Support for businesses

Coronavirus advice and guidance for business

***This advice has been updated from 30 November 2021***

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 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.

Steps 1-3

These steps have expired.

Step 4

On 5 July the Prime Minister set out the government’s plans to lift the remaining Covid-19 restrictions in England from 19 July.

The government has created a five point plan to manage the virus in this phase however the following measures are included:

Social distancing and face coverings 

 ***This advice has been updated from 30 November 2021 due to the rise of Omicron, the new ‘variant of concern’ ***

  • No limits on social contact
  • One metre plus rule removed (except in some settings, such as ports of entry and medical settings)
  • The limits on named visitors to care homes has ended.

New Covid guidance from Tuesday 30 November 2021:

  • Face coverings is mandatory in Shops, and other settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers.
  • All travelers arriving into the country from 4am on Tuesday 30 November will be required to take a PCR test on or before day 2 and self-isolate until they have received a negative test result.
  • All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate, regardless of their vaccination status. They will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace. 

Face coverings will be required from 4am on 30 November 2021 in the following settings (this list is not intended to be exhaustive):

  • shops and supermarkets (places that offer goods or services for retail sale or hire)
  • shopping centres (malls and indoor markets)
  • auction houses
  • post offices, banks, building societies, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses
  • estate and letting agents
  • premises providing personal care and beauty treatments (barbers, hair salons, tattoo and piercing studios, nail salons and massage centres)
  • hospitals, pharmacies, GP surgeries, care homes
  • premises providing veterinary services
  • retail galleries (inc. museum gift shops)
  • retail travel agents
  • takeaways without space for consumption of food or drink on premises
  • public transport (aeroplanes, trains, trams, buses, coaches and ferries), taxis and private hire vehicles
  • transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals) 
  • any car or small van during a professionally delivered driving lesson and practical driving test
  • during all HGV lessons and tests, during all professional driving lessons and formal driving tests, and during any practical test for giving driving instruction

This information is kept under constant review and is subject to change. 

Do you need to display face covering notices?

The new rules require businesses where wearing a face covering is mandatory to display notices on their premises giving information about that requirement. Posters on wearing face coverings can be downloaded by businesses:

Face coverings information leaflet for businesses 
Face coverings poster for businesses A4
Face coverings poster for businesses A3.

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:

Social distancing for businesses poster A3  
Social distancing for businesses poster A4.

Which businesses are exempt from new rule?

Customers, visitors or staff may choose to wear face coverings in any other setting where face coverings are not legally required including places of:

  • worship, cinemas, public libraries or community premises
  • hospitality settings, including restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs or on the part of premises which are wholly or mainly used for eating and drinking (e.g. in a café attached to a shop)
  • photography studios
  • premises providing medical or dental services including dentists, opticians, chiropractors and osteopaths

Who can take enforcement action?

The police, community support officers and Transport for London (TfL) officers have enforcement powers to enforce compliance if members of the public do not comply with these new measures without a reasonable excuse.

As a local authority our enforcement officers can also use their enforcement powers against businesses for failing to display appropriate signage or breaching the prohibition against preventing someone from wearing a face covering.

Regulations to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic is available on gov.uk. Specific guides are available for a number of industries, including:

  • Restaurants, pubs, bars, nightclubs and takeaway services
  • Shops and branches (including indoor and outdoor markets).
  • Events and attractions
  • Construction and other outdoor work
  • Offices, factories and labs.

Do you need to carry out a risk assessment?

The requirement remains to carry out a risk assessment and have one in place, as employers have a duty of care to protect people from harm. Steps to managing and controlling risks can be found on gov.uk

Businesses are only allowed to reopen if they comply with the government’s guidance on managing the risk of COVID-19.

Guidance on whether staff should wear face coverings can be found in the relevant industry guidance for the business.

While not mandatory, you should continue to wear a face covering in indoor places, which are crowded and enclosed and where you may come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

There are some circumstances where people may not be able to wear a face covering. Please be mindful and respectful of such circumstances. Some people are less able to wear face coverings, and the reasons for this may not be visible to others.