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

01 April 2020

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

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

Advice and support for businesses 

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

Other available support

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has put together a £50 million emergency fund to support the heritage sector as an immediate response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.  

The Heritage Emergency Fund will be available for grants of between £3,000 and £50,000. It is available to organisations across the full breadth of heritage, including historic sites, industrial and maritime heritage, museums, libraries and archives, parks and gardens, landscapes and nature.

Organisations which have received funding in the past and are either a current grantee, or still under contract following a previous grant, can apply.

Priority will be given where:

  • there is limited or no access to other sources of support
  • where heritage is most at risk
  • where an organisation is at risk of severe financial crisis due to COVID-19

Government updates affecting the Tourism Industry  

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.

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

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

Key information includes:

Details on how grants will be provided:

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

Details on how much funding will be provided to businesses:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other updates included:

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

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

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

Government cracks down on spread of false coronavirus information online

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch the Commons speech

Read Rt Hon Rishi Sunak's speech

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

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

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

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

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