Coronavirus, COVID-19 Policy




The recent spread of the Coronavirus, COVID-19, has raised a number of wide-ranging questions about good working practice, self-isolation and the implications for Arecibo agency and permanent staff members. This policy aims to address these questions and will be updated as changes occur in the future.




This policy will cover both full time and agency employees. Updates concerning medical aspects of COVID-19 will be communicated on a regular basis and all employees whether permanent or relief chefs should refer to these clearly signposted updates. These updates will be circulated across the following internal communications channels:



  • Topic-specific emails
  • Emergency SMS messages


Please ensure that your personal contact details are up to date by contacting Carol Williams via email so that we can contact you in case of an emergency, if required.


Key responsibilities


Permanent and Agency Employees


All employees must ensure they have read and are aware of the guidance contained in this policy. If employees are in any doubt about what constitutes safe working practices, they should contact Clare McDonnell via email if further guidance is required. Failure to follow the guidance in this policy could result in the unnecessary spreading of the COVID-19 virus, potential serious ill health and damage to our critical services for our beneficiary population.


Relief Chef Employees – Information for Clients

In response to the news of the Coronavirus, we are taking the following action to safeguard our clients from its spread.

  • Communicate to all Relief Chefs via email and text with the NHS guidelines on the virus, asking for confirmation of resent/upcoming travel and for Arecibo to be informed if they feel unwell. Confirmation that they have read and understood will be gained before they can work a shift.
  • If Relief Chefs have visited a Category 1 country such as China, Iran, Daegu, Cheongdo provinces in the Republic of Korea, or any specific lockdown areas in Northern Italy (list is here) they will not be allowed to return to work for 14 days and must self-isolate.
  • If Relief Chefs have travelled from any of the other high-risk areas on the NHS Website (click here) in the last 14 days, or display any of the symptoms, they must ring 111 and inform Arecibo immediately.
  • Arecibo will await the outcome of the conversation from 111 and clearance that they can return to work.
  • All communication will be documented on the Relief Chefs record and available upon request from Arecibo.
  • The information on this document will be regularly checked and reviewed to reflect updates on the NHS website.


General principles


  1. What is Coronavirus?


Coronavirus is from a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as MERS-CoV and SARS (Cov). The official name for this new disease, not previously seen in humans, is COVID-19. It was first identified in Wuhan City, in Hubei province, China.


Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. As this new strain causes a new illness, it's not known exactly how it spreads from person to person, but similar viruses spread by cough droplets.


Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death. Generally, more severe cases occur in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.


  1. In what situations should I not come into work?


If you, or a household member, have returned from one of the affected areas, avoid contact with other people and advise the emergency services (via NHS 111). You will be asked to stay at home particularly if you are displaying symptoms. These symptoms usually appear between two days and two weeks of exposure to the virus. Please notify your line manager of your situation and the advice you have been given.


There are certain regions we are currently concerned about:


Hubei province in China

If you have returned from this region in the last 14 days you should automatically self-isolate, even if you are not showing symptoms.


Iran, lockdown areas in northern Italy, or special care zones in South Korea You should automatically self-isolate if you have returned from these areas after 19 February 2020.


Other parts of mainland China or South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, other parts of northern Italy (anywhere north of Pisa, Florence and Rimini) Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, or Vietnam


If you have been in one of these regions and returned since 19 February 2020, you should be fine to come into work. Provided you aren’t showing symptoms. If you do start to show them, even if they’re mild, you should self-isolate and not come to work. This list of regions is changing daily - stay up to date with the latest advice.


You should not travel to the aforementioned affected regions and you should notify Clare McDonnell at if you intend visiting any affected areas whilst on annual leave and we strongly suggest you seek medical advice before travelling.




  1. What is self-isolation?


Self-isolation is about protecting others and slowing down the spread of COVID-19. It is very important that anyone who has the virus, or might have been exposed to it, limits the number of people they come into contact with for 14 days. This is the most effective way of preventing COVID-19 from spreading.


If you have been advised to self-isolate by a health professional or through official Government advice, all the instructions you need to follow are available on the NHS website which is there to help you, your loved ones, your work colleagues and community stay safe.


If you are following official guidance to self-isolate and you have flu-like symptoms it is unlikely you will be able to obtain a Fit to Work Certificate and Arecibo will not insist on this in this specific instance. We recognise that GPs or other medical facilities will not see anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or those individuals who have travelled to specific geographical areas.


  1. Will I be paid if I am diagnosed with the virus?


If you are diagnosed with the virus, you will be paid sick pay as outlined in your contract of employment. Please refer to the Employee Handbook (if you do not have a copy to hand, please contact Clare McDonnell via email for further details and ensure you keep your line manager regularly informed of your health situation.


  1. What if the Coronavirus becomes more widespread?


Updates will be communicated on a regular basis. It is important that your personal details, including emergency contact details, are up to date in case the virus spreads more widely. You must also adhere to using the correct PPE and also correct hand-washing guidance and use the appropriate hand-sanitisers that have been provided at your assigned place of work.



Your health and wellbeing, and that of your colleagues, is paramount. Arecibo places the utmost importance on minimising the possible spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus in every way. Every employee must adhere to this policy. Arecibo reserves the right, in extreme cases, to suspend employees on full pay if they do not comply with this policy and insist on attending work contrary to guidance.


Further guidance

Guidance is available to you on the following websites:


Key up-to-date information from the government:


Travel advice:










Other information


Issue date

March 2020

Version number


Status (draft or approved)


Next review date

12 months from issue date

Equality impact assessment date

March 2020

Policy owner

 Gill Fox, Managing Director