Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can’t do
Frequently asked questions on what you can and can’t do during the coronavirus outbreak have been updated. This guidance applies in England.
What are the new restrictions on businesses and venues in England?
From 24 September, businesses selling food or drink (including cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants), social clubs, casinos, bowling alleys, amusement arcades (and other indoor leisure centres or facilities), funfairs, theme parks, and adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls, must be closed between 10pm and 5am. This will include takeaways, but delivery and drive-thru services can continue after 10pm.
In both indoor and outdoor licensed premises, food and drink must be ordered from, and served at, a table. Licensed and unlicensed businesses must also take all reasonable steps to ensure that the customer remains seated whilst consuming the food or drink on the premises. Cinemas, theatres and concert halls can continue beyond 10pm, but only if the performance started before 10pm, and food and drink cannot be served after 10pm.
Can work gatherings exceed 6 people?
Work gatherings are exempt from the gatherings limit of 6. Where a group includes someone who is working, they are not counted as part of the gatherings limit. This means a tradesperson can go into a household of six without breaching the limit, if they are there for work.
What is CBILS?
CORONAVIRUS BUSINESS INTERRUPTION LOAN SCHEME (CBILS) is a Government Backed Loan to support SME businesses that will be available through banks and other finance providers from now. Details are available via the British Business Bank
How will the Wage subsidy be paid?
The government will pay the wages of employees unable to work due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
It will pay 80% of salary for staff who are kept on by their employer, covering wages of up to £2,500 a month.
It is understood that the wage subsidy will apply to firms where bosses have already had to lay off workers due to the Coronavirus, as long as they are brought back into the workforce and instead granted a leave of absence.
The wages cover, which relates to gross paywill last until the end of October.
You can only claim for furloughed employees that were on your PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020 and which were notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020.
Employees that were employed as of 28 February 2020 and on payroll (i.e. notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 28 February) and were made redundant or stopped working for the employer after that and prior to 19 March 2020, can also qualify for the scheme if the employer re-employs them and puts them on furlough.
From 1 July, employers can bring back to work employees that have previously been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim CJRS grant for their normal hours not worked. When claiming the CJRS grant for furloughed hours; employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week.
HMRC have produced this step by step guidance on how to make a claim. There is also a calculator to help you work out your claim. The system can process up to 450,000 applications per hour and employers should receive the money within 6 working days of making an application.
You can access the service here
What happens while I am on furlough?
Once you are on furlough you will not be able to work for your employer. You can undertake training or volunteer subject to public health guidance, as long as you’re not:
- making money for your employer or a company linked or associated to your employer
- providing services to your employer or a company linked or associated to your employer
If workers are required to, for example, complete training courses whilst they are furloughed, then they must be paid at least their appropriate minimum wage (NLW, NMW or AMW) for the time spent training, even if this is more than the 80% of their wage that will be subsidised.
Whilst furloughed your employer cannot ask you to do work for another linked or associated company.
If your contract allows, you may undertake other employment while your current employer has placed you on furlough, and this will not affect the grant that they can claim under the scheme. You will need to be able to return to work for the employer that has placed you on furlough if they decide to stop furloughing you, and you must be able to undertake any training they require while on furlough. If you take on new employment, you should make sure you complete the starter checklist form with your new employer correctly. If you are furloughed from another employment, you should complete Statement C. Any activities undertaken while on furlough must be in line with the latest Public Health guidance during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Your employer can still make you redundant while you’re on furlough or afterwards.
Your rights as an employee are not affected by being on furlough, including redundancy rights
If your employer chooses to place you on furlough, you will need to remain on furlough for a minimum of 3 consecutive weeks. However, your employer can place you on furlough more than once, and one period can follow straight after an existing furlough period, while the scheme is open. The scheme is open until the end of October 2020.
We are a large company; what financial support is there for us?
Under the new Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility, 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.
Find out more about eligibility and accessing the scheme here
Am I eligible for a 100% Business Rates discount?
Most businesses in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector are eligible for the 100% business rates discount. Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied hereditaments that are wholly or mainly being used:
- as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
- for assembly and leisure
- as hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation
Do businesses need to register/have additional building control measures for a change of use to takeaway/delivery during the Coronavirus outbreak?
The planning laws have been relaxed for the duration of the this pandemic & any premises that wishes to change to a takeaway then there will be no enforcement.
You can find out more on the Government website here
What do businesses need to do to move from retail to delivery during the CoVid-19 period? In particular around vehicle specs and insurance for drivers as well as hygiene issues?
Food Hygiene will be taken from the Food Safety and Standards team's last visit to businesses and the hygiene number will remain BUT businesses cannot change premises (e.g. moving the cooking to home), it must be the same premises the inspection was taken.
Check with your insurance company for advice around delivery for Car (delivery) & liability insurance.
We’re in the sport and physical activity sector – is there any help for us?
There is various support/funding opportunities available both locally and nationally for groups/organisations involved within the sport & physical activity sector.
They can be found here
Should my business close?
For further guidance on which businesses are to close as part of further social distancing measures please visit the government's website here
Additional guidance on social distancing in the workplace
To support businesses that remain open during this period in England, the government has published additional guidance to assist employers, businesses and their staff in staying open safely during coronavirus (COVID-19). For specific settings please refer to sector specific guidance. Guidance has been published for:
- Shops running a pick-up or delivery service
- Tradespeople and working in people’s homes
- Manufacturing and processing businesses
- Logistics businesses
- Outdoor businesses
- Farming: visiting farms for animal health and welfare
- Fishing or other short-term offshore work
- Cargo-shipping or other long-term offshore work
- Transport businesses
- Waste management businesses
These guidelines are not intended to be comprehensive or to represent every business situation, but are illustrative examples. Businesses should also look at the advice being published by trade associations and similar groups on how to apply government guidance in their sector. Read the general guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus
Where can I find out more?