Following the announcement from the Prime Minister on January 4, a new national lockdown was introduced in England on Tuesday, January 5. Our guide can help you keep up to date with the latest news relevant for you and your business.
This page was updated on 5 January 2021.
On 5 January, England was placed in a new national lockdown. Review our quick-read guide for a summary of the latest national restrictions.
On December 17, the Chancellor announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme would be extended to the end of April 2021. The government also confirmed that it will continue to contribute 80% of the salary of employees for hours not worked until the end of April. In addition, the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme were also extended until 31 March 2021.
The Chancellor further confirmed that the 2021 Budget will be on March 3 and will set out the next phase of the plan to tackle the virus and protect jobs.
You can read the full announcement here.
Economic and social restrictions
On November 23, the Prime Minister set out the UK Government’s COVID-19 Winter Plan outlining the approach to ending the national restrictions introduced earlier in November. From December 2, the government will return to a regional tiered approach with a uniform set of rules for each tier. To help prevent the epidemic from growing, these tiers will be strengthened compared to the previous tiers.
On Thursday 26 November, the government announced which areas are in which tier and the public can refer to the Full list of local restriction tiers by area to find out which restrictions apply in each local area. Greater Manchester has been placed in the "Very High” alert level and businesses can access our quick-read guide to view the local restrictions in place.
From December 2, across all of England regardless of tier:
- The stay-at-home order will cease to apply and travel will be permitted to resume subject to guidance in each tier
- Non-essential retail, personal care, gyms and the wider leisure sector will be allowed reopen
- Communal worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume
- The rule of 6 will now apply outdoors once again as it did in the previous set of tiers.
- Eligibility of support bubbles will be expanded.
The previous tiers will also be refined and the following changes will apply:
- Message of working from home wherever possible will be reinforced
- The 10pm closing time for hospitality will be revised with businesses required to close at 11pm and last orders at 10pm.
- Spectator sport and business events will be allowed to resume indoors and outdoors with capacity limits and social distancing
- The 10pm closing time for hospitality will be revised with businesses required to close at 11pm and last orders at 10pm
- Pubs and bars will be required to close, unless operating as restaurants, and hospitality venues will only be able to serve alcohol with substantial meals.
- Spectator sport and business events will be allowed to resume indoors and outdoors with capacity limits and social distancing
- All hospitality will be required to close except for delivery, takeaway and drive-through
- Hotels and other accommodation providers will be required to close except for specific circumstances (where people are staying for work purposes or where they cannot return home)
- Indoor entertainment and tourist venues will also be required to close
The government will be reviewing tiering allocations every 14 days, and these regulations will expire in law at the end of March. More information on what restrictions the different tiers will include is available through our Local Covid Alert guide.
The government has also announced that over the coming months the need for restrictions should gradually reduce as solutions provided by scientific progress start yielding benefits. These solutions will include the deployment of effective and safe vaccines once available, further effective treatments for COVID-19 and enhanced testing. This will include the launch of a major community testing programme, which will be offering all local authorities in Tier 4, Tier 3 and those in Tier 2 who are at significant risk of entering Tier 3 in England a six-week surge of testing.
To view the full COVID-19 Winter Plan, visit the government website here.
On October 31, The Prime Minister introduced new national restrictions in England asking the public to Stay at home. Protect the NHS. And save lives.
The measures outlined below came into effect on Thursday 5 November and will remain in place up to and including Wednesday 2 December 2020.
Business, event and venue closures and restrictions
- All non-essential retail. These can operate click-and-collect (where goods are
pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services)
- Hospitality venues (ex. restaurants, pubs,
bars) These can still provide takeaway
(before 10pm; and not including alcohol takeaway) click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery
- Accommodation (ex. hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites). These can remain open for specific circumstances (ex. where these act as someone's main residence,
where they cannot return home, for homeless people, or where it is essential to stay there
for work purposes)
- Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities (ex. bowling alleys, leisure centres and gyms, golf courses, dance studios, soft play facilities)
- Entertainment venues (ex. concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, bingo halls, concert halls, zoos)
- Personal care facilities (ex. beauty and nail salons, tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours)
- Places of worship (exemptions apply
including use for funerals, individual prayer and others)
- Community centres and halls. These can remain open for a limited number of exempt activities
- Conference centres and exhibition halls
should remain closed for conferences, exhibitions, trade shows, private dining or banqueting events
- Driving tests will be suspended
These businesses and places will also be permitted to be open for a small number of
- Food shops, supermarkets, garden centres, hardware stores and certain other retailers providing essential goods and services following COVID secure guidelines.
- Off licenses and licensed shops selling
alcohol (including breweries).
- Outdoor playgrounds
- Petrol Stations, car repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses.
- Banks, building societies, post offices, loan providers and money transfer businesses
- Launderettes and dry cleaners
- Medical and dental services
- Vets and pet shops
- Agricultural supplies shops
- Storage and distribution facilities
- Estate and letting agents and removals firms
- Car parks, public toilets and motorway
- Public services (including NHS and medical services, job centres, courts, and civil registration offices)
- Childcare, early years settings, schools, colleges and universities (universities and adult learning providers should consider increasing online provision where possible)
- Libraries can remain open to provide access to IT and digital services (ex. for people who do not have it at home - and for click-and-collect)
- Workplace settings that cannot be managed from home including manufacturing, construction, national infrastructure or if your job involves working in other people’s homes.
Activities allowed to continue
- People can still move home and can continue to undertake viewings.
- Elite sport will be allowed to continue behind closed doors
Weddings, civil partnerships, and funerals
- Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies will not be allowed (except where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover. These weddings are limited to 6 people.)
- Funerals are permitted (maximum of 30 people attending - anyone working is not included)
- Linked ceremonial events (stone settings and ash scatterings) are also permitted (maximum of 15 people attending - Anyone working is not included)
Social contact restrictions
- You must stay at home (exceptions apply)
- You should remember to maintain social distancing where required
- Single adult households can still form
exclusive support bubbles with one other household
- Parents can still form a childcare bubble with another household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is 13 or under.
- You must not meet socially indoors with
people you do not live with or who are not in your support bubble. This also applies to meeting in private gardens
- You can exercise or visit outdoor public
places (neighborhood streets, parks, beaches, countryside, public gardens, outdoor playgrounds) with your household/ support bubble or 1 person from another household (children under 5, as well as people with a disability requiring continuous care, are not counted towards the limit of two people meeting outside).
- If you live at university, you must not move back and forward between your permanent home and student home during term time.
You should only return home at the end of term.
You can meet others from outside your
household or support bubble in larger groups for certain reasons outlined below but not for socialising:
- voluntary or charitable services
- formal education or training (as opposed to extracurricular classes)
- to provide emergency assistance
- to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person
- to enable one or more persons in the gathering to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm
- to facilitate a house move
- Support groups that are essential to deliver in person can continue with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support
View the full list of exemptions
Guidance for clinically vulnerable and clinically extremely vulnerable
People are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible and minimise contact with others. Further advice available here.
Guidance for visiting care homes
Detailed guidance has been published and is available here.
Attending work and travel
Going to work
- Anyone who can work effectively from home must do so
- Where people cannot do so - including, but not limited to, people working in critical national infrastructure, construction, manufacturing or in other people's homes (as nannies, cleaners or tradespeople) - they should continue to travel to their workplace
- Clinically extremely vulnerable unable to work from home should not go to work
- Public sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, should continue to go into work
- You should look to reduce the number of journeys you make and walk or cycle where possible
- You should avoid travelling internationally or within the UK, unless for work, education or other legally permitted exemptions
- Overnight stays and holidays away from primary residences will not be allowed (exemptions apply)
- Inbound international travel will continue to be governed by the travel corridor approach
Find out what financial support is available for you and your business
From October 14, the government has introduced a tier system in England. Where areas will be classified in alert levels – medium, high and very high. For further information on the restrictions by tier and for your local area, see here.
Furthermore, you can find the latest guidance for your area on www.gov.uk/find-coronavirus-local-restrictions and through your Local Authority, as well as a timeline for Greater Manchester specific restrictions here. From July 18th, local authorities have new powers in their areas. They are able to close specific premises, shut public outdoor spaces, and cancel events.
The information below outlines the timeline and reopening plan for August onwards.
12 October – New tier system announced
On October 12, Boris Johnson introduced a three-tiered system of local Covid Alert Levels in England, set at medium, high, and very high.
- The “medium” alert level covers most of the country and includes the Rule of Six and the closure of hospitality at 10pm.
- The “high” alert level includes restrictions preventing the mixing between different households or support bubbles indoors. In these areas, the Rule of Six will continue to apply outdoors.
- The “very high” alert level will prohibit people from social mixing indoors and in private gardens. There will also be closures for pubs and bars. This could lead to further restrictions on the hospitality, leisure, entertainment or personal care sectors. However, retail, schools and universities will remain open.
Local Authorities in the Liverpool City Region will move into the “very high” alert level from Wednesday October 14.
Local Authorities in Greater Manchester will move into the ‘very high’ level from Friday October 23.
For further details please visit our page outlining each tier and relevant guidance here.
22 September - New measures announced
Business restrictions and regulations
- Office workers who can effectively work from home are advised to do so.
- From September 24, all pubs, bars and restaurants must operate a table service only, except for takeaways. Together with *all hospitality venues, they must close at 10pm. To help the police enforce this rule that means closing not just calling for last orders. This will also apply to takeaways - though deliveries can continue thereafter.
*Some exemptions apply, including cinemas, theatres and concert halls which have started shows before 10pm, however they will not be permitted to serve food or drink to customers after 10pm.
- In retail, leisure and tourism and other sectors, Government Covid-secure guidelines will become legal obligations.
- The spread of the virus is now affecting the ability to reopen business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events, so this will be delayed and not from 1 October as had been stated.
- From 23 September all customers in private hire vehicles and taxis must wear face coverings.
- From 24 September, customers in hospitality venues must wear face coverings, except when seated at a table to eat or drink. Staff in hospitality and retail will now also be required to wear face coverings.
- In addition, from 24 September guidance stating that face coverings and visors should be worn in close contact services will become law.
The penalty for failing to wear a mask or breaking the rule of six will now double to £200 for a first offence.
- The government will be extending the rule of six to include all adult indoor team sports.
- From September 28 a maximum of 15 people will be able to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, though up to 30 can still attend a funeral.
To view the Prime Minister’s full speech, visit the government website here.
9 September – New measures announced
On 9 September the government announced a series of new measures to help control the virus and ensure the number of infections remain low. These include the following:
From Monday 14 September:
- You must not meet with people from other households socially in groups of more than 6. This will apply indoors and outdoors, including in private homes.
- Places of worship, restaurants and hospitality venues, will still be able to host larger numbers in total, but groups of up to 6 must not mix or form larger groups.
- Individual households or support bubbles of more than 6 will still be able to gather together.
- This will not impact education and work settings which will remain unaffected
- Organised team sports will also be able to proceed, as will weddings and funerals up to 30. However, from Monday, this limit will be enforceable in law.
The full list of exceptions to the 6 person limit is available on the government website.
From Friday 18 September:
- It will be mandatory for certain businesses to have a system in place to collect NHS Test and Trace data, and retain this for 21 days.
- Core COVID-19 Secure requirements will be mandated for hospitality businesses, and egregious breaches enforced.
To view the full list of measures announced, visit the government’s website, here.
“Our plan to rebuild”: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy – New Chapter
In May, the UK Government published the ‘Our plan to rebuild’ strategy document which set out a roadmap to move away from lockdown and restart the economy, whilst keeping people safe from the risk of Coronavirus. Since Wednesday 13th May, the government has announced three steps to reopening the economy and on 17 July, the Prime Minister announced the next chapter in the plan to rebuild the UK government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy.
On 31 July, the Prime Minister announced that the easing of lockdown was paused for two weeks due to a surge in coronavirus cases. On the 13 August, Government announced this stage of reopening will resume from Saturday 15 August in England – except for specific areas where local restrictions are in place including Greater Manchester. Stricter enforcement measures have also been put in place to address the most serious breaches of social distancing. These include:
- Fines for repeatedly not wearing face coverings in mandatory settings to increase up to a maximum of £3,200
- New fines to be introduced for people hosting raves or facilitating/organising other illegal gatherings of over 30 people
For further details on the reopening of businesses and venues from 15 August, as well as which businesses must remain closed, please see here.
From 15 August (These do not apply to Greater Manchester):
This list of businesses below which can reopen in England is for reference only, as it may be relevant to your clients or suppliers. However, if you are in Greater Manchester, and own a business in the below list, as of 15 August you must stay closed.
Entertainment, leisure, and cultural facilities
- Most remaining leisure settings such as indoor play areas, bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos, will be allowed to reopen following safety guidelines. However, this will not include particularly high-risk activities and settings such as nightclubs.
- Indoor performances to a live audience can restart (but with a limited distanced audience indoors), following COVID-19 secure guidelines.
- A number of pilots will now take place in venues with a range of sizes of audience, including sports stadiums and business events. The pilots, which will be closely monitored and evaluated will inform future decisions on any further relaxation of the rules aiming for a full, socially distanced return in the autumn.
- Wedding receptions; sit-down meals for a maximum of 30 people will now be permitted to resume, subject to COVID-19 Secure guidelines.
Close contact services
- All close contact services can resume, including any treatments on the face (e.g. eyebrow threading, make-up application and others) which were classed as high-risk. Businesses in the sector are required to follow government guidance on operating safely. Practitioners must now wear a visor and mask, whereas customers must now wear face coverings.
Which businesses are to remain closed beyond August 15?
- “Close proximity” establishments including nightclubs, dance halls and discotheques will have to remain closed for the time being. A list of businesses which are required to remain closed has been released by the government and is available here.
- Face coverings have been required whilst on public transport since June 15, additionally, from July 24 they are required in shops, supermarkets, shopping centres and enclosed transport hubs such as stations. If one of these locations has a café or area for you to eat and drink, then you can remove your face covering in this area only. Face coverings must also be worn in banks, building societies and post offices. From August 8, face coverings are required in museums, cinemas, galleries and places of worship.
- Face coverings are also required from 15 August in these settings: casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor play areas, exhibition halls and conference centres.
- From September 1, schools and colleges will have the discretion to require face coverings in communal areas where social distancing is not possible. The World Health Organisation stated on 21 August that children aged 12 and over are advised to wear a face covering under the same conditions as adults. For more information on use of face coverings for Year 7 and above, please see here.
- In areas with local restrictions and local lockdowns, face coverings are compulsory for Year 7s and above. Face coverings should be worn by both adults and pupils when in communal areas.
- Those who do not have to wear a covering include children under 11, as well as people with disabilities or health conditions. For all details on face coverings please see here.
From 1 August
Returning to work
- Businesses will be provided with more discretion on how they ensure their staff can work safely.
- Working from home will remain an option, but employers can also make their workplaces COVID-19 secure following safety guidelines published.
- Employers should discuss working arrangements with staff to determine the best way that roles can be carried out safely.
- Businesses should consider their employees' use of public transport, childcare responsibilities, protected characteristics, and other individual circumstances to drive socially responsible decisions.
- Schools, nurseries and colleges will restart for all children and young people on a full-time basis.
- Universities are working to reopen as fully as possible.
From 1 October:
- If prevalence remains around or below current levels into the autumn, the government is planning on bringing back audiences in stadiums, and allowing conferences and other business events to recommence following COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Steps to reopen the economy
On 14 July, the government announced that face coverings will be mandatory in shops and supermarkets from 24 July. In addition, from 24 July, face coverings will also have to be worn in shopping centres and enclosed transport hubs (indoor train stations and terminals, airports, maritime ports, and indoor bus and coach stations or terminals). Wearing a face covering will also be compulsory when buying food and drink to takeaway from cafes, restaurants and shops.
Should an individual without an exemption refuse to wear a face covering, the police have the formal enforcement powers and can issue a fine of £100 (halving to £50 if paid within 14 days). Businesses are expected to encourage the use of face coverings and can refuse entry to non-compliant individuals.
Previous measures announced:
Step two - From Monday 1 June
Returning to work
- 1 June, outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen, as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 working safely guidelines. As with garden centres, the risk of transmission of the virus is lower in these outdoor spaces.
- 15 June, all other non-essential retail can open including shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios and indoor markets. Businesses can open from these dates once they have completed a risk assessment.
You can find a Risk-Assessment guide and template from Centre for Assessment here.
- On June 10, the government also announced that following social distancing, zoos, drive-in cinemas and safari parks will also be permitted to reopen on Monday 15 June.
- Sport facilities are allowed to open from end of May. Each venue, including council-owned sports facilities, will make their own decisions about when their facilities are ready to open and can be operated safely. Find more details here.
- From Saturday 13 June places of worship will also be permitted to open for individual prayer in line with social distancing guidelines. Guidance for the safe use of these can be seen here.
- As of 13 May 2020, as you are able to spend unlimited time outdoors as long as social distancing is still practised, you can also leave your home to search for archaeological finds. The government has published guidance for members of the public (including metal-detectorists) searching for archaeological finds in England during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- During the Coronavirus Press Conference on the 10th June, the Prime Minister announced that from June 13, people living on their own as well as single parents with dependent children would be able to form a "support bubble" with one other household. Individuals in a "support bubble" will be able to visit each others' homes and will not have to remain 2m apart. More details can be seen here.
- 1 June, Schools, colleges and nurseries in England are set to open. Primary schools will open for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6. Nurseries and other early years providers will open for children of all ages.
- June 15, secondary schools, sixth forms and colleges will also provide face-to-face contact for Year 10, Year 12 and equivalent 16-19 further education students to help them prepare for exams next year. For more information on schools opening see here.
Public Transport and International Travel
The UK Government has released guidance for all methods of transport. You should avoid using public transport where possible. Instead try to walk, cycle, or drive.
If travelling abroad is essential, make sure you check the latest Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice and coronavirus essential international travel guidance before travelling. From 8 June, there will be new rules in place for entering the UK because of coronavirus. The rules are for residents and visitors. When these rules are in place, you will:
- need to provide your journey and contact details when you travel to the UK
- not be allowed to leave the place you’re staying for the first 14 days you’re in the UK except in very limited situations
Some travellers are exempt from UK border rules, check the list here.
The information provided is meant as a general guide only rather than advice or assurance. GC Business Growth Hub does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information and professional guidance should be sought on all aspects of business planning and responses to the coronavirus. Use of this guide and toolkit are entirely at the risk of the user. Any hyperlinks from this document are to external resources not connected to the GC Business Growth Hub and The Growth Company is not responsible for the content within any hyperlinked site.