Support for businesses

Coronavirus advice and guidance for business

We are experiencing a high volume of calls at Newham Business Desk so it may take longer than usual to get back to you. We will endeavour to respond to you as soon as possible but if you are unable to get through to us, please leave us a message on the phone or in the first instance please email us at [email protected]. We thank you in advance.

Latest government updates and guidelines

The UK Government’s COVID-19 Winter Plan presents a programme for suppressing the virus, protecting the NHS and the vulnerable, keeping education and the economy going and providing a route back to normality.

Find out more about the Covid-19 Winter Plan on the gov.uk website 

The government moved to a tier system on 2 December, where different tiers of restrictions apply in different parts of the country.

There are four tiers for local restrictions:

  • Tier 1: Medium alert 
  • Tier 2: High alert
  • Tier 3: Very high alert.
  • Tier 4: Stay at Home

You will be able to use the postcode checker to find out the restrictions in your area or an area you plan to visit. The NHS COVID-19 app will be updated on 2 December.

Prime Minister Announces National Lockdown

The Prime Minister has announced a national lockdown and instructed people to stay at home to control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.

The decision follows a rapid rise in infections, hospital admissions and case rates across the country, and our hospitals are now under more pressure than they have been at any other point throughout the pandemic.

All non-essential retail, hospitality and personal care services must close, or remain closed. Restaurants can continue delivery, takeaway or click-and-collect of food and non-alcoholic drinks, but venues will no longer be able to serve takeaway or click-and-collect alcohol.

Essential shops and garden centres can remain open. Entertainment venues and animal attractions such as zoos must close, but the outdoor areas of venues such as heritage homes and botanical gardens can remain open, to be used for exercise. Playgrounds may also remain open.

More information on which businesses can remain open or must close, can be found on gov.uk

Working safely during Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Keeping your customers and visitors safe
Seven steps to protect yourself, your staff and your customers during coronavirus.

  1. Complete a COVID-19 risk assessment. Share it with all your staff. Find out how to do a risk assessment.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Increase ventilation by keeping doors and windows open where possible and running ventilation systems at all times.
  6. 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. 
  7. 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. 

Risk assessment implementation template for COVID-19 (Word).

View the information on working safely during coronavirus which includes 12 guides for different sectors on the gov.uk website.

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 (when regulations permit their opening)

  • 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:

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].