As COVID-19 restrictions on local businesses begin to lift, Hertfordshire County Council, in partnership with Broxbourne Borough Council, is launching a free pilot scheme to keep local residents safe, while also helping retail and hospitality businesses to reopen safely and with confidence.
The newly launched Safe to Trade scheme is an independently-verified, COVID-19 public safety standard that supports businesses with putting robust and compliant Covid safety practices in place, while providing them with interpreted guidance on the latest legislative changes and additional support via the provision of an advice line.
The scheme, which has customer and employee safety as its core, works with retail and hospitality outlets to ensure that premises are COVID-secure. A Safe to Trade ‘approved’ accreditation reassures customers that an establishment is doing more that the Government requires to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 and measures are in place to monitor its ongoing performance.
Developed by an expert team of safety practitioners at Shield Safety Group (SSG), alongside an independent Governance Board of the UK’s leading food and hospitality safety scientists and professionals, the pilot scheme is free of charge for Broxbourne hospitality and retail businesses. The aim is to get these businesses up and running fast, as the UK starts to emerge from recent lockdown restrictions, while auditing their COVID-safety performance and reassuring customers in the process. The intention is to then roll out the Safe to Trade scheme, countywide, later in the year.
Rebecca Broadbelt, Broxbourne Council’s Head of Environmental Health and Licensing, said: “We have been working closely with Shield Safety Group and Hertfordshire County Council on the Safe to Trade scheme and are delighted that it will be launching in Broxbourne. The scheme will help businesses to achieve and maintain high standards of safety, providing reassurance to the public that our businesses are COVID-secure.”
For consumers, an ‘approved’ accreditation is confirmation that a business has reopened safely and ongoing COVID-19 checks and monitoring are in place. This allows businesses to demonstrate their continued commitment to trading safely while also supercharging consumer confidence and encouraging residents back through their doors.
Mark Flanagan, Chair of the Safe to Trade scheme’s Board of Governors, said: “The scheme provides local retail and hospitality businesses with all the tools they need to ensure that they can prosper, while also offering a safe and fantastic guest experience to their customers and the local community.
“Every establishment approved by the scheme can rest easy in the knowledge that their business is fully compliant with the latest government guidance. The Safe to Trade scheme will keep them abreast of the latest regulatory developments, providing protection from COVID-19 related enforcement action, as well as give access to an advice helpline manned by experienced environmental health practitioners.”
The pilot scheme in Broxbourne has been designed with the visibility of venue compliance in mind. As well as providing easily-recognisable Safe to Trade scheme ‘approved’ window stickers and certificates for businesses to display, approved venues are also listed on a searchable, online register that residents can check. The Public Register is kept up-to-date via anonymous feedback from both customers and employees, and performance is monitored by the scheme’s administrator.
Flanagan added: “From a consumer perspective, the scheme distinguishes those establishments that are going the extra mile to ensure their safety, allowing local residents to make informed choices about where they shop and where they spend their leisure time. With public protection a key priority for Hertfordshire County Council and Broxbourne Borough Council, the Safe to Trade scheme ensures that businesses can continue to thrive while playing their part in keeping everyone safe.”
The register of establishments approved by the Safe to Trade scheme is publicly available at safetotrade.org.uk and is used by local environmental health regulators to risk-rate businesses for official visits, allowing them to focus on non-compliant businesses.
Jim McManus, Director of Public Health for Hertfordshire, said: “It’s fantastic to see so many businesses in the county reopening. We fully appreciate that it has been an incredibly challenging year for them and we have made it a priority to ensure that businesses are confident that their customers, staff – and anyone else on site – can be assured of their safety and have peace of mind.
“The Safe to Trade scheme in Broxbourne is a fundamental part of this approach and I’d urge all businesses in Broxbourne to register – it is an easy process and shows that a business is committed to safety and is COVID-secure.”
Businesses interested in signing up to the free Safe to Trade scheme can start the process by registering at shieldsafety.co.uk/hertfordshire or by calling 0203 362 4439. To find out more about the Safe to Trade scheme and/or to review the register of approved businesses, please visit: https://safetotrade.org.uk.