A designated employee should be appointed as a ‘compliance officer’ at the workplace to ensure the implementation and monitoring of all guidelines pertaining to the precautionary measures that are to be followed in Phase 1 of the gradual lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.

These measures include social distancing and infection prevention and control.

The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has stressed this in the ‘Return to Work’ section of the detailed guidelines for Phase 1 of the controlled lifting of restrictions.

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“Ensuring the adherence to precautions for the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions is a shared responsibility,” the MoPH stressed on social media.

Following are the guidelines for ‘Return to Work’:

* Covid-19 risk assessment and response plan

1. Develop and update a Covid-19 response plan to deal with suspected/confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the workplace and specify what is to be done if an employee displays symptoms during working hours.

2. Conduct a risk assessment on health and safety before any return to the workplace, and put in place relevant measures to ensure the health and safety of employees in line MoPH guidance. The assessment should cover risks posed by facilities, services, working conditions and the composition of the workforce.

3. Based on the conducted risk assessment, develop a plan for resumption of services, and staff return to work in line with the phases.

4. A log of all participants in any group activity or service that require multiple staff is kept to facilitate contact tracing if needed.

5. Consider completing a ‘return to work’ form for all employees before resuming duties.?

* Compliance officer

1. Appoint a designated employee to act as a compliance officer to ensure implementation and monitoring of all guidance, including social distancing and infection prevention and control.

* Physical distancing

1. Minimum distance of 1.5m between staff during their work, or 9sqm per person, is recommended. In cases where distance cannot be maintained, physical barriers must be used to separate employees.

2. Reduce the number of staff working onsite as per guidance in each phase.

3. Meetings during Phase 1 should not have more than five people in the same room.?

4. Use floor and furniture markings to maintain appropriate social distancing.

5. Avoid ‘hot desking’ (use of the same desk by multiple employees).

6. Remind employees of distancing requirements with clear and visible signage.

* Infection prevention and control

1. All employees must undergo regular testing as per MoPH guidance (at employer cost).

2. Hand sanitiser to be provided for employee use at several locations within the facilities

3. Measure the temperature of employees and patients on arrival. Set up a separate pathway for patients with temperature above 38C as per Covid-19 protocols.

4. Frequent hand washing/sanitising should be promoted.

5. Face masks to be worn by employees at all times.

6. Wearing disposable gloves is not routinely recommended as per MoPH protocol.

7. Avoid handshakes and all forms of physical greetings that requires touching or coming close.

8. All regularly touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected periodically using standard disinfection products.

9. Toilets are cleaned and disinfected after each use.?

* Regulating entry and exit

1. ??Regulate entry to ensure that the premises do not become overcrowded.

2. Thermal screening of employees and visitors (entry prohibited for those with body temperature above 38C).

3. Ehteraz app to be downloaded by all employees and visitors, and entry will be allowed to only those with the ‘Green’ status.

* Working hours and remote working

1. 20% of employees to work on site while 80% to work remotely where applicable.

2. Consider working in split teams, alternating shifts or on alternating days to comply with capacity and social distancing guidance.

3. Employees holding non-physical contact jobs (administrative staff, secretaries, knowledge jobs, etc) should continue to work remotely in Phase 1 if possible.

4. Allow flexible working hours for vulnerable employees or those who are concerned about being present in office locations for health reasons.

* Vulnerable groups

1. Employees over the age of 60 years should be advised to work from home and delay return to work locations until Phase 4, if possible.

2. Employees who are pregnant, those with chronic conditions or those with increased health risks should be advised to work from home and delay return to work locations until Phase 4 if possible.

3. Consider requiring the completion of a ‘return to work’ form for vulnerable employees.

* Mental health awareness

1. ???Advise employees who may be experiencing stress or anxiety related to Covid-19 guidance to contact the mental health hotline, 16000.?

* Education and awareness

1. Communicate clearly and early with managers and employees on plans to reopen and any new guidance or policies that will be introduced.

2. Keep employees updated on Covid-19 safety and prevention information and guidelines.

3. Emphasise that protecting public health is paramount.

4. Use the MoPH’s health messages and materials. Let customers know what steps you are taking to keep them safe.

5. It is important to remind workers that wearing face masks does not preclude the need to keep a physical distance of at least 1.5m from each other.

??* Money handling

1. Minimise any cash transactions in work locations.

2. Wipe down credit card readers and other payment methods after each use.?

The complete set of guidelines is available at https://covid19.moph.gov.qa/EN/Precautions-for-lifting-restrictions-phase-1/Pages/Phase1.aspx