Coronavirus business support
Guidance for reopening businesses
We have produced a range of documents and assets to help businesses reopening in 2021, including guides for restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaways reopening; personal care businesses, and guidance on outside hospitality areas:
FAQs - Step 4 latest advice for businesses
Wiltshire Council is asking people to continue to be cautious and still do what they can to keep each other safe. From Monday 19 July, the majority of COVID restrictions have been removed, but people should continue to reduce the risk of transmission and follow the recommended safety measures. Below are some FAQs for businesses to help you keep your staff and customers safe.
You do need to be looking at and following the Government guidance on mitigation measures set out in the current working safely guidance: Working safely during Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance from Step 4 - Guidance. This is updated regularly for different business sectors. You will need to cover Covid in your risk assessments but there is no longer a requirement for a standalone Covid risk assessment. If you have one review it and use it. Updated guidance on carrying out risk assessments is available from Health and Safety Executive: Risk assessment during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. These pages are updated regularly to give the latest advice, so please keep checking back.
COVID-19 regulations enforcing the wearing of face coverings have been lifted. Some employers are choosing to continue to require this as a precautionary safeguard. Some employees and members of public may wish to continue to wear a face covering in their workplace and when visiting businesses, hospitality venues, attending events, etc.
Wiltshire Council is encouraging the continuing wearing of face coverings on public transport and when people are in very enclosed, congested or poorly ventilated areas. Employers should not penalise employees who choose to continue to wear a face covering unless there is a clear and different health and safety risk associated with this.
People should also self-isolate if they are pinged by the NHS App if they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive. They must self-isolate if they have been contacted directly by NHS Test and Trace by email , phone call or text This remains the law regardless of vaccination status.
From 16 August, if you have been fully vaccinated you will be exempt from the requirement to self-isolate if you are a contact of a positive case. You will instead be advised to take a PCR test as soon as possible.
Please read the details available for the latest updates : If you're told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.
People who are self - isolating should get a PCR test if they have any of these symptoms:
- a new continuous cough
- a high temperature
- a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)
Providing adequate ventilation can be as simple as using doors, windows and vents, using existing mechanical ventilation such as extractor fans and ducts, and incoming fresh air, or a combination of both
If you have mechanical ventilation, you should maximise the fresh air your system draws in and avoid systems that only recirculate air and do not draw in a supply of fresh air. A carbon monoxide monitor could help you assess whether a space is poorly ventilated. The most reliable update on this equipment is available at HSE (Health and Safety Executive): Ventilation and air conditioning during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
- Clean work areas and equipment between uses
- Use your usual cleaning products
- Determine the required cleaning process for expensive equipment that cannot be washed down
- Design protection around machines and equipment
- Frequently clean objects and surfaces that people touch regularly. This includes door handles and keyboards.
- Make sure there are adequate disposal arrangements for cleaning products. Clear workspaces and remove waste and belongings from the work area at the end of a shift.
If you're cleaning after a known or suspected case of COVID-19, refer to the guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings. Provide extra non recycling bins for workers and visitors to dispose of single use face coverings and PPE. You should refer to the guidance on how to dispose of personal or business waste, including face coverings and PPE.
Cleaning guidance for different workplace settings is covered in guidance available at Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance from Step 4 - Guidance.
You are no longer legally required to collect customer contact details or keep a record of your staff and visitors.
However, you are advised to continue to display an NHS QR code for customers wishing to check in using the app, as this will help to reduce the spread of the virus and protect your customers, visitors and staff. You do not have to ask customers to check in or turn them away if they refuse.
If you display an NHS QR code, you should also have a system to collect (and securely store) names and contact details, for those who ask to check in but who do not have access to a smartphone or who prefer not to use the app.
Some businesses are already looking at making the provision of this information a condition of entry for their premises to protect their staff and other visitors. In this situation then they may politely refuse entry if customers are not willing to share their details.
More information is available on GOV.UK: Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) homepage.
Table service at pubs/cafes/restaurants
- All restrictions on the service of alcohol at tables, the requirements for customers to remain seated and restrictions over buffet service have been lifted. Customers may place orders and make payment at bars/counters.
- Some businesses are already looking to continue these mitigation measures voluntarily to protect their staff and customers and may make this a condition of entry. In this situation then they may politely refuse entry if customers are not willing to follow these steps.
- Businesses need to take steps to minimise congestion at busy times to avoid prolonged close contact.
For more information go to
The latest on this can be found at GOV.UK: Guidance NHS Test and Trace service in the workplace under the heading 'Critical Services'. The government says this will apply in the small number of situations where the self-isolation of close contacts would result in serious disruption to critical services, a limited number of named workers may be able to leave self-isolation under specific controls for the purpose of undertaking critical work only.
Test and Trace and NHS COVID-19 app - new regulations
NHS Test and Trace and the NHS COVID-19 app is a key part of the country's ongoing COVID-19 response. If we can rapidly detect people who have recently come into close contact with a new COVID-19 case, we can take swift action to minimise transmission of the virus. By maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors, and displaying an official NHS QR poster, you will help NHS Test and Trace to identify and notify people who may have been exposed to the virus.
The Regulations were amended 29 March 2021 and venues in hospitality, the tourism and leisure industry, close contact services, community centres and village halls must now request that every individual scan the NHS QR code or provide their contact details upon arrival, not just the lead member of the group. This is to make sure that every person can receive timely public health advice if they may have been exposed to COVID-19.
These venues must:
- ask every customer or visitor (over the age of 16) 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 so that customers and visitors can 'check in' using the NHS COVID-19 app as an alternative to providing their contact details
- adhere to General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)
Hospitality venues have additional requirements and must also take reasonable steps to refuse entry to anyone who refuses to participate. What is reasonable will depend on the type of venue and context in question. The venue should satisfy themselves that they have done all that could reasonably be expected to refuse entry.
Failure to comply with any of these requirements could result in fixed penalty fines.
Further guidance on the requirements can be found on GOV.UK: NHS Test and Trace - Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors
It is a legal requirement for some businesses to display a QR code poster. Check if your business requires a COVID poster and guidance on how to create a QR code.
These COVID business FAQs may help to answer any queries.
There's a range of assets available for businesses to download
A handy step-by-step guide is available to download to help businesses' customers to understand how the app works and what they need to do when visiting businesses.
The following Test and Trace materials have also been prepared for employers and their staff:
Various information about COVID-19 symptoms and when to test and isolate in various scenarios are available to download.
Government guidance for workplaces and travel
The Government has published practical guidelines to make workplaces as safe as possible and to give people confidence to go back to work:
- Work from home, if you can
The employer should take all reasonable steps to help people work from home. Those who cannot work from home and whose workplace has not been told to close should go to work.
- Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment
Employers will need to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions, to establish what guidelines to put in place. All businesses with over 50 employees should publish the results of their risk assessments on their website. If you do not have your own risk assessment form, we would recommend you use the Health and Safety Executives Managing risks and risk assessment at work.
- Maintain 2 metres social distancing, wherever possible
Employers should re-design workspaces to maintain 2 metre distances between people by staggering start times, creating one way walk-throughs, opening more entrances and exits, or changing seating layouts in break rooms.
- Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, 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.
- Reinforcing cleaning processes
Workplaces should be cleaned more frequently, paying close attention to high-contact objects such as door handles and keyboards. Employers should provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points. The Government's guidance on GOV.UK: Guidance COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings outside the home may help.
Employers should display the COVID-19 secure poster in their workplaces to show their employees, customers and visitors that they have followed this guidance.
Guidance now covers 14 workplace settings and helps employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during coronavirus.
- GOV.UK: Close contact services Guidance for people who provide close contact services, including hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, tattooists, sports and massage therapists, dress fitters, tailors and fashion designers
- GOV.UK: Construction and other outdoor work Guidance for people who work in or run outdoor working environments
- GOV.UK: Factories, plants and warehouses Guidance for people who work in or run factories, plants and warehouses
- GOV.UK: Heritage locations Guidance for people who work or volunteer in heritage locations
- GOV.UK: Hotels and other guest accommodation Guidance for people who work in or run hotels and other guest accommodation
- - (poster - editable)
- - (poster - not editable)
- GOV.UK: Labs and research facilities Guidance for people who work in or run indoor labs and research facilities and similar environments
- GOV.UK: Offices and contact centres Guidance for people who work in or run offices, contact centres and similar indoor environments
- GOV.UK: Other people's homes - Guidance for people working in, visiting or delivering to other people's homes
- GOV.UK: Performing arts - guidance for people who work in performing arts, including arts organisations, venue operators and participants
- GOV.UK: Providers of grassroots sport and gym/leisure facilities - guidance for people who work in grassroots sport and gym/leisure facilities
- GOV.UK: Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services - Guidance for people who work in or run restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes or takeaways.
- GOV.UK: Shops and branches - Guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments
- GOV.UK: Vehicles Guidance for people who work in or from vehicles, including couriers, mobile workers, lorry drivers, on-site transit and work vehicles, field forces and similar
- GOV.UK: The visitor economy - guidance for people who work in hotels and guest accommodation, indoor and outdoor attractions, and business events and consumer shows
There is different guidance for:
The GOV.UK: Guidance Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer travel guidance for passengers will help people travel safely during the coronavirus outbreak and is particularly relevant as businesses start to think about their employees returning to work.
For those businesses working in transport, including road hauliers etc, may find the GOV.UK: Guidance Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer transport guidance for operators helpful.
To help businesses during the pandemic, we are providing a list of suppliers who have approached the council offering PPE supplies.
This list of PPE suppliers is for information only and should not be seen as a recommendation or endorsement of any of the suppliers mentioned. It only contains those suppliers who have recently contacted Wiltshire Council to indicate they can offer a range of PPE supplies. This list is not exhaustive and these are not the only routes to market; there are many other suppliers that may be local, more competitive, have a wider range of PPE available or easier to access. If you require PPE, you will need to contact suppliers, carry out your own due diligence to satisfy yourself about the quality of the products you are buying and the company you are buying from.
The government recently published GOV.UK: Updates: Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) and GOV.UK: Press release Public advised to cover faces in enclosed spaces.
Please see these key messages on the disposal of personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Throw away any used PPE (gloves and face masks) in your normal wheeled bin at home or whilst at work, or a litter bin if you are outside
- Do not put used PPE (gloves and face masks) in your recycling bin, they cannot be recycled through conventional recycling facilities
- Please do not purchase medical grade masks or respirators. These are prioritised for healthcare workers working in more high-risk environments
- You are encouraged to make face coverings at home, using scarves or other textile items that you already own. Read the guidance on how to wear and make a cloth face covering
- Cloth face coverings should be washed in line with manufacturer's instructions. When the time comes it is important to also properly dispose of home-made face coverings in your normal wheeled bin
- Anyone self-isolating at home with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should continue to place all their personal waste materials, including any PPE worn at home, in normal wheeled bin. It should be double-bagged, making sure the bags are securely tied, then stored for 72 hours before placing it out for collection
- Visit the Recycle Now website for more information about recycling responsibly during the coronavirus outbreak.
- HM Government: NHS Coronavirus stay alert, stay safe at work - online toolkit which includes key messages and digital content you may wish to use.
- Animal licensing
- Coronavirus - business closures
- Covid-19BusinessSupport@wiltshire.gov.uk - dedicated contact centre for COVID-19 business information and advice
- Construction talent retention scheme - Supporting careers in construction, engineering and building services
- GOV.UK: Find out how to make your workplace COVID-secure
- Health and safety advice - including Legionella
- Coronavirus - pubs and restaurants
- Coronavirus business support grants
- Get up-to-date information directly to your inbox from Wiltshire News - about COVID-19 business support
- Care providers Coronavirus help
- WorkWiltshire Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support - Information, support and guidance including volunteering and emergency temporary vacancies
The Government has announced a number of schemes to support businesses. Regular updates are being made, so please check GOV.UK: Collection Financial support for businesses during coronavirus (COVID-19) for the most up to date advice. We have created a graphic which outlines the various business support available. A printable version is available below.
- - printable version
- You can find out more including advice, news and announcements, on the Swindon & Wiltshire LEP Growth Hub Coronavirus (COVID-19) Business Support
- Wessex Chambers of Commerce is also offering help and advice to all firms, including non-members. More information is also available from the FSB: Campaign - Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice and guidance for small businesses and the self-employed, the CBI Coronavirus Hub and Business West - Trading Through Coronavirus.
We have set up a dedicated Coronavirus business support grants page of information for you relating to the grants available.
Council tax and business rates payments can be deferred for two months for those who need it, please see our news item on how to register for this:
To defer your business rates payments please email email@example.com or telephone 01249 706290.
The Coronavirus Job Retention scheme, also known as the furlough scheme, has been extended until 30 April 2021. You can claim 80% of an employee's usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.
There are now monthly deadlines for claims for furlough days.
This is a £1,000 one-off taxable payment for each eligible employee that was furloughed and kept continuously employed until 31 January 2021. This bonus is for the employer and does not have to be paid to the employee.
Claims for the bonus could originally start being made between 15 February and 31 March 2021. This will no longer happen as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30 April 2021.
Job Support Scheme
The new Job Support Scheme, which was due to be available on 1 November, has been postponed until the extended furlough scheme ends.
Businesses that deferred VAT payments between 20 March and 30 June 2020 will need to pay the amount in full on or before 31 March 2021. Businesses can opt-in to the VAT deferral new payment scheme when it launches in 2021. This means that instead of paying the full amount by the end of March 2021, 11 smaller monthly instalments can be paid interest free so that the full amount is paid by the end of March 2022.
This scheme supports liquidity amongst larger firms. The Bank of England will buy short-term debt to support a company if it has been affected by coronavirus, to enable the finance of short-term liabilities. This scheme will operate for at least 12 months.
All eligible businesses with a turnover of more than £45 million per year will now be able to apply for up to 25% of turnover, up to a maximum of £200 million.
The scheme will be available through a series of accredited lenders. The Government will provide lenders with an 80% guarantee on individual loans. This will give banks the confidence to lend to many more businesses which are impacted by coronavirus.
The scheme is open to applications until 31 March 2021.
This scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover. The maximum loan available is £50,000. The government guarantees 100% of the loan and there will not be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. After 12 months the interest rate will be 2.5% a year.
The scheme is open to applications until 31 March 2021.
The scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders.
If you already have a Bounce Back Loan but borrowed less than you were entitled to, you can top up your existing loan to your maximum amount. You must request the top-up by 31 January 2021.
You cannot apply if you're already claiming under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).
This scheme supports businesses, with an annual turnover of up to £45 million, to access bank lending and overdrafts. The Government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to pre-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to small and medium-sized businesses. The Government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the scheme will support loans of up to £5 million. Businesses can access the first 12 months of that finance interest free. Loans are now available from 40 accredited lenders.
The application deadline has been extended to 31 March 2021.
A new £500 million investment fund for high-growth companies impacted by COVID-19, made up of funding from the Government and the private sector. The fund will provide UK-based companies with between £125,000 and £5 million from the Government, with private investors at least matching the Government commitment.
The targeted and tailored help aims to ensure some of the most dynamic sectors, ranging from tech to life sciences, are protected and can continue to develop innovative new products and help the UK economy grow.
The scheme is open for applications until 31 January 2021.
SMEs focusing on research and development will also benefit from £750 million of grants and loans. Initially open until the end of September 2020, the scheme will be available through Innovate UK's grants and loan scheme.
Innovate UK will accelerate up to £200 million of grant and loan payments for its 2,500 existing Innovate UK customers on an opt-in basis. An extra £550 million will also be made available to increase support for existing customers and £175,000 of support will be offered to around 1,200 firms not currently in receipt of Innovate UK funding.
The Government will support small and medium-sized businesses and employers to cope with the extra costs of paying COVID-19 related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Employers with fewer than 250 employees can now reclaim 2 weeks of SSP paid for sickness absences relating to coronavirus during the period of the outbreak.
The Government has introduced a business rates holiday for nurseries in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Properties that will benefit from the relief will be hereditaments:
- occupied by providers on Ofsted's Early Years Register
- wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage
We will send you a revised bill as soon as possible. There is no action for you to take.
The Retail and Hospitality Grant scheme which provided businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property has now closed.
The minimum income floor for self-employed people accessing Universal Credit will remain suspended until the end of April 2021.
All Self-assessment payments are deferred until January 2021.
This scheme provides support to self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) in the form of two grants each available for three-month periods.
The first grant covers the period from the start of November until the end of January. The government will provide a taxable grant covering 55% of average monthly trading profits, paid in a single instalment covering three months' profits, capped at £5,160 in total.
The second grant covers the period from the start of February until the end of April. The level of grant will be set shortly.
The grants will be subject to Income Tax and National Insurance contributions but do not need to be repaid.
You are eligible if you are:
- Self-employed or a member of a partnership;
- Have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19;
- Have submitted your Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018 to 2019;
- Have traded in 2019-20; be currently trading at the point of application (or would be except for COVID 19) and intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021
- Have trading profits of no more than £50,000 and more than half of your total income for either:
o Your trading profits and total income in 2018/19
o Your average trading profits and total income across up to the three years between 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19.
Self-employed people can also use the online checker which will quickly confirm whether you are eligible.
Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of COVID-19 will be protected from eviction. These measures, included in the emergency Coronavirus Bill currently going through Parliament, will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next 3 months. In the meantime, tenants are encouraged to reach voluntary arrangements with their landlords about rental payments due.
The Government is increasing the retail discount on business rates to 100% for 12 months which has been expanded so it now includes retail, hospitality and leisure properties, such as museums, theatres, gyms, pubs, shops, music venues, restaurants and hotels.
If your business has received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year we will send a revised bill as soon as possible. There is no action for you to take.
As part of the government's Plan for Jobs, a new £2 billion Kickstart Scheme will create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people across the country.
The 6-month placements are open to those aged 16 to 24 who are claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long term unemployment. They will be available across a range of different sectors.
There will also be extra funding to support young people to build their experience and help them move into sustained employment after they have completed their Kickstart funded job.
Employers will receive funding for 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions.
Applications are being accepted now from employers or groups of employers able to offer a minimum of 30 jobs. You can read the guidance online for full details on how this will work.
Time to pay (HMRC)
HMRC may be able to help those in need regarding their tax liabilities, by providing a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. HMRC will also waive late payment penalties and interest where a business experiences administrative difficulty contacting HMRC or paying taxes due to COVID-19.
If you have missed a tax payment or you might miss your next payment due to COVID-19, please call HMRC's dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559.
The Government will temporarily guarantee business-to-business transactions currently supported by Trade Credit Insurance, ensuring the majority of insurance coverage will be maintained across the market. This will support supply chains, particularly in non-service sectors such as manufacturing and construction, and helps businesses to continue trading with each other during coronavirus knowing they will be protected if a customer defaults on payment.
The guarantees will cover trading by domestic firms and exporting firms and the Government aims for agreements to be in place with insurers by the end of May 2020. The guarantee will be temporary and targeted to cover COVID-19 economic challenges and will provisionally last until the end of the year.
Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered, as the Government and insurance industry confirmed on 17 March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres and other establishments is sufficient to make a claim.
Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers. Most businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property and will exclude pandemics.
A number of private lenders are also making funds available to small businesses impacted by COVID-19. We are aware that £2 billion is being made available by Lloyds Banking Group and £5 billion by NatWest. Other lenders may also be launching schemes and businesses must satisfy themselves of the terms and conditions of this before agreeing to loan agreements. Please check with your lender or bank.
Government departments are hosting a series of webinars to help businesses understand the guidance and support available:
- to find out how to make your workplace COVID-secure, register or watch recorded sessions
- for topics that cover supporting and retaining staff and the self-employed, register to attend future webinards or watch recorded sessions
- for international trade, register or watch recorded sessions
- for small businesses and changes to reporting, regulation and tax, watch recorded webinars