COVID-19 guidance for businesses

Last updated: 7 October 2020 at 4.09pm

We understand that many of you are worried and might be confused about what help is available, how you access it and how you should conduct your day-to-day business going forward. This page provides you with the latest information on business support being offered through the period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

For guidance on face coverings: when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make your own please visit the GOV.UK website.

Requirement to display an NHS Test and Trace QR Code

Venues in hospitality, the tourism and leisure industry, close contact services and local authority facilities must:

  • ask at least one member of every party of customers or visitors (up to 6 people) to provide their name and contact details
  • keep a record of all staff working on their premises and shift times on a given day and their contact details
  • keep these records of customers, visitors and staff for 21 days and provide data to NHS Test and Trace if requested
  • display an official NHS QR code poster from 24 September 2020, so that customers and visitors can ‘check in’ using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details
  • adhere to General Data Protection Regulations

Hospitality venues must also refuse entry to those who refuse to participate.

Failure to do any of these requirements will result in fixed penalty fines.

Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace information on the GOV.UK website.

Create a coronavirus NHS QR code for your venue information on the GOV.UK website.

Government support

The Chancellor has made a number of statements outlining financial support that is available for businesses to help them through the pandemic and create and support jobs:

  • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which will come to an end on 31 October 2020 and be replaced by a Jobs Support Scheme starting from 1 November 2020 and running for six months.

  • a Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan. To give businesses who have taken a loan more time and greater flexibility to repay their loans, the Government is introducing 'Pay as You Grow' giving flexibility in repaying the loan.

  • a Self-Employment Income Support Scheme providing grants to those eligible. A second round of the scheme is now open with applications closing on 19 October 2020. The existing self-Employed Income Support Scheme will be extended on the same terms as the Jobs Scheme to April 2021. Grants will be paid in two lump sum instalments each covering a three month period.

  • businesses that deferred VAT payments will be able to spread that VAT bill over 11 smaller repayments, with no interest to pay.

  • deferring Income Tax payments

  • a statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs

  • 12-month business rates relief for all retail, hospitality, leisure, estate agents, lettings agencies, bingo halls and nursery businesses in England

  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance. The closing date for these loans has been extended and the Government is extending the guarantee on these loans for up to ten years.

  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans

  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

  • protection from eviction for commercial tenants who miss rent payments

  • businesses can get a three month extension to file accounts with Companies House

  • a cut in VAT from 20% to 5% for hospitality and tourism businesses from 15 July to 31 March 2021.

  • a Jobs Retention bonus paying £1,000 for every furloughed staff member kept on until 31 January 2021.

  • a £2b Kickstart scheme to create jobs for young people.

  • businesses will not need to pay tax on coronavirus test for their staff.

  • payments for businesses employing new apprentices.

If you run a business or are self-employed and are concerned about paying your tax due to COVID-19, you can call HMRC’s helpline for help and advice: 0800 024 1222.

Council support

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the council distributed grants on behalf of the government and recovery action for unpaid rents was paused. The small business grant scheme and discretionary grant scheme are now closed.

The council also introduced a three-month rent and service charge holiday for businesses renting council-owned properties with annual rents at or below £50,000. However, businesses wanting to continue paying this were given the option to do so.

The council has taken the decision to restart further recovery action for unpaid rents from 30 September 2020. Recovery action is our last option and there are a number of stages we go through before ultimately taking this decision. We know this is a difficult situation for businesses to be in and we encourage businesses who have outstanding payments to get in touch with us in order for us to agree a payment plan with them.

All tenants will be dealt with on case by case basis – if you need to contact us, please email at

Business advice

The government website has lots of information and guidance for businesses on funding and support along with how to run your business safely.

Eligibility tool

The government has launched a online tool to help businesses and self-employed people to find out what financial support is available to them during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Other sources of support

Other support can be found via The Federation of Small Businesses, Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership and IncuHive.

Connect with the council's Economic Development team

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