COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Support for Businesses and Employers

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Support from the London Growth Hub

Hot Topic: Reopening Safely

The UK Government’s COVID-19 Recovery Strategy

The UK Government published its plan for easing coronavirus lockdown measures on 11 May 2020, which includes a three-step approach for easing lockdown restrictions in England:

  • Since 13 May, anyone who cannot work from home, such as workers in the construction and manufacturing sectors, should be encouraged to return to work.
  • On 1 June, the UK Government started the phased reopening of some areas of the economy. The Government has confirmed non-essential retailers can start reopening from 15 June.
  • From 4 July, the Government will reopen some of the remaining businesses that have been required to close, including hair salons, restaurants, pubs and bars, and some leisure facilities. Find out more about the venues that can reopen. 

The UK Government has published guidance to help employers and the self-employed understand how to reopen and work safely during COVID-19. The guides cover a range of different types of work.

On 23 June, the UK Government set out further changes to lockdown measures in England from 4 July. Changes include:

  • Where it is not possible to stay two metres apart, guidance will allow people to keep a social distance of ‘one metre plus’ while taking mitigations to reduce transmission.
  • Certain businesses will be required to capture contact details from customers and visitors for track and trace.
  • Provided no more than two households stay together people will be able to stay overnight in self-contained accommodation, including hotels, B&Bs and campsites.
  • Restaurants and pubs are to open but will be limited to table service.
  • Most leisure facilities and tourist attractions will reopen if they can do so safely. This includes outdoors gyms, playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, arcades, libraries, social clubs and community centres.
  • Hairdressers will be able to reopen with precautions in place.

On 9 July, the UK Government announced the reopening of further businesses and venues in England:

The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy update (17 July)

On 17 July, the Prime Minister set out plans to further ease coronavirus restrictions in England and move to the next phase of the UK Government’s response. The plans include:

  • From 1 August, employers will be able to make more decisions about how they ensure employees can work safely in line with COVID-19 Secure guidelines. This could include continuing to work from home or returning to the workplace. However, employers should consult their employees and only ask them to return to work if it is safe.
  • Most leisure settings that have been required to remain closed, such as bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos, will be able to reopen from 1 August.
  • Businesses providing close contact services such as beauticians will also be able to resume from 1 August.
  • The Government will enable the restart of indoor performances to a live audience, subject to the success of pilots that are taking place soon. Find out more.
  • Business events, conferences and events in stadia are set to resume in the autumn subject to the successful outcome of pilot events.
  • Schools, nurseries and colleges will be able to open on a full-time basis in September.

On 31 July, the Prime Minister announced that the further easing of coronavirus restrictions in England has been postponed.

A number of businesses including casinos, bowling alleys, close contact services and theatres were due to start reopening from 1 August. However, this has now been postponed until 15 August at the earliest. Pilots of larger crowds in sports venues and conference centres will also not take place.

From 8 August, the requirement to wear a face covering will be extended to other indoor settings where you are likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet, such as museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship.

Read the Prime Minister’s announcement in full here.

Support from the London Growth Hub

The London Growth Hub has published a series of factsheets to support businesses across London to reopen and work safely during COVID-19:

Government support 

#OpenForBusiness Campaign
From 15 June, many retailers across the country will be reopening, and the Government is keen to help welcome back shoppers and celebrate the hard work businesses and retail workers are putting in to ensure their workplaces are COVID-19 Secure.

As such, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is encouraging business owners to be part of the #OpenForBusiness campaign.

To support the campaign, please do the following:

  • Take a photo of yourself in front of your reopening business, preferably in front of an ‘Open’ sign
  • Post the picture on your social media channels
  • Use #openforbusiness
  • Tag the Department for Business: Instagram: @beisgovuk / Twitter: @beisgovuk / Facebook: @industrialstrategygovuk

BEIS are also looking for short self-shot videos of ‘a day in the life’ of staff in reopening businesses, so we can show the extra measures businesses are taking to keep employees and customers safe. If you or a staff member would be interested in taking part, please contact nicky.henderson@beis.gov.uk.

Travel guidance for employers

To support businesses with employees returning to work from Monday 15 June, the Department for Transport has developed resources for employers, which you can find here.

Wherever possible, businesses should encourage and allow employees to work from home. If your employees must travel to work, please encourage them to walk or cycle when they can. Transport for London (TfL) has issued guidance around how businesses can support staff to walk or cycle, rather than utilising public transport. If it is essential for them to use public transport, it is mandatory (from 15 June) that they should wear a face covering for the entirety of their journey.

Mandatory face coverings in shops

The Government has announced that face coverings will be mandatory from 24 July when shopping.  This is 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. You can make face-coverings at home. The key thing is it should cover the mouth and nose. Further guidance for business will be available on GOV.UK soon.

Guidance on face coverings at work

The UK Government has published guidance on the use of face coverings. It outlines the settings in which face coverings are recommended and how they can be used safely. The guidance also clarifies that it is not compulsory for shop and supermarket staff to wear face coverings in England. However, employers can recommend their use where appropriate.

Due to the wide variety of work environments, there is no universal guidance on the use of face coverings in the workplace. Employers should follow COVID-19 Secure guidelines to manage and reduce contact between employees. The guidelines currently cover 14 different types of workplace.

Reopening the hospitality sector

The following resources provide advice and information to help the hospitality sector navigate the COVID-19 outbreak and prepare to reopen safely:

London Growth Hub webinars

The London Growth Hub is running numerous webinars to support businesses during COVID-19.

COVID-19 Business Help Series

The London Growth Hub has launched the COVID-19 Business Help Series, bringing you highly informative free webinars delivered by expert speakers. The webinars have been carefully designed to guide London’s small businesses across various problem areas, as they navigate the challenges of COVID-19. Upcoming webinars include:

To find out more, go to www.growthhub.london/get-support/covid19-business-help-series/.

Webinars for micro-businesses and SMEs from London Growth Hub, LEAP and partners

The London Growth Hub is working with partners to deliver a programme of webinars to support businesses during COVID-19. For information about upcoming webinars, go to www.growthhub.london/covid19-partner-webinars/.

External webinars

The UK Government has published a series of webinars to help businesses work safely during COVID-19. They cover a range of business settings and sectors including construction, offices, labs, and working in other people’s homes. To watch the webinars, click here.

HM Revenue & Customs is running a series of webinars to support businesses and the self-employed access Government support during COVID-19. For more information about upcoming webinars, click here.

Cross River Partnership is running a series of webinars to support businesses to recover from COVID-19.  Past webinars include:

Free fundraising through ‘Pay It Forward London’

We are offering free fundraising to help businesses to secure trade by pre-selling vouchers, goods and services. Find out more at www.growthhub.london/pay-it-forward.

Shared Workspace Support Programme

The London Growth Hub has launched the Shared Workspace Support Programme that will provide free online support to workspaces providers and their tenants on:

  • Access Business Rate Relief and other relief schemes
  • Have guidance on how to handle future rent negotiations with your landlord(s)
  • Have help on how to handle talks with your local authority
  • Support your tenant with grant applications
  • Network with other workspace providers.

Through webinars and 1:1 advice sessions,  this is a fantastic opportunity for workspace providers and tenants to access professional advice and support, to help them through these challenging times. There will also be the opportunity for virtual networking and potentially making contact with local authorities, to discuss the current situation and how they can work together, to simplify the process of applying for business rate relief.

For more information on how to access the project, click here.