We are now in a national lockdown. Full restrictions can be found on GOV.UK 

We are sending regular updates containing the latest guidance and advice to business owners in South Gloucestershire. You can subscribe for these updates by email.

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This page was last updated on 5 January 2021.

Government guidance

The government has published and is continually updating the following guidance:

Guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus (Covid-19)

Financial support for businesses during coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19: guidance for employees. You can find further advice on our financial support for residents page

Hours of operation for retail businesses

On 30 November 2020, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government announced relaxations to enable retail opening hours to be extended in England for Christmas. This measure is intended to provide better opportunity for safe and socially distanced sales by spreading footfall, transport pressures and allowing shoppers to avoid peak times.

These relaxations only effect retail units that currently have hours of operation restricted by a planning condition attached to their planning permission. This measure does not impose new or additional hours of operation restrictions on currently unrestricted retail units.

South Gloucestershire Council is very aware of the impact on businesses of the restrictions needed to reduce the spread of Covid-19. It will act proportionately in responding to suspected breaches of planning control and it will not seek to undertake planning enforcement action which would result in the unnecessary restriction of retail hours during December 2020 and January 2021, unless necessary to protect the public.

The council will continue to pay close attention to breaches of any restricted hours on Sundays and bank holidays, and would seriously consider formal action if needed in order to protect these.

There are a number of existing and new powers to ensure retail businesses are Covid-19 secure in their operation and the council will continue to use these as and where necessary.

Similarly, there are enforcement powers that will continue to be used to deal with noise and nuisance problems particularly where that occurs between the hours of 11pm and 7am.

‘Retail units’ are those used for the display or retail sale of goods and can include shops, retail warehouses, hairdressers, undertakers, travel and ticket agencies, post offices, pet shops, sandwich bars, showrooms, domestic hire shops, dry cleaners, funeral directors and internet cafes.  Retail units do not include uses for the sale of food and drink for consumption (mostly) on the premises or the provision of financial or professional services.

If you have a question or for more information please email planningenforcement@southglos.gov.uk

Face coverings

It is mandatory for staff and customers to wear a face covering in any shop, indoor setting or hospitality venue. Check our information about acceptable face coverings and how to wear and remove postcard. Businesses are welcome to download and print our face covering poster for use in shops.

Car sharing

At the current time, employees should not be car sharing with anyone they do not live with or who is not in their support bubble. We are supporting businesses in reinforcing this message. You can download our poster to put up in your premises or flyer to give to your staff.

If car sharing is absolutely essential, make sure everyone in the vehicle is aware of these guidelines:

  • keep apart as much as possible
  • wear face coverings
  • keep windows open
  • limit the number of people in the vehicle
  • wash your hands before and after each journey
  • clean the vehicle, paying particular attention to the door handles, after every journey

Business rates relief and grants

A number of business rates reliefs have been introduced:

Business rates retail relief to be increased from 50% to 100% during 2020/21 and available to all retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with no rateable value cap as set out in the government’s expanded retail discount guidance.

Pub relief is available for those with a rateable value below £100,000 during 2020/21 to receive a £5,000 reduction instead of £1,000.

Find out about business rates relief for nurseries during 2020/21.

Local business grants

You can still apply for restrictions grants from 2020 and new guidance has been issued on January 2021 grants.

Read more and apply for these grants.

VAT and tax

You can find guidance on the GOV.UK website on the deferral of VAT payments due to coronavirus (Covid-19).

Self Assessment tax payments due in June have been deferred until January 2021. Visit the GOV.UK page on Pay your Self Assessment tax bill.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

The grant funding provides support for those who are self-employed either as a sole trader/freelancer or a member of a partnership and have been trading during the 2018/19 tax year.

Claims for loss of earnings can be backdated from March. The grants will be issued as soon as possible as a single instalment worth 80% of their average monthly trading profits and will cover three months work.

For more information and how to apply for the scheme read the GOV.UK guidance: Claim a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Existing support available

Financial hardship scheme

Any business experiencing financial hardship may make a claim for help with their business rates. In extreme cases of hardship, up to 100% relief can be awarded. This reduction will usually be granted where it is evident that the business is particularly important to the local community.

Financial advice

  • if you are struggling to pay your business rates, call us so that we can discuss alternative options with you on 01454 867700
  • we are applying the 100% discount for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses for 12 months automatically and will write to you with a revised bill
  • we are awaiting further guidance on the cash grants referenced by the Government for small businesses at which point we will write to eligible businesses
  • we are contacting our commercial tenants and we will provide support to those facing difficulties in paying their rent

NHS Covid-19 app

To help businesses meet the new legal requirement to track and trace their customers, the NHS Covid-19 mobile app has been launched in England and Wales, including QR check-in.

From Thursday 24 September, designated venues in certain sectors will be required by law to display an official NHS QR code poster at their venue. Further information on those venues required to display a poster can be found on the GOV.UK website. This will make it easier for customers with the NHS app to check-in and allow NHS Test and Trace to alert users and provide them with public health advice in the event of a Covid-19 outbreak linked to a venue.

You may find this video helpful: QR Codes for businesses – a video explainer

Businesses and venues that are not currently expected to maintain visitor logs are encouraged to display official NHS QR codes, if they have indoor areas where visitors are likely to congregate or sit down in close contact for 15 minutes or more. By using the NHS QR code system, businesses will be helping to protect themselves and their customers from the impact of the virus.

Businesses can generate their QR code on the GOV UK website.

Government support

For the central Government information about the financial options available and advice on how to reopen safely visit GOV.UK: Business support

Support for local businesses reopening

We are making our public spaces safer to enable our local businesses to reopen and enable residents to travel to work safely. Check our Making public spaces safer page.

Advice for food businesses

If you run a business that makes or prepares food the council will carry out regular checks on your food business to help you comply with the food hygiene law, to ensure the public is protected and that high standards are maintained.

Following the latest government and Food Standards Agency advice on social distancing, our food safety officers are not currently conducting routine food hygiene inspections in the usual way, to safeguard the businesses and our staff.  However our inspections are resuming but we are working to support businesses by collecting as much information from them as we can from a distance (by phone or email), so that our visits are quicker and we can spend time supporting on COVID controls as well as hygiene.

The lockdown means our programme is delayed.

If you are setting up a new food business, you should register on GOV.UK: Food business registration

The Food Standards Agency have produced guidance for food businesses to operate safely during Covid-19.

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