COVID-19 (new coronavirus) - latest information and advice for businesses

03 April 2020

Please find below the latest tourism-related news and information for UK tourism businesses on the outbreak of COVID-19, including links to useful information and advice. The best source of information for any visitors with individual questions or health concerns is Public Health England. To stay up to date with UK Government advice on coronavirus visit the GOV.UK website.

This page will be updated regularly, as new information is made available by the UK Government. 

Advice and support for businesses 

Access information about financial schemes and support on the Government's Coronavirus Business Support website

Access information for businesses affected by COVID-19 including advice, guidance and key links to financial support and more on our Business Advice Hub

Upcoming business support webinars 

Government updates affecting the Tourism Industry  

8 April: New and updated guidance:

  • Additional guidance on social distancing in the workplace for businesses in England has been made available. The guidance is to help businesses and their staff to be able to stay open safely during COVID-19. Sector-specific guidance is available for shops running a pick-up or delivery service, retail, outdoor businesses, transport businesses as well as many more. For advice for business in other nations of the UK please see guidance set by the Northern Ireland Executive, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government.
  • Updated guidance on the COVID-19 Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme has been made available. This scheme allows small and medium-sized employers, with fewer than 250 employees, to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying Statutory Sick Pay to their employees. HMRC has published new online guidance which includes information about who can use the scheme and the records employers must keep.

New content hub pages on GOV.UK:

Announcements:

3 April - The Chancellor has today announced the following:

  • An extension of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to ensure all viable small businesses affected by COVID-19, rather than just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible should they need finance to keep operating during this difficult time. 
  • The Government has also announced it will be stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000, and will be making changes to speed up approvals.
  • The Government will continue to cover the first 12 months of interest fees. 
  • A new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25 million to firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million. 

Other Government updates include:

Cash support for food redistribution during the coronavirus outbreak to prevent food waste.

Update on deferring VAT payments because of coronavirus, clarifying that import VAT payments are not included.

Update to the guidance for local authorities setting out details of the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF), outlining information on state aid, monitoring and reporting requirements, post-payment checks and the eligibility of charities.

The 2020 National Living Wage came into effect on Wednesday 1 April.

The Business rates: expanded retail discount – guidance has been updated to confirm that the government’s assessment that the expanded retail discount is not a state aid, and that local authorities should therefore award relief to all eligible properties. 

Further to this, the Local Government Association and the Tourism Alliance have identified some tourism businesses that are not explicitly mentioned in the business rates relief guidance, but it is felt that they fall into the intended category. Councils are being asked to give consideration to the premises listed below for inclusion in their local schemes:

  • Amusement arcades
  • Vehicle rental sites
  • Conference and exhibition venues
  • Travel and tour operators
  • Tourism Information Centres
  • Tourism Boards/Destination Management Organisations
  • Coach operators
  • English language schools
  • Travel/hospitality industry charities (offices)
  • Marinas/boat hire/passenger boat facilities

BEIS is encouraging businesses across England to contact their local Growth Hub, they can provide a free to use, impartial and local single point of contact to all businesses so that they can access the right advice and support. The hubs can advise businesses on local and national business support including schemes in place to help businesses through the current COVID-19 situation.

2 April - Update to the guidance for local authorities setting out details of the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF), outlining information on state aid, monitoring and reporting requirements, post-payment checks, and the eligibility of charities.

The Business rates: expanded retail discount – guidance has been updated to confirm that the government’s assessment that the expanded retail discount is not a state aid, and that local authorities should therefore award relief to all eligible properties.

1 April - The 2020 National Living Wage comes into effect today (Wednesday 1 April), a 6.2% increase on the previous rate

Following the Government’s announcement that from grants and business rates packages from today we wanted to share the guidance published today for businesses on the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund:

Key information includes:

Details on how grants will be provided:

  • Central Government will provide funding to local authorities that are responsible for business rate billing. Those local authorities will contact eligible businesses to arrange payment of the grants. The business ratepayer will be contacted and receive the funds if they are eligible.

Details on how much funding will be provided to businesses:

  • Under the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) all eligible businesses in England in receipt of either Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) or Rural Rates Relief (RRR) in the business rates system will be eligible for a payment of £10,000.
  • Under the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG) eligible businesses in England in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount (which covers retail, hospitality and leisure) with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will be eligible for a cash grants of £10,000 or £25,000 per property.
  • Eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of up to and including £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000.
  • Eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.
  • Businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or over are not eligible for this scheme. Businesses which are not ratepayers in the business rates system are not included in this scheme.

Also covered is eligibility of businesses for both funds, exclusions to the funds, information around fraud and rating list changes. The full guidance is available for download from GOV.UK.

The Government is asking businesses if they can offer coronavirus (COVID-19) support. The support needed includes:

  • Medical testing equipment, medical equipment design, protective equipment for healthcare workers, such as masks, gowns and sanitiser
  • Hotel rooms, transport and logistics, for moving goods or people
  • Manufacturing equipment
  • Warehouse or office space, for medical use or storage
  • Expertise or support on IT, manufacturing, construction, project management, procurement, engineering or communications
  • Social care or childcare

Businesses can share the areas they can offer support through the online portal.

30 March - Over the weekend Business Secretary Alok Sharma gave the Government's daily briefing including an update on the business support schemes:

On the Business Interruption Loan Scheme, Sharma confirmed that 40 accredited lenders are processing thousands of applications.

Guidance has also been given to English councils on the grants to the smallest business (inc retail and hospitality). The first part of the funding arrived with councils on Friday 27 March, and should be with businesses as soon as possible.

Other updates included:

Updated information on the closing certain businesses and venues page around compliance. The new Regulations extending the restrictions are now enforceable by law due to the threat to public health.

DCMS Secretary of State provides an update on access to cultural attractions from home

The Cabinet Office has produced COVID-19 FAQs detailing what you can and can’t do, which businesses may wish to share with their employees.

Government cracks down on spread of false coronavirus information online

Letter from Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing to caravan and park owners, asking them to remain open for key workers and vulnerable groups

25 March - The Home Office has published new guidance on immigration provisions for individuals affected by travel restrictions associated with coronavirus (COVID-19). In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Home Office is providing visa extensions for those affected by coronavirus. Nobody will be penalised for circumstances outside of their control. The Coronavirus Immigration Helpline remains open. Customers are asked to check gov.uk first as that is the central source of information, but if individuals remain concerned about their immigration status they can contact the helpline at: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk

23 March - The PM's speech includes further "stay at home" measures to tackle the spread of COVID-19, including closing playgrounds, outdoor gyms and "non-essential" shops, as well as gatherings of more than two people including weddings and christenings (funerals are exempt). Police have been given powers to enforce social distancing through fines and dispersal. 

The Government has announced two new pieces of guidance. The first, Guidance: Further businesses and premises to close and second, Social Distancing/Vulnerable people

The Foreign Secretary has advised all British travellers to return to the UK.

22 March - The Government has announced the launch of the business support measures outlined last week. As part of this, they have also launched a dedicated business website that collates information on the support available for businesses.

The Government has also produced guidance for people planning to visit second homes or holiday premises during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Transport Secretary has confirmed that they are offering the opportunity for train operators to transition into ‘Emergency Measures Agreements’ for a period of six months (this can be extended), which will suspend normal financial mechanisms of franchise agreements and transfer all revenue and cost risk to the Government. These measures will ensure services operate for key workers, and minimise disruption to the rail sector in the long term.

17 March - the UK Government announced a £330 billion financial rescue package to support and protect businesses affected by COVID-19, including those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. Full details can be found on GOV.UK. Chancellor announces additional support to protect businesses

Watch the Commons speech

Read Rt Hon Rishi Sunak's speech

In addition, information on the Coronavirus Bill (which will be pushed through the house this week) was published. This guidance outlines the powers the government will receive.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised against all non-essential international travel, initially for a period of 30 days. This advice takes effect immediately.

16 March - The UK public was asked to stop 'unnecessary travel and non-essential contact' for around 12 weeks

11 March - In the 2020 budget, the UK Government announced support for businesses affected by COVID-19. 

4 March - The UK Government announced that statutory sick pay will be made available from day one when self-isolating.