Advice and support for businesses
You can watch a video of the recorded webinar on the HMRC YouTube channel Coronavirus – (COVID-19): helping employers to support employees.
Government updates affecting the tourism industry
Tighter restrictions to be introduced in North East England from 18 September
In a statement today Health Secretary Matt Hancock outlined the tighter restrictions that will come into force from tomorrow 18 September for Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham.
- Residents of these areas should not socialise with other people outside their own households or support bubble.
- Hospitality for food and drink will be restricted to table service only
- Late night restrictions of operating hours will be introduced, so leisure and entertainment venues must close between 10pm and 5am.
Residents of these areas have also been advised to adhere to the following guidance:
- Not to socialise with other people outside of their own households in all public venues.
- To take holidays only within your own household or support bubble
- Only to use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work
- To avoid attending amateur and semi-professional sporting events as spectators
New NHS COVID-19 app to support test and trace
Launching on 24 September, the new NHS COVID-19 app will help businesses meet the new legal requirement to record the contact details of customers, visitors and staff on their premises.
Following the launch of the new COVID-19 app, customers and visitors in England will be able to check-in on entry with their phone instead of filling out a check-in book or tool specific to a business. This will allow NHS Test and Trace to contact customers with public health advice should there be a COVID-19 outbreak. Businesses who are already using their own QR system are being encouraged to switch to the NHS Test and Trace QR code. An alternative check-in method must be maintained to collect the contact details of those who don’t have the app, for example a handwritten register.
You should create and display a QR code if you are:
- A business, place of worship or community organisation with a physical location that is open to the public
- An event which is taking place in a physical location
- Once you have registered for your QR code you are being encouraged to display the NHS QR code posters in a place that is visible on entry to the business. Find out more
New measures and restrictions in place
From 14 September new measures are in effect, including a restriction on social gatherings of more than 6 people and a requirement for businesses to collect visitor data to support the NHS Test and Trace system.
The guidance on working safely during COVID-19 has been updated with priority actions for businesses to take, including steps for collecting information for the Test and Trace system and rules on gatherings of more than 6 people. Sector-specific guidance is available for the following:
- Performing arts
- Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services
- Heritage locations
- Hotels and other guest accommodation
- The visitor economy
- Guidance for small weddings, civil partnerships and receptions has also been updated.
Following requests for more detail, please see the following clarifications from DCMS:
- COVID-19 secure venues will be able to host business events of up to 30 people taking into account Visitor Economy guidance, including social distancing requirements.
- The intention remains to reopen exhibition and conference centres from the 1 October but this will need to be continually assessed in light of the recent spike in cases.
- If it is possible to ensure that groups of more than six do not mingle on a guided tour, it can go ahead. This would potentially be the case for a day trip or shorter tours of a visitor attraction.
Areas with restrictions
Despite the introduction of new national restrictions in England, people in areas with local restrictions should continue to follow the rules in their specific area within private homes and gardens, and in public venues including pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops, places of worship, community centres, leisure and entertainment venues, or visitor attractions and parks. These areas include Blackburn with Darwen, Oldham and Pendle, Bolton, Leicester City, North of England, Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull.
Local lockdown updates:
New restrictions in Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull announced
New restrictions on meeting other people have been announced in order to push down the coronavirus rate of infection in Birmingham (city council area), Sandwell (metropolitan borough council area), Solihull (metropolitan borough council area). From Tuesday 15 September residents in these areas will not be able to mix with any other households, indoors or in private gardens, except for those in a support bubble. This applies both inside and outside the city boundaries.
Leicester City – reopening of some businesses
From 15 September, the following businesses and venues can reopen or restart in Leicester City
- skating rinks
- bowling alleys
- indoor play areas, including soft play areas
- exhibition centres and conference halls for external attendees
- indoor performances
- close contact services, which are any treatments on the face such as eyebrow threading or make-up application
- wedding receptions and celebrations, including for up to 30 people in the form of a sit-down meal
Calculate how much to claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Updated guidance is available to help employers calculate employees’ working and furloughed hours for workers who came off furlough partway through a claim period. Employers using this calculation do not need to amend previous claims.
This afternoon the Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a press conference with the introduction of some new measures from Monday 14 September in England.
General measures and rule of six
- From Monday 14 September, it will no longer be legal to meet socially in groups of more than 6. This will apply indoors and outdoors, including in private homes and hospitality settings like the pub. There will be a limited number of exemptions.
- This single measure replaces both the existing ban on gatherings of more than 30 and the current guidance on allowing 2 households to meet indoors.
Work settings and weddings and funerals
- Education and work settings are unaffected, and organised team sports will still be able to proceed, as will weddings and funerals up to 30. From Monday 14 September, this limit will be enforceable in law.
COVID Secure venues – tourism and hospitality
- COVID-19 Secure venues, such as places of worship, restaurants and hospitality venues, can still host larger numbers in total but groups of up to 6 must not mix or form larger groups. This rule will not apply to individual households or support bubbles of more than 6 who will still be able to gather together.
- Premises and venues where people meet socially will be legally required to request the contact details of a member of every party, record and retain these details for 21 days, and provide them to NHS Test & Trace without delay when required.
- The government will support local authorities to make further and faster use of their powers to close venues that are breaking the rules and pose a risk to public health.
- Fines will be levied against hospitality venues that fail to ensure their premises remain COVID Secure.
- The government will boost the enforcement capacity of local authorities by introducing COVID Secure Marshalls to help ensure social distancing in town and city centres, and by setting up a register of Environmental Health Officers that local authorities can draw upon for support.
- The government will restrict the opening hours of premises, initially in local lockdown areas, with the option of national action in the future.
Simplified guidance is available on gov.uk.
Events, conferences and sport
- Plans to pilot larger audiences in venues later this month will be reviewed along with the intention to return audiences to stadiums and conference centres from 1 October. That doesn’t mean the programme will be scrapped entirely. The Culture Secretary is expected to provide an update in due course.
- Planned sports pilot events will be limited to smaller, safer numbers, with strict conditions to ensure social distancing, and will not take place in areas where incidence is high.
- The government will take steps to improve compliance with border requirements. They will simplify the Passenger Locator Form needed for travelling to the UK, and take measures to ensure these are completed and checked before departure.
- Border Force will step up enforcement efforts at the border to ensure arrivals are complying with the quarantine rules.
New grants for businesses affected by local lockdowns
Businesses in England required to close due to local lockdowns or targeted restrictions will now be able to receive grants worth up to £1,500 every three weeks. To be eligible for the grant, a business must have been required to close due to local COVID-19 restrictions. The largest businesses will receive £1,500 every three weeks they are required to close. Smaller businesses will receive £1,000. Payments are triggered by a national decision to close businesses in a high incidence area. Each payment will be made for a 3-week lockdown period. Each new 3-week lockdown period triggers an additional payment. Currently these payments are available in Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle, and Oldham as part of an ongoing trial scheme.
Update on local lockdowns: The Government has published a list of areas under local lockdown which includes links to area-specific guidance for each region impacted by local restrictions.
Guidance for guests who become unwell while on holiday in England: The government has outlined advice for people who become unwell while on holiday in England:
- Guests who develop coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms while staying in overnight accommodation should inform the accommodation provider immediately, self-isolate and request a test by calling 119 or online at nhs.uk.
- Guests who test positive should return home as quickly and directly as possible, continuing to self-isolate until they can arrange for private transport.
- In most cases it will not be possible to self-isolate in the holiday accommodation and guests should arrange to return home as safely and quickly as possible.
- If the accommodation provider agrees, guests may extend their stay in order to self-isolate until they are well enough to travel. Unless otherwise provided for in contractual terms of the booking, the guest will be expected to pay the costs of an extended stay in all but exceptional circumstances.
As a reminder, here is guidance for accommodation providers on hosting guests that have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Government has announced the resumption of the easement of restrictions from 15 August. Some of remaining aspects of England’s culture, sport, leisure and business sectors will be permitted to reopen from Saturday in England – except for specific areas where local restrictions are in place - as follows.
- Indoor theatres, music and performance venues will be able to reopen with socially distanced audiences under updated performing arts guidance published by the Government.
- Wedding receptions in the form of a sit-down meal in a COVID-secure location for up to 30 guests will now be permitted.
- A number of pilots will now be able to take place at event venues across the country to help plan how best to restart indoor business events and implement social distancing practices. Business events and conferences will be permitted to resume from 1 October provided rates of infection remain at current levels.
- Indoor play and indoor soft play, bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos will be permitted to reopen.
- Beauty salons, tattoo studios, spas and barbers across England will be able to offer all close contact services – including front of the face treatments such as eyebrow threading, eyelash treatments and facials from August 15 under new guidance.
- The piloting of a small number of sporting events to test the safe return of spectators will resume from August 15 with a view to reopening competition venues for sports fans, with social distancing measures in place from 1 October. This will commence with the final of the World Snooker Championship at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre during 15-16 August, with a full pilot programme to follow.
At the same time, the Government has announced a series of tough new enforcement measures targeting the most serious breaches of social distancing restrictions, including significantly increasing fines in the coming weeks for repeatedly not wearing face coverings where mandated. All staff offering close contact services, including hairdressers, are now required to wear a face mask (type 2 surgical), in addition to a clear visor that covers the face.
Updates to travel corridors
People arriving in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales from France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks and Caicos Islands and Aruba from 4:00am Saturday 15 August 2020 will need to self-isolate for 2 weeks as the countries are removed from the travel exemptions list.
The Government has published guidance for England on what people should do if they are on holiday in an area with local coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, or live in a restricted area and are planning on taking a holiday outside the area. Advice for accommodation providers has also been updated to cover this scenario and can be found in the Working Safely guidance.
The guidance for individuals covers:
Staying inside the area
Steps you should take:
- If you live inside the area, you should only socialise indoors with members of your own household or support bubble.
- You can only stay in a private home - which includes self-catered accommodation such as holiday cottages, apartments or boats - with members of your own household or support bubble.
- You can stay in a hotel or similar accommodation (for example, a hostel or bed and breakfast) with another household, but should avoid sharing rooms with people you do not live with or otherwise socialising indoors, for example in each other's rooms, in reception areas, or in restaurants and bars.
- Sharing a caravan with another household is being advised against. You should not share private vehicles to travel to your holiday destination.
- You can travel into an area with local restrictions on holiday. Whilst inside the area, you should follow the guidance set out above.
Travelling outside the area
Steps you should take:
- If you live inside an area with local restrictions, you can go on holiday outside that area but you should only socialise indoors with members of your own household or support bubble.
- You can only stay in a private home - which includes self-catered accommodation such as holiday cottages, apartments or boats - with members of your own household or support bubble.
- You can stay in a hotel or similar accommodation (for example, a hostel or bed and breakfast) with another household but should avoid sharing rooms with people you do not live with or otherwise socialising indoors, for example in each other's rooms, in reception areas, or in restaurants and bars.
- Sharing a caravan or boat with another household is being advised against. You should not share private vehicles to travel to your holiday destination.
Advice for accommodation providers in the Working Safely guidance is as follows:
- People resident inside an area with local restrictions are advised to only socialise indoors with members of their own household or support bubble.
- People resident inside an area with local restrictions can go on holiday outside that area, but whilst there should only socialise indoors with members of their own household or support bubble.
- They must only stay in a private home - which includes self-catered accommodation such as holiday cottages, apartments or boats - with members of their own household or support bubble.
- People can stay in a hotel or similar accommodation (for example, a hostel or bed and breakfast) with another household but should avoid sharing rooms with people they do not live with or otherwise socialising indoors, for example in each other’s rooms, in reception areas, or in restaurants and bars. Sharing a caravan with another household is advised against.
- At the time that local restrictions are brought in, if you are currently on holiday with another household in an area with local restrictions and are staying in a private home - which includes self-catered accommodation such as holiday cottages, apartments or boats - and it is not reasonable for you to curtail your stay, you should finish your holiday as planned. Until the end of this holiday, you should make every effort to reduce socialising indoors outside of your household and follow local regulations and guidance.
Responsibilities of the accommodation provider:
- Within the area, you should not intentionally facilitate interaction between more than one household/support bubble indoors. This includes renting rooms in your private home to holiday makers.
- Outside the area, you should not intentionally facilitate interaction indoors between more than one household/support bubble from within an area with local restrictions. This includes renting rooms in your private home to holiday-makers. Those not complying with these responsibilities may be at risk of the premises being closed.
- All accommodation providers are encouraged to consider their approach towards guests from inside areas with local restrictions. You may wish to communicate to all customers with existing bookings, reminding them of the law and giving them a chance to cancel their bookings if they intend on travelling with another household.
- If guests are not able to take a planned holiday due to local restrictions, the Government is encouraging they offer alternative dates if this can be agreed with the customer. If this cannot be arranged, they are encouraging businesses to provide a refund as they have for customers during the broader period of national restrictions, which may depend on the terms of the booking contract.
- If a booking is cancelled, either by the guest or the provider, the Government is encouraging the offer of alternative dates if this can be agreed with the customer or, if not possible, the provision of a refund as you have for customers during the broader lockdown period, (subject to the terms of the booking contract).
Business meetings and events:
People should only socialise indoors within their own households or support bubbles in areas with local restrictions. However, businesses and venues following COVID-19 secure guidelines can host groups, if this is in accordance with the relevant guidance for their sector. This includes hosting business meetings and events of up to 30 people in permitted venues.
Other Government updates
Travel corridors update for arrivals in England
Andorra, the Bahamas and Belgium were removed from the exempt list for arrivals on 8 August 2020.
Filming and broadcasting update
Filming and broadcasting at permitted visitor economy venues can take place subject to those using the premises following the guidance issued for filming from the British Film Commission or, in the case of TV production, the BBC. The number of persons allowed on site will be in accordance with the filming or TV production guidance. However, arrangements for meetings, accommodation or food and refreshments will need to follow the relevant visitor economy guidance. Exhibition and conference centres are not permitted venues presently and therefore not able to use their facilities for these purposes
Following Friday's anouncement regarding the postponement and changes to the reopening of events, the Government has updated its Visitor Economy guidance to reflect these changes and respond to questions raised by the industry. We are pleased to share a summary with you, along with other relevant updates.
The Visitor Economy guidance for England has been updated to reflect the changes to the current permissions. Of note:
- Meetings of up to 30 people indoors are allowed in permitted venues if social distancing can be maintained and the venue can demonstrate it has followed the COVID-19 guidance.
- If permitted venues have multiple, separate meeting facilities, these can be hired out simultaneously for separate meetings/events if social distancing can be maintained, groups can be kept separate, and the venue can demonstrate it has followed the COVID-19 guidance.
- Business meetings and events of over 30 people should not currently take place in any venue.
- Banqueting and private dining events should not currently take place in any venue. [NB. If a banqueting venue is able to operate as a restaurant (following the relevant BEIS guidance, adhering to rules on social distancing, keeping household groups/bubbles separate, etc) this would be allowed.]
- Conference centres and exhibition halls remain closed. They will reopen when the balance of risk allows. Where such venues have small, separate and directly accessible meeting facilities as part of the site, these may be used to host business meetings and events of up to 30 people if social distancing can be maintained, groups can be kept separate, and the venue can demonstrate it has followed the COVID-19 guidance. Business meetings and events of over 30 people should not currently take place in conference centres and exhibition halls.
- Academic venues (Universities and Colleges) can use their lecture theatres and classrooms for external meetings of up to 30 people and as above, separate and directly accessible meeting facilities can be used as long as groups are kept separate and all other guidance is followed.
- Basic catering can be provided at meetings and events, following the COVID-19 guidance for bars, pubs and takeaway services. However, it is advised not to hold extended sit down meals for large groups. The UKHospitality guidance may also be useful; it recommends grab and go and pre-packed food rather than buffet.
- The guidance states that events should operate at a capacity allowing for compliance with social distancing of 2m, or 1m with mitigations. This should be the fundamental principle. It notes that for conferences and events, venues should consider social distancing approximately equivalent to a density of 10m2 per person, given the additional risks of large groups interacting in this specific environment. The pilots (when they take place) will assess the guidance and whether the mitigations suggested are appropriate/sufficient.
Wedding receptions of up to 30 will be kept under review with the earliest start date of 15 August. Guidance will be shared as soon as it is available and will cover dining provision for these specific events.
Receptions, award ceremonies, examinations, filming, fashion shows, product launches and team building exercises are not expected to take place until restrictions on business events are lifted. The current provisional date for this is 1 October, if public health assessments allow. It is expected that risk assessments in line with Visitor Economy and AEO guidance will need to be undertaken. The pilots will assess whether that guidance is sufficient or needs updating in any way. We will keep you updated. Venues may also need to consider mitigations depending on specific aspects of their events (e.g. performing arts guidance on singing/dancing if relevant).
Changes to claims on the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme from 1 August
The rules for the scheme have changed. Unless you’re making a new claim for an employee who is a military reservist or is returning from statutory parental leave, you can only continue to claim through the scheme if:
- You have previously furloughed the employee for three consecutive weeks between March 1 and 30 June
- You submitted your claim before 31 July
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme update for those with a new child
A new form and accompanying guidance is available for those who have a new child which affected their trading profits or total income reported for the tax year 2018 to 2019. You can use the new form to ask HMRC to verify that you had a new child. HMRC will review your application and contact you within two weeks, if HMRC tells you that your information has been verified you should make a claim from 17 August 2020 to find out if you’re eligible for the grant.
Two new leadership programmes to help small business leaders announced
The Government has announced two new training programmes for small businesses on management, productivity and problem-solving skills.
- The Small Business Leadership Programme will focus on strengthening decision-makers’ leadership skills.
- The Peer Networks Programme will focus on helping business owners improve their problem-solving skills, through a series of guided exercises.
There are 2,000 places available on the Small Business Leadership Programme and 6,000 on the Peer Networks programme.
Other Government updates
- The closing certain businesses and venues in Leicester guidance has been updated to reflect the changes to the Leicester Regulations that took effect from 1 August.
- Guidance for small marriages and civil partnerships has been updated to reflect additional requirements on face coverings and amendments to the roadmap for wedding receptions.
- Guidance for owners and operators of playgrounds and outdoor gyms has been updated to reflect the additional requirements on face coverings.
- Eat Out to Help Out Scheme officially began yesterday. Find out more and how to apply.
- Guidance on how to apply for a Zoo Animal Support Fund grant has been published.