Latest COVID-19 updates and guidance for businesses

Following Friday’s announcement regarding the postponement and changes to the reopening of events, the Government has updated its Visitor Economy guidance to reflect these changes and respond to questions raised by the industry. We are pleased to share a summary with you, along with other relevant updates. The Visitor Economy guidance for England has been updated to reflect the changes to the current permissions. Of note:

  1. Meetings of up to 30 people indoors are allowed in permitted venues if social distancing can be maintained and the venue can demonstrate it has followed the COVID-19 guidance.

  2. If permitted venues have multiple, separate meeting facilities, these can be hired out simultaneously for separate meetings/events if social distancing can be maintained, groups can be kept separate, and the venue can demonstrate it has followed the COVID-19 guidance.

  3. Business meetings and events of over 30 people should not currently take place in any venue.

  4. Banqueting and private dining events should not currently take place in any venue. [NB. If a banqueting venue is able to operate as a restaurant (following the relevant BEIS guidance, adhering to rules on social distancing, keeping household groups/bubbles separate, etc) this would be allowed.]

  5. Conference centres and exhibition halls remain closed. They will reopen when the balance of risk allows. Where such venues have small, separate and directly accessible meeting facilities as part of the site, these may be used to host business meetings and events of up to 30 people if social distancing can be maintained, groups can be kept separate, and the venue can demonstrate it has followed the COVID-19 guidance. Business meetings and events of over 30 people should not currently take place in conference centres and exhibition halls.

  6. Academic venues (Universities and Colleges) can use their lecture theatres and classrooms for external meetings of up to 30 people and as above, separate and directly accessible meeting facilities can be used as long as groups are kept separate and all other guidance is followed.

  7. Basic catering can be provided at meetings and events, following the COVID-19 guidance for bars, pubs and takeaway services. However, it is advised not to hold extended sit down meals for large groups. The UKHospitality guidance may also be useful; it recommends grab and go and pre-packed food rather than buffet.

  8. The guidance states that events should operate at a capacity allowing for compliance with social distancing of 2m, or 1m with mitigations. This should be the fundamental principle. It notes that for conferences and events, venues should consider social distancing approximately equivalent to a density of 10m2 per person, given the additional risks of large groups interacting in this specific environment. The pilots (when they take place) will assess the guidance and whether the mitigations suggested are appropriate/sufficient.

Wedding receptions of up to 30 will be kept under review with the earliest start date of 15 August. Guidance will be shared as soon as it is available and will cover dining provision for these specific events. Receptions, award ceremonies, examinations, filming, fashion shows, product launches and team building exercises are not expected to take place until restrictions on business events are lifted. The current provisional date for this is 1 October, if public health assessments allow. It is expected that risk assessments in line with Visitor Economy and AEO guidance will need to be undertaken. The pilots will assess whether that guidance is sufficient or needs updating in any way. We will keep you updated. Venues may also need to consider mitigations depending on specific aspects of their events (e.g. performing arts guidance on singing/dancing if relevant). Changes to claims on the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme from 1 August

The rules for the scheme have changed. Unless you’re making a new claim for an employee who is a military reservist or is returning from statutory parental leave, you can only continue to claim through the scheme if:

  • You have previously furloughed the employee for three consecutive weeks between March 1 and 30 June

  • You submitted your claim before 31 July

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme update for those with a new child

A new form and accompanying guidance is available for those who have a new child which affected their trading profits or total income reported for the tax year 2018 to 2019. You can use the new form to ask HMRC to verify that you had a new child. HMRC will review your application and contact you within two weeks, if HMRC tells you that your information has been verified you should make a claim from 17 August 2020 to find out if you’re eligible for the grant. Two new leadership programmes to help small business leaders announced

The Government has announced two new training programmes for small businesses on management, productivity and problem-solving skills.

There are 2,000 places available on the Small Business Leadership Programme and 6,000 on the Peer Networks programme. Other Government updates

Get practical advice and tips for your business on the Business Advice Hub.

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