COVID-19 Business Support
Details of service updates and business support can be found on the links below:
Clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV)
From the 1st of April the information for shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 is changing.
For up to date employer guidance please visit the GOV.UK website.
For updates on Council services and useful links
External links for business support and advice:
Guidance for businesses on re-opening
Hertfordshire’s Better Business for All partnership has produced guides, checklists and FAQs as part of a toolkit to help businesses complete their risk assessment and put new processes and procedures in place to allow them to re-open and trade safely.
There are guides on the use of outdoor space, re-opening checklists, how to review your RA and also sector specific guides.
Retailers' responsibilities to disabled customers
To help retailers meet their legal obligations, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has issued new guidance which explains the simple steps retailers can take to ensure they comply with the legal responsibilities to customers to make sure they are not discriminating. They have also produced infographics that can be used to promote these key messages.
Business Rates Holidays
Financial Support for businesses that are required to close or severely impacted by restrictions
Details of the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) scheme, Additional Restrictions Grant and Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open): are on our Covid-19 grants page:
Further details of financial support for businesses during coronavirus is on the UK Government website.
Financial support from the government
The UK Government website has details of the financial support available for businesses including:
- Business Interruption Loan Scheme - through commercial lenders
- Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme - through commercial lenders
- Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan - up to £50,000 for SMEs. Launched on 4th May 2020
- Job Retention Scheme - opened 20th April
- Statutory Sick Pay rebate
- Support for businesses paying tax
- Self-employment Income Support Scheme
- Information on VAT deferral and Self-Assessment
- Future Fund for innovative companies which are facing financing difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak - Launched in May 2020
General information, advice and detailed guidance is available at:
Self-employed people and sole traders
Support and information can be found on the links below:
- Claim a grant through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme - through HMRC
- Self-employment and Universal Credit
- If you cannot pay your tax bill on time
- Carry out work in people’s homes safely (tradespeople)
- Drivers’ hours rules relaxations
- Negotiate a mortgage payment holiday
- Food Businesses - see lower down the page.
Information for Businesses
Guidelines for employers and businesses Toggle accordion
Click on the links below for detailed guidance on the UK Government website:
Coronavirus support for employees, benefit claimants Toggle accordion
Details on changes to job centre appointments and information for those already claiming support on the UK Government website:
Tourism and hospitality businesses Toggle accordion
Visit Herts has a regularly updated section with information focused on businesses in tourism and hospitality - click the link below to go to their information hub.
COVID-19 and your food business Toggle accordion
Food businesses are facing many challenges at this time and we wish to support you with as much guidance as we can.
The Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE) are leading the UK government response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
- You can get up to date information and guidance for the public on the risk from Coronavirus on the government’s website: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
- See the Government's Covid-19 Guidance for food businesses.
- If you employ people, the guidance for employers and business will help you and your workers prevent the spread of COVID-19: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-coronavirus-covid-19
- Guidance for food businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19): https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-food-businesses/guidance-for-food-businesses-on-coronavirus-covid-19#maintaining-social-distancing-in-specific-food-business-settings
Closure of Food Businesses:
You will be aware the closure of certain food businesses and other businesses is now in place.
The government has strongly advised the public to only make essential visits outside of the home.
Takeaway / Delivery Service:
If you are thinking of offering an alternative food service to customers, you may only offer a delivery or takeaway service. Information on planning requirements such as change of use can be found on St Albans City and District Council website: https://www.stalbans.gov.uk/changes-response-covid-19
New Food Delivery and Takeaway COVID-19 Guidance: has been produced by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health: https://www.cieh.org/media/4070/covid-19-food-delivery-and-takeaway-guidance.pdf
Takeaways and restaurants offering a pick-up service:
For these services:
- businesses should take orders online or by telephone rather than being taken in person on the premises - this should be communicated to customers by appropriate means such as signage
- payment can also be made via telephone or using online platforms
- customers can have staggered collection times - customers should be discouraged from entering the premises until their order is ready
- customers arriving without having already placed an order should be encouraged to leave the premises to place their order by telephone or online, and to return at a designated time for collection
- customers whose orders are ready should enter one at a time to collect orders and make payments by debit/credit card; avoid handling cash
- businesses should discourage crowding outside the premises; where possible, use queue management systems to maintain the 2 metres separation; do not allow customers to eat food inside or outside your premise.
You must revise your food safety management system to have safe procedures in place for this activity.
Delivery Vehicles and Drivers:
Take payment in advance over the telephone or online.
It is necessary that the driver employed is insured for business purposes and has a vehicle or motorbike that is fully taxed and MOT certified. If deliveries are done by bicycle, it must be roadworthy and the appropriate helmet and high visibility clothing provided and worn by the rider. If using an external provider, make sure they too are reputable.
- Sale of hot food and hot drink is not licensable except between 11pm and 5am.
- All foods for customer take-away and/or delivery must be stored in suitable food grade containers, e.g. polystyrene, foil and plastic with lids
- These containers must be clean and stored hygienically
- It is not good practice to allow a food handler to touch the inner surface of the food container before any food is added
- For hot food deliveries, use an insulated bag to help retain heat
- For cold food deliveries use a cool box or bag with ice blocks or packs
- If using a storage box fixed to the back of a motorbike, the inside surface still needs to be kept clean and not come into direct contact with the outer surfaces of the food delivery containers e.g. place the containers into a paper or plastic food bag first
- To ensure safety, remove the food delivery and leave on the door step of the customer
- Ensure delivery personnel have both anti-bacterial spray and gel with them on all deliveries
- Limit the radius of delivery to 2-3 miles maximum so that foods can be delivered from final point of cooking and packing to final point of destination for consumption so that foods are still hot for the consumer to eat.
The food business operator must:
At the premise:
- Ensure food handlers are trained in food hygiene
- On arrival at the premise, wash hands in a separate hand wash basin with running hot and cold water, liquid anti-bactericidal soap; dry hands with disposable paper towels; and turn off taps with disposable paper towels
- Change into clean laundered over clothing every time on entering the premise
- Ensure handwashing every time staff enter the kitchen and throughout food handling and preparation activities
- Everyone to maintain a 2 metre separation distance
- Ensure all raw and ready to eat foods are kept separate during storage, preparation, service and delivery
- Use separate equipment, over clothing and utensils for raw and ready to eat foods
- Clean and disinfect food preparation surfaces with a disinfectant or sanitiser compliant with British Standard BS-EN 1276 or 13967; use disposable single use cloths and also pay close attention to all hand touch points including taps, fridge handles, till points, credit/debit card readers, telephones, door handles, etc. Clean and disinfect throughout the day
- Cleaning in non-healthcare settings: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings
- Keep high risk foods chilled below 8OC in a fridge, suitably covered and monitor the temperature throughout the trading day
- Cook foods to 75OC or above
- Hot held foods must be kept above 63OC
Temperature control is critical to prevent the growth of food poisoning bacteria in food. Monitoring is needed throughout the day using e.g. a digital probe thermometer. All monitoring checks should be recorded and records kept available for inspection.
All food handlers and service staff need to know how to deal with allergen enquiries from customers.
If someone asks if a menu item contains a certain food / allergen, check all the ingredients (and what they contain), as well as what you use to prepare or cook the item. Always read labels and other information. Never guess.
If you are unsure what allergens the dish contains, tell the customer you cannot take their order. Refer to the Food Standards Agency for more information www.food.gov.uk/allergy
Food handlers, service staff and delivery personnel must not work if they have any symptoms of illness that will compromise food safety or cause the spread of infection.
If someone becomes unwell in the workplace with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they should be sent home and advised to follow current NHS advice: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Remind employees to wash their hands for 20 seconds more frequently and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues which should be binned.
Health & Safety:
The health, safety and welfare of you, your staff and visitors is paramount at this very difficult time, like the provision of access to welfare facilities, maintaining a safe distance of 2 metres, hand washing measures and the provision of personal protective equipment where it is needed.
You will need to consider all aspects as part of your business risk assessment and take steps to ensure your workplace is a safe environment at which to work.
For general advice please refer to Health and Safety Executive www.hse.gov.uk
For further guidance, contact St Albans City & District Council, Environmental Health:
Holiday entitlement and pay Toggle accordion
An explanation of how holiday entitlement and pay operate during the coronavirus pandemic, where it differs from the standard holiday entitlement and pay guidance. This guidance applies to those that have continued to work as well as those that have been furloughed.
Advice for Employers Considering Redundancies
The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to employers to create new 6-month job placements for young people who are currently on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment.
Crowdfund Hertfordshire: Small Business Innovation Fund
Visit Herts is working in partnership with Hertfordshire LEP and Crowdfunder to offer small and micro businesses within the tourism, leisure, hospitality, retail, arts and cultural sectors the chance to unlock between £2000 and £5000 in match funding to help overcome the challenges of Covid-19.
Find out full details and eligibility requirements on the Visit Herts website.