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.

Skip to:
Current Government Advice
Support for Businesses
Financial Support for individuals
Public Health Advice
Travel Advice
Local support
BID Leicester operations

We will update this page on an ongoing basis. Last update: 03 March 2021, 14:53.

Current Government advice

At all times, remember the ‘Hands. Face. Space’ rules:

  • hands – wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds
  • face – wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet
  • space – stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings)

At all times you must follow guidance to self isolate if contacted by NHS Track and Trace or if you or someone in your household develops symptoms of coronavirus. Click here to read guidance on isolating.

Roadmap out of lockdown

A national lockdown is currently in place. You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. Click here for more information on what you can and cannot do during the national lockdown

To reduce social contact, the regulations require some businesses to close and impose restrictions on how some businesses provide goods and services. Click here to read the full guidance and exemptions on closing certain businesses and venues in England.

On 22 February a Roadmap out of Lockdown was published, outlining how restrictions will be eased.

Step 1 beginning 8 March:

  • 8 March: schools and colleges will open for face-to-face learning, with twice-weekly rapid testing for secondary and college students and regular testing for teachers. University courses where practical learning is required will resume.
  • 8 March: two people from different households will be permitted to meet outside
  • 29 March: outdoor gatherings (including in private gardens) of either 6 people (the Rule of 6) or 2 households will also be allowed.
  • 29 March: outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts, and open-air swimming pools, will also be allowed to reopen, and people will be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports.
  • 29 March: the “Stay at Home” rule will end, but people should still minimise the number of journey they take, working from home where possible.

Step 2 will begin no earlier than 12 April

  • opening of non-essential retail; personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons; and public buildings, including libraries and community centres.
  • Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms can reopen for use by people on their own or in household groups.
  • Most outdoor attractions and settings including outdoor hospitality venues, zoos, theme parks, and drive-in cinemas can open.
  • Self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, can open.
  • Hospitality venues will be allowed to serve people outdoors at Step 2 and there will be no need for customers to order a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks and no curfew, although customers must order, eat and drink while seated (‘table service’). Wider social contact rules will apply in all these settings to prevent indoor mixing between different households.
  • Funerals can continue with up to 30 mourners, the number of people able to attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes will rise to 15.

Step 3 will begin no earlier than 17 May

  • Most legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors will be lifted – gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal.
  • Indoors, the Rule of 6 or 2 households will apply.
  • Most businesses in all but the highest risk sectors will be able to reopen. In all sectors, COVID-Secure guidance will remain in place and businesses may not cater for groups bigger than the legal limits.
  • Indoor hospitality will reopen – no meal will have to be ordered with alcoholic drinks and no curfew will be in place but table service must be in place and customers must remain seated when eating or drinking.
  • Other indoor locations to open include indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas and children’s play areas; the rest of the accommodation sector; and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes.
  • Some larger performances and sporting events will take placein indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or half-full (whichever is a lower number), and in outdoor venues with a capacity of 4,000 people or half-full (whichever is a lower number). In the largest outdoor seated venues, where crowds can be spread out, up to 10,000 people will be able to attend (or a quarter-full, whichever is lower).
  • Up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions and wakes, as well as funerals. This limit will also apply to other types of significant life events including bar mitzvahs and christenings.

Step 4, beginning no earlier than 21 June

  • The government hopes to be in a position to remove all legal limits on social contact.
  • Opening of remaining premises, including nightclubs, and further easing the restrictions on large events and performances that apply in Step 3.

The government will continue to support families and businesses throughout the steps set out in the roadmap – details of which will be set out by the Chancellor in the Budget on 3 March.

Dates given are guidelines – there will be a minimum of five weeks between steps, however decisions will be made based on data available concerning case rates and may be delayed if it is deemed unsafe to move to the next step. The decision to move to the next step will be based on four tests: the vaccine programme continuing successfully; evidence showing vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated; infection rates not risking a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS; and that the assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.


BID Leicester supporting businesses

BID Leicester is supporting businesses to operate in a Covid-secure manner. Businesses permitted to be open should ensure they meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines appropriate to their sector.

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: info@bidleicester.co.uk

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.

Skip to:
Budget March 2021
One-off Grants for Retail, Leisure and Hospitality (January 2021)
Support for businesses affected by local coronavirus restrictions, including Local Restrictions Support Grants, Additional Restrictions Grants and additional support measures for Nightclubs and wet-led pubs (November 2020)
Business evictions ban
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Furlough)
Business rates holiday for certain businesses
Statutory sick pay relief package
Deferring VAT Payments
Support from Leicester City Council to assist reopening and recovery
Other support measures for businesses
Deferred Self Assessment payment on account due to coronavirus
The Self-employment Income Support Scheme

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.

Grant Funding & Loans
A new Restart Grant will be launched in April to help businesses reopen. Non-essential retail will be eligible for up to £6,000, with hospitality, leisure, gyms and personal care businesses eligible for grants of up to £18,000. We will send an update with more information on these grants when confirmed.
An extra £300 million has been added to the Cultural Recovery Fund, to help arts venues in England, including museums and galleries, re-open.
A new Recovery Loans Scheme will launch. Any size business can apply for a loan from £25,000 to £10 million until the end of this year. The government will provide lenders an 80% guarantee.

Furlough Scheme
The Furlough Scheme will be extended until the end of September, with the Government to continue paying 80% of employees’ wages for hours they cannot work. Employers to be asked to contribute 10% in July and 20% in August and September

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

VAT
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, 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.

One off grant announced 5 January 2021

Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are to receive a one-off grant worth up to £9,000, the Chancellor has announced.

The one-off top-ups will be granted to closed businesses as follows:

  • £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
  • £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000

There has been £594 million discretionary fund also made available to support other impacted businesses.

This support comes in addition to £1.1 billion further discretionary grant funding for Local Authorities, Local Restriction Support Grants worth up to £3,000 a month and extension of furlough scheme

See the full news release from HM Treasury here.

This grant will be paid automatically to eligible businesses by Leicester City Council. See their website for more information.

Support for national lockdown in November 2020

Businesses that were open as usual, but were then required to close between 5 November and 2 December 2020 due to the national restrictions imposed by government may be eligible for Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) Addendum. For example, this could include non-essential retail, leisure, personal care, sports facilities and hospitality businesses. It could also include businesses that operate primarily as an in-person venue, but which have been forced to close those services and provide a takeaway-only service instead. The grant will be based on the rateable value (RV) of the property on the first full day of restrictions.

  • RV of £15,000 or less, you may be eligible for a cash grant of £1,334 for each 28-day qualifying restrictions period.
  • RV over £15,000 and less than £51,000, you may be eligible for a cash grant of £2,000 for each 28-day qualifying restrictions period.
  • RV of £51,000 or above, you may be eligible for a cash grant of £3,000 for each 28-day qualifying restrictions period.

Details of eligibility and application form is on the Leicester City Council website.


Local Restrictions Support Grant (for closed businesses)

Businesses that were open as usual and were then required to close due to local restrictions (local COVID alert level: Very High) may be eligible for LRSG (Closed). Eligible businesses that have been required to close on or after 9 September are entitled to a cash grant from their local council for each 14 day period they are closed. The grant will be based on the rateable value (RV) of the property on the first full day of local restrictions.

  • RV of £15,000 or less, you may be eligible for a cash grant of £667 for each 14 day period your business is closed.
  • RV over £15,000 and less than £51,000, you may be eligible for a cash grant of £1,000 for each 14 day period your business is closed.
  • RV of £51,000 or above, you may be eligible for a cash grant of £1,500 for each 14 day period your business is closed.

The grant will be extended to cover each additional 14-day period of closure. If your business is closed for 28-days, or 2 payment cycles, it will receive £1,334, £2,000 or £3,000, depending on the rateable value of the property.

LRSG for closed businesses will be paid fortnightly to eligible businesses automatically by Leicester City Council for the period they are able to be claimed. See their website for more information.


Local Restrictions Support Grant (for open businesses)

Businesses that have not had to close but which have been severely impacted due to local restrictions (Local COVID alert levels: High or Very High) may be eligible for LRSG (Open). Local councils have the discretion to provide grant funding for businesses under this scheme. They will use their discretion in identifying the right businesses to receive this funding, based on their application process. We expect the funding to be targeted at hospitality, hotel, bed & breakfast and leisure businesses.

The grant will be based on the rateable value of the property on the date of the start of the local restrictions. Leicester City Council will determine the levels of funding for each category.

LRSG for open businesses will be paid fortnightly to eligible businesses automatically by Leicester City Council for the period they are able to be claimed. See their website for more information.


Additional Restrictions Grant

The additional restrictions grant is to support businesses not covered by other grant schemes or where additional funding is needed. It is available until March 2022, although the government expects councils to use most of the funds sooner rather than later. In Leicester the funding will be released in phases. Approximately £6m will be released in the first phase. Click here for more information.


Support for nightclub, dance hall or adult entertainment business

Businesses that have been required to close due to the national restrictions introduced in March 2020, and which have not been able to re-open, may be eligible for LSRG (Sector). Eligible businesses are entitled to a cash grant from their local council for each 14 day period they are closed. This funding is available from 1 November 2020 and is not retrospective. Eligible businesses include nightclubs, dance halls, discotheques adult entertainment venues and hostess bars. The grant will be based on the rateable value (RV) of your property on 1 November 2020.

  • RV of £15,000 or less, you may be eligible for a cash grant of £667 for each 14 day period your business is closed.
  • RV over £15,000 and less than £51,000, you may be eligible for a cash grant of £1,000 for each 14 day period your business is closed.
  • RV of £51,000 or above, you may be eligible for a cash grant of £1,500 for each 14 day period your business is closed.

The grant will be extended to cover each additional 14-day period of closure. If your business is closed for 28-days, or 2 payment cycles, it will receive £1,334, £2,000 or £3,000, depending on the rateable value of the property.

Details of eligibility and how to apply is available on the Leicester City Council website.

Christmas Grants for Pubs

The government recently announced a one-off £1,000 Christmas grant for ‘wet-led pubs’ in Tiers 2 and 3 to help businesses missing out on Christmas trade.

Apply by 31 January 2021 on the Leicester City Council website.

Business evictions ban

Business owners affected by the pandemic will be protected from eviction until the end of March 2021, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced. Read more here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CRJS) – also known as the Furlough Scheme

Under the coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers with a PAYE scheme will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. This applies to employees who have been asked to stop working, but who are being kept on the pay roll, otherwise described as ‘furloughed workers’. This scheme will remain open until March 2021, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500.

Eligibility: All UK-wide employers with a PAYE scheme will be eligible – this includes the public sector, Local Authorities and charities.

How to access the scheme: Check if you can claim, and then claim online.
30 November 2020 is the last day employers can submit or change claims for periods ending on or before 31 October 2020. Claims for furlough days in November 2020 must be submitted by 14 December.

A 12-month business rates holiday for certain businesses in England

Retail, hospitality and leisure sectors

Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will not have to pay business rates for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

Eligibility: You are eligible for the business rates holiday if your business is based in England and your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector. Click here for more information.

How to access the scheme: There is no action for business owners. Leicester City Council will apply the discount automatically. Find information on Business Rates from Leicester City Council here: leicester.gov.uk/business/business-rates/

Nurseries

Nurseries in England do not have to pay business rates for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

Eligibility: You are eligible if your business is on Ofsted’s Early Years Register or provides care and education for children up to 5 years old. Local authority-run nurseries are not eligible.

How to access the scheme: There is no action for business owners. Leicester City Council will apply the discount automatically. Find information on Business Rates from Leicester City Council here: leicester.gov.uk/business/business-rates/

A statutory sick pay (SSP) relief package for SMEs

Employers can claim back up to 2 weeks SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19. Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. You can make more than one claim per employee, but you cannot claim for more than 2 weeks in total.

Eligibility: You are eligible for the scheme if your business is UK based, and is small or medium-sized employing fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020.

How to access the scheme: The online portal to claim is now open. Check if you are eligible and begin a claim online.

Deferred VAT payments

If you deferred VAT between 20 March and 30 June 2020 and still have payments to make, you can:

  • pay the deferred VAT in full on or before 31 March 2021
  • opt in to the VAT deferral new payment scheme when it launches in 2021
  • contact HMRC if you need more help to pay

Click here to pay your deferred VAT in full by 31 March 2021.

A new scheme launching in 2021 will allow you to pay deferred VAT in up to 11 smaller instalments without paying interest. If you want to opt into the new scheme. You will be able to opt in in early 2021. We will put a link here when the scheme is available.

If you are having difficulties with payments, contact HMRC to discuss. Click here for more information.

Support from Leicester City Council to assist with reopening and recovery

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.

Street Cafe Furnishings Grant
LCC have created a street cafe furnishings grant as part of the citywide recovery plan. This will allow eligible independent restaurants and cafes to apply for grants of up to £4,000 to purchase appropriate furniture and outdoor goods to support their business to operate within social distancing guidelines. You must already have a valid street cafe licence, or be applying for a new one under the temporary scheme (see more below).
Click here to find out more about the grant.
You must apply online.

One Year Street Cafe Licence – Free
If you want to take advantage of the Street Cafe Furnishing Grant you need a valid licence for a street cafe. LCC have secured grant funding to offer one year licences for free.
Click here for more information.
You must apply online.

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.

Other Support Measures for Businesses

Support for small and medium-sized businesses

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme provides financial support to small businesses affected by coronavirus. Finance available up to £5 million. The scheme is open until 31 January 2021. Click here for more information.

The coronavirus Future Fund will issue convertible loans between £125,000 to £5 million to innovative companies facing financial difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme is open for applications until 31 January 2021. Click here for more information.

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme enables smaller businesses to access finance more quickly during the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme is open for applications until 31 January 2021. Click here for more information.

Support for large businesses

The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme provides financial support to larger businesses affected by coronavirus. The scheme is open to applications until 31 January 2021. Click here for more information.

The COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility helps large businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) through the purchase of their short-term debt. Click here for more information.

Other businesses

If your business trades internationally, read this guidance from the Department for International Trade.

Chancellor sets out extra £750 million coronavirus funding for frontline charities. Click here for more.

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant. This scheme has been extended to cover the period November 2020 to April 2021.

Eligibility: To be eligible for the scheme you must specific criteria listed on the website.

How to access the scheme: The online service for the next grant will be available from 30 November 2020.

Deferred Self Assessment payment on account due to coronavirus

You had the option to defer your second payment on account if you were registered in the UK for Self Assessment and were finding it difficult to make that payment by 31 July 2020 due to the impact of coronavirus
You can still pay your deferred July 2020 payment on account any time up to 31 January 2021. There’ll be no interest or penalty as long as you pay in full by that date.

If you chose to defer your July 2020 payment on account and you receive a Self Assessment statement before 31 January 2021 it may still show the deferred July 2020 payment on account as due and payable now. You can still pay your deferred July 2020 payment on account any time up to 31 January 2021. You’ll not have interest or a penalty as long as you pay in full by that date.

You can check payments you need to make towards your next tax bill by signing in to your online account. You have the option to pay in full, in instalments, by direct debit or through your tax code. Click here for more information.

If you are having difficulties with payments, contact HMRC to discuss. Click here for more information.

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


Financial support for individuals

The Universal Credit standard allowance will increase for 12 months (from March 2020), by £1,000 a year. The Working Tax Credit basic element will also increase by £1,000 a year. The minimum income floor for accessing Universal Credit has been suspended for everyone affected by the economic impacts of coronavirus, meaning self-employed people can now access Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees. Find out about Universal Credit and how to claim online: gov.uk/universal-credit

Anyone having difficulty paying council tax or rent can get support and advice from Leicester City Council. Contact the team on 0116 454 1005 or email council.tax@leicester.gov.uk For housing benefits advice, call 0116 454 1006, or email housingbenefits@leicester.gov.uk

Help is also available for local people who are experiencing financial crisis that has left them without funds for utility bills or food. To make a claim for crisis support, people should email their name and contact number to C19support@leicester.gov.uk A member of council staff will then call back between 9.30am and 4pm Monday to Friday and the application will be completed over the phone.

For more information on the range of benefits available visit leicester.gov.uk/your-community/benefits-and-support


Public Health Advice

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: nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19

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: doctorsoftheworld.org.uk/coronavirus-information/

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

Foreign travel
The FCO advises British people against all non-essential travel. Some countries are exempt to this advice as they do not pose an unacceptably high risk to Britain’s travelling abroad. Read government travel advice here.

Impact on travel to and within Leicester
It is now mandatory to wear face coverings whilst on public transport.

First Bus Leicester and Arriva Midlands are operating special timetables. Park & Ride services from Meynell’s Gorse and Enderby are now running. The Birstall site which is being used as a coronavirus test centre, will remain closed for now.

Rail companies have reduced train services. Operators will still run core services to ensure key workers can get to their jobs and the flow of goods continues. Passengers are advised to check the time of their train on the National Rail Enquiries website before travelling.


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: volunteerleicestershire.org.uk/covid-19


BID Leicester operations

We are postponing all briefings and events, including:

  • The first BID Social event at East Street Lanes
  • Independent Leicester business briefing
  • Architects of Air Luminarium

We are committed to delivering these events when it is safe to do so and will release further information in due course.

We arranged an online webinar to help support businesses accessing the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. A recording of the webinar can be accessed by emailing info@bidleicester.co.uk

On 1 May, Government announced £6.1m funding boost to help BIDs continue to support businesses during these challenging economic times, and recognising the crucial role for BID’s as we move into the recovery phase from the current crisis.

The Street Ambassador service was paused for the months of April and May. The rest of the BID team worked remotely for these months. The whole BID team is now back in the city centre offices, with Street Ambassadors back on the streets. They will continue to support essential businesses that remain open in November 2020. 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 Sarinda: sarinda@bidleicester.co.uk

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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