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

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

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

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  

10 August:

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

 

4 August:

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Business meetings and events of over 30 people should not currently take place in any venue.
  4. 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.]
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

There are 2,000 places available on the Small Business Leadership Programme and 6,000 on the Peer Networks programme.

Other Government updates 

 

29 July:

We are working closely with the Cabinet Office and Department of Health and Social Care to raise awareness of the Government's guidance for tourists who fall ill whilst on holiday in England.
Businesses are asked to raise awareness of the guidance by directing your customers to the advice displayed on the VisitEngland website. You can also use the copy below to communicate this message to your customers: 

  • If you develop Covid-19 symptoms whilst on holiday, please arrange a test using your holiday address. You can order a test from www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119. You MUST notify your accommodation provider immediately. 
  • If you are contacted by Test & Trace whilst on holiday you MUST notify your accommodation provider immediately that you have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace and asked to self-isolate.
  • If you are well enough to return home by private transportation then please do so and self-isolate at home. Do not use public transport. 

You may wish to include a link to this information as part of the customer booking confirmation and to adopt the messaging on your marketing channels – to help protect your staff and customers.

Other Government updates

Guidance for businesses and organisations on how to recognise, contain and report incidents of coronavirus (COVID-19). Action cards have also been developed to cover a range of businesses and organisations to provide specific advice on the issues each type of organisation may face.

An overview of the government’s approach to managing local coronavirus outbreaks is available.

Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia and St Vincent and the Grenadines have been added to the exempt list of countries and territories for travel into England.

Guidance on how to inform HMRC if you have been overpaid or were not eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

27 July:

If your business is taking part in the Government’s new Eat Out to Help Out scheme this August, which is offering diners discounts of up to 50% on their meal, a new claims website will be launched on 7 August for you to claim your reimbursement.The claims service will be available from 7 August to 30 September. It’s not too late to register your business for the scheme: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/register-your-establishment-for-the-eat-out-to-help-out-scheme

20 July: 

Further to the Prime Minister’s update on Friday, some further details around the next phase of reopening and pilots in England are now available. 

Meetings of up to 30 people indoors are now allowed in permitted venues if social distancing can be maintained and the venue can demonstrate that it has followed the COVID-19 guidance. 

From the 1 August, if prevalence remains around or below current levels, the Government will take the following steps: 

  • Enable the restart of indoor performances to a live audience, in line with COVID- 19 secure guidelines, subject to the success of pilots that are taking place as soon as possible.
  • Carry out pilots in venues with a range of sizes of crowds, particularly where congregating from different places, including business events. The pilots (some of which will begin late July) will be carefully monitored and evaluated to inform future decisions on any further relaxation of the rules.
  • Enable wedding receptions - sit-down meals for no more than 30 people, subject to COVID-19 secure guidance.
  • Exhibition and conference centres are allowed to show small groups (of up to 30 people with social distancing requirements) around to view the facilities and plan future events and to enable Government-backed pilots to take place. They should not be open fully to host events more widely.

From 1 October

  • It is expected that events of all types, including sporting events as well as business events and conferences, will be permitted to resume from 1 October, provided rates of infection remain at current levels. The Government will hold a number of pilots at event venues around the country to plan for the return of large-scale events and test how to implement social distancing practises. Details of these pilots will be finalised in the coming weeks.

Guidance on working safely in the visitor economy has been updated to include business events and consumer shows. 

Customer logging toolkit for businesses 

Public Health England has published the Customer Logging Toolkit. This contains a variety of template materials for businesses to display, as well as guidance on how the policy works. Businesses should be storing the information securely for 21 days and sharing it with NHS Test and Trace if asked to do so. Businesses do not need to do anything else with the information. If a customer tells you they have tested positive for coronavirus, you should tell them to self-isolate as soon as possible and to register their contacts with NHS Test and Trace. You should not use the log of customer details you have collected to contact other customers yourself. Instead, if NHS Test and Trace assess that the customer was on your premises while potentially infectious, they will contact you to provide support and to obtain the details of anyone who may have been exposed to the virus. 

HMRC support for VAT reduction for tourism and hospitality
If you have any detailed questions about the reduced rate of VAT you can contact:

  • Telephone: 0300 200 3700. Outside UK: +44 2920 501 261

Email: VATtourismandhospitality@hmrc.gov.uk

Face coverings at work
Guidance on face coverings, their role in reducing the transmission of coronavirus, the settings in which they are recommended, and how they should be safely used and stored is available here. There is no universal face coverings guidance for workplaces because of the variety of work environments in different industries. Employers should continue to follow COVID-19 secure guidelines

Visa Application Centre (VACs) update
More than 130 VACs have now reopened in total. It has been confirmed that a number of additional VACs will now also reopen later this month. To see the most up-to-date information on which VACs are open you can visit the relevant websites:

 

Other Government updates:

  • Guidance for owners and operators of playgrounds and outdoor gyms has been updated to reflect additional requirements on face coverings.
  • Closing certain businesses and venues in England guidance has been updated to show further easing of restrictions for more businesses and venues to reopen from 25 July and 1 August.
  • Sporting events will allow fans to return from 1 October with social distancing in place, if it is safe to do so. The Government has announced that a small number of sporting events will be used to pilot the safe return of spectators through late July and early August.
  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme guidance has been updated to clarify that notice periods being served by furloughed employees include contractual notice periods.
  • Leicester lockdown: what you can and cannot do guidance has been published.

 

17 July:

Today, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson announced the latest measures for reopening as well as a framework to contain future outbreaks in England. The conditional timeline covered indoor performances, wedding receptions of up to 30 people and some sports resuming from 1 August. Conferences and Business Events that operate in a COVID-secure way will be able to take place from October subject to successful pilot events.

From 17 July

  • Anyone may use public transport but they will be encouraged to use alternative transport where possible.
  • As previously stated, from the 25th July – indoor gyms and pools can reopen.
     

From 1 August

  • There will be an update to the guidance on returning to work. Businesses will have discretion for what works for them and their employees.
  • Most remaining leisure settings, bowling, skating rinks, and close contact beauty services will be allowed to reopen. Nightclubs and soft play will remain closed for now.
  • Live performances will also restart, following some successful pilots this month. They will begin to pilot larger gatherings, for example in sport stadia for reopening later in the autumn.
  • Wedding receptions for up to 30 people will also be able to take place. 

 

September

  • Schools, nurseries, and colleges to open on a full time basis.

October

  • Conferences and Business Events to resume in a COVID secure way, subject to successful pilots.
  • Audiences to return to stadia.

November

  • More close contact between friends and family in time for Christmas.

The Prime Minister also said that from tomorrow 18 July local authorities will have new powers to be able to close specific venues, shut public places and cancel events. A paper will be published next week.

15 July:

Extending the season for holiday and caravan parks

Last night MHCLG laid a Written Ministerial Statement (WMS) that encourages Local Authorities to allow holiday and caravan parks to extend their season. The statement also encourages local planning authorities not to undertake enforcement action which would unnecessarily restrict the ability of caravan and holiday parks to extend their open season.  This WMS has been published to support the sector through COVID-19 disruption. The statement came into effect on 14 July 2020 and will remain in place until 31 December 2022 unless superseded by a further statement. Guidance for Local Authorities and park owners has also been published.

Access to Work: Travel cost evidence now needed

Access to Work is a publicly funded employment support programme that aims to help more disabled people start or stay in work. The programme will provide money towards any extra travel costs associated with disabled people getting to and from work if they can’t use available public transport during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This guidance has been updated to say that people now need to provide evidence to support a claim for travel costs.

14 July:

Mandatory face coverings in shops from 24 July

The Government has announced that face coverings will be mandatory from 24 July when shopping.  To protect those who work in shops and to give people more confidence to shop safely. Those who do not wear a face covering in shops will face a fine of up to £100. Shops can refuse entry to someone not wearing a face covering and can call the police if someone fails to comply. We will share further guidance for businesses when it becomes available.

 

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme updates

The scheme is now closed for the first grant. A number of updates have been made to the scheme guidance:

  • Guidance on how HMRC works out trading profits and non-trading income has been updated to include that losses are not included in your non-trading calculation.
  • Guidance on how different circumstances affect the scheme has been updated to include what supporting evidence you may be asked for if having a new child affected the trading profits you reported for the tax year 2018 to 2019.
  • New guidance has been published on how to pay back some of the SEISS grant if you’ve been overpaid, made a claim in error and were not eligible for the grant or would like to make a voluntary repayment

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) updates

A number of updates have been made to guidance on the CJRS:

  • New guidance has been published on claiming for individuals who are paid through PAYE but not necessarily employees in employment law.
  • Guidance on calculating how much you can claim has been updated with information on claim periods ending on or before 31 August 2020.

Providing apprenticeships during the coronavirus outbreak

  • Guidance has been updated to confirm that the flexibility to suspend level 2 functional skills for level 2 apprentices has been extended, and to provide more information on support for redundant apprentices.

 

13 July:

‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme open for registrations today

The ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ voucher incentive scheme is now open for registration. Restaurants and other eating establishments that sell food and non-alcoholic drinks for immediate on-site consumption may register. Through the scheme, eating establishments can offer a discount to diners of up to 50%, up to £10 per diner, and then claim the difference back from the government. The discount is eligible for purchases made on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 3-31 August. Learn more about the scheme and how to register.

Promotional materials and guidance have been shared to support businesses in promoting the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme.

Planning rules revised to protect performing arts spaces

Changes to the planning system will protect theatres, concert halls and live music performance venues from being demolished or redeveloped as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Councils will need to take the temporary impact of coronavirus into account when considering permission for change of use, redevelopment or demolition of a theatre, concert hall or live music performance venue. The new rules will go into effect next week and remain in effect until 31 December 2022.

Outdoor events resuming in England from 11 July

Outdoor performances in front of a live audience are allowed to restart in England as of Saturday 11 July. According to The Events Industry Forum Guidance that was approved by DCMS, the range of outdoor events now permitted includes:

  • Air Shows
  • Agricultural Shows (including town and country shows)
  • Carnivals, Fun fairs, fetes, steam rallies and Community Fairs
  • Car boot sales
  • Circuses
  • Display and Performing Arts including Street Art Events
  • Firework Displays
  • Flower Shows and Gardening Events
  • Historical re-enactment events
  • Literature Fairs / festivals
  • Pet and Animal Shows
  • Some music concerts
  • Outdoor theatres and performing arts

9 July: 

Today, Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden MP, announced the latest measures for the easing of lockdown and the reopening of the economy. He encouraged the public to support local businesses by buying tickets, visiting galleries and taking advantage of the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ offers. He also announced the following: 

  • Outdoor performances and recreational sport may resume this weekend, and outdoor gyms, swimming pools and water parks may reopen. Venue capacity will be reduced and electronic ticketing will be implemented to control crowds and support Test and Trace.
  • Indoor gyms and swimming pools may reopen from 25 July, with appropriate measures such as enhanced cleaning protocols and pre-booking systems in place.
  • Guidance for managing playgrounds and outdoor gyms is also now available.
  • A number of indoor performances will be piloted by Public Health England, in collaboration with organisations including the London Symphony Orchestra and Butlins. These test events will support related research to work out how indoor performances may resume safely.
  • The planning system is also being altered to protect theatres from demolition and change of use. This comes in addition to the £1.5 billion package announced last week.

Other Government updates

VAT - reduced rate for hospitality, holiday accommodation and attractions: Guidance is now available following the Government’s announcement that VAT registered businesses may apply a temporary 5% reduced rate of VAT to certain supplies relating to hospitality, hotel and holiday accommodation and admission to certain attractions. The temporary reduced rate may be applied between 15 July 2020 and 12 January 2021. Eligible attractions for the temporary reduced rate of VAT include shows, theatres, circuses, fairs, amusement parks, concerts, museums, zoos, cinemas, exhibitions and other cultural events and facilities, but do not include admission to sporting events. Live performances that charge a fee to view online may be eligible, depending on circumstances and assuming they are not already covered by a Cultural VAT exemption. Find more information about which attractions are eligible for the reduced rate of VAT

More information has been released on the new Eat Out to Help Out Scheme including information for businesses on how to register your business for the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme

Advice for British people about cruise ship holidays has been updated in line with the countries exempted on the FCO’s revised travel advisory. 

Business advisors to provide free services to support small businesses in post-COVID recovery.

8 July: Today the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, gave his summer economic statement in which he set out a Plan for Jobs’ to continue the UK’s recovery from the Coronavirus outbreak. The Chancellor noted that tourism has been one of the worst affected sectors and below is a summary of the key points from the Chancellors statement for tourism businesses.

  • The rate of VAT applied on most tourism and hospitality-related activities will also be cut from 20% to 5%.
  • To encourage people to safely return to eating out at restaurants the Government has set up a new Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme. It will provide a 50% reduction for sit-down meals in cafes, restaurants and pubs across the UK from Monday to Wednesday every week throughout August 2020.
  • A bonus scheme worth up to £9 billion for firms has been announced to re-employ furloughed workers. An employer who brings someone back off furlough, and keeps them in a job until January, will get a £1,000 bonus. To get the bonus, firms must pay at least £520 each month.
  • A new £2 billion Kickstart Scheme will also be launched to create fully subsidised jobs. Businesses will be given £2,000 for each new apprentice they hire under the age of 25. This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment already provided for new 16-18-year-old apprentices and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan.

The BTA (VisitBritain/VisitEngland) Chairman, Sir Patrick McLoughlin CH, welcomed the announcement. Read his statement.

Today’s statement  follows an announcement earlier this week of a £1.57 billion support package for the arts, culture and heritage industries, through which organisations from a range of sectors including the performing arts and theatres, heritage sites, historic palaces, museums, galleries, live music and independent cinema will be able to access emergency grants and loans. We will share more information as it becomes available.

 

Other Government updates

Please see below other recent guidance and announcements you may find useful.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for accommodation providers

Guidance for those providing hotel and other accommodation in England has been updated to reflect changes in effect from 4 July 2020. As they prepare to reopen, accommodation providers may refer to specific guidance for:

Certain individuals arriving from overseas will be required by law to self-isolate for 14 days, and businesses providing holiday accommodation may provide rooms to those required to self-isolate. Accommodation for these purposes should adhere to the same guidelines as for other permitted stays, including on social distancing and cleaning.

If a guest is displaying symptoms of COVID-19, they should inform their accommodation provider, immediately self-isolate and request a test. Guests who test positive for COVID-19 should return home if they can do so safely, and if they cannot reasonably return home they should work with the accommodation provider and local health care professionals to determine next steps. Unless otherwise provided for in the contractual terms of the booking, the guest will be expected to pay the costs of an extended stay in all but exceptional circumstances.

Guidance for reopening in England

The following guidance has been published or updated in line with the reopening of the visitor economy in England from 4 July:

 

Travel corridors: Countries exempt from self-isolation requirement on arrival in England

A written ministerial statement on travel corridors has been published outlining the process by which the government determined which countries and territories to exempt from mandatory self-isolation when arriving in England. The government will keep the requirements and exemptions set out in the regulations under review. The next review of the regulations will take place by 27 July 2020. For further information, please visit gov.uk/uk-border-control.

 

Updated self-isolation guidance and further traveller exemptions

Guidance on how to self-isolate when travelling to the UK has been updated to reflect exemptions for certain travel corridor countries and territories.

Updated travel details and new coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance has also been published for individual travellers exempt from border rules in the UK, beyond those people travelling from travel corridor destinations.

 

Defer your Self-Assessment payment on account due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Further information about the July 2020 payment on account deferment has been made available.

 

Closing certain businesses and venues in England, social distancing in a local lockdown

Guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England (or keeping them closed) has been updated following the further easing of coronavirus restrictions from 4 July, as well as location-specific guidance for closing businesses in Leicester. Leicester-specific guidance for social distancing during a local lockdown has also been updated.

 

3 July:

Guidance on maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace

The following businesses providing an on-site service are required to collect and maintain data of staff, customers and visitors upon re-opening:

  • Hospitality, including pubs, bars and restaurants (it does not apply to businesses operating a takeaway/delivery only basis).
  • Tourism and leisure, including hotels, museums, cinemas, zoos and theme parks
  • Facilities provided by local authorities including town halls and civic centres for events, community centres, libraries and children’s centres.
  • Places of worship including use for events and other community activities.

The information businesses should collect: 

Staff:

  • The names of staff who work at the premises
  • A contact phone number for each member of staff
  • The dates and times that staff are at work

Customers and visitors:

  • The name of the customer or visitor. If there is more than one person, then you can record the name of the ‘lead member’ of the group and the number of people in the group.
  • A contact phone number for each customer or visitor, or for the lead member of a group of people.
  • Date of visit and arrival and, where possible, departure time.
  • If a customer will interact with only one member of staff (e.g. a hairdresser), the name of the assigned staff member should be recorded alongside the name of the customer.

This data needs to be kept for 21 days. You should collect this information in a way that is manageable for your establishment. 

Guidance on collection and maintenance of data from Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)
The ICO has also published a statement and a short data protection checklist for protecting customer data:

  • Ask for only what’s needed
  • Be transparent with customers and what the information is being used for
  • Store the data carefully
  • Don’t use it for other purposes
  • Erase the data in line with the government guidelines

Coronavirus Travel Corridors
The Government has today announced that passengers returning or visiting from around 60 destinations including France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Australia, will no longer need to self-isolate when arriving in England from 10 July 2020. All passengers, except those on a small list of exemptions, will still be required to provide contact information on arrival in the UK, including details of countries or territories they have been in or through during the previous 14 days. Existing public health advice on hand hygiene, face coverings and social distancing must also be followed. 

The Devolved Administrations will set out their own approach to exemptions, and so passengers returning to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should ensure they follow the laws and guidance which applies there.

£10 million Kick-starting Tourism Package announced
The Government has today announced a new package to support small businesses in tourist destinations. Grants of up to £5,000 will be available to help adapt businesses following the coronavirus pandemic. 

The funding will be able to be used to pay for specialist professional advice, to adopt new technology and online systems, or to purchase new equipment. 

Funding will be allocated to each Local Growth Hub based on how much of their employment base is linked to tourism and hospitality businesses. We will share more information when available.

Other Government updates

  • Businesses will have the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back to work on a part-time basis time from 1 July. The flexibility includes hours and shift patterns of employees.
  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme page has also been updated with new information including employees being able to be recorded as on furlough during time spent on holiday, how to calculate furloughed hours for different sets of circumstances and how to treat statutory payments received in the claim period.

New examples for how a business could be adversely affected by coronavirus have been added to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) claim page.

1July:

Businesses who have furloughed their staff under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can, from today, bring them back to work part-time. The scheme will remain open until the end of October and will continue to support jobs and businesses as they return to work. Firms will be given the flexibility to decide the hours and shift patterns of their employees – with the Government continuing to pay 80% of salaries for the hours they do not work. 

24 June:

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday regarding the re-opening plans for a number of tourism businesses in England from 4 July, the visitor economy guidance has been published.

The guidance is aimed at business owners, operators and workers in the following areas:

  • hotels and other guest accommodation (including self-catering accommodation, B&Bs, hostels, camping, holiday homes, caravan parks, boats and other types of accommodation including short-term letting). This guidance should be read in conjunction with the working safely in hotels and other accommodation guidance.
  • indoor and outdoor attractions (e.g. arcades, walking tours, theme parks, family entertainment centres, static funfairs, zoos, and aquariums). The events and entertainment guidance may also be useful for attractions that move around (e.g. roving funfair)s to be published shortly.
  • business events and consumer shows (e.g. events taking place in meetings, conference, convention and exhibition centres). Business conferences, events, exhibitions and trade fairs are not currently allowed to take place in England.

The guidance should also be read in conjunction with the working safely guidance, the safer travel guidance and other available sector guidance.

New social distancing guidance, a list of businesses that can open from 4 July and updated guidance for restaurants, pubs and bars has also been made available. 

23 June:

The Prime Minister has announced today the re-opening plans for a number of tourism businesses in England from 4 July, providing the conditions laid out in the Government’s roadmap are met.
In the announcement, it was outlined that from 4 July in England:

  • The two metre social distancing rule will be relaxed to one metre plus. Where it is possible to remain two metres you should continue to do so, but where this is not possible it should be a ‘one metre plus’ policy. New guidance will be published to support businesses – including changing office layouts, protective screens, closing non-essential communal areas etc.
  • Restaurants and pubs can open. Indoor hospitality is limited to table services and contact details will need to be collected from customers.
  • People will be free to stay in self-contained accommodation including hotels, B&Bs and campsites – so long as shared facilities can be kept clean.
  • Tourist attractions will be able to reopen if they can do so safely, outside gyms and playgrounds can also open.
  • Places of worship will be able to reopen, weddings can take place with up to 30 guests.
  • Close proximity venues such as nightclubs, soft play, indoor gyms, swimming pools and spas will remain closed. Taskforces will be established to help them become COVID secure. 
  • Indoor facilities for sports will remain closed, and close contact sports should only happen with people from the same household.
  • Two households of any size will be able to meet in any setting (inside or outside), they do not have to be the same household each time. They are not recommending multiple households meet indoors. 
  • Outside, the guidance remains that people from several households of up to six, or two households can meet regardless of size. 

Guidelines will be published for these reopening sectors. We will share these as soon as they are available.

Round-up of other recent updates 

Updated guidance for accommodation providers if a guest displays symptoms of COVID-19 
If a guest is displaying signs of the COVID-19 virus while staying in overnight accommodation for a permitted reason, they should inform the accommodation provider, immediately self-isolate where they are to minimise any risk of transmission, and request a test. If they are confirmed to have COVID-19, they should return home if they reasonably can. If a guest cannot reasonably return home (for example because they are not well enough to travel or do not have the means to arrange transport), their circumstances should be discussed with an appropriate health care professional and, if necessary, the local authority. Guests should follow Government guidance on dealing with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme template updates
A new template is available for employers who will be claiming for 100 or more employees through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The new form is for claims on or after 1 July.

Commercial property code of practice announced
The Government has extended measures to prevent struggling companies from eviction until the end of September. A new code of practice has been developed with the retail, hospitality and property sectors to provide clarity for businesses when discussing rental payments and to encourage best practice so that all parties are supported.

The Reopening High Streets Safely Fund FAQ has been updated to provide information on websites and local authority delivery partners. Table 1 has been updated to reflect activities that are in or out of the scope of the Fund.

  • The VAT payment deferral period ends on 30 June. Information about the end of the deferral period has been updated.
  • A YouTube video offering guidance on how to make a claim for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has been updated.

 

15 June:

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme guidance updated:

Revised guidance has been published giving more detail on forthcoming changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) following the Chancellor's announcement last month. This includes:

  • From 1 July, employers can only claim for employees who have previously been furloughed for at least three consecutive weeks between 1 March–30 June.
  • From 1 July, employers can bring furloughed employees back to work for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim the CJRS grant for the hours not worked.
  • From 1 August, the level of the grant will be gradually reduced. No grant will be available for Class 1 employer NICs or pension contributions from 1 August, these contributions will remain payable by the employer.
  • From 1 September, employers will also be asked to contribute towards the cost of their furloughed employees’ wages to ensure they continue to receive at least 80% of their wages for the time they are on furlough.
  • Parents returning from maternity, paternity, shared parental, adoption and parental bereavement leave after 10 June are exempt from the cut-off date for new entrants. This applies to employers who have previously submitted a claim for any other employee (between 1 March-30 June). Employees need to have started the leave before 10 June and be returning after 10 June and need to have been on their employers’ PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020.
  • HMRC are running two webinars - Thursday 18 June, 9:45-10:45 and Friday 19 June, 11:45-12:45 - giving an overview of the changes to the scheme, how employers will be affected, flexible furloughing, key dates and support available. Sign up here.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme guidance update:

Updated guidance is available on the extension of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). Eligible individuals are able to claim a second and final grant in August.

  • Those eligible for the first grant must claim on or before 13 July 2020.
  • Applications for the second grant will open in August.
  • The eligibility criteria remain the same as the first SEISS grant.
  • Those claiming for the second grant will have to confirm that their business has been adversely affected on or after 14 July 2020.
  • Individuals can claim for the second grant even if they did not make a claim for the first grant.

Guidance published for aviation passengers and operators, inland and coastal boats:

Updated guidance for holiday accommodation providers on accommodating those arriving into the UK:  

  • Businesses providing holiday accommodation can provide rooms to those required to self-isolate because they have arrived in England from outside the UK, or arrived in England from elsewhere in the UK but have within the preceding 14 days been outside the UK. Read the guidance to find out more.

 

Other Government updates:

Tools and resources available:  

  • A new platform called Digital Boost has been launched. The platform hosts a community of digital experts who will offer one-to-one digital support to small businesses free of charge.
  • The High Streets Task Force has announced that they will provide access to tools, training, information and advice for high streets across England as part of the government’s efforts to get shops back in business safely from 15 June. This support is open to local councils and all organisations involved with high streets and will include free access to online training programmes, webinars, data and intelligence on topics including recovery planning and coordination, public space and place marketing.

Update to the Business Advice Hub: 

We have published a new page on our Business Advice Hub for businesses getting ready to open. The page includes information, advice and links to guidance on reopening along with practical information on operating under social distancing guidelines. 

10 June: 

  • The PM announced that from Monday 15 June, atttractions where people are in the cars can open for visitors, including safari parks and open-air cinemas. The outdoor areas of zoos can also open if they follow Government guidance on social distancing. 
  • Also from 15 June, all non-essential retail shops can open for business, as long as COVID-19 safety rules are adhered to. The Government is working towards 4 July 2020 as a target date to reopen the hospitality and service sectors including pubs and restaurants.

8 June: Business Secretary launches working groups to help plan economic recovery

Business Secretary Alok Sharma is creating five new business-focused groups as part of the Government’s plans to help the economy bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic. Focused on five key themes, each group will explore how business can work with Government to deliver economic growth and jobs:

  • The future of industry: How to accelerate business innovation and leverage private sector investment in research and development
  • Green recovery: How to capture economic growth opportunities from the shift to net zero carbon emissions
  • Backing new businesses: How to make the UK the best place in the world to start and scale a business
  • Increasing opportunity: How to level up economic performance across the UK, including through skills and apprenticeships
  • The UK open for business: How to win and retain more high value investment for the UK

Further details including membership of the five working groups will be published in due course.

From 8 June, transport operators are required to provide information about coronavirus and health information to all passengers travelling to England by sea, air or rail, from outside the common travel area, at 3 stages of the passenger journey: the booking stage, the check-in stage and on-board the vessel, aircraft or train.

5 June:  Updated COVID-19 advice has been published for accommodation providers. The advice still states that businesses providing holiday accommodation (including hotels, hostels, B&Bs, campsites, caravan parks, boarding houses, and short term lets) should remain closed for leisure related stays. No person should stay overnight away from their own home for a holiday or similar purpose. Included in the guidance is advice for businesses who provide holiday accommodation and how they can accommodate those required to self-isolate.  From 8 June, certain individuals travelling from overseas will be required by law to self-isolate for a period of 14 days. Businesses providing holiday accommodation can provide rooms to those required to self-isolate because they have arrived in England from outside the UK, or arrived in England from elsewhere in the UK but have within the preceding 14 days been outside the UK. Accommodation for these purposes should adhere to the same guidelines as for other permitted stays, including on social distancing and cleaning. Read the full guidance on Gov.uk

4 June: The Government has announced that Trade Credit Insurance, which provides cover to business-to-business transactions, will receive up to £10 billion of government guarantees. The Trade Credit Reinsurance scheme, which has been agreed with the insurance sector, will see the vast majority of Trade Credit Insurance coverage maintained across the UK. The guarantees will support supply chains and help businesses to trade during the coronavirus pandemic and continue to be protected if a customer defaults or delays on payment. The scheme is available on a temporary basis for nine months, backdated to 1 April 2020, and available from insurers operating in the UK market.

3 June: New border measures will be introduced from 8 June, there will be new rules in place for entering the UK because due to COVID-19. The rules are for residents and visitors. When these rules are in place, people will need to provide their journey and contact details when they travel to the UK and will have to self-isolate and will not be allowed to leave the place they are staying for the first 14-days they are in the UK except in very limited situations. Arrivals will not need to complete the form or self-isolate if they are travelling from Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man if they were there for 14 days or more. Some travellers, including some specific workers, will be exempt from new English border rules. 

1 June: The Coronavirus Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund has opened. The grant is for small and micro businesses with fixed property costs that are not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund may be eligible.

29 May: Today the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced changes to the UK-wide Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. 

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

 The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be extended, with eligible individuals able to claim a second and final grant in August. The eligibility criteria remains the same as for the first grant, and individuals will need to confirm that their business has been adversely affected by coronavirus.

 The grant will be worth 70% of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total. This is in line with changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme as the economy reopens.

The first SEISS grant, which opened for applications on 13 May, will close to new applications on 13 July. Eligible individuals will be able to make their claim for the first grant any time until this date, and those eligible will have the money paid into their bank account within six working days of completing a claim.

Further details are available in this factsheet. Further guidance on the second grant will be published later this month.  

 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

 From 1 July 2020, businesses will be given the flexibility to bring previously furloughed employees back part time. This is a month earlier than previously announced to help support people back to work.

 From August 2020, the level of the grant will be slowly tapered to reflect that people will be returning to work:

  • In June and July, the Government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance (ER NICS) and pension contributions for the hours the employee doesn’t work. Employers will have to pay employees for the hours they work.
  • In August, the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 and employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions for the hours the employee does not work - 5% of average gross employment costs of those currently furloughed.
  • In September, the Government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,190 for the hours the employee does not work. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500.
  • In October, the Government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee does not work. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,50

 

The cap will be proportional to the hours not worked. To enable the introduction of flexible furloughing, and support those already furloughed back to work, claims from July onwards will be restricted to employers currently using the scheme and previously furloughed employees. The number of employees an employer can claim for in any claim period cannot exceed the maximum number they have claimed for under any previous claim under the current CJRS.

 The scheme will close to new entrants on 30 June, with the last three-week furloughs before that point commencing on 10 June for new entrants.

 From 1 July, employers can bring back to work employees that have been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim CJRS grant for the hours not worked. Employers will need to agree any flexible furlough arrangements with employees, and when claiming the CJRS grant will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week.

Further details are available in this factsheet

Other Government updates include: 

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme now live

Employers with fewer than 250 employees can now claim for up to two weeks of coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). In order to file a claim businesses must be registered with PAYE Online and must have already paid employees’ SSP. Forms are now open for employers to check whether they are eligible and file a claim online.

Guidance on the NHS test and trace service for employers, businesses and workers has been published.

The Test and Trace Service launched across England on Thursday and the new guidance means that anyone who has been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate for 14 days even if they have no symptoms. This guidance explains how employers and businesses can play their part in the NHS test and trace programme to slow the spread of the virus, protect the health and care system and save lives.

26 May:

UK Government announces new public health measures for all UK arrivals: The UK Government has announced that from 8 June everyone arriving in the UK via all modes of transport will be required to inform border force authorities where they will be staying and immediately self-isolate for 14 days. This includes returning British nationals. A very small group will be exempt from these requirements including diplomats, defence personnel and officials working on border security, as well as those returning from Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. 

  • While the new regime will be in place across the United Kingdom, enforcement measures and implementation date will be set individually by the Devolved Administrations.
  • These measures will be subject to review every three weeks to ensure they are in line with the latest scientific evidence and support the UK’s roadmap to recovery. 
  • Contact locator form: All arriving passengers will be required to fill in a form to provide contact and travel information so they can be contacted if they, or someone they may have been in contact with, develops the disease.
  • Enforcement: British citizens and foreign nationals who fail to comply with the mandatory self-isolation condition could face enforcement action, including a Fixed Penalty Notice of £1,000 in England or potential prosecution and unlimited fine. The Devolved Administrations will set out their own enforcement approaches.

Other Government updates:

  • Guidance on accessing green spaces in England has been updated to include a provision for visiting ticketed gardens in line with social distancing guidelines
  • Businesses can claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees during COVID-19
  • Changes have been made to insolvency law to relieve burden on businesses and support recovery.  
  • The Government has also announced a timeline for retail businesses to reopen in June along with an update to their Working Safely guidance to include the retail sector. Outdoor markets and car showrooms can open on 1 June, while other non-essential retail can open from 15 June if they are COVID-secure. This is subject to progress on the five tests and social distancing measures will need to be observed by the public.

19 May: 

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) maximum loan size increased 

The Government has extended the maximum loan size available through CLBILS from £50 million to £200 million. The change is to help larger firms who do not qualify for the Bank of England’s COVID Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF). The expanded loans will be available from 26 May. Companies that receive help through CLBILS and the Bank of England’s Coronavirus Corporate Financing Fund will be asked to agree to not pay dividends and to exercise restraint on senior pay.

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme opens for claims on 26 May 

Small and medium-sized employers will be able to recover Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) payments they have made to their employees through an online portal from 26 May. Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be able to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related SSP. 

Repayments will be at the relevant rate of SSP that has been paid to current or former employees for eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020. Tax agents will also be able to make claims on behalf of employers. Guidance on making a claim is available on Gov.UK

Other Government updates: 

 

12 May: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extended until October

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak today announced that the Job Retention Scheme will be extended until October. Until the end of July there will be no changes, however, from August to October there will be more flexibility to enable people to return to work part time. Businesses will also be asked to share the burden to pay people’s salaries at this time but the 80% will not be reduced. These changes will be available to all sectors. More specific details around the changes will be made available by the end of May. Download a step-by-step guide for employers.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) opens for applications 13 May 

The scheme will allow those who are self-employed to claim a taxable grant of 80% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months, and capped at £7,500 altogether. This is a temporary scheme, but it may be extended. Check if you are eligible to claim

To make a claim you will need:

  • Self-Assessment UTR (unique taxpayer reference)
  • National Insurance number
  • Government Gateway user ID and password
  • Bank account number and sort code that you want the Government to pay the grant into (only provide bank account details where a Bacs payment can be accepted)

When claiming you will have to confirm to HMRC that your business has been adversely affected by coronavirus. 

Guidance for employers

New guidance for employers has been made available for construction and other outdoor work, factories, plants and warehouses, homes, labs and research facilities, office and contact centres, restaurants offering takeaway or delivery, shops and branches and vehicles to help them get their businesses back up and running and workplaces operating safely. 

Industry bodies have been contributing to industry-specific guidance which is awaiting sign off and will be available over the coming weeks.

Other Government updates

  • New guidance on safe travel has been published by the Department for Transport, this includes specific sections for each type of transport.
  • Guidance for businesses seeking to help voluntary, community, and social enterprise organisations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has been published
  • Revaluation of business rates will no longer take place in 2021, to help reduce uncertainty for firms affected by impacts of COVID-19.
  • Safer transport guidance for operators has been published, the guide will help businesses, agencies and others understand how to provide safer workplaces and services for themselves, their workers and passengers across all modes of private and public transport.
 

11 May:

Today the Government has published its roadmapOur plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy which outlines plans to move to the next phase of its coronavirus response. The document outlines a re-opening timetable with July 4 being the earliest date for the hospitality sector, including accommodations and attractions to start opening their premises to customers. 

The tourism sector reopening forms the third stage of a tentative timetable to ease the country out of lockdown, following earlier stages which include starting to return children to schools, the re-opening of retail and some relaxing of rules around exercise. The ambition of the third step is to open some of the remaining businesses and premises that were required to close, including food service providers, pubs, accommodation providers, public places and leisure facilities such as cinemas. However, this is dependent on whether the appropriate social distancing guidelines can be adhered to and the Government’s five tests (see page 11)- 

  1. protecting the NHS
  2. a falling death rate
  3. R less than one
  4. testing and PPE in place
  5. no risk of a second peak being met

It includes easing existing measures in a safe and measured way, stating: "In order to facilitate the fastest possible re-opening of these types of higher-risk businesses and public places, the Government will carefully phase and pilot re-openings to test their ability to adopt the new COVID-19 Secure guidelines. The Government will also monitor carefully the effects of reopening other similar establishments elsewhere in the world, as this happens. The Government will establish a series of taskforces to work closely with stakeholders in these sectors to develop ways in which they can make these businesses and public places COVID-19 Secure."

International travel

In order to keep overall levels of infection down the Government has set out new restrictions around international travel, in line with many other countries. A series of measures and restrictions (see page 29) will be introduced at the UK border. This will contribute to keeping the overall number of transmissions in the UK as low as possible.

  • The Government will require all international arrivals to supply their contact and accommodation information.
  • Strongly advising arrivals to download and use the NHS contact tracing app.
  • All international arrivals not on a shortlist of exemptions will be required to self-isolate in their accommodation for fourteen days on arrival into the UK.
  • Where international travellers are unable to demonstrate where they would self-isolate, they will be required to do so in accommodation arranged by the Government.
  • All journeys within the Common Travel Area will also be exempt from these measures.

These international travel measures will not come into force on 13 May but will be introduced as soon as possible. Further details, and guidance, will be set out shortly.

Other updates:

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: A step-by-step guide for employers has been published. 

The Government has published new guidance on getting Brits back to work and working safely in the workplace during coronavirus. Read the news story

The Government has published a FAQ on what you can and can't do during coronavirus.

10 May: 

The Prime Minister, in his address to the nation announced that the hospitality industry and other public places could open from July provided they are safe and enforce social distancing. This forms the third stage of a tentative timetable designed to ease the country out of lockdown, and will follow earlier stages to return children to schools in June and relaxing rules around exercise.  

7 May: 

Revaluation of business rates has been postponed to 2021 to help reduced uncertainty for firms affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

4 May:

Bounce Back Loans are now open for applications from small and micro businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. 

A discretionary fund has been set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme. 

A £14 million support fund for licensed zoos and aquariums affected by coronavirus launched.

1 May: Latest Government updates

Updates to Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme guidance (CJRS)

The following changes have been made to the CJRS guidance: 

Employee guidance

  • Furloughed employees who are union or non-union representatives may undertake duties and activities for the purpose of individual or collective representation of employees or other workers.
  • Confirmation that Company Directors paid annually are eligible to claim.  
  • Employees receiving Maternity Allowance during a period of Maternity Leave should not receive furlough pay at the same time. 

Employer guidance: eligibility

  • Updated in line with changes to Employee guidance.
  • CJRS grants are not classed as state aid.
  • Changed the date from 28 February to 19 March 2020 in the section on TUPE transfers and payroll consolidation.

Employer guidance: how to calculate the grant

  • The June daily maximum wage rates have been added to the table now the scheme has been extended.
  • Improved clarity in the employer National Insurance contributions section, confirmed the direct percentage method or tables method can be used and added new information for company directors.
  • The scheme opened for applications last week on Monday 20th April, this week the first grants have been paid.

Update on Small Business Grants Fund and the Retail, Leisure & Hospitality Grants Fund (England only):

Local authorities in England are continuing to reach out to eligible businesses directly to arrange payment. The grants are of £10,000 or £25,000 and do not need to be paid back. To ensure all eligible businesses can access these funds, government is encouraging businesses to: 

Find out more information about the schemes.

Other updates:

Business Improvement Districts will receive £6.1 million in funding to help high streets and town centres through the pandemic

Treasury cut taxes to reduce PPE costsfrom 1 May 2020, PPE purchased by care homes, businesses, charities and individuals to protect against COVID-19 will be free from VAT for a three-month period.

An update has been made to the information on tax on the guidance for Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF).

Temporary changes have been made to the guidance on the destruction of spoilt beer, cider, wine or made-wine if you're a brewer, cider producer, winemaker or publican.

£5.7 million government investment will protect Great Britain-Northern Ireland air passenger flights, the vital routes will be safeguarded for transporting critical workers

HM Treasury and HMRC are setting out new timelines for tax policy consultations and other work in the light of the current COVID-19 crisis

The social distancing guidelines have been updated to provide further clarification on the requirements of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020, and additional information on clinically vulnerable people.

29 April:

The Competition and Marketing Authority (CMA) to investigate cancellation rights

The CMA has launched a programme of work to investigate reports of businesses failing to respect cancellation rights during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through its COVID-19 Taskforce, which monitors market developments and identifies the big problems facing consumers, the CMA has seen increasing numbers of complaints in relation to cancellations and refunds.

The CMA has identified three sectors of particular concern: weddings and private events, holiday accommodation and nurseries and childcare providers. It will tackle these areas as a priority and then move on to examine other sectors, based on the information received by the taskforce. The CMA acknowledges that most businesses are acting reasonably in what are unprecedented circumstances, and the current crisis is placing everyone under pressure, but consumer rights cannot be ignored.

28 April:

A new free online learning platform has been launched, ‘The Skills Toolkit’ will help people to build their skills during the coronavirus outbreak and beyond.

Register to join a free webinar hosted by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy at 11:00am on Monday 4 May to find out how small business can access the coronavirus business support measures that have been made available to UK businesses. The webinar will cover - eligibility for small business grants, applying for a loan, tax and claiming for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. You will have the opportunity to ask questions during the webinar.

HM Treasury and HMRC are setting out new timelines for tax policy consultations and other work in the light of the current Covid-19 crisis

Update to the local authority payments to SMEs page. As of 27 April, over £7.59 billion has been paid out to 614,181 business properties. This is over 61% of the grant funding allocated to local authorities.

27 April: 

New Bounce Back Loans scheme for small businesses announced

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has today, 27 April, announced a new Bounce Back Loans scheme that will be made available to small businesses from 9:00 Monday 4 May. These loans will be 100% government-backed. Businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days. Loans will be interest-free for the first 12 months and businesses can apply online through a short and simple form. Loan terms will be up to 6 years with no repayments due during the first 12 months. The government will work with lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan. The scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders.

Eligibility

You can apply for a loan if your business:

  • is based in the UK
  • has been negatively affected by coronavirus
  • was not an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ on 31 December 2019

You cannot apply if you’re already claiming under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

If you’ve already received a loan of up to £50,000 under CBILS and would like to transfer it into the Bounce Back Loan scheme, you can arrange this with your lender until 4 November 2020.

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) guidance on insurance
The FCA has set up the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) - an independent body to provide arbitration for insurance claims of smaller businesses (with a turnover of less than £6.5 million and fewer than 50 employees). The decision of the FOS is binding on insurers up to £350,000. 

To take your complaint directly to the FOS, please contact: The Financial Ombudsman Service, Exchange Tower, London, E14 9SR.

Telephone: 0300 123 9123.
Email: complaint.info@financial-ombudsman.org.uk
Web: financial-ombudsman.org.uk

G20 Tourism Ministers’ meeting
The G20 Tourism Ministers held a meeting on COVID-19 on Friday 24 April, Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston was in attendance and addressed the group. He spoke of the importance of tourism to the UK economy, the Government’s support measures and the regular discussions he is in with the tourism industry about what their priorities are for the recovery period. He highlighted the key areas of concern including how businesses can operate while there are still social distancing measures in place; what further guidance is needed; and whether there is a need for tapered support as businesses adjust.
The G20 Tourism Ministers also issued a statement on COVID-19 outlining their commitments.

Other Government updates

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) COVID-19 survey 

DCMS invites you to take part in a survey being conducted to understand the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on organisations in the digital, culture, media, sport, gambling, telecoms and tourism sectors and their engagement with the available government interventions. Your answers will remain anonymous and will be used to inform DCMS’ preparedness efforts. 

The survey should take around 10-20 minutes and the deadline for responses is 15 May 2020. Please follow this link to access the survey to begin submitting your response.

22 April: 

The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) is now open for applications.

The scheme helps all viable large businesses with an annual turnover of £45 million affected by COVID-19 to access loans of up to £25 million. Firms with a turnover of more than £250 million can apply for up to £50 million of finance. The scheme is available through a series of accredited lenders, which are listed on the British Business Bank website. The government provides lenders with an 80% guarantee on individual loans, to give banks the confidence to lend to businesses impacted by COVID-19. CLBILS allows lenders to support businesses that were viable before the COVID-19 outbreak but now face significant cash flow difficulties that would otherwise make their business unviable in the short term.

To be eligible businesses must:

  • Be based in the UK
  • Have an annual turnover of over £45 million
  • Be able to self-certify that their business has been adversely impacted by coronavirus
  • Not have received a facility under the Bank of England’s COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility
  • Have a borrowing proposal which the lender could consider viable, if not for the coronavirus pandemic and believes it will enable you to trade out of any short-term to medium-term difficulty

The full rules of the scheme and guidance on how to apply is available on the British Business Bank website.

Further updates

  • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has created a Coronavirus Business Support Blog to help business get the support they need to help with the impact of coronavirus. The blog contains additional information and resources, including case studies from businesses who have or will be accessing government support and posts from different people across government and business.

20 April:

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has opened for applications for businesses who have put staff on furlough due to COVID-19.

  • HMRC has published new guidance on how to make a claim including step-by-step guidance and a calculator to help you work out your claim.
  • The online system can process up to 450,000 applications per hour and employers should receive the money within six working days of making an application. To receive payment by 30 April, you will need to complete an application by 22 April. Please keep a note or printout of your claim reference number as you will not receive a confirmation SMS or email.
  • HMRC are also holding webinars providing an overview of the scheme to help employers and employees deal with the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Further updates to the CJRS eligibility guidance include moving the eligibility date from 28 February to 19 March; how to report fraud or abuse of the scheme; clarifying how holiday pay should be treated and clarifications on agency workers, fixed-term contracts and on claims for employees made redundant. 

Recovery planning

Today the Chancellor spoke about planning for recovery, and the need to encourage businesses and jobs of the future, to drive growth. Two initiatives to support this have been launched: 

  • A £500 million Future Fund for high growth companies, helping them to access the financial support they need. The Future Fund will provide UK-based early stage companies with convertible loans between £125k and £5 million. This fund is subject to at least equal match funding from private investors.
  • Innovate UK, £750 million of funding for innovative firms across the UK.

The new initiatives are part of a £1.25 billion government support package announced on Friday to help UK businesses driving innovation and development through the COVID-19 outbreak. 

In addition, councils across England will receive another £1.6 billion in additional funding as they continue to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

17 April:

Chancellor expands loan scheme for large businesses

The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme has been expanded to cover all viable firms. All firms with a turnover of more than £45 million will now be able to apply for up to £25 million of finance, and up to £50 million for firms with a turnover of more than £250 million. The scheme, which will launch on Monday 20 April, will be available through a series of accredited lenders, which will be listed on the British Business Bank website.  

Government is also clarifying the position for firms owned by private equity, which will be able to access the guaranteed loan schemes.This complements existing support including the Covid Corporate Financing Facility and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme for small and medium-sized businesses.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extended and open for claims from 20 April

The Government has announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be extended until the end of June to reflect continuing social distancing measures. The online claim service for the scheme will be launched on GOV.UK on Monday 20‌‌ April. Any entity with a UK payroll can apply, including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities.

To prepare to make your claim you will need:

  • a Government Gateway (GG) ID and password – if you don’t already have a GG account, you can apply for one online
  • be enrolled for PAYE online – if you aren’t registered yet, you can register here  
  • the following information for each furloughed employee you will be claiming for: Name, National Insurance number, claim period and claim amount, PAYE/employee number (optional).
  • if you have fewer than 100 furloughed staff – you will need to input information directly into the system for each employee. If you have 100 or more furloughed staff – you will need to upload a file with information for each employee; HMRC will accept the following file types: .xls .xlsx .csv .ods.

You should retain all records and calculations in respect of your claims. You can find more information on the scheme and eligibility to claim

Other Government updates

16 April:

Dominic Raab, Sir Patrick Vallance, and Chris Whitty led today’s press conference, the key area of focus was the continuation of the lockdown measure for three weeks.

  • Raab chaired COBRA earlier today to consider the SAGE advice. While the measures put in place are playing a role in slowing down the rate of infection, there is still concern that the virus will continue to spread in some settings. The infection rate is still now down as much as necessary.
  • Any changes to our social distance measures now would present a risk of a second peak, undoing progress to date. Risking public health and the economy.
  • Based on this advice the Government will be extending the lockdown by at least three weeks.

Before adjusting any measures the Government must be satisfied of these things;

  1. The NHS’ ability to cope. Sufficient critical care and treatment must be available.
  2. Sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rates.
  3. Reliable data to show that the rate of infection is decreasing.
  4. PPE and testing capacity is in hand.
  5. Confident that any adjustments will not result in a second peak.
  • When the Government is confident on these points, decisions will be taken based on the science on what economic activity can be resumed.
  • It may include strengthening some areas whilst relaxing others, all decisions will be based on evidence.
  • Raab acknowledged that people were keen for dates and plans, but said it was too soon to judge the evidence. The Government is looking to learn lessons from other countries as they change their advice, however decisions will be based on what is best for Britain.

15 April: 

Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) guidance updates

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme guidance has been updated to provide clarifications on some of the areas that were unclear, including:

  • Detail of the treatment of losses, averaging and multiple trades
  • Clarifications on the calculation of self-employed profits and what is meant by total income
  • Confirmation that individuals are able to continue working, including taking on an employment role
  • Confirmation that owner-managers of Ltd companies can access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for their salary
  • Confirmation that individuals can access Universal Credit and the SEISS
  • Clarification on overlaps between the SEISS and CJRS (e.g. you can claim the SEISS and continue working).

 Further information can be found on how to claim a grant here and how HRMC works out total income and trading profits for SEISS scheme here

Furlough eligibility cut-off date extended to 19 March 

The eligibility cut-off date for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough scheme) has been extended from 28 February to 19 March. Employers are now able to claim for furloughed employees that were employed and on their PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020. This means that the employee must have been notified to HMRC through an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020. The scheme is due to be fully operational next week. 

Under the scheme, employees can be on any type of employment contract, including full-time, part-time, agency, flexible or zero-hour contracts. Foreign nationals are eligible to be furloughed. 

If you made employees redundant, or they stopped working for you on or after 28 February 2020, you can re-employ them, put them on furlough and claim for their wages through the scheme. This applies to employees that were made redundant or stopped working for you after 28 February, even if you do not re-employ them until after 19 March. 

Read more about the eligibility extension and how to claim support through the scheme here

Further guidance for Tier 2, 4 and 5 visa sponsors can be found on gov.uk.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Government is asking for businesses to 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.

Check the latest travel health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website.

Message of reassurance and welcome to Chinese travel operators in China you can repurpose