Last updated: Friday 3rd December 2021
As information relating to the COVID-19 pandemic is changing regularly, we want to keep you informed of the local and national support available to businesses.
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Latest News and Updates
Bath & North East Somerset Council has published new COVID-19 resources for businesses. These include the below new ‘Let’s Keep Each Other Safe’ posters:
- Face coverings
- Mandatory face covering poster for businesses
- Sanitising your hands
- Making space for others
- Washing your hands
Bath & North East Somerset Council have two new Community Engagement Officers that will be visiting public-facing businesses across Bath and North East Somerset over the coming weeks to provide posters and offer support.
Temporary and precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant in the UK will come into force this week, the government has confirmed. From Tuesday 30th November, face coverings will be mandatory in shops and on public transport and all travellers returning to the UK will require PCR testing.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Bath and North East Somerset has risen rapidly in recent weeks. In the week prior to 22nd October, there were 1,028 cases per 100,000 of the population. Bath and North East Somerset has one of the highest COVID-19 rates in England, and this rise in cases has translated into an increase in COVID-19 hospitalisations. It is, therefore, essential that we do everything we can to minimise the spread of the virus. Bath & North East Somerset Council is appealing to businesses to be alert to the virus and continue to implement key COVID-19 measures. To help with this, they have produced a poster that businesses can download to display in their premises.
From Monday 16th August, people who are double jabbed or aged under 18 will no longer be legally required to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case. Those not fully vaccinated will still need to isolate if they are contacts, and everyone will still have to isolate if they test positive, to protect themselves and others.
The Test and Trace app has been modified so fewer people will be ‘pinged’. Previously, if people who were asymptomatic entered a positive test into the app, the app pinged all close contacts the person had for five days prior to the test. This has now been dialled back so only close contacts the person had within two days will be pinged.
The government guidance on working safely during coronavirus has now been updated in advance of the beginning of step four of the roadmap, from 19th July. Key aspects of this include:
- Businesses still have a legal duty to manage risks to those affected by their business. Every business should complete a risk assessment, which includes the risk of COVID-19.
- Businesses should consult workers on how they work and how they may manage the risks from COVID-19, so that consensus can be built about the approach taken.
- Workers and customers that feel unwell must not attend the business venue/workplace.
- It is advised that face coverings are ‘encouraged’ for workers or customers in enclosed and crowded spaces.
- Businesses should consider using signage and visual aids to give people clear guidance on expected customer behaviour and how they can reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
- Businesses should consider encouraging sanitisation measures, such as hand sanitizer and washing, and providing access to these measures on entry.
- Businesses should prioritise adequate ventilation throughout premises and small, enclosed spaces in particular.
- Restaurants, pubs, bars, nightclubs and takeaway services are encouraged to continue to support NHS Test and Trace.
- The government will work with organisations that operate large, crowded settings, where people are likely to be in close proximity to a large number of those from other households to use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry.
The Prime Minister has announced that, as not all four tests for proceeding to Step Four in the UK government roadmap have been met, Step Four openings will be delayed until 19th July, with the exception of weddings and wakes of more than 30 guests, which can go ahead with social distancing. The situation will be monitored daily, and if after two weeks the risk looks like it has diminished, it might be possible to move to Step Four earlier. In the meantime, pilots for sporting events, such as the Euros, and some theatre performances will continue.
Don’t miss the deadline for applying for a COVID-19 Business Restart Grant, which offers up to £18,000 depending on sector and rateable value. The closing date to apply is Wednesday 30th June.
Earlier this week, a new test and collect hub opened in Burton Street, to support testing for those people without any COVID-19 symptoms. The new site replaces the Apex Hotel, and offers more convenient testing and test kit collections for shoppers and workers in the city centre. You can collect a kit and test yourself at home, with kits available from most local pharmacies ‒ there are now more than 40 locations in Bath and North East Somerset where you can collect a kit. You can also order a test kit for delivery to your home.
The Prime Minister has confirmed that England will move into Step Three from Monday 17th May. The what you can and cannot do guidance for England has been updated with measures that will change from then, including:
- Indoor hospitality venues such as restaurants, pubs, bars and cafés can reopen.
- All holiday accommodation can reopen.
- Indoor entertainment and attractions will be permitted to open with COVID-secure measures in place.
- People will be able to attend indoor and outdoor events, including live performances, sporting events and business events. Attendance at these events will be capped according to venue type.
- Outdoor gatherings will be limited to 30 people and indoor gatherings will be limited to six people or two households.
- Organised indoor sport will be able to take place for all.
Guidance for the following sectors has recently been changed to reflect Step Three guidelines:
- Close contact services
- Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services
- Shops and branches
- The visitor economy
- The guidance for restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services has been updated with some information for Step Three (no earlier than 17th May) of the government’s reopening plan, and contains steps to protect yourself, your staff and your customers during coronavirus.
- At Step Three, more types of socially distanced indoor and outdoor events will be allowed, with a cap on attendance. These events should be ticketed. The organised events guidance contains more information on the types of event subject to these requirements.
- At Step Three, customers may visit shops in groups of up to six people or two households of any size indoors, or in groups of no more than 30 people outdoors.
The visitor economy, hotels and other guest accommodation and restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services guidance has been updated with more detail on step two. The government have also published additional information on NHS Test and Trace for hospitality venues and other settings.
As part of our Spring Meeting, Suzanne McCutcheon from Bath & North East Somerset Council joined us to offer guidance to businesses that are preparing to reopen. Key takeaways included that:
- Businesses should continue to display social distancing signs.
- Staff are encouraged to not only wear a face shield in the workplace, but also a face mask.
- Businesses should keep doors and windows open as much as possible to increase ventilation in their premises.
- COVID risk assessment requirements have not changed since the last easing of lockdown.
- Free lateral flow tests will be available to everybody in England from this Friday and can be collected in Bath.
- To coincide with the offer of free rapid testing for everyone, the NHS COVID-19 app has been updated. All venues in England in scope of the regulations are legally required to display an official NHS QR code poster. We are anticipating new posters displaying QR codes for hospitality venues in England, and will share those when we receive details.
- The government has launched a new Recovery Loan Scheme to provide further support to protect businesses. Businesses can access loans from £25,000 to £10 million, which will include 80% government guarantee and interest rate cap.
- The workplace testing programme has expanded to supply home test kits to companies with over ten workers where it is not possible to set up testing onsite, due to a lack of space or because companies operate across multiple sites. Businesses are able to order the home test kits online to distribute to their employees. These self-test kits will be picked up by staff from their employer with clear instructions about how to take the test.
- The COVID-19 Restart Grant scheme supports businesses affected by lockdown with a one-off grant to reopen safely. You can now find out more about how to apply for a Restart Grant on the Bath & North East Somerset Council website.
- The government’s guidance on working safely has been updated to include specific instructions regarding ventilation, with advice from HSE, ordering coronavirus test kits for the asymptomatic testing of employees, and guidance on operating consumer fitting rooms.
- The government has published the updated Test and Trace requirements and regulations in advance of the opening up of the economy. Please note, the new regulations stipulate that venues in hospitality, the tourism and leisure industry must ask every customer or visitor (over the age of 16) to provide their name and contact details.
- Next week, we will be replacing the existing social distancing stickers around the city centre with new ones to welcome people back to Bath. If you would like our Rangers to replace your social distancing stickers, please get in touch and we will arrange this.
Applications for the West of England Combined Authority’s business growth grants will open on Monday 22nd March. The grants are aimed at SMEs who have growth plans in place, but need some support to get them off the ground. Grants of between £1,500 and £6,000 are available to all SMEs regardless of size or sector.
The Chancellor has set out his 2021 Budget, which includes an extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until the end of September 2021, new Restart Grants for retail, leisure and hospitality, and an extension of the reduced rate of 5% VAT for goods and services supplied by the tourism and hospitality sector until the end of September 2021.
The new VAT deferral scheme has gone live. This lets businesses:
- Pay their deferred VAT in equal instalments, interest-free.
- Choose the number of instalments, from two to 11 (depending on when they join).
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the government plan to ease lockdown restrictions in England. The government’s plan is broken into four steps. Before proceeding to the next step, the government will examine the data to assess the impact of previous steps.
- The second wave of Local Restrictions Support Grant payments for closed businesses has been announced, and covers the period from 16th February to 31st March.
The Chancellor has announced repayment flexibilities for Bounce Back Loan borrowers, with the ability to tailor payments according to individual circumstances. The scheme provides the option for small- and medium-sized businesses to access finance more quickly during the coronavirus outbreak.
- The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has announced that the deadline for applications for the Christmas Support Payment has been extended to 28th February 2021. This is the payment to wet-led pubs that were severely impacted by the restrictions over the Christmas period.
- Following the Supreme Court test case on a range of business Interruption insurance policies, the Financial Conduct Authority has produced a Policy Checker which takes businesses through a process whereby they can check to see whether their insurance policy covers business interruption losses due to coronavirus.
We’ve put together a guide to the support currently available to businesses.
Bath & North East Somerset Council is reassuring businesses that it is gearing up to process government support grants as quickly as possible following the introduction of a new scheme due to the current lockdown.
The government have published a summary of existing economic support for businesses, which includes details of their new £280 billion financial support package.
The guidance on the furlough scheme has been updated to state that employees can be furloughed if caring responsibilities arising from COVID-19 mean they are:
- Unable to work (including from home)
- Working reduced hours
Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are to receive a one-off grant worth up to £9,000 to help them through the spring, the Chancellor has announced.
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.
From 31st December, Bath will move from tier two to tier three.
The government has published the guidance related to the Prime Minister’s announcement that wet-led pubs will receive £1,000 if they are in tier two or tier three areas following the reviews of tier areas on 2nd and 16th December.
Business owners affected by the pandemic will be protected from eviction until the end of March 2021, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announced today.
- The government has published guidance on what people and businesses can and can’t do in each tier level.
- The Bath BID are backing Croydon BID’s Bounce Back Better campaign, which is calling on government to do more to support retail, hospitality and leisure businesses and ensure towns and cities have the ability to recover from tier restrictions and lockdowns.
From Wednesday 2nd December, Bath and North East Somerset will be under tier two restrictions. This means that:
- Shops will be reopening.
- Restaurants will be reopening, but not pubs and bars. Venues must stop taking orders at 10pm and close by 11pm.
- Accommodation providers will be reopening.
- Personal care and indoor leisure facilities will be reopening.
- Entertainment venues will be reopening.
The government has announced that restaurants, pubs and cafés will get automatic freedoms to provide takeaway services for another year.
Businesses that have been required to close as part of the new coronavirus restrictions can now apply for a government support grant from Bath & North East Somerset Council. The types of business that may be eligible include non-essential retail, personal services, or cafés and restaurants.
- Government grants are available for businesses that are required to close as a result of the new restrictions. Check whether your business is in the required to close list here.
- The furlough scheme has been extended until the end of March 2021.
From Thursday 5th November until Wednesday 2nd December, the government is taking the following action:
- Requiring people to stay at home, except for specific purposes.
- Preventing gathering with people you do not live with, except for specific purposes.
- Closing certain businesses and venues.
Additionally, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended for a month, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked and further economic support announced.
- People contacted by NHS Test and Trace and told to self-isolate on or after 28th September 2020 could be eligible for a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment. The guidance on claiming this payment has been updated with further details on the information people need to provide to the local authority when applying for the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme.
- HSE has published guidance on when and how you should report coronavirus incidents under RIDDOR.
- The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) would like to remind accommodation businesses that staying visitors need to scan the QR code every day, as the system resets at midnight each night, removing customers’ details.
- HSE is carrying out spot checks and inspections on all types of businesses in all areas to ensure they are COVID-secure. By calling and visiting premises and speaking directly to employers, HSE can check the measures they’ve put in place are in line with government guidance.
Bath and North East Somerset Council have produced a summary of the key steps businesses should take when a customer or staff member becomes a possible case of COVID-19.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org at any point to ask for advice from B&NES Council’s Public Health Team.
If you have two or more confirmed cases, please phone Public Health England on 03003 038162.
The Prime Minister has made a statement to the House of Commons, setting out how the government plans to standardise and simplify local lockdown measures, by introducing a three-tiered system of local COVID alert levels in England – Medium, High and Very High. Bath’s alert level is currently Medium.
Covering most of the country, this consists of the current national measures, which came into force on 25th September. For areas where national restrictions continue to be in place, this means:
- All businesses and venues can continue to operate in a COVID-secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law, such as nightclubs.
- Certain businesses selling food or drink on their premises are required to close between 10pm and 5am.
- Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through.
- Schools, universities and places of worship remain open.
- Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees.
- Organised indoor sport and exercise classes can continue to take place, provided the Rule of Six is followed.
- People must not meet in groups larger than six, indoors or outdoors.
- See the guidance and restrictions for areas where the local COVID alert level is Medium.
This is for areas with a higher level of infections. The High alert level will reflect many current local interventions, but there will now be consistency across the country. This means the following additional measures are in place:
- People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place.
- People must not meet in a group of more than six outside, including in a garden or other space.
- People should aim to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible. If they need to travel, they should walk or cycle where possible, or to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport.
- See the guidance and restrictions for areas where the local COVID alert level is High.
This is for areas with a very high level of infections. The government will set a baseline of measures for any area in this local alert level. Consultation with local authorities will determine additional measures. The baseline means the below additional measures are in place:
- Pubs and bars must close, and can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant, which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. They may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal.
- Wedding receptions are not allowed.
- People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor or outdoor setting, whether at home or in a public space. The Rule of Six applies in open public spaces like parks and beaches.
- People should try to avoid travelling outside the ‘Very High’ area they are in, or entering a ‘Very High’ area, other than for things like work, education, accessing youth services, to meet caring responsibilities or if they are in transit.
- People should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if they are resident in a ‘Very High’ area, or avoid staying overnight in a ‘Very High’ area if they are resident elsewhere.
- See the guidance and restrictions for areas where the local COVID alert level is Very High.
The Chancellor has set out new measures and support for businesses in lockdown areas:
- The Job Support Scheme will be expanded to support businesses across the UK who are legally required to close their premises due to local or national coronavirus restrictions.
- The government will support eligible businesses by paying two thirds of each employees’ salary (or 67%), up to a maximum of £2,100 a month.
- To be eligible to claim the grant, businesses must be subject to restrictions and employees must be off work for a minimum of seven consecutive days.
- Employers will not be required to contribute towards wages but will be asked to cover NICS and pension contributions
- The scheme will begin on 1st November and will be available for six months, with a review in January. Payments to businesses will be made in arrears, via a HMRC claims service, available from early December.
- Employees of firms that have been legally closed in the period before 1st November are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
- These measures will sit alongside the original Job Support Scheme and the Job Retention Bonus.
- It was also announced that cash grants for businesses required to close in local lockdown areas will also increase to be up to £3,000 per month and will be paid every two weeks.
The Chancellor has outlined a four-point plan to protect jobs and support businesses over the coming months, which includes:
- A new wage subsidy scheme to encourage struggling firms to keep people on short-term hours rather than making them redundant.
- A ‘Pay as you Grow’ scheme to help businesses whose trading has been hurt by the pandemic.
- More help for the hospitality sector, which has been worst hit by the crisis.
- Deferred VAT bills, with the Chancellor letting businesses spread out their VAT bill over eleven smaller payments.
- Customers in private hire vehicles and taxis must now wear face coverings.
- Customers in hospitality venues must now wear face coverings, except when seated at a table to eat or drink.
- Staff in hospitality and retail are also be required to wear face coverings.
- Office workers who can work effectively from home should do so.
- Businesses selling food or drink must be closed between 10pm and 5am. This will include takeaways, but delivery services can continue after 10pm.
- In licensed premises, food and drink must be ordered from, and served at, a table.
- From 28th September, businesses and organisations will face stricter rules to make their premises COVID-secure:
- A wider range of leisure and entertainment venues, services provided in community centres, and close-contact services will be subject to the COVID-secure requirements in law and fines of up to £10,000 for repeated breaches.
- Employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.
- Businesses must remind people to wear face coverings where mandated.
- The government has released guidance on how pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, cinemas and other venues should prepare for the public rollout of the new NHS COVID-19 app. Venues are being urged to ensure they have NHS QR code posters visible on entry so customers who have downloaded the new NHS COVID-19 app can use their smartphones to easily check in.
- From Monday 14th September, people must not meet with people from other households socially in groups of more than six.
- From 18th September, it will be mandatory for certain businesses to have a system to collect NHS Test and Trace data, and keep this for 21 days.
- The government has also published simplified COVID-19 secure guidance.
- The government has recently announced a new £2 billion Kickstart Scheme to help create hundreds of six-month job placements for young people aged 16 to 24, who are currently claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. Applications to the scheme must be for a minimum of 30 job placements, but joint applications are accepted. If you would be interested in being part of a joint application, please get in touch with the BID so we can help to coordinate interest.
- As part of the government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, £300,000 of European Regional Development Funding has been released to support businesses in the West of England LEP area. Fully funded grants of between £1,000 and £3,000 are available to help mitigate some of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on eligible businesses. Applications for this funding will only be open until Monday 21st September.
- Updated guidance: From last Saturday, some remaining aspects of England’s culture, sport, leisure and business sectors were able to reopen. The government has also announced a series of enforcement measures targeting the most serious breaches of social distancing restrictions.
- Updated guidance: The government has updated the guidance to businesses in a number of issues, including facilitating indoor gatherings between multiple households, guidance on employees returning to work, and protecting vulnerable staff.
- The government has announced a planned investment of £20 million to improve small businesses’ management, productivity and problem-solving skills through two training programmes. The first, a Small Business Leadership Programme, will focus on strengthening decision-makers’ leadership skills, whilst the second initiative, the Peer Networks Programme, will focus on helping business owners improve their problem-solving skills.
- Public Health England’s Reporting an Outbreak campaign communicates advice on how to respond to an outbreak of COVID-19 to individuals that own, manage or are responsible for businesses and organisations within the community, by identifying an outbreak of COVID-19, reporting the outbreak to your local health protection team, and working with your local health protection team to respond.
- The government’s aim is to return life to as close to normal as possible, for as many people as possible, as fast and fairly as possible. And in a way that avoids a new epidemic, minimises lives lost and maximises health, economic and social outcomes. They have provided an overview of their approach to managing local outbreaks on their website.
- The government have published the next steps in their COVID-19 recovery strategy, with details of how society and the economy will continue to be opened up and preparations for winter.
- You can find further guidance on face coverings on the government website. This includes details of how to wear a face covering, exemptions, and how to make a face covering at home.
- The Chancellor delivered his Summer Economic Update in Parliament today, which outlined a package of measures to support jobs in every part of the country, give businesses the confidence to retain and hire, and provide people with the tools they need to get better jobs.