Coronavirus: Diversified business pointers for safe reopening

Farm attractions should complete a documented health and safety risk assessment and operate a phased reopening after the coronavirus lockdown.

The advice is among pointers provided by farm and estate owners who took part in a survey about their experiences of reopening to the public.

This was carried out by accountant Saffery Champness and the firm’s Martyn Dobinson urged businesses to take a cautious response in light of the findings. 

“A ‘dash for cash’ should be avoided in favour of a more controlled slow and safe approach,” Mr Dobinson said.

Reviews from the first visitors will be critical and it’s essential that the initial feedback is positive.”

See also: Business Clinic: Has Covid-19 put us in breach of contract?

Survey key points

  1. Undertake thorough and regular risk assessments (see “Further advice” box). Make modifications, appraise systems regularly and keep the assessment and precautionary measures up to date.
  2. Trial protection systems with limited numbers initially. A “soft opening” allows time to adjust before opening more widely.
  3. Use an advance booking system to allocate specific time slots for visitors. This also demonstrates the extra steps and care being taken to potential visitors.
  4. Update websites to explain to potential visitors what is open and what is not, and to set out steps taken to keep them safe.
  5. Impose a ticketing system for potential social distancing bottlenecks, such as toilets and catering areas. Steps will be needed to control numbers in and out.
  6. Ensure appropriate signs are in place to help visitors adhere to the rules.
  7. Toilets are a major issue and any closures should be highlighted on websites. An elevated cleaning and disinfecting regime is needed.
  8. Catering and cafes/restaurants require a modified regime with additional spacing and cleaning protocols to assure visitors that they are welcome and safe.
  9. Ensure staff are fully briefed on their duties and PPE measures to provide a safe environment. Engagement of staff is critical and staff confidence rubs off on guests.
  10. Consult insurers about the plans in place.

The survey findings are echoed by detailed online guidance provided by the National Farm Attractions Network (NFAN).

In its document – Covid-19 farm attraction reopening guidelines – it also advocates a phased reopening of attractions over the coming months.

Operational restrictions can then be lifted gradually as national restrictions are relaxed. Importantly, they can then be re-imposed if government guidelines change, NFAN suggested.

Restrictions in place at any given time will depend on the level of infection locally as well as nationally, says the guidance.

It also urged farm diversification businesses to liaise with local authorities on a regular basis because infection rates and lockdown rules will differ between areas.