COVID-19 Advice for businesses
The latest guidance about the national lockdown announced on 4 January 2021 can be found on the Government's website.
To reduce social contact, the regulations require some businesses to close and impose restrictions on how some businesses provide goods and services.
Non-essential retail must close, including:
- personal care businesses, such as hairdressers, must close
- indoor gyms and leisure facilities must close
- you may only leave your home for work if you cannot reasonably work from home, but may travel to work if this is not possible, for example in the construction and manufacturing sectors.
Cases of coronavirus continue to rise across London. It’s vital that we all play our part in limiting the spread of coronavirus.
Full details on which businesses must close or are exempt can be found on the Government's website.
The information below is being kept under continuous review and is updated often. Please be sure to check the COVID-19: guidance for employers and businesses from the Government for the latest updates. Businesses should check for daily updates and subscribe to receive email alerts to ensure they are acting on the most up to date information.
To support businesses that have been affected by COVID-19, the government has announced a number of supporting measures. You can find details of the Government support available for your business by using the tool below:
COVID-19 testing centre in Guildhall Yard
A walk-in COVID-19 testing centre in the historic Guildhall Yard is now operational and open from 8am to 8pm, but please book a test in advance, details below.
Guildhall Yard acts as a local testing site to boost testing capacity for the City and neighbouring boroughs. The decision by is part of efforts to ensure people can safely work, visit and live in the Square Mile.
How do you book a COVID-19 Test?
We have provided some answers to frequently asked questions regarding advice and best practice for business.
UK Government Support – Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG)
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Saturday 31 October 2020, information has been provided to Local Authorities about grant funding to be delivered to businesses. It covers national grants from Thursday 5th November and grants that apply up to that point. Business can find further information about the various schemes available on our Business Rates pages.
Business rates relief and grants for small businesses. The government has announced retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England will not need to pay business rates for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. We will be applying this automatically to businesses in the City of London, you do not need to apply.
A grant scheme has also been announced by central government to assist Small Businesses with a rateable value of up to £51,000. The two schemes are detailed below:
- A £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
- A £10,000 grant will be provided to businesses currently eligible for Small business rate relief (SBBR) to help meet their ongoing business costs.
Rental relief for City of London businesses. The City of London Corporation has agreed to defer one quarter’s rent for a range of tenants struggling as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The move – which applies to City Corporation directly managed premises and full repairing insuring leases – will enable tenants to defer rent applicable to either the March 2020 quarter or the June 2020 quarter, provided they belong to one of certain categories:
Fuller details can be found in the press release: Square Mile businesses offered additional rental relief.
Parking. The City of London, following advice from London Councils on parking, has introduced changes to parking in the Square Mile until further notice.
Environmental health. You can find information and resources specific to environmental health issues on the COVID-19: Environmental health guidance & resources for business page.
The Mayor of London has launched a new crowdfunding initiative Pay it Forward to help local businesses secure trade. Through this free fundraising platform, small businesses can offer customers the option to buy goods and services in advance, based on a promise to deliver in the future.
The British Business Bank and The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) have put together a guide to help businesses that are facing financial and operational challenges. You can view this regularly updated guidance at the Business Finance Guide website.
The Government has announced a £1.25 billion government support package for UK businesses driving innovation and development.
- Billion pound support package for innovative firms hit by coronavirus
- Updates: Tech Industry resources and how to help
Reforms to off-payroll working rules (IR35) have been deferred until 2021. Full story about deferred reforms here.
The Small Business Commissioner’s office, can offer support with getting paid on time and other cashflow issues ranging from practical tips and arbitration to investigation and enforcement. SMEs can get in touch with them via their website.
The BEIS Pay Practice Reporting Portal allows SMEs to check large companies average payment terms which can help with cashflow issues.
New Covid-19 support programme for London-based businesses
Newable has developed an emergency 9-month programme with JP Morgan, named “Small Business Resilience”, focused solely on providing support for UK businesses during Covid-19. The programme has two main focuses; to map and coordinate business support available in London and to guide SMES through the grant and other financial relief options and support them.
Small Business Research + Enterprise Centre
The Small Business Research + Enterprise Centre is actively supporting start-ups and small businesses with access to some of their databases, including up to date industry and sector specific COVID-19 impact reports with an SBREC membership, and for those considering starting a business they are providing free one-to-one business advice.
Public Health England
Public Health England has developed a toolkit for businesses and venue managers, containing messages that can be used in a range of settings and scenarios.
The Customer Logging Toolkit includes:
- a Privacy Notice template
- Information and FAQs about maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace
- Social media resources
London Growth Hub
- London-specific advice and support for businesses is available through the London Growth Hub
- Support with tax: if you need help with your tax liabilities, you should speak to HMRC’s dedicated tax helpline +44 (0) 800 0159 559.
- The UK Government’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy also has a business support helpline: 0300 456 3565.
- Insurance claims: confirmation that government advice to avoid hospitality and leisure is sufficient for businesses to claim on their insurance where they have appropriate business interruption cover for pandemics in place. You should speak to your insurer if you think you may be covered.
- The UK Government has published a summary of impacts relating to the Coronavirus Bill
- The Bank of England has cut the Bank Rate to 0.1%
- The Federation of Small Businesses has a long list of FAQ’s with useful links to find more information to any questions you have
- Mental Health Support: Review the information from Mind on Coronavirus and your wellbeing with advice and support while you and your staff are self-isolating or working from home.
Other advice and information from Business and Trade associations
- British Chambers of Commerce (BCC)
- Confederation of British Industry (CBI)
- Federation of Small Businesses (fsb)
- Institute of Director’s (IOD)
- Innovate Finance
- Tech Nation
- UK Finance