Operating during COVID-19

28 October 2020

The following resources focus on practical guidance to help tourism businesses operate in a COVID-19 Secure way during the pandemic.

Information on emergency funding, including Government support, can be found on our Support for tourism and event businesses during COVID-19 page.

On 22 September the Prime Minister announced:


  • office workers who can work from home should do so
  • all pubs, bars and restaurants must operate table-service only, except for takeaways (from 24 September)
  • all hospitality venues must close at 10pm, although takeaway deliveries can continue after (from 24 September)
  • staff and customers in indoor hospitality venues are required to wear face coverings, except when seated at a table to eat or drink (from 24 September)
  • COVID-Secure guidelines will become legal obligations in retail, leisure and tourism sectors. Businesses will be fined and could be closed if they breach these rules.
  • from 28 September a maximum of 15 people will be able to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions
  • business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events will not be able to open from 1 October.


Read the Prime Minister's 22 September statement.


This follows on from measures announced on the 9 September:


  • It will be illegal to meet socially in groups of more than 6 people. This will apply in any setting, indoors or outdoors. The measure replaces the existing ban on gatherings of more than 30 and current guidance on allowing 2 households to meet indoors.
  • Some limited exemptions apply. If a single household or support bubble is larger than 6, they can still gather.COVID Secure venues like places of worship, gyms, restaurants and hospitality venues can still hold more than 6 people in total; however, within those venues there must not be individual groups larger than 6, and groups must not mix socially or form larger groups.
  • Education and work settings are unaffected.


Fines will be levied against hospitality venues that fail to ensure their premises remain COVID Secure.


From 18 September:

Read the Prime Minister's 9 September statement.


Current closure guidance and exemptions:

The Government has published updated guidance on the businesses and venues in England that need to remain closed.

Current COVID Alert Levels

Check the full list of local COVID Alert levels by area.


You can also use the postcode checker on Gov.uk to find the restrictions in your local area or view which areas are in which tier on an interactive map.


12 October announcement: new three tier system of local COVID Alert Levels

On 12 October, the Prime Minister made a statement to the House of Commons.


The announcement sets out how the Government plans to standardise and simplify local lockdown measures, by introducing a three tiered system of local COVID Alert Levels in England - set at medium, high, and very high. 


You can view the areas in England listed as local COVID alert level high and local COVID alert level very high and the postcode checker on GOV.UK.


Local COVID Alert Level – Medium

Covering most of the country - this will consist of the current national measures, which came into force on 25 September. For areas where national restrictions continue to be in place, this means:

  • All businesses and venues can continue to operate in a COVID-Secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law, such as nightclubs.
  • Certain businesses selling food or drink on their premises are required to close between 10pm and 5am.
  • Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-thru.
  • Schools, universities and places of worship remain open.
  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees.
  • Organised indoor sport and exercise classes can continue to take place, provided the Rule of Six is followed.
  • People must not meet in groups larger than six, indoors or outdoors.

See the guidance and restrictions for areas where the Local COVID Alert level is Medium.


Local COVID Alert Level – High

This is for areas with a higher level of infections. The “high” alert level will reflect many current local interventions, but there will now be consistency across the country. This means the following additional measures are in place:

  • People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place.
  • People must not meet in a group of more than six outside, including in a garden or other space.
  • People should aim to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible. If they need to travel, they should walk or cycle where possible, or to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport.

Most areas which are already subject to local restrictions will automatically move into the “high” alert level. As a result of rising infection rates Nottinghamshire, East and West Cheshire and a small area of High Peak will also move into the “high” alert level. 


See the guidance and restrictions for areas where the Local COVID Alert level is High.


Local COVID Alert Level - Very High

This is for areas with a very high level of infections. The Government will set a baseline of measures for any area in this local alert level. Consultation with local authorities will determine additional measures.

The baseline means the below additional measures are in place:

  • Pubs and bars must close, and can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant - which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. They may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal.
  • Wedding receptions are not allowed.
  • People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor or outdoor setting, whether at home or in a public space. The Rule of Six applies in open public spaces like parks and beaches.
  • People should try to avoid travelling outside the ‘Very High’ area they are in, or entering a ‘Very High’ area, other than for things like work, education, accessing youth services, to meet caring responsibilities or if they are in transit.
  • People should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if they are resident in a ‘Very High’ area, or avoid staying overnight in a ‘Very High’ area if they are resident elsewhere.

Local Authorities in the Liverpool City Region will move into the “very high” alert level from Wednesday 13 October. In addition, to pubs and bars in Merseyside and the Liverpool City Region, gyms, dance studios, leisure centres, betting shops, adult gaming centres and casinos will also close.

See the guidance and restrictions for areas where the Local COVID Alert level is Very High.


There will be a 4-week sunset clause on interventions in very high areas. 


The Local restrictions: areas with an outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) page on Gov.uk includes information for local authorities, residents and businesses about what to do and how to manage the outbreak.


You can also view which areas have restrictions on an interactive map.


The Department for Health and Social Care has set up an email address for businesses in lockdown areas who have queries regarding the local rules and requirements.


Accepting guests from areas with local restrictions

The Government has issued guidance on holidays in areas with local restrictions, which also provides information on people travelling from those areas. 


Managing local outbreaks

The Government has issued guidance on the approach to managing local coronavirus outbreaks

Key Government guidance

  • Visitor Economy Guidance

    Guidance for people who work in hotels and guest accommodation, indoor and outdoor attractions, and business events and consumer shows.

  • Guidance from Public Health England

    Guidance for businesses, employers and employees on preventing the spread of the virus.

  • Hotels and other guest accommodation

    Guidance for people who work in or run hotels and other guest accommodation.

  • Heritage locations

    Guidance for people who work or volunteer in heritage locations.

  • Check what actions you need to take

    This online tool from Government will generate guidance and help you do a risk assessment based on your sector, visitors, suppliers and employees.

  • Reporting outbreaks of COVID-19

    Guidance for businesses and organisations on how to recognise, contain and report incidents of COVID-19.

  • NHS

    Create an NHS QR code for your venue

    It is a legal requirement to display an NHS QR code following the launch of the NHS COVID-19 App.

  • Protecting customer and visitor details

    A five step checklist from the Information Commissioner’s Office on how to manage personal data collected for NHS Test and Trace.

  • Maintaining records of staff and customers

    Guidance for hospitality and tourism businesses on collecting and maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace.

  • Customer Logging Toolkit

    Template materials to display and guidance on logging customer information for NHS Test and Trace.

  • Help customers plan a holiday

    Businesses are asked to raise awareness of Government guidance for tourists who fall ill whilst on holiday.

  • Rules on face coverings

    When to wear face coverings, including public areas of hotels, hostels and indoor tourist attractions from 8 August.

  • Face coverings exemption toolkit

    Download a poster to remind customers that not all health conditions are visible.

  • If customers contract COVID-19

    Guidance on what should happen if a customer contracts COVID-19 while on holiday.

  • Guidance for visitor attractions

    Looking after your employees

  • Alex Hare

    Guidance on social distancing at work

    Advice for employers on social distancing during COVID-19.

  • Testing guidance for employers

    Your legal obligations as an employer on testing during COVID-19.

  • Advice from ACAS

    Guidance on handling employees, including sick pay, managing staff shortfalls, if somebody becomes unwell at work and what to do if you need to close.

  • Online sick note system

    An online sick note system on the NHS website can provide employees with evidence that they have been advised to self-isolate.

  • Guidance from HSE

    Health and Safety Executive advice on keeping your employees and workplace safe.

  • Test and trace in the workplace

    If there is more than one case of COVID-19 in your workplace you should contact your local health protection team.

  • Psychological first aid training

    A free 90 minute online training course to help you recognise people at risk of distress.

  • Check if you should go back into work

    Employees can use this tool to find out if they should be going back into work, and how to return to work safely.

  • Consulting with employees returning to work

    From 1 August, employers should consult with their employees to determine how to work safely.

  • Self-isolating after returning to the UK

    Guidance for employees and employers on self-isolating after returning to the UK.

  • Cleaning your workplace to reduce risk

    Guidance from HSE on cleaning your workplace to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

  • Changes to apprenticeships due to COVID-19

    Guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers, end-point assessment organisations and external quality assurance providers about changes to

  • Employees and face coverings

    Guidance on managing requirements for staff face coverings and exemptions.

  • Protecting home workers

    Guidance from HSE on your employer responsibilities for people working from home.

  • Supporting employees with hearing loss

    Simple steps that employers can take to support staff with deafness and hearing loss during COVID-19.