Can a ‘safety grading system’ for shops and businesses improve public safety as economies begin to re-open?

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Bottom Line:

A safety grading system, in which shops and businesses are inspected and assigned a grade based on their use of COVID-19 safety precautions is a potentially effective strategy to safeguard public health as economies re-open.


Rafferty, M. et al. COVID-19 Safety Grades for Businesses—A Possible Mitigation Tool. JAMA Health Forum (2020).

Date Published:

22 June 2020


As countries begin to re-open their economies and ease COVID-19 restrictions, it is vital to ensure this re-opening process occurs as safely as possible. People must be able to make informed assessments of the safety of attending various shops and businesses. Currently, the general population cannot accurately determine the safety level of these facilities, as many health and safety practices are not visible to customers (e.g. staff training on COVID-19 safety). A potential solution is to implement a safety grading system that evaluates businesses’ uptake of COVID-19 safety precautions. This approach could be based on pre-existing systems that evaluate restaurants’ food hygiene, and the evaluation process could be conducted by local public health authorities. Potential criteria to consider when determining a business’ safety grade include the use of face-coverings and social distancing on premises, sanitization practices, staff training on COVID-19, and the presence of a formal COVID-19 safety protocol. While intriguing, potential barriers to a safety scoring system include inequitable implementation of the system and the resource difficulties of conducting thorough evaluations. Further consideration of safety grading systems is required to determine whether they can protect public health in an effective and equitable manner.

Summary by: Jacob Ferguson