Updated 6 May 2022

Distancing in clinical areas

Clinics can revert back to pre-COVID-19 safe distancing. There will be no requirement to allow a safe distance in clinic waiting areas that are not shared with walk in centres. If the waiting areas are shared with walk in centres, safe distancing will need to be maintained at one metre. All staff will continue to wear masks and patients are recommended/advised to wear face coverings/masks.

Distancing non-clinical areas and increased room capacity

If staff can maintain two meters safe distancing, masks can be removed. If staff are unable to maintain two meters safe distancing, for example, when sharing personal space, for example, computer screens, face masks must be worn.

Room capacity numbers can be increased with the use of face masks. Existing room capacity limits can be used to indicate advised room limitations if staff wish to use rooms without masks, as they are set against a two metres distancing rule.

Otherwise, room capacity can be increased to allow safe distancing within 2 meters (as pre-COVID-19) provided face masks are worn.

Guidance for stepping down isolation following infection with COVID-19

This SOP provides updated guidance on the reduction of the 10 day isolation period for  COVID-19 positive cases if specific criteria is met. Patients can be tested using lateral flow tests at day 6 of their isolation period (staff are currently day 5) and require a negative test, and days 6 and 7 prior to discontinuation of isolation, provided certain criteria are met. Please see the SOP for further guidance.

All staff in clinical areas must be bare below the elbows to ensure that hands can be washed effectively for 20 seconds. This is more important than ever to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It means that you must not wear: stone rings, watches, fit bits, bracelets, nail varnish or false nails whilst in a clinical area. Further detail is available in section 8.2 in the Trust  Infection Prevention and Control Policy

There are short films to remind you of the correct process for donning and doffing – please copy and paste this link into Chrome https://vimeo.com/401585323

eLearning training is available on ESR. If you have any questions contact: InfectionControl@merseycare.nhs.uk or call 0151 295 3036.

 Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) in warm or hot environments increases the risk of heat stress. This occurs when the body is unable to cool itself enough to maintain a healthy temperature. Heat stress can cause heat exhaustion and lead to heat stroke if the person is unable to cool down.

Measures to control the temperature of clinical environments and enable staff to make behavioural adaptations to stay cool and well hydrated should be made. Staff may require more frequent breaks and the frequency of PPE changes may increase, with a resulting increase in demand.

Staff working in warm/hot conditions should:

  • Take regular breaks, find somewhere cool if you can
  • Make sure you are hydrated (checking your urine is an easy way of keeping an eye on your hydration levels – dark or strong smelling urine is a sign that you should drink more fluids)
  • Be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat stress and dehydration (thirst, dry mouth, dark or strong smelling urine, urinating infrequently or in small amounts, inability to concentrate, muscle cramps, fainting). Don’t wait until you start to feel unwell before you take a break.
  • Use a buddy system with your team to look out for the signs of heat stress (eg. confusion, looking pale or clammy, fast breathing) in each other
  • Between shifts, try to stay cool as this will give your body a chance to recover.

Once used, face masks must be disposed of correctly in line with official guidance from NHSE and NHSi:

Clinical areas

Clinical staff should dispose of surgical face masks in the infectious waste stream (orange bag) if visibly contaminated with bodily fluids or into the offensive waste stream (black and yellow striped bag) if they are not visibly contaminated with bodily fluids.

Community staff

Community staff should continue to dispose of masks (and PPE) in the patient’s domestic waste, unless it is known to be infectious, then it should be placed in an orange bag for collection.

Offices and food prep areas that are COVID-19 secure

Where areas are COVID-19 secure, for example, offices and food preparation areas, masks can be discarded in the domestic waste stream if no longer required.

Patient facing areas

Masks worn by patients, visitors and non-clinical staff who have entered a clinical area should be discarded in the offensive waste stream (black and yellow striped bag) if no longer required. Bins for these should be located at the entrances and exits, where masks are given to those who do not have them.

FAQs on mask 12 June 2020

The link above includes some questions we’ve received from staff regarding masks.

You can contact the following fit testers who are providing testing across divisions - test takes about 45 minutes to complete.

Community staff fit testing sessions will be held at Liverpool Innovation Park every Thursday between 9am and 4pm. A test takes around 45 minutes to complete and can be booked here click here​. If you have any questions about booking a test online please ​email Trevor.Duggan@merseycare.nhs.uk 

Tested? staff that have been fit mask tested

Will all team leaders/ward managers make sure that staff who have been tested are tagged in staff lists/off duties with ‘FT’ to enable them to be identified during out of hours and weekends.


Laundering of staff uniforms and scrubs (Standard Operating Procedure)

Not all areas will have changing facilities at work. Where this is the case staff can change at home but must not go to shops, pubs, restaurants etc. whilst in uniforms/scrubs.

Wear a clean uniform/set of scrubs each day

Areas with changing facilities


Areas with no changing facilities

Take uniform to work in a clean bag.

Put on a clean uniform at home.

Change into uniform at work putting regular clothes into bag.

At end of shift place used uniform into a bag for transport home and change back into clean regular clothes.

If items become visibly contaminated with bodily fluids whilst at work, first place into a soluble alginate bag - spare scrubs or uniforms should be available locally for such scenarios.


If soluble alginate bags are used this can be placed directly into the washing machine. A pillow case (from home, not hospital linen) could also be used to transport used items but should be emptied into the washing machine and washed with the uniform.


N.B. plastic bags should not be taken into secure sites where restrictions apply.

When home, place the uniform into the washing machine and wash on a 60°c wash.


Wash separate from other household laundry items.


When home, place the uniform into the washing machine and wash on a 60°c wash.


Wash separate from other household laundry items.

Wash and dry hands thoroughly.

Remove clean items from the washing machine and tumble dry if possible. Once dry, place clean items into a clean bag ready for use or transport.

All staff wearing uniform are reminded that they should be ‘bare below the elbow’, no rings (other than one plain band), bracelets, long, painted or false nails at all times. For full details see the Infection Prevention and Control Policy.