Coronavirus: Advice for Businesses

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in December 2019. As the situation in the UK develops, we have pulled together the sources below to help you stay informed by reading the latest information.

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Current Government Advice
Support for Businesses
BID Leicester support for Businesses
Public Health Advice
Local support
BID Leicester operations

We will update this page on an ongoing basis. Last update: 13 January 2022, 17:00.

Current Government advice

New rules in response to Omicron variant 

“We’re working hard to inform businesses about the latest guidance. We remain absolutely committed to supporting public health and also the local economy.

In Leicester, we’re privileged to have a huge variety and wealth of food, drinks, entertainment and leisure businesses that rely on your support. Please don’t forget that you still have the opportunity to enjoy the feasive season and support these businesses, whilst still remaining safe this Christmas.”

Simon Jenner – Director, BID Leicester

The government has announced that England will move to Plan B in response to the risks of the Omicron variant.

This means:

  • Face coverings will be required by law in most indoor settings.
  • Office workers who can work from home should do so.
  • Certain venues and events will be required by law to check that all visitors aged 18 years or over are fully vaccinated, have proof of a negative test in the last 48 hours, or have an exemption.
  • On 21 December the Government announced that businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises, plus more than £100 million discretionary funding will be made available for local authorities to support other businesses
  • People who are double-vaccinated and come into contact with a person with Covid (all variants) should take daily lateral flow tests for seven days, rather than immediately self-isolating. This only applies to the double-jabbed, and anyone in England who is unvaccinated still needs to isolate if they are a contact of a positive Covid case.
  • Anyone who tests positive will then need to self-isolate and take a PCR test to verify the result. If the PCR is positive, they must self-isolate for 5 full days from the day they took the positive rapid test or developed symptoms, provided that a negative lateral-flow test is shown on days 4 and 5.
  • The booster programme will be significantly accelerated so that all eligible adults will be offered a booster jab by the new year.

Wear a face covering ​​

From Friday 10 December the public, and staff in public-facing areas, are required to wear face coverings in these additional settings:

  • community centres (including village halls), youth centres, members clubs and social clubs
  • libraries and public reading rooms
  • polling stations and premises used for the counting of votes
  • places of worship
  • crematoria and burial ground chapels
  • visitor attractions and entertainment venues (museums, galleries, cinemas, indoor theatres, concert halls, cultural and heritage sites, indoor areas at aquariums, zoos and visitor farms, bingo halls, snooker and pool halls, amusement arcades, adventure activity centres, indoor sports stadiums, funfairs, indoor theme parks, casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor play areas including soft-play areas)
  • public areas in hotels and hostels
  • indoor areas of sports stadiums

The public, and staff in public facing areas, are also required to wear face coverings in these settings (this has been mandatory since 30 November):

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

When you do not need to wear a face covering

Face coverings are only legally required in the settings listed in the ‘When to wear a face covering’ section above. 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. Employers and businesses should support people, including staff if they choose to wear a face-covering in these settings, as well as other settings not listed above.

Face coverings are required in shops within other premises such as visitor attractions, for example, a museum gift shop.

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 exemptions. You do not have to wear a face-covering in hospitality settings such as cafés, restaurants and pubs. This is because it is not practical to keep removing face coverings to eat or drink.

You do not need to wear a face-covering in nightclubs or certain other night-time venues, including dance halls and discotheques. This is because it is not recommended that you wear a face-covering while exercising or during strenuous physical activity, including dancing.

Settings that are exempt from wearing a face-covering include:

  • Restaurants, cafés and canteens
  • Bars and shisha bars
  • Gyms & exercise facilities
  • Photography studios
  • Nightclubs, dance halls and discotheques

In indoor settings where a face covering is not legally required, you should still continue to wear a face-covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where you may come into contact with other people you do not normally meet.

Face coverings should be worn in communal areas of universities, colleges and schools by staff, visitors and pupils or students in years 7 and above.

Work from home if you can

Office workers who can work from home should do so from Monday 13 December. Anyone who cannot work from home should continue to go into work – for example, to access equipment necessary for their role or where their role must be completed in person. In-person working will be necessary in some cases to continue the effective and accessible delivery of some public services and private industries. If you need to continue to go into work, consider taking lateral flow tests regularly to manage your own risk and the risk to others.

Employers should consider whether home working is appropriate for workers facing mental or physical health difficulties, or those with a particularly challenging home working environment.

For those who attend their workplace, the Government will continue to provide up-to-date Working Safely guidance on how employers can reduce the risks in their workplace. Businesses should consider this guidance when preparing their health and safety risk assessments, and put in place suitable mitigations.

Required use of the NHS COVID Pass

From 15 December, certain venues and events will be required by law to check that all visitors aged 18 years or over are fully vaccinated (currently a full course of vaccination without the need for a booster, but this will be kept under review), have proof of a negative test in the last 48 hours, or that they have an exemption. This means that those aged 18 years or over must show their NHS COVID Pass, or an alternative proof of a negative test result, such as an email or text proof, to gain entry into these venues.

You can access your NHS COVID Pass through:

  • the NHS App
  • NHS.UK
  • A letter that you can obtain on NHS.UK or by calling 119

The NHS COVID Pass lets you share your COVID vaccination status and test results in a secure way for entry to domestic venues or events.

You can obtain an NHS COVID Pass two weeks after completing a full course of vaccination or with a negative test in the last 48 hours. The NHS COVID Pass can be obtained with two doses (or one of the single-dose Janssen vaccine), but we will keep this under review as boosters are rolled out. You can also obtain an NHS COVID Pass if:

  • you have received a trial vaccine as part of a formally approved COVID-19 vaccine trial in the UK
  • you have a medical reason that means you cannot be vaccinated, confirmed by your GP or a specialist clinician

You can also show email or text proof of your negative test result in order to gain entry to these venues.

The use of the NHS COVID Pass is required as a condition of entry into the following places:

  • nightclubs, dancehalls and discotheques;
  • other late night dance venues. These are any other venues that are:
  • open between 1am and 5am;
  • serve alcohol during this time;
  • have a dancefloor (or designated space for dancing); and
  • provide music, whether live or recorded, for dancing.
  • indoor events with 500 or more unseated attendees, where those attendees are likely to stand or move around for all or part of the event, such as music venues with standing audiences or large receptions;
  • outdoor events with 4,000 or more unseated attendees, where those attendees are likely to stand or move around for all or part of the event, such as outdoor festivals; and
  • any events with 10,000 or more attendees indoor or outdoor, such as large sports and music events

There are some settings that will be exempt from requirements to use the NHS COVID Pass including communal worship, wedding ceremonies, funerals and other commemorative events, protests, and mass participation sporting events.

Advice for businesses: working safely 

There are 6 main actions businesses can take to protect themselves, their staff and their customers during COVID-19.  

1. Complete a health and safety risk assessment that includes the risk from COVID-19

Complete a risk assessment, considering the measures set out in this guidance. Also consider reasonable adjustments needed for staff and customers with disabilities. Share it with all your staff. Keep it updated. Find out how to do a risk assessment.

2. Provide adequate ventilation

You should make sure there is an adequate supply of fresh air to indoor spaces where there are people present. This can be natural ventilation through opening windows, doors and vents, mechanical ventilation using fans and ducts, or a combination of both. In particular, you should identify any poorly ventilated spaces in your premises that are usually occupied and take steps to improve fresh air flow in these areas. Read the advice on air conditioning and ventilation on the HSE website.

3. Clean more often

It’s especially important to clean surfaces that people touch a lot. You should ask your staff and your customers to use hand sanitiser and to clean their hands frequently.

4. Turn away people with COVID-19 symptoms

Staff members or customers should self-isolate immediately if they show any symptoms of COVID-19 and book a PCR test as soon as possible, even if they are fully vaccinated. If they receive a positive COVID-19 test result, they must complete their full self-isolation period. They must also self-isolate if they have been informed by NHS Test and Trace that they are a contact of a person who has had a positive test result for COVID-19 – unless they are exempt. If you know that a worker is self-isolating, you must not allow them to come to work. It is an offence to do this. 

5. Enable people to check in at your venue

You’re no longer legally required to collect customer contact details, but doing so will support NHS Test and Trace to contact those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 so that they can book a test. You can enable people to check in to your venue by displaying an NHS QR code poster. You do not have to ask people to check-in or turn people away if they refuse. If you choose to display a QR code, you should also have a system in place to record contact details for people who want to check in but do not have the app.

6. Communicate and train

Keep all your workers, contractors and visitors up-to-date on how you’re using and updating safety measures.

Suppport for Businesses

The Chancellor has set out a package of measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. The support listed below are those schemes that are still available to businesses. If you require information on previous schemes that are no longer available, please get in touch with the team: [email protected]

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Local Authority Business Grants
Statutory sick pay relief package
Cultural Recovery Fund
Budget March 2021
Support from Leicester City Council

Local Authority Business Grants: Up to 6k for hospitality and leisure

The government is introducing the new grant scheme to support businesses that are experiencing difficulties because of the Omicron variant, and the dual impact of staff absences and lower consumer demand. One-off grants will be provided of up to £6,000 per premises for businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England.

Hospitality (defined as accommodation, food & beverage services) and leisure premises will benefit from targeted grant support.

Recipients must be solvent businesses, and ratepayers in the hospitality and leisure sector. For example, a pub; hotel; restaurant; bar; cinema; or amusement park.

Grants are per premises and the amount paid is varied by rateable value (RV) of each eligible premises, in three bands: £0-15k; £15-51k; and over £51k.

Rateable value£0-15k£15-51k£51k
Value of grant available£2.7k£4k£6k

Apply for the grant through the Leicester City Council website by 28 February 2022.

Please find further Government information about the grants here.

Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS)

The government is reintroducing the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS). This will be a temporary scheme to support employers facing heightened levels of sickness absence due to
COVID-19. The SSPRS will refund small and medium-sized employers’ COVID-related SSP costs for up to two weeks per employee.

Employers will be eligible for the scheme if:

  1. They are UK-based.
  2. They employed fewer than 250 employees as of 30 November 2021.
  3. They had a PAYE payroll system as off 30 November 2021.
  4. They have already paid their employees’ COVID-related SSP.

Employers will be able to claim the costs for up to two weeks of SSP per employee that has to take time off because of COVID-19.
This two-week limit will be reset so an employer will be able to claim up to two weeks per employee regardless of whether they have claimed under the previous scheme for that

The scheme will be reintroduced so that employers can claim for COVID-related sickness absences occurring from 21 December 2021 onwards.

Employers will be able to make a claim through HMRC from mid-January onwards, using this website.

More guidance will be published shortly, we will keep this page updated as further information arrives. Please find further information on the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme here.

Cultural Recovery Fund

£30 million of further funding will be made available through the Culture Recovery Fund to support organisations in England such as theatres, orchestras and museums through the winter.

You can answer a few questions on this new government tool for businesses and self-employed and it will tell you which Coronavirus (COVID-19) support measures are available to you.

Budget March 2021

The Chancellor announced the government’s tax and spending plans for the year ahead in the 2021 Budget. Key points relating to assisting business recovery from the coronavirus pandemic have been listed below.

Furlough Scheme
The Furlough Scheme ended on 31 September.

Alcohol Duties
Planned increases in alcohol duties will be cancelled. This applies to Scotch whiskey, wine, cider and beer

The 5% reduced rate of VAT has been extended to 30 September. From 1 October there will be an interim rate of 12.5% VAT for 6 months, with a return to 20% VAT rate in April 2022

Business Rates
The Business rates holiday for firms in England will be extended for three months, until June. For the following nine months until April 2022, Business Rates bills will be discounted by two thirds (up to a value of £2m per business).

The full Budget documents are available online – click here to read.

Support from Leicester City Council

There are several funding streams available for businesses in Leicester to help support recovery and reopening. We have listed these below – follow the links to read the full criteria and apply.

Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG)

The Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) will be topped up so local authorities can continue to use their discretion to support other businesses in their area, based on local
economic need. More information about this will be added here.

Shop Front Improvement Grant
LCC are offering grants of up to £5,000 to encourage independent retail businesses to improve their shop fronts. Businesses must match 50 per cent of the grant offered.
Click here for more information.
You must complete the online enquiry form to determine if you are eligible.

Click here to access Leicester City Council’s business support portal for businesses during the coronavirus outbreak.

Read further detail on all the government initiatives above on the government’s dedicated business support portal.

BID Leicester support for businesses

BID Leicester has posters ready for businesses to display, reminding visitors that it is mandatory to wear a facemask on your premises. For business premises where mask-wearing is not mandatory but still wish to encourage it, we also have a separate poster that politely asks visitors to wear a mask. Posters can be downloaded here, or printed copies will be delivered by our Street Ambassador team.

We also have sanitiser refills and social distancing floor stickers available. Email [email protected] if you would like to receive posters, sanitiser or social distancing signage. 

Public Health Advice

Booster vaccines 

People aged 40 to 49 can now get a booster vaccine 6 months after their second dose. Book your vaccination appointment online or find a walk-in clinic.

Public Health England (PHE) recommends that the following precautions are taken to help prevent people from catching and spreading COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • Always wash your hands when you have been outside
  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • Put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Avoid close contact with people

Check the NHS website for advice for the public:

You can find this advice translated into other languages thanks to a partnership between Doctor’s of the World, British Red Cross, Migrant Help and Clear Voice:

Looking after your mental health
If you have to stay at home because of coronavirus, it’s important to take care of your mind as well as your body. Read these tips on how to protect your mental wellbeing and cope with how you may feel while staying at home.

Travel Advice

International travel 

All 11 countries were removed from the travel red list at 4am on 15 December.

If you’re travelling to England from abroad you must take a PCR test before the end of day 2 following your arrival and self-isolate until you get a negative test result, even if you’re fully vaccinated.

Local travel 

It is now mandatory to wear face coverings whilst on public transport.

Local Support

Keep up to date with the latest information on COVID-19 through Leicester City Council’s Your Leicester newsletter. You can also follow council news on Twitter and Facebook

See the Leicester City Council website for updates on local services including waste collection.

Voluntary Action LeicesterShire are working with Leicester City Council to recruit volunteers. If you would like to volunteer or are in need of volunteers to help provide a service, you can find out more and sign up on the VAL website:

BID Leicester operations

The whole BID team is in the city centre offices, with Street Ambassadors on the streets. Please do not hesitate to contact us if there are any specific concerns affecting your business you would like to discuss. Click here to see how to contact the team.

We send monthly newsletters and important updates via email to all levy-payers. If you want to be added to our e-newsletter list, email Josie: [email protected]

You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for updates.

We continue to be in close contact with officers in Leicester City Council and will update levy-payers from official sources as advised.

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