they sneeze or cough

That’s still the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

You can make face-coverings at home. The key thing is it should cover the mouth and nose.

When at work, follow the advice given by your employer

Employers have a duty to assess and manage risks to your safety in the workplace. Guidance has been issued and this includes guidance on how to make adjustments to your workplace to help you maintain social distancing.

It also includes guidance on hygiene, as evidence suggests that the virus can exist for up to 72 hours on surfaces. Therefore, frequent cleaning is important for communal surfaces like:

  • door handles
  • lift buttons
  • communal areas like bathrooms
  • kitchens
  • tea points

Advice for businesses and workers

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