Coronavirus advice and guidance for business
We continue to experience a high volume of calls and emails, so it may take us longer than usual to get back to you.
If we are unable to answer please leave a message and we will try to respond as soon as possible.
We thank you for your patience.
Roadmap out of lockdown
A four step plan to ease the lockdown in England was announced by the Prime Minister on Monday 22 February 2021.
On 8 March restrictions started to lift with the government’s four-step roadmap offering a route back to a more normal life.
These steps have expired.
Step 3, which took effect on 17 May, saw most businesses in all but the highest risk sectors reopen. In all sectors COVID-secure guidance remains in place and businesses may not cater for groups larger than the legal limits. Indoor hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues can seat customers at tables indoors.
Other venues reopened, for example:
- museums, theatres, cinemas and children’s play areas
- the rest of the hospitality sector including hotels, hostels and B&Bs
- indoor adult group sports and exercise classes.
The government also now allows some larger performance and sporting events to take place in indoor venues which have a capacity of 1,000 people or operate half-full (whichever is the lower number) and for these type of events to take place in outdoor venues which have a capacity of 4,000 people or half-full (whichever is the lower number). In the largest outdoor seated venues, where crowds can be spread out, up to 10,000 people will be able to attend (or a quarter-full, whichever is lower).
Step 4 delay
Finally, the introduction of Step 4 was delayed on 14 June following a review of social distancing and other long-term measures. This informed decisions on the timing and circumstances under which the rules on one metre plus, the wearing of face coverings and other measures may be lifted. This also includes guidance on working from home, which should continue wherever possible until this review is complete.
The review concluded that the government will be extending this period of review for a further four weeks, until 19 July, which means that we remain at Step 3 of the roadmap.
However, there are some exceptions which have been applicable from 21 June and these are:
- civil ceremonies and receptions
- weddings and receptions
- funerals and wakes
- care home visits.
The number of people who can attend these events now depends on the capacity of venues and how many people can be safely accommodated taking into consideration social distancing measures. This includes guests of all ages and anyone working at the event.
Weddings and civil partnerships which take place at home must follow social contact rules i.e. there must be no more than six people or two households present.
For events held in private gardens or on private land where there will be more than thirty people present, COVID-19 risk assessments must be completed and practical steps taken to ensure that the event takes place safely. Any structure involved (e.g. a marquee) must have at least 50% of its walls open in order not to be classed as indoors.
For full details of how the rules changed on 21 June, visit gov.uk.
In Step 4 the government hopes to reopen remaining premises, including nightclubs, and ease the restrictions on large events and performances that apply in Step 3. This will be subject to the results of the Events Research Programme to test the outcome of certain pilot events through the spring and summer, where we will trial the use of testing and other techniques to cut the risk of infection. The Events Research Programme will guide decisions on whether all limits can be removed on weddings and other events.
As we move through each of these phases on the roadmap, we must all remember that COVID-19 remains a part of our lives. We are going to have to keep living our lives differently to keep ourselves and others safe. We must carry on with ‘hands, face, space’ and comply with the COVID-secure measures that remain in place.
Everyone should also:
- meet outdoors when possible
- keep letting fresh air in when indoors
- get tested when needed
- get vaccinated when offered.
If we all continue to play our part, we will be that bit closer to a future that is more familiar.
For full details of the roadmap, visit gov.uk
On 5 July the Prime Minister set out the government’s plans to lift the remaining Covid-19 restrictions in England from 19 July.
Following the Prime Minister’s confirmation on 12 July that the country has now moved into Step 4 of the roadmap, the majority of covid restrictions have ended and guidance emphasise personal responsibility through informed choice both for businesses and customers. For example, the government expects and recommends that face coverings are worn in crowded and enclosed spaces, such as public transport (see below for more details) and when mixing with people you don’t normally meet.
The government will review the new guidance in September.
The rule of six has been removed on indoor gatherings, meaning that you can get together with family and friends in groups of any size.
Strict rules in pubs and restaurants have been lifted, including the one metre social distancing rule. This means pubs and restaurants are no longer bound by the table only service and customers can once again can have a drink at the bar. Capacity bans at venues have also been lifted, though the venues can continue to impose capacity limits, face covering, social distancing rules with their discretion to keep customers safe.
Nightclubs will be allowed to reopen for the first time since March last year. Although they are not required by law to enforce social distancing or face coverings, the government recommends that they use the Covid-status certification. This shows you your Covid-19 vaccination status and/or test results status, using the NHS COVID Pass.
International travel will be easier. From 4am on 19 July you will no longer have to self-isolate for ten days if returning from amber listed countries and territories, if you have been fully vaccinated with an NHS vaccine or if you take a Covid-19 test on day 8. As travel advice can change imminently, we recommend you check foreign travel advice.
Large weddings can return without limits on the number of guests; the compulsory need for social distancing and face coverings have ended, unless the venue or individuals wish to keep some of these safety measures in place.
The need to continue to work from home where you can has been discarded and employees can be expected to return to the workplace. All businesses should follow the principles set out in the working safely guidance.
All capacity limits at sporting, entertainment and business events have been lifted. This means theatres, festivals, concerts and sporting events have reopened fully without limitations, though organisers are encouraged to continue to use their discretion to have some covid-status verification systems in place. We would also encourage our residents to check with their event organiser of any additional measures before visiting a venue. The government reserves the right to mandate certification in certain venues at a later date if necessary.
Businesses must continue to identify the controls needed to reduce the risk of Covid-19 by updating their risk assessment.
See here for full guidance.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has asked TfL to keep the requirement to wear face coverings on public transport as a condition of travel on all TfL services after 19 July when the existing national legal requirement finishes. This would provide an extra layer of protection and additional reassurance to Londoners and visitors to the capital by going further than the government’s updated messaging that it is “expected” and “recommended” that people wear face coverings on public transport, and support our city’s economic recovery.
Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)
Keeping your customers and visitors safe
Seven steps to protect yourself, your staff and your customers during coronavirus.
- Complete a COVID-19 risk assessment. Share it with all your staff. Find out how to do a risk assessment.
- Clean more often. Increase how often you clean surfaces, especially those that are being touched a lot. Ask your staff and your customers to use hand sanitiser and wash their hands frequently.
- Ask your customers to wear face coverings in any indoor space or where required to do so by law. That is especially important if your customers are likely to be around people they do not normally meet. Some exemptions apply. Check when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make your own.
- Make sure everyone is social distancing. Make it easy for everyone to do so by putting up signs or introducing a one way system that your customers can follow.
- Increase ventilation by keeping doors and windows open where possible and running ventilation systems at all times.
- Take part in NHS Test and Trace by keeping a record of all staff and contractors (not customers) for 21 days. This is enforceable by law.
- Turn people with coronavirus symptoms away. If a staff member (or someone in their household) or a customer has a persistent cough, a high temperature or has lost their sense of taste or smell, they should be isolating. By law employers must not require someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.
Five more things to be aware of if your business is a shop, retail store or a branch:
- Ensure staff wear face coverings. By law, staff in retail settings must wear face coverings when in customer facing areas, unless they have an exemption.
- Reduce crowding. Consider how many people can be in the space while remaining socially distant. Use floor markings to manage queues.
- Help your staff maintain social distancing. Consider using barriers to separate staff and customers, introduce back-to-back or side-to-side working, and have staff work in the same team each day.
- Limit the handling of goods and clean stock regularly. Store items that have been returned, donated, or brought in for repair in a container or separate room for 48 hours or clean them before display.
- Communicate and train. Make sure all staff and customers are kept up to date with how safety measures are being used and updated.
These are the priority actions to make your business safe during coronavirus, you should also read the full version of the guidance below.
More information can be found on the gov.uk website.
The UK government, in consultation with industry, has produced ‘COVID-19 secure’ guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible.
Businesses should print, sign and display the Staying secure in 2020: Five Steps to safer working together notice (PDF) to reaffirm to members of the public and employees that the business is complying with the government’s guidance on managing the risk of COVID-19. For smaller, lower risk businesses, enforced for health and safety by local authorities and who don’t have dedicated health and safety advice we have created a template to help businesses (Word) go through the risk assessment process and document their findings.
You can view guidance on the gov.uk website on local restriction tiers: what you need to know.
Guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic is available on the government's website (external link). Specific guides are available for a number of industries including:
Businesses are only allowed to reopen if they are complying with the government’s guidance on managing the risk of COVID-19. Businesses should print, sign and display the Staying secure in 2020: Five Steps to safer working together notice (PDF) to confirm to members of the public and employees that they are COVID-19 Secure.
For smaller, lower risk businesses enforced for health and safety reasons by local authorities and who don’t have dedicated health and safety advice, we have created this template to help businesses (Word) go through the risk assessment process and document their findings.
The Council has also created social distancing posters for you to display for the exterior and interior of your businesses, to remind customers to maintain social distancing.
Download the posters in A3 size (PDF)
Download the posters in A4 size (PDF)
Mandatory face coverings in shops and indoor public settings (still applies until 19 July)
- In England it is a legal requirement to wear a face covering in the following indoor settings:
- public transport and transport hubs
- shops, supermarkets, indoor markets and shopping centres (coverings can be removed when sitting in a food hall or eating area)
- premises providing professional, legal or financial services
- premises providing personal care and beauty treatments (coverings can be removed during treatment if required)
- premises providing veterinary services
- visitor attractions and entertainment venues (coverings can be removed when sitting in a food hall or eating area)
- libraries, community centres, youth centres and social clubs
- places of worship
- funeral service providers
- exhibition halls and conference centres
- public areas in hotels and hostels
- storage and distribution facilities.
Customers are expected to wear a face covering before entering any of these settings and must keep it on until they leave unless there is a reasonable excuse for removing it. Guidance on whether staff should wear face coverings can be found in the relevant industry guidance for the business. Information on working safely during coronavirus is available on gov.uk.
All staff offering close contact services, including hairdressers, should now wear a face mask (type 2 surgical), in addition to a clear visor that covers the face. This will help protect the customer and staff from respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing, or speaking.
In settings where face coverings are required there are some circumstances where people may not be able to wear a face covering. Please be mindful and respectful of such circumstances, noting that some people are less able to wear face coverings, and that the reasons for this may not be visible to others. Further information is available on the gov.uk website.
To support businesses with this new legislation the Council has posted the following materials to businesses which can also be downloaded from the website:
- Face coverings information leaflet for businesses (PDF)
- Face coverings poster for businesses A4
- Face coverings poster for businesses A3
To report a business that is open when it should remain closed, please contact the Council Trading Standards Service on 020 3373 9937 9am – 5pm. To contact us outside of these hours email [email protected].
Guidance for click and collect and mixed retail use
If you are operating as a mixed retailer, you MUST be selling more than 50% of essential items including food, hardware and building materials. Click here to find out more.