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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice and guidance for small businesses and the self-employed

LAST UPDATED 11.08.20 13.34 | Advice and guidance on reducing the risks from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) virus to you and your business.

 

With the rapidly changing nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, information and advice from Government can change quickly. For all the latest Government information on COVID-19 and the measures the Government, and Devolved Governments, are taking, please visit the UK Government website, the Scottish Government website, the Welsh Government website or the Northern Irish Government website.

Latest News

10 August 

From the 10th August wearing a face covering in indoor settings such as shops and shopping centres is now mandatory in Northern Ireland. Further information can be found here.

5 August 

The First Minister announced that the Scottish Government is implementing a limited local lockdown in Aberdeen. Businesses impacted can find more information on both the Scottish Government and Aberdeen City Council websites.

3 August 

The UK Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme opens with the aim of supporting the eat-in food sector. Consumers can have 50% discount up to a maximum of £10 until 31 August. Participating eateries will be refunded by HM Treasury by claiming each week up until the end of September. Register your business to take part.


31 July 20

Change to lifting restrictions postponed

July 31, the Prime Minister has announced that the lifting of lockdown restrictions planned for 1 August will be postponed for at least two weeks.

The following, may now NOT reopen on 1 August:

  • Bowling alleys
  • Ice rinks
  • Casinos
  • Beauticians
  • Theatres (indoor performances)

Opening is now postponed to 15 August at the earliest.

Wearing of face coverings

Revised guidance on face coverings were announced on 31 meaning that from 8 August the mandatory wearing of face coverings will be extended to more settings by law.

Local restrictions

Local restrictions are in place in Luton, Leicester and parts of the north, where these rules differ. 

On 5 August the Scottish Government also implemented a limited local lockdown in Aberdeen. Businesses impacted can find more information on both the Scottish Government and Aberdeen City Council websites.

Visit our blog for guidance on how your small business can prepare for lockdown.

When can my business reopen?

With lockdown easing, many businesses across the UK are beginning to reopen. We’ve provided an overview of the changes to expect across the UK over the coming weeks, including expected timelines for businesses reopening and which businesses can and can’t reopen currently.

Each part of the UK is following a different timeline for reopening. Reopening dates may be subject to reviews and relevant criteria being met. Businesses that are reopening should carry out a risk assessment to ensure they are COVID-19 secure.

This information will be regularly reviewed.

Which businesses can open?
  • Non-essential retail including shops selling clothes, toys, shoes, furniture, books and electronics
  • Auction houses, photography studios and indoor markets
  • Outdoor markets, garden centres and car showrooms
Opening from 4 July:
  • Pubs, restaurants, hairdressers
  • Some leisure facilities and tourist attractions may also reopen, including outdoor gyms and playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades
  • Libraries, social clubs, places of worship and community centres
Opening from 11 July: 
  • Outdoor swimming pools and waterparks
Opening from 13 July: 
  • Spas
  • Nail bars and salons and beauty salons
  • Tanning booths and salons
  • Massage parlours
  • Tattoo parlours
  • Body and skin piercing services

There is guidance in place to help these businesses operate safely.

Opening from 25 July:
  • Indoor fitness and dance studios
  • Indoor gyms
  • Indoor sports courts and facilities
  • Indoor swimming pools and indoor water parks

Specialist guidance has been created to help these establishments work safely

Which businesses can’t open?

New announcements are being made regularly, so be sure to check the government website for updates. There is a full list of businesses which must remain closed at present.

The Scottish Government has set out a roadmap for businesses to reopen as the country moves out of lockdown. All dates are indicative and subject to following physical distancing rules and health advice.  At present Scotland is in phase 3 of the plan.

Businesses that can open
  • Indoor workplaces including factories, warehouses, labs and research facilities, excluding non-essential offices
  • Non-essential retail both indoor and outdoor as well as shopping centres
  • Zoos and garden attractions
  • Outdoor markets
  • Outdoor sports courts
  • Hospitality businesses, both indoor and outdoor
  • All holiday accommodation
  • Hairdressers & Barbers
  • Museums & galleries
  • Cinemas
  • Libraries
  • Childcare providers, subject to individual provider arrangements
  • Personal retail – beauticians, nail salons, tailors and bridal shops
  • Drive-in live events
Open from 24 August
  • Live events (outdoor) – following covid guidance
  • Funfairs
  • Amusements, arcades and casinos
  • Snooker/pool halls/indoor bowling
  • Driving lessons
  • Organised outdoor contact sports
Open from 14 September (indicative)
  • Gyms (indoor)
  • Swimming pools (indoor)
  • Soft play (indoor)
  • Live events (indoor)
  • Other indoor entertainment (theatre/live music – not nightclubs)
  • Indoor sports courts
  • Stadia

There is general guidance for small and micro businesses who can re-open as well as sector specific guidance.

What businesses can’t open?

Non-essential offices and call centres will remain closed until at least the 11th September

Which businesses can open?

All non-essential retail shops, providing they comply with the physical distancing duty, some leisure and tourism businesses can reopen from 6 July. the Welsh Government has created a checklist to help these businesses work within the public health regulations and guidelines.

Opening from 6 July 
  • Outdoor visitor attractions
Opening from 11 July
  • Self-contained holiday accomodation. This includes holiday cottages, holiday caravans including touring caravans, motorhomes, boats and some glamping accommodation with their own kitchens and bathrooms that no other guests use.
  • Hotels and other serviced accomodation that have en-suite rooms and can provide room service meals
  • Caravan parks for self-contained accomodation. Shared facilities must remain closed. 
Opening from 13 July

Pubs, bars and restraunts with ourtside seating only. 

Opening from 25 July 

Accommodation with shared facilities such as campsites, hostels and hotels, can reopen alongside underground attractions

Opening from 27 July

Beauty salons, tattoo studios, indoor cinemas and galleries reopen.

Opening from 3 August

Indoor areas of pubs, cafes, restaurants and bars expected to reopen

Which businesses can’t open?

Some businesses must remain closed, including some bars, restaurants, leisure facilities and hotels. 

A decision about the next phases of reopening is expected on 9 July, when regulations are reviewed.

Which businesses can open?
  • All goods retailers
  • Garden centres and plant nurseries
  • Outdoor markets and auction houses
  • Caravan parks, camp sites and self-contained tourist accommodation
  • Animal care or welfare services, including boarding, stabling, grooming, exercising or training animals
Opening from 3 July
  • Restaurants, cafes, coffee shops
  • Pubs and bars selling food and alcohol on a table service basis
  • Hotels can reopen, including restaurants, bars and outdoor areas, but hotel leisure and spa facilities must remain closed
  • Visitor attractions
  • Guesthouses, guest accommodation, B&Bs, hostels
  • Betting shops (this will remain under review)
Planned reopening dates

The following reopening dates are subject to scientific advice, the ability of the business to meet social distancing and hygiene requirements, and the control of the transmission rate. Check official guidance for updates.

Opening from 6 July
  • Nail, beauty, hair salons and barbers and tanning services, electrolysis or acupuncture
  • Spas
  • Tattoo and piercing parlours
Opening from 10 July
  • Indoor gyms
  • Outdoor leisure playgrounds
Opening from 29 July
  • Cinemas, theatres, nightclubs, bingo halls, concert halls and arcades
Opening from 7 August
  • Indoor sports courts and skating rinks
  • Leisure centres and soft play areas
Which businesses can’t reopen?

Full list of businesses which must stay closed at this time.

Working safely during coronavirus guidance

A practical guide to working safely during COVID-19 has been published to support businesses with safer working practices.

Social distancing guidelines

Full guidance on social distancing for businesses in Northern Ireland.

Reopening your business safely

As more businesses begin to reopen the trading landscape looks very different. The government has published eight separate guides covering eight different types of work environments. These guides set out the steps employers can put in place for meeting their health & safety obligations in the workplace during the coronavirus pandemic. These guides can be seen and downloaded via the GOV.UK website. There is separate guidance for Northern IrelandWales and Scotland, if your business is located in these nations you should ensure you comply with your national guidelines. 

Key guides 

How to reassure your customers

How to reassure your customers

Learn how to let your customers know you are open for business and COVID secure.

Collecting customer data

Collecting customer data

Some businesses will need to collect contact data for their customers. Find out more in our blog.

Find out More

Face coverings and your business

What you need to know ahead of July 24


Free downloads 

Back to business: How to navigate the recovery phase
Article Tue, 21 July 2020

Back to business: How to navigate the recovery phase

Read and download our practical guide containing useful resources and where you can go if you need more help.

COVID-19: A4 Printable we are open signs
Document Tue, 30 June 2020

COVID-19: A4 Printable we are open signs

Printable signs and social media cards to let your customers know that you are open for business.  

COVID-19: A4 Printable Signage Pack
Document Wed, 10 June 2020

COVID-19: A4 Printable Signage Pack

Let customers know your business is COVID-19 secure and help keep everyone on your premises safe with our printable A4 signage pack.

Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

The government has published eight separate guides covering eight different types of work environments. These guides set out the steps employers can put in place for meeting their health & safety obligations in the workplace during the coronavirus pandemic. These guides can be seen and downloaded via the GOV.UK website. There is separate guidance for Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, if your business is located in these nations you should ensure you comply with your national guidelines. 

The guidance focuses on five key points, which the government has stated should be implemented as soon as it is practical

Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment

Employers will need to carry out COVID-19 risk assessments in consultation with their workers or trade unions, to establish what health and safety guidelines to put in place. If possible, employers should publish the results of their risk assessments on their website and the government expects all businesses with over 50 employees to do so.

Reinforce cleaning processes

Workplaces should be cleaned more frequently, paying close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards. Employers should provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points.

Return to work if it is safe to do so

Employees should return to work where it is safe to do so. Refer to the Government guidance for instructions on how to operate safely across a range of workplaces.

Maintain social distancing, wherever possible

Employers should re-design workspaces to maintain 2 metre (1 metre from July 4) distances between people by staggering start times, creating one way systems, opening more entrances and exits, or changing seating layouts.

Where people cannot be distanced, manage transmission risk

Employers should look into putting barriers in shared spaces, creating workplace shift patterns or fixed teams minimising the number of people in contact with one another, or ensuring colleagues are facing away from each other.

Source: Markel Law LLP 

The Scottish Government has published a four-phase plan setting out the approach for easing coronavirus restrictions in Scotland. At present Scotland is in phase two of this routemap.

As Scotland moves through the re-opening plan certain sectors of the economy are being to re-open, including non-essential shops on the 29th June and the tourism and hospitality sector on the 15th July. Businesses can find up to date guidance and re-start information for their sector here and access to guidance on engaging with staff and toolkits on the Healthy Working Lives website.

When businesses re-open they will need to engage with the Test and Protect regime in Scotland, guidance for employers on how to do so can be found on the Scottish Government website.

The Welsh Government has published a plan setting out the approach for easing coronavirus restrictions in Wales.

Maintaining 2m social distancing in the workplace is law in Wales. Businesses are expected to take reasonable measure to ensure this can happen such as, reducing the number of people working on the premises at any one time, increasing space between staff and staggering shifts. Full guidance for businesses can be found here.

The NI Executive has published a phased five-stage coronavirus recovery plan, setting out the approach the Executive will take when deciding how to ease coronavirus restrictions in the future.

Guidance for businesses that open throughout the recovery in Northern Ireland can be found here.

The Guidance focuses on three key areas:

  • Following Public Health Guidelines – this includes; ensuring there are facilities for handwashing available and that everyone should wash their hands when they get to work and throughout the day, facilitating and maintaining social distancing and providing PPE.
  • Safer Work Practices – this includes; avoiding non-essential travel, considering staggering start, finish and break times for employees and ensuring the workplace is thoroughly and regularly cleaned.
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing – this includes; employers and line managers to be alert to mood or behavioural changes in employees and talk to them compassionately about problems.

Key resources

Beat the heat: Coping with heat at work during COVID-19
Article Sun, 31 May 2020

Beat the heat: Coping with heat at work during COVID-19

As temperatures rise this summer and businesses begin to reopen their doors, learn how you can stay safe in the heat during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

COVID-19: Health and safety checklist
Document Thu, 21 May 2020

COVID-19: Health and safety checklist

Risk assessments have always been a legal part of business for maintaining health and safety, and they’ll now be crucial for preparing your business for the return to work.

Business beyond lockdown: How to carry out a risk assessment
Article Thu, 21 May 2020

Business beyond lockdown: How to carry out a risk assessment

For the latest information, guidance and support on coronavirus for small businesses, visit our coronavirus hub.

Managing your staff during COVID-19

As small businesses transition back to work, our new normal brings new ways of doing business. We answer your questions about managing your employees after furlough, supporting employee wellbeing and staying safe in the workplace. 

Key resources

What is the redundancy process during COVID-19? Guidance and advice for small businesses
Article Mon, 22 June 2020

What is the redundancy process during COVID-19? Guidance and advice for small businesses

Losing employees is difficult for any small business. Our guide walks you through the redundancy process and how you can ensure it’s carried out in a compassionate, legal way.

How to bring an employee back from furlough leave
Article Mon, 15 June 2020

How to bring an employee back from furlough leave

Shops are beginning to open, or considering opening. We look at how to recall your staff from furlough leave.

Back to work: What should I do as an employer?
Article Mon, 01 June 2020

Back to work: What should I do as an employer?

With lockdown easing, many businesses across the UK are beginning to reopen. We answer your questions about managing your employees, looking after their wellbeing and managing health and safety in the workplace.

What if I can’t reopen yet?

We’re here to support you every step of the way. If your business can’t yet open due to restrictions, our financial guides explain what national grants and schemes are available to small businesses and the self-employed across the UK to support them during this period. In addition to national funding there are also sources of local funding and support which can be accessed via local councils.  

FSB members can also log into their dashboard to find details of local FSB contacts and online events offering help and support across the UK.

Download the PDF guide for your home nation to get started. 

England

Read now

Scotland

Read Now

Wales

Read now

N. Ireland

Read now

Key resources

How can my business plan for recovery after lockdown?
Article Fri, 17 July 2020

How can my business plan for recovery after lockdown?

Learn how your business can prepare for the next phase of the COVID-19 response, win customer trust and build back sales.

How is the furlough scheme changing from July 2020?
Article Tue, 30 June 2020

How is the furlough scheme changing from July 2020?

From 1 July 2020 the furlough scheme is changing, find out how with our guide.

What is the redundancy process during COVID-19? Guidance and advice for small businesses
Article Mon, 22 June 2020

What is the redundancy process during COVID-19? Guidance and advice for small businesses

Losing employees is difficult for any small business. Our guide walks you through the redundancy process and how you can ensure it’s carried out in a compassionate, legal way.

Health and wellbeing: Boosting productivity and resilience in your business

The current pandemic has forced many small businesses to focus on business survival above anything else. Wellbeing may not seem like an important topic at the moment but being actively engaged in improving the health and wellbeing of your staff can help you build a strong, resilient workforce ready to face the challenges of the current climate. 

Physical activity, exercise and movement are vital elements of workplace wellbeing

Research from Sport England has shown 62% of adults currently consider exercise to be more important than ever and 65% of people believe exercise is helping with their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UK's Chief Medical Officer has continually stressed the value of physical activity: “Anything that can be done to encourage and to allow people to take exercise is clearly a good thing”.

Individuals who sit less and move more live longer, healthier lives.

Taking steps to include daily physical activity and movement while reducing the sitting time of yourself and your employees contributes to a longer healthier life.

Adults spending eight hours a day sat at a desk are up to 60% more likely to die early from diseases such as cancer and heart disease. This risk is reduced with regular, moderate physical activity

An active workforce leads to a more agile, productive and resilient team

Small businesses and sole traders can be hit hard by business interruption through illness and the costs this incurs

2019 research found that if the recommended physical activity guidelines were met globally, it could make employees up to 5 days more productive each year and boost the world economy by an estimated $100bn a year.

Only 6 in 10 adults currently achieves the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week.

24.6% of adults in England are currently classed as inactive, this means over 11 million people are currently doing less than an average of 30 minutes activity a week.

Government Guidelines state that being active reduces your chances of Type II diabetes by 40%, cardiovascular disease by 35%, joint and back pain by 25%, colon and breast cancers by 20% and can reduce the risk of mental illness by 30%.

Focusing on employee health and wellbeing creates an attractive workplace culture.

Research by CBRE showed that 80% of employees agree that a company’s culture will be crucial in recruiting and retaining them within the next 10 years.

Developing a wellness based culture doesn't need to be complex and expensive, simple solutions to encourage healthy behaviours such as boosting activity levels can positively impact on how your current and future employees perceive your organisation.

Sources: Sport England covid-19 Physical activity tracker | Government press briefing 15th April | The Lancet, July 2016 – physical activity series | Fitter bodies, fitter economies – Vitality and RAND, 2019. | Sport England Active Lives Adult Survey November 2018/19 Report, published April 2020 | Wellness in the workplace: Unlocking Future Performance – CBRE – occupier survey 2015 –2016

Key resources

Active Travel: A guide for Employees and Employers
Document Thu, 16 July 2020

Active Travel: A guide for Employees and Employers

Squeeze some activity into your daily commute with our guide.

How to have an active working day in three simple steps
Document Thu, 02 July 2020

How to have an active working day in three simple steps

Download our guide to building activity into your working day.

How to hold a moving meeting
Document Fri, 19 June 2020

How to hold a moving meeting

Moving meetings held via phone allow you to catch up while talking a walk

Looking after your mental health

During the coronavirus pandemic many people are struggling with their mental health. Small business owners are under pressure to find ways to pivot to new ways of working while others deal with isolation and worries over health of loved ones. We've collated resources to guide you to support and help available across the internet explore more below or visit our list of resources which can help here

Key resources

How to support employee wellbeing during COVID-19
Article Mon, 01 June 2020

How to support employee wellbeing during COVID-19

As we slowly start return to work, looking after the wellbeing and safety of your employees will be essential. Learn how you can best support your team.

Resources to support your mental health during COVID-19
Article Wed, 29 April 2020

Resources to support your mental health during COVID-19

Resource to help support the mental health of yourself and others during the COVID-19 pandemic

Just About Coping podcast featuring Mike Cherry
External resource Wed, 08 April 2020

Just About Coping podcast featuring Mike Cherry

Mike Cherry is this week's guest on Just About Coping is a podcast hosted by Simon Blake OBE

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