Over the next few weeks swine flu is expected to really take hold in the country. ACS is sent the situation report information from Government every day and we know that we are already in the middle of pandemic, but not yet at the peak. The implications of this will affect us all, and so businesses large and small need to be prepared. 

First thing for everyone to be aware of is that so far the experts are reassured that the effects of contracting the H1N1 strain flu are mild in all but the very rarest cases. There have been deaths in the UK but three reported are all linked to other underlying health problems. 

The main impact of the pandemic is expected to be worker absence, perhaps as much as 15% in the first wave.  There is also the extra factor of worker parent absence in the event that schools are closed where the flu is detected. 

In order to protect your business and employees, make sure staff clean their hands regularly, cover their mouths with a tissue when they sneeze and throw away tissues immediately, and clean hard surfaces regularly.  If a staff member has symptoms it is sensible for them to stay at home and see their GP. 

Government is keen to preserve calm and reduce fears of disruption. There should not disruption to essential services, panic buying or lack of supplies.

At times like this local shops show how valuable and important they are to the local community. Your job as far as possible to keep business as usual, but you can play a role in educating customers.

The very best source of information on swine flu is www.direct.gov.uk. Tools and information for our industry is available on www.acs.org.uk; including a check list plan. The national swine flu hotline is 0800 1 513 513.