Bira 5-Step Guide to Covid-Secure Reopening

02 Jun 2020

The content on this page is correct as of 22.03.21 for the latest government advice regarding Coronavirus visit in England, in Wales, In Scotland and in Northern Ireland. For the latest news from Bira visit


Update: 22.03.21: With non-essential shops in England able to open again from 12th April, Bira has provided guidance to ensure that your business is Covid-secure.

Great news for the independent retail sector, much of which is well underway preparing for re-opening. In the new normal, we’ll all need to make changes to be able to re-open our high street.

This short guide is designed to give you a simple overview of how to prepare for opening up your CovidSecure retail business and the five steps it covers are: 

  1. Read the government guidance 
  2. Amend & complete a risk assessment 
  3. Amend & complete a re-occupation checklist 
  4. Protect your employees, contractors and consumers 
  5. Communicate your Covid-Secure status 

Important: This guide is meant as purely this, a guide and is correct at time of publication. As such, whilst we aim to keep all our guidance up to date, we recommend you visit the actual Government guidance from time to time.

Important: Even if you have been able to remain open until now, you should still act on this guide to ensure you are CovidSecure.

Finally, please be aware that each of the devolved governments (Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) have their own version of guidance in varying degrees of progress. Where possible, this guide will signpost any differences, but please make sure you read fully the guidance relative to your business location, particularly if you have customers and employees crossing borders between the nations. 

What does CovidSecure mean? 

In simple terms, CovidSecure means you have taken every reasonable step to ensure the safety of your premises, your employees, your customers and the community. 

By using a combination of the government guidance, this guide and some of the tools Bira has prepared, you can achieve CovidSecure status, sign the CovidSecure notice and re-open with confidence. 

Note: If your business is located in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, please make sure you are aware of any differences in the devolved governments’ guidance. 

So here’s your 5 step guide to becoming Covid Secure, we have made all links open a new browser tab so you can return back to this page, but if you wish to make sure you can find your way back here, book mark this page now. 

Step 1: Read the Government Guidance 

For England, the Government has produced 33-page guide on how shops can approach reopening on 15th June 2020. Last updated 25th May, the guidance helps you to think about risk, who should go back to work, social distancing, managing customers and workforce, and more. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are all taking a slightly different approach.

The guides contain a range of useful information and links to other sources of guidance and support.  

For England – see the Working safely during coronavirus guide 

For Wales – see the Taking all reasonable measures to maintain physical distancing in the workplace  

For Scotland – see the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Phase 1: business and physical distancing guidance 

For Northern Ireland – see the Coronavirus: Workplace safety guidance and priority sector list  

If you are unsure about any of the guidance, please contact Bira and we’ll try to help where possible. 


Step 2: Amend and Complete a Risk Assessment

We’ve developed, in conjunction with our Bira Legal partner (Ellis Whittam), a detailed risk assessment template that you can download, amend and use. 

It is important to understand that every shop, every premises and every workforce is different. As such it’s vital you do not simply print out the risk assessment and use it, but customise it to suit your own business.  Please also be aware that a risk assessment should be actioned even if you have remained open or already re-opened recently.    

This assessment is intended to look at how the store can best serve its customer base whilst keeping employees, customers and anyone else affected by the store’s activities as safe as possible from the transmission of the virus. It is recognised that governmental advice is changing frequently and as such a weekly review of the assessment is required.

1: Download the risk assessment from here 

2: Review it in relation to your business and make any necessary amends 

3: Complete the full risk assessment in consultation with your employees and agree on the action plan found on the last page of the risk assessment. 

If you have any questions in relation to risk assessment, please contact Bira Legal who will be happy to help. 

Step 3: Amend and Complete the Re-occupation Checklist 

As your shop may have been closed for a number of months, it is advisable that you download, amend and use the re-occupation (or re-opening) checklist we have prepared in conjunction with Bira Legal. 

Unoccupied property can degrade! It’s important you have considered all areas before you and your employees return to work. 

Our checklist covers everything from statutory checks, fire safety, emergency lighting, building security, contractors, water safety and much more. 

  1. Download the re-occupation checklist from here 
  2. Review it in relation to your business and make any necessary amends
  3. Complete the full checklist in consultation with your employees and plan any actions that may be required before re-opening. 

Again, if you have any questions in relation to checklist, please contact Bira Legal.    

Step 4Protect your employees, contractors & consumers 

Now you have completed your risk assessment and checklist, and formulated your action plans, it’s time to start protecting your employees, customers and anyone else who interacts with your business. To help with this, Bira have negotiated special pricing and stock availability with a number of suppliers of social distancing kits, PPE and sanitizing products.

Social distancing signage  By adding social distancing signage to your store, not only do you remove the pressure on yourself and your employees in policing social distancing, it also gives your customers confidence that youve taken steps to protect them. Include signage outside, particularly if customers are to queue outside. If you have a smaller space where it’s difficult to maintain 2 metre distancing inside the shop, include signage to request the wearing of face masks before entering the shop. In some cases, if a customer does not have a face mask, you may need to refuse entry so consider the possibility of having disposable face masks available for customers coming into the shop.

See further information on social distancing products 

Protective screens – acrylic screens are in high demand and waiting times can be lengthy, so act soon. These can be in the form of screens that surround a cash register areascreens to protect food and other items that are on display and screens to protect individuals. 

Our recommended supplier has a range of pre-designed screens of all different shapes and sizes, but can manufacture custom screens to suit your own requirement.

See further information on protective screens 

Hand Sanitizer – Provide hand sanitizer for customers to use on their way in and out, and if you have shopping trolleys or baskets, provide antibacterial spray and/or wipes for customers to wipe them. Consider having staff clean the trolleys and baskets in case some customers neglect to do so. Running out of hand sanitizer for you, your staff and your customers to use means you no longer have the protection needed; your employees may then have good reason to refuse to work and your customers to not enter your storeDo not underestimate the amount of hand sanitizer you are going to need, the handling of cash, cards, payment terminals, products, returns are just a few of the transmission points that will require constant attention. 

Masks and gloves – In conjunction with the London Mayor, we recently called out to all retailers in London and across the UK to stock up on non-surgical face coverings for consumers. As nationwide guidance is asking the public to avoid public transport, it is vital face coverings are worn by anyone using public transport or who find themselves in a situation where strict social distancing guidelines cannot be followed.  This means demand is going to continue to grow for face masks, which is why we recently wrote to all Bira members to consider stocking up to help consumers to buy local. 

Hand sanitizer, protective gloves and face coverings can be sourced from a number of Bira Direct suppliers, so weve created a special PPE page that links to a number of recommended suppliers. 

View our PPE and sanitization page  

Step 5Communicate your CovidSecure Message 

Included in the Government’s “Support for businesses and self-employed people during coronavirus” guidance, is a poster you can complete and sign, then place in a prominent place within your premises so employees, contractors and even customers can see you have taken every reasonable step to ensure: 

  1. You have carried out a risk assessment and shared the results of it with your workforce 
  2. You have cleaning, hand-washing and hygiene procedures in place and in line with guidance 
  3. You have taken all reasonable steps to help those who can to work from home 
  4. You have taken all reasonable steps to maintain 2m social distancing in the workplace 
  5. You have done everything to prevent transmission risk where people cannot be 2m apart 

The poster, found here and on page 7 of the Government’s guidance titled Working safely during coronavirus – advice for shops & branches is recommended to be placed on display for employees to see, and to post on your website. Regardless of the size of your workforce, we recommend you do this and consider the same for your social media profiles and other customer facings areas to aid consumer confidence and to promote CovidSecure to the rest of your community. 

Note: the poster is only referenced in the central government guidance, but we recommend using the same or similar poster across the UK. 

More preparations you can take when business resumes 

So we have some good news, we can soon begin to reopen and return to some form of normality, but we know things are going to be different from now on. We can’t have the same number of customers in our shops as we’re used to, footfall on the high street is going to take time to recover, we need to have a regular supply of additional sanitization for staff and customers, we need to invest in social distancing signage and screens, and we still face the potential of regional measures being taken, which could mean some reclosures, more furloughing, or worse. None of this looks good for an already thin bottom line.     

To help you to think about the areas of your business where you can improve your profitability, here are some signposts where we can help our members: 

  • Join Bira – For all the information we provide, the services we offer, and the benefits that come with membership, Bira membership is a no-brainer. In response to the pandemic, we launched a free three-month temporary membership, so unlocking a number of our benefits to more retail businesses at a time when the sector needs it most.
  • Review your insurance – Not only to check you have good enough cover to support your business after re-opening, but to check your business interruption cover and to check you have the best price possible. Bira Insurance, delivered by Towergate, provides cover from a number of different underwriters and is always worth speaking to. 
  • Reduce your card processing costs – We have worked tirelessly with Global Payments to bring forward a credit card rate reduction to match already hard to beat debit card rates for Bira members. In addition to this, we’ve also removed PCI compliance fees on Bira packages, a move that will save members hundreds of pounds per year per MID. By providing Global Payments with a copy of a recent MID statement, they can provide you with a clear comparison of costs should you wish to switch to global from another provider, or switch tariffs when you become a Bira member.  See our Global Payments page for more info
  • Contact our membership team – Our team are here and happy to talk to members and non-members about their business and help identify many more margin increasing opportunities, from energy bills to waste disposal. The team can be contacted on 0800 028 0245 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm), by email at or you can even Tweet your questions to @Bira_Membership 


Additional guidance and resources
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