COVID-19 Guidance for Business

Businesses are advised to keep updated on the latest information and advice to inform their response to Coronavirus (COVID-19). The links and information on this page provide advice and guidance around Coronavirus.



The Government's four-step roadmap out of lockdown

From March 8, people in England will see restrictions start to lift and the Government’s four-step roadmap offer a route back to a more normal life.

The Government will also continue to support families and businesses throughout the steps set out in the roadmap - details of which will be set out by the Chancellor in the Budget on March 3.

Read the Chamber Network Summary of the Covid-19 Reponse Spring 2021 here.

Step 1, part 1 – March 8

  • All pupils and college students return fully, with before- and after-school clubs opened. For a period, secondary school pupils and older will wear masks in classes.
  • People can meet one other person outside for, say, a coffee or picnic, not just for exercise. Children will still count towards this.
  • Care home residents can receive one regular, named visitor.
  • The “stay at home” order will otherwise stay in place.

Step 1, part 2 – March 29

  • Outdoor gatherings allowed of up to six people, or two households if this is larger, not just in parks but also gardens.
  • Outdoor sport for children and adults will be allowed including outdoor swimming pools.
  • The official stay at home order will end, but people will be encouraged to stay local – the definition of local will largely be left to people’s discretion.
  • People will still be asked to work from home where possible, with no overseas travel allowed beyond the current small number of exceptions.

Step 2 – no earlier than April 12

  • Reopening of non-essential retail, hair and nail salons, and public buildings such as libraries.
  • Most outdoor venues open, including pubs and restaurants but only for outdoor tables and beer gardens. Customers will have to be seated but there will be no need to have a meal with alcohol.
  • Also reopening will be settings such as zoos and theme parks. However, social contact rules will apply here, so no indoor mixing between households and limits on outdoor mixing.
  • Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms and pools can also open but again people can only go alone or with their own household.
  • Reopening of holiday lets with no shared facilities, but only for one household.
  • Funerals can have up to 30 attendees, while weddings, receptions and wakes can have 15.

  • While it is not part of step 2, this is the earliest point after which the bulk of university students could know about the resumption of face-to-face classes. A review of this will take place at the end of the Easter holidays.

Step 3 – no earlier than 17 May

  • Most mixing rules lifted outdoors, with a limit of 30 people meeting in parks or gardens.
  • Indoor mixing will be allowed, up to six people or, if it is more people, two households.
  • Indoor venues such as the inside of pubs and restaurants, hotels and B&Bs, play centres, cinemas, museums and group exercise classes will reopen. The new indoor and outdoor mixing limits will remain for pubs and other hospitality venues.
  • This will be the earliest date at which international holidays could resume, subject to a review – see the list of reviews below.
  • For sport, indoor venues can have up to 1,000 spectators or half capacity, whichever is lower; outdoors the limit will be 4,000 people or half capacity, whichever is lower. Very large outdoor seated venues, such as big football stadiums, where crowds can be spread out, will have a limit of 10,000 people, or a quarter full, whichever is fewer.
  • Weddings will be allowed a limit of 30 people, with other events such as christenings and barmitzvahs also permitted.

Step 4 – no earlier than 21 June

  • All legal limits removed on mixing will be removed and the last sectors to remain closed, such as nightclubs, will reopen. Large events can take place.
  • There are likely to be changes to wider social distancing measures but this will be decided in a separate review.



Discretionary grants update - February 2021

Plymouth City Council has announced details about new discretionary funding available to support businesses that are severely impacted by the third national lockdown.

Plymouth City Council has announced details about new discretionary funding available to support businesses that are severely impacted by the third national lockdown. The city has been allocated a total of £7.57 million to support local businesses through the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG).

More than £1.7 million has already been distributed to help businesses that struggled during the November lockdown. The discretionary funding is intended to support businesses that cannot claim from the Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) scheme, which gives grants to rate-paying businesses that have been forced to close due to the national restrictions.

Businesses may be eligible to apply for financial support through the ARG if they:

  • Have been legally required to close under current national restrictions but were not eligible for the LRSG as they do not pay business rates, or pay packaged rent and rates
  • Have not been legally required to close but have suffered a significant loss in turnover as a result of the national restrictions. Due to the limited amount of funding available, the Council will prioritise the following types of businesses when distributing the grants: • Fishing businesses
  • Childcare providers
  • Tradespeople and businesses who supply businesses that are required to close (e.g. retail and hospitality)
  • Creative and event businesses
  • Businesses that pay packaged rent and rates and are required to shut, or supply businesses that have been required to close
  • Businesses with high fixed costs that haven’t been able to claim from any previous grant schemes.

The Council is prioritising in order to help as many businesses as possible, however it is likely that the Government funding may not meet the demands for help.

Applications for the new ARG will open at 10am on Monday 1 February. Businesses must complete a new application, even if they have received a discretionary grant during previous lockdowns.

In order to apply for a grant, businesses will need to meet the following criteria:

Must have been trading on or before 4 January 2020.

Must be a micro or small business with up to 50 employees.

Must have ongoing fixed monthly business costs in Plymouth (for example rents, wages, mooring fees or utilities)

Can confirm they have been significantly affected by coronavirus (at least a 30 per cent loss in income)

If a home based business in Plymouth, they must be registered with HMRC and provide their Company Unique Taxpayer Reference as well as a copy of their most recent tax return.

Businesses will not be eligible for funding if they have exceeded state subsidy limits or are in administration, insolvent or where a striking off order has been made. Certain types of businesses will also not be considered eligible, including ‘home sharing’ businesses, buy to let properties and premises that are used for personal use only (for example, riding stables).

The grants awarded are one-off payments intended to support businesses through the third national lockdown which started on 5 January 2021. Businesses that do not pay rates will be eligible for a grant of £3,000.

Rate-paying businesses that have not been forced to close but are still significantly affected can claim the following grants:

  • For businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under, grants to be £4,200
  • For properties with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000, grants to be £6,300
  • For properties with a rateable value of £51,000 or over, grants to be £9,400

Only one discretionary grant will be awarded to any business per lockdown, but if businesses operate from multiple Plymouth premises they may be eligible for additional payments. The grants are intended to help with fixed business costs rather than to replace lost income, as there are other schemes offering this financial support.

More information about these schemes can be found on the Invest Plymouth coronavirus business support page, or via the Heart of the South West Growth Hub. A portion of the overall funding given to the Council will also be allocated to supporting wider economic development activity across the city and key city institutions that provide a significant economic benefit. For more information about the ARG and LRSG grant schemes, including how to apply, please see:

An update on Tier 3 and Lockdown Business Grants from Plymouth City Council

Plymouth City Council has been given a further £20.3 million to distribute in grants to support businesses during the third national lockdown.

The Council is working hard to get this money out as quickly as possible and to make the process simple for businesses.

Grants are currently available for businesses that pay business rates and are legally required to close during Tier 3 and the national lockdown.

If you do not meet these requirements you may be eligible for discretionary funding and more information about this will be available soon.

If you have already applied for the November lockdown grant (LRSG Closed), you do not need to reapply. You will receive a confirmation email from Plymouth City Council this week detailing the amount of your grant payment, the scheme that your grant is from and the expected payment date.

We have received applications from approximately 60 per cent of eligible businesses, which means around 40 per cent of eligible Plymouth businesses have not applied. If you haven’t already, we would urge you to complete an application as soon as possible.

Please note that we are only able to automatically pay those who successfully applied for the second November lockdown grant. This does not include businesses that received grants during the first national lockdown if they have not applied for the second lockdown funding.

If you have not applied for the November lockdown grant, you will need to complete an application form on the Council website. You will then receive all the funding you are eligible for.

Below is a list of the grants available:

Tier 3

Plymouth was in Tier 3 for five days and eligible businesses are entitled to a pro-rata payment for this period.

Lockdown business grants

Plymouth, along with the rest of the country, entered a national lockdown on 5 January. Businesses required to close and which pay business rates are eligible for the following financial support:

Local Restrictions Grant Scheme (Closed) addendum

Eligible businesses required to close due to the national lockdown will be entitled to receive the following grants to cover the entire 42-day initial lockdown period (5 January to 15 February):

· £2,001 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
· £3,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
· £4,500 for businesses with a rateable value over £51,000

Closed Business Lockdown Payment

This is a one-off payment for eligible rate paying businesses that have been required to close by the Government. Payments are calculated based on rateable value:

· £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
· £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
· £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value over £51,000

Additional Restrictions Grant

If you are not eligible for the above schemes, you may be entitled to discretionary funding.

Applications for the Additional Restrictions Grant covering the November lockdown will be closing on Thursday, 21 January and all existing applications will be processed.

A new discretionary scheme will be launched in the coming weeks, with updated eligibility criteria, and we will share more details as soon as possible.

For businesses that haven’t previously applied for grant support

If you pay business rates and were legally required to close during the November lockdown but have not yet applied for your November grant, you will not receive automatic payment of the new grants.

Please complete the application form on the Plymouth City Council website here as soon as possible.

Applications for the LRSG Closed and Closed Business Lockdown Payment scheme will close on 31 March, with final payments being made by 30 April.

If you believe you are eligible and have applied for a November LRSG grant but do not receive an email from Plymouth City Council by Thursday, 21 January to confirm an automatic payment please email or call the helpline on 01752 308984 which will be open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Further information is available here.


Coronavirus testing for hauliers before leaving the UK for France

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has announced that the requirement for hauliers planning to cross the Channel to get a negative Covid-19 test before travelling to Kent or other Channel crossing points is set to continue, following a decision by the French Government on 7 January to keep the current measures in place until further notice.

This requirement includes drivers and crew of HGVs, drivers of LGVs and van drivers, who must test negative (conducted within 72 hours prior to travel) before travelling to the border.

The UK Government has established 34 free Covid testing facilities at haulier advice sites as detailed here.

Despite these being in place, the majority of HGVs are still arriving at the Kent ports without having undertaken tests. As traffic volumes increase, this could lead to disruption, and delay goods crossing the border.

If you would like to explore setting up testing for hauliers at your own premises, please email



The Government has announced fresh restrictions for November, they are detailed here:

The Furlough scheme has been extended for another month, you can find relevant information here:

The Government has extended extra welfare support for self-employed for further six months. Find more information here:


Working safely during Coronavirus

The government has also updated its guidance for businesses on working safely during Coronavirus. In consultation with industry, this guidance has been produced to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible. There are 10 guides which cover a range of different types of work. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe.

Further guidance for employers and businesses including:

It is important to note that both the roadmap and the guidance are subject to devolved powers and there may be differences in the approaches taken in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


Local Restrictions Support Grant

Since launching the Local Restrictions Support Grant Scheme (LRSG) on Monday 16 November, Plymouth City Council has been working to process and pay grant applications quickly.

This scheme is for businesses that had to close, and who pay business rates, due to the national restrictions in place from November 5 to December 2. You can see details about the scheme, eligibility and application criteria here.

To date, the Council has received 1,415 grant applications; of those, 999 applications have been approved with a value of just over £1.5million in payments. This equates to approximately 50% of the number of applications for this scheme that is expected, so there are many eligible businesses who have yet to apply.


Closing certain businesses and venues in England

This guidance sets out restrictions on certain businesses and venues in England under the different local COVID alert levels. It provides details about businesses remaining open, those subject to restrictions, those operating in a COVID-secure manner. It also dwells on employer duties for self-isolation, compliance and enforcement, business support and rates, and scope of restrictions.


🔷 Additional Covid-19 symptoms

The UK Chief Medical Officers have released a statement saying that individuals will need to self-isolate immediately if they develop a new continuous cough or fever or, as of this week, anosmia.

Anosmia is the loss of or a change in the normal sense of smell. It can also affect the sense of taste as the two are closely linked.

🔷 Expansion of testing to everyone across the UK

Everyone in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who is showing coronavirus symptoms is now eligible to book a swab test to find out if they have the virus.

Full details of Matt Hancock's statement to Parliament can be found using the link above.  

🔷 Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) provides financial support to larger businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). The application deadline has been extended to January 31, 2021.

🔷 Coronavirus Bounce Back Loans

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) enables smaller businesses to access finance more quickly during the coronavirus outbreak. The application deadline has been extended to January 31, 2021.

🔷 Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will repay employers the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid to current or former employees.

The repayment will cover up to 2 weeks starting from the first qualifying day of sickness, if an employee is unable to work because they either:

- Have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms;

- Cannot work because they are self-isolating because someone they live with has symptoms; or

- Are shielding and have a letter from the NHS or a GP telling them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks.

🔷 Future Fund update

Eligibility details for the Future Fund, which was set up to provide government loans to UK-based companies ranging from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors, have been updated. The application deadline has been extended to January 31, 2021. 

🔷 Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
The grant has been extended from November 1, 2020 - guidance updated to reflect the Chancellor's statement.

🔷 Local Restrictions Support Grants (LRSG) and Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG)
The Local Restrictions Support Grants (LRSG) are to support local businesses during the November 5 to December 2 national lockdown and during periods of local restrictions, while the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) is funding for local authorities to support businesses in their local economies. Guidance for both grants sets out the eligibility criteria, operation and delivery details of the funding.

🔷 Repay Eat Out to Help Out Scheme payments and Eat Out to Help Out Scheme

Further information about repaying Eat Out to Help Out Scheme payments.


🔷 What to do if you’re employed and cannot work

This guidance is for people who are employed and cannot work due to coronavirus (COVID-19). The guidance has been updated to clarify eligibility conditions for Universal Credit, New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance and New Style Employment and Support Allowance; to add Pension Credit, and the Test and Trace Support Payment as other financial help that can be claimed.

🔷 What to do if you were employed and have lost your job
This guidance is for people who were employed and have lost their job due to coronavirus (COVID-19). The guidance has been updated to clarify eligibility conditions for Universal Credit and New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance and to add Pension Credit as a benefit that can be claimed if they have lost their job.

🔷 What to do if you’re self-employed and getting less work or no work

This guidance is for people who are self-employed and getting less work or no work because of coronavirus (COVID-19). The guidance has been updated to clarify eligibility conditions for Universal Credit and New Style Employment and Support Allowance and to add Pension Credit, New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance and the Test and Trace Support Payment as other financial help that can be claimed.




The Government's portal for claiming for the cost of furloughed employees under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is now open. 

🔷 Policy papers providing information on the extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which will end on 31 March 2021 are here:

🔷 This is the online calculator to work out how much you can claim:

🔷 Check if your business qualifies here:

🔷 The Government's Step by Step Guide to claiming is here:

🔷 The British Chambers of Commerce FAQ guide to the scheme in partnership with Quest is here:




🔷 Employers who need advice on testing for essential workers can find comprehensive guidance here

🔷 A guide to using the self-referral portal can be found here




🔷 If you’re a small business affected by #Coronavirus, then you could benefit from a Bounce Back Loan between £2k and £50k. More information here


Stuart Elford, CEO of Devon & Plymouth Chamber of Commerce;

"None of us can yet predict how long the current lockdown will continue or the breadth or depth of the economic shock it is causing, but I sense eyes are already turning to the future. That is not to say that businesses aren’t still struggling and we continue to fight very hard to ensure that those businesses that have fallen between the gaps in support are helped. The HMRC portal for applications under the Coronavirus Job Retention ‘furlough’ Scheme (CJRS) opens on 20th April and they say that money can be with businesses six days after that. I know that will be cutting it fine for some, but hang in there, help is on the way. We are also pushing banks to respond swiftly and sympathetically to applications for assistance under the CBILS scheme and for other lending - and the Chamber will shortly be running events to help you access that. Looking to the future, British Chambers of Commerce is pushing government to extend the CJRS scheme beyond May and for it to publish its plans for business post lockdown. Devon & Plymouth Chamber will be pulling together online events to help you manage your business through and out the other side of this crisis so we may all return to business as usual (whatever that looks like) after the pandemic’s peak. I want to end on a few high notes. I have never seen the public, private and third sectors work so well together in a spirit of mutual cooperation that will see us rise out of this as a more unified force for good. I am so impressed at how our members have pulled together to help each other, including the fantastic efforts to provide PPE for the NHS and St Luke’s Hospice, who need our help more than ever. It is at times like these that people realise businesses, councils and charities are people, not faceless corporations – and I for one am grateful for the support of all the people around us at this time. Stay safe and thanks for your continued support."

Please view the video here where Stuart Elford, CEO talks about the support and flow of information members can expect in the coming days and weeks. Any questions, please email Olivia Paterson at the Chamber. 

We have also created an exclusive LinkedIn Group for our members to share and gain advice and support. Please take the opportunity to ask any questions if you are concerned or worried or would like to know how to find information. Click the button below to join. 

LinkedIn Group 

UPDATED: The latest FAQ on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme 

Key Business Support

British Chamber of Commerce Support Hub 

Cabinet Office - Business Support

Cabinet Office - Self Employed

Cabinet Office - Home Working

Government Guidance

HM Government Job Retention Scheme FAQ








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