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
Government ordered closures
Support for Businesses
Financial Support and Universal Credit
Public Health Advice
Travel Advice
Local support
BID Leicester operations

We will update this page on an ongoing basis. Last update: 03 August 2020, 12:10.

Current Government advice

Restrictions in Leicester are different to the rest of England due to a local rise in cases. On 30 July, local restrictions were changed. Current rules are:

  • Non-essential shops can open
  • Restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, hairdressers, cinemas, museums, hotels/accommodation, libraries, outdoor playgrounds, outdoor gyms, and places of worship in Leicester can open
  • Leicester City Council is authorised to close businesses where there is evidence of a risk to public health.
  • Single-adult households (those who live alone or with dependent children only) can still form a support bubble with one other household (see support bubbles guidance for Leicester)
  • People from different households are still able to meet in a group of up to 6 and only outdoors, provided they follow strict social distancing
  • People must not meet in private homes or gardens (this includes people who live within the area travelling to visit someone who lives outside Leicester)
  • You must not travel outside of this area to meet people in their homes or gardens. You can still travel, but you should only do this with people you live with (or have formed a support bubble with)
  • Oadby and Wigston is no longer included in the area under local restrictions.
  • Click here for the full statement.

Government measures in the rest of the UK are are follows:

  • Government have set out the Covid-19 recovery strategy, detailing a ‘road map’ for lifting lockdown restrictions.
  • Current government advice is to stay alert, control the virus and, in doing so, save lives. Advice is summarised below, but you can read full current guidelines online.
  • Distancing: You should continue to maintain 2m distance from others where possible. Where it is not possible to stay 2m apart, people should keep a distance of “one metre plus” – this means staying one metre apart, while observing precautions to reduce the risk of transmission.
  • Support Bubbles: You are permitted to form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household if you live alone or are in a household where there is only one adult. All those in a support bubble will be able to act as if they live in the same household – meaning you should not switch the household you are in a bubble with or connect with multiple households.
  • Meeting other Households: Two households of any size are able to meet indoors or outdoors. It will be possible to stay overnight. This does not always have to be the same set of households – for example, you can meet with different households on consecutive weekends, but only meet indoors with one other household at a time. Outdoors, people from multiple households can meet in groups of up to six – but two households can meet regardless of size.
  • If you are helping someone who is isolating or vulnerable, please read these guidelines on how to help safely.
  • Face coverings can help us protect each other and reduce the spread of the disease if you are in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible. It is now mandatory to wear face coverings on public transport and in shops and supermarkets.
  • The process of reopening businesses has begun, but certain businesses are still required to close. Read more on Business Closures and support available for businesses below.
  • From 1 August businesses have flexibility in returning to the workplace. Any workplace that is open should be set up to meet COVID-19 secure guidelines.
  • At all times, workers should follow the guidance on self-isolation if they or anyone in their household shows coronavirus symptoms. 
  • Continue to follow public health advice including frequent handwashing – read more on public health advice below.
  • All people with flu-like symptoms – a fever above 37.8C or a persistent cough – should self-isolate (stay at home, away from other people) for 10 days if you live alone, or 14 days if you live with other people, and arrange to have a coronavirus test.
  • If someone in your household or your support bubble (if applicable) is showing coronavirus symptoms, everyone in your support bubble should stay home. If you or a member of your support bubble is contacted as part of the test and trace programme, the individual contacted must stay at home. If the individual becomes symptomatic, everyone in the support bubble must then isolate.
  • Read the government guidance here: Stay at home: guidance for households with confirmed or possible Covid-19 infection
  • The clinically extremely vulnerable will no longer need to follow advice on shielding from 1 August, though should still take particular care to follow the social distancing guidelines when meeting people.

Leicester City Council have translated essential public health advice into the languages most commonly spoken in Leicester – click here to read.

Government ordered closures

Business Closures and Reopening

Please note businesses in Leicester are subject to extended restrictions as listed above.

BID Leicester is supporting businesses as they prepare for reopening. Businesses should ensure they are ready to be able to open as soon as it is permitted to do so by meeting the new COVID-19 secure guidelines appropriate to their sector.

The closures are enforceable by law.

In the rest of the England there are different restrictions on businesses that can be open. Click here for a list of all businesses and premises that must shut, and information on which businesses can reopen.

> Read more on support available for businesses below.

Schools in Leicester are subject to the extended restrictions announced by government on 30 June. Schools will close to all except the children of keyworkers, and pupils will not return to school until next term. Parents will be contacted by schools directly.

Suppport for Businesses

Following the extension of restrictions in Leicester, BID Leicester, along with Leicester City Council and the LLEP, will be lobbying government for extra support for the businesses of Leicester.

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

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:
Chancellor’s Summer Statement: A Plan for Jobs
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Deferring VAT and Income Tax
Statutory sick pay relief package
Business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses
Small business grant funding
Cash grants up to £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses
Support for nursery businesses
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
Support for businesses paying tax
COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility
The Self-employment Income Support Scheme
Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme
Other support measures

Chancellor’s Summer Statment: A Plan for jobs

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak set out a ‘Plan for Jobs’ that will spur the UK’s recovery from the Coronavirus outbreak. The Chancellor’s plan is designed to support jobs by focusing on skills and young people, create jobs with investment in shovel-ready projects, and protect jobs through a VAT cut for the hospitality sector and a landmark Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme for diners. The main points are outlined below:

Supporting jobs

  • A Job Retention Bonus will be introduced to help firms keep furloughed workers. UK Employers will receive a one-off bonus of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who is still employed as of 31 January 2021.
  • A new £2 billion Kickstart Scheme will also be launched to create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people across the country. This includes giving businesses £2,000 for each new apprentice they hire under the age of 25 (in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the Government already provides for new 16-18-year-old apprentices and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan); a £111 million investment to triple the scale of traineeships in 2020-21 ensuring more young people have access to high quality training; £17 million of funding to triple the number of sector-based work academy placements in 2020-21; nearly £900 million to double the number of work coaches to 27,000; and over a quarter of a million more young people to benefit from an extra £32 million investment in the National Careers Service.

Creating Jobs

Tens of thousands of jobs will be created through bringing forward work on £8.8 billion of new infrastructure, decarbonisation and maintenance projects.

  • This includes a £3 billion green investment package that could help support around 140,000 green jobs and upgrade buildings and reduce emissions.
  • Homeowners and landlords in England will be able to apply for vouchers from a £2 billion Green Homes Grant scheme this year to pay for green improvements such as loft, wall and floor insulation.
  • A £1 billion programme will make public buildings, including schools and hospitals, greener.
  • £5.8 billion will be spent on shovel-ready construction projects to get Britain building. This includes: £1.5 billion for hospital maintenance and upgrades; £100 million for our local roads network; over £1 billion to start to rebuild schools in the worst condition in England, plus £760 million this year for key maintenance work on schools and FE colleges; £1 billion for local projects to boost local economic recovery in the places that need it most; and £142 million for court maintenance to repair around 100 courts across England.

Protecting Jobs

The plan has measures to ensuring there is enough demand for the tourism and hospitality sectors as businesses reopen – a key point in helping these businesses recover and have the confidence to protect jobs and rehire.

  • The Government’s new Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme will provide a 50% reduction for sit-down meals in cafes, restaurants and pubs across the UK from Monday to Wednesday every week throughout August 2020.
  • The rate of VAT applied on most tourism and hospitality-related activities will also be cut from 20% to 5%.
  • There will be a temporary increase to the Nil Rate Band of Residential SDLT (Stamp Duty) from £125,000 to £500,000 until 31 March 2021.

Read the full detail of the Plan for Jobs here.

Support for Businesses through the Coronavirus Job Retention 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’. HMRC will reimburse 80% of their wages, up to £2,500 per month. The scheme will be in place until 31 October. However the details will be reviewed in July with a view to make the scheme flexible to support the transition back to work from August.

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.

Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief

The government will provide additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR). This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses currently eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs.

Eligibility: you are eligible if your business is based in england and already recieves SBRR or rural rate relief.

How to access the scheme: Click here to apply on the Leicester City Council website.

Click here for government guidance for businesses about this scheme.

Cash grants up to £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property. Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of £15,000 and under will receive a grant of £10,000. Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.

Eligibility: you are eligible if your business is based in England and is in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector.

How to access the scheme: Click here to apply on the Leicester City Council website.

Click here for government guidance for businesses about this scheme.

A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England

Government will introduce a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England 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.

How to access the scheme: There is no action for business owners. This will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill automatically to exclude the business rate charge. They will do this as soon as possible. Click here for more information.

Find information on Business Rates from Leicester City Council here:

A statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs

The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the statutory sick pay repayment mechanism. This refund will cover 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.

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.

Support for Businesses through deferring VAT and Income Tax

The government is supporting businesses by deferring Valued Added Tax (VAT) payments for 3 months. If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021. For VAT, the deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.

Eligibility: All UK businesses are eligible.

How to access the scheme: VAT: This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Click here for more info.
Income Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021.

Eligibility: If you are self-employed you are eligible.

How to access the scheme: This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period. Click here for more information

Support for nursery businesses that pay business rates

There will be a business rates holiday for nurseries in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

Eligibility: You are eligible for the business rates holiday if your businesses is based in England, is occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register and are wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage

How to access the scheme: There is no action for you. This will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020. Click here for more information.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will support primarily small and medium-sized businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. The scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. Businesses can access the first 12 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments.

Eligibility: You are eligible for the scheme if: your business is UK based, with a turnover of no more than £41 million per annum, and your business meets the other British Business Bank eligibility criteria.

How to access the scheme: The full rules of the Scheme and the list of accredited lenders is available on the British Business Bank website. All the major banks offer the scheme; there are 40 accredited providers in all. Click here to for more information.

Support for larger firms through the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility

Under the new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF), the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies. This will support your company if it has been affected by a short-term funding squeeze, and allow you to finance your short-term liabilities.

Eligibility: Companies – and their finance subsidiaries – that make a material contribution to the UK economy are able to participate in the facility. More information on eligibility can be found on the Bank of England Website.

How to access the scheme: In order to access the CCFF, you will need to contact your bank. It is important to note that not all banks issue commercial paper. If your bank does not issue commercial paper, UK Finance will provide a list of banks that are able to assist. Click here for more information.

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.

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

How to access the scheme: Make your claim online. If you’re eligible and your business has been adversely affected you must make your claim for the first grant on or before 13 July 2020.

In the interim the self-employed will still able eligible for other government support including more generous universal credit and business continuity loans. Click here for more information.

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25m to firms with an annual turnover of between £45m and £500m. This will give banks the confidence to lend to many more businesses which are impacted by coronavirus. Facilities backed by a guarantee under CLBILS will be offered at commercial rates of interest.

Eligibility: To be eligible, your business must be UK-based in its business activity; have an annual turnover between £45 million and £500 million; be unable to secure regular commercial financing and have a borrowing proposal which the lender would consider viable, were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic, and believes will enable you to trade out of any short-term to medium-term difficulty. Businesses from any sector can apply, except the following: banks and building societies; insurers and reinsurers (but not insurance brokers); public-sector organisations, including state-funded primary and secondary schools.

How to access: You can apply online now. Click here for more information.

Support for businesses paying tax through the Time to Pay service

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.

Eligibility: you are eligible if your business pays tax to the UK government and has outstanding tax liabilities.

How to access the scheme: If you have missed a tax payment or you might miss your next payment due to COVID-19, please call the HMRC’s dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559. If you are worried about a future payment call nearer the time. Click here for more information.

Other Support Measures

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Companies House has announced that businesses will be able to apply for a 3-month extension for filing their accounts. Click here for more information.

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.

High street shops and other companies under strain will be protected from aggressive rent collection and asked to pay what they can during the coronavirus pandemic. Read more here.

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme offers 100% government backed loans for small businesses. Businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days. Loans will be interest free for the first 12 months, and businesses can apply online through a short and simple form. Read more here.

A discretionary fund has been set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme. Businesses must be small, under 50 employees, and they must also be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income due to Coronavirus restriction measures. Read more here.

Leicester City Council has several funds available to help businesses reopen, including grants for shop front improvements and cafe seating. Read more here.

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

Other sources of advice for businesses:
> Federation of Small Businesses
> Acas

Financial support

The Universal Credit standard allowance will increase, for the next 12 months, 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:

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 [email protected] For housing benefits advice, call 0116 454 1006, or email [email protected]

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 [email protected] 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

Public Health Advice

Public Health England (PHE) recommends that the following general cold and flu 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

Foreign travel
The FCO advises British people against all non-essential travel. Read government travel advice here.

Impact on travel to and within Leicester
Following the extension of restrictions in Leicester, the people of the city have been asked to avoid all non-essential travel and stay at home as much as possible.

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:

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 [email protected]

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. We welcome this announcement and look forward to hearing more details on the scheme.

To comply with government guidelines and in the interests of staff and public safety, 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 assisting businesses with reopening. 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: [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.

Pin It on Pinterest