Following government guidance, many small businesses have been given the go-ahead to reopen and sell their services to the public.

Retail shops opened on June 15 and hairdressers, hotels, pubs and other small businesses reopened on July 4. There has also been the slow reopening of beauty salons and nail bars. Gyms can reopen on July 25.

However, as small businesses begin trading again, many have been forced to limit their services as a result of the restrictions that have to be in place for public safety.

This can often be a challenge to finances and also leaves confusion as to what you can offer to customers, but it is important to follow the guidelines to ensure that you, your employees and customers are kept safe.

How to reopen your business safely

Before you consider opening up your business again, it is crucial to make sure that your workplace is COVID secure.

The government has provided a five-step guide on how to work safely, which all business owners should prioritise before reopening.

This is the advice:

  1. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment
  2. Develop cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures
  3. Help people to work from home
  4. Maintain 2m social distancing, where possible
  5. Manage transmission risk where people cannot be 2m apart

A transmission risk includes the consideration of whether a service or activity needs to continue for the business to run, keeping the time of the activity as short as possible, using screens and barriers to separate people and staggering arrival and departure times.

There is additional guidance for various business sectors on the Gov.UK website, which particularly focuses on businesses that provide close-contact services, construction, factories, hotels and contact centres.

How to continue your business services without close contact 

A lot of small businesses would either have had to shut down completely or offer online services as a result of the pandemic.

For those that went online, it is important to continue offering such services even as you reopen your physical store or office. The reality of providing an online service means that you can keep your staff and customers safe as physical contact is limited.

It is also a good idea to provide delivery and pickup services where possible.

Particularly for small businesses in the hospitality or beauty industries, it might be a bit more difficult to offer online-only services. A good alternative to consider is contactless technology.

Figures from a survey by BookingTek found that 57% of UK consumers would prefer contactless technology in restaurants to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection. 

TableRes, designed by BookingTek, is a cloud-native floor-management app that enables direct reservations and third-party bookings. It has been used in some of the world’s largest hotels such as Marriott International and Premier Inn.

Employee safety

Furthermore, every small business, however essential, should consider the safety of its employees and customers at top priority at all times.

If possible, consider remaining closed until you have all safety measures in place and continue working from home and via online services. 

It is also important that you keep up to date with the government guidance and ensure that you keep track of staff and customers to support NHS Test and Trace when you do reopen.

The government has different methods of support for small business available, starting with the Bounce Back Loan Scheme.