Covid-19 business advice
Business Rates Relief
All local businesses in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors will pay no business rates in 2020-21.
There will be no need for businesses to apply for the relief.
We have issued amended Business Rates bills to those businesses that will qualify for 100% Business Rate Retail Relief. You should have received contact from us by 1 April.
If you have any queries about not receiving an amended bill and you think you qualify or anything to do with business rates please use the link below:
The Government are helping businesses and their employees during this difficult time.
They can give you financial help and support, general advice and more.
You can find out more information on the Business Support website.
Managing the risk of Legionnaires Disease
Following the government’s advice to work from home wherever possible, premises may be left empty and in some cases water may stagnate within systems including pipes and toilets, leading to a risk of Legionnaires disease.
We recommend that you:
- use water systems at least once a week to help keep water moving, including flushing toilets and urinals
- flush or drain systems where premises are going to be unoccupied for longer periods of time, including schools, hotels and workplaces
- follow guidance from the Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group for places like leisure, sports and swimming facilities
You can visit the Health and Safety Executive’s website for advice on flushing and draining systems in buildings left unoccupied for long periods of time.
For more advice, contact:
- call our Environmental Health Team on 01622 602450
- read guidance on managing Legionnaire's disease from the European Society for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Disease
Change of use to takeaway - Pubs and restaurants
Government to grant permission for pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways.
The government will set out measures so that pubs and restaurants can operate as hot food takeaways to serve people having to stay at home.
Relaxation of planning measures will be introduced as soon as possible and will apply for a limited period. Currently, planning permission is required for businesses to carry out this change.
If you are intending on exercising your temporary permitted rights as set out by Official legislation to change the use of a building and any land within its curtilage from:
- a use falling within:
- (i) Class A3 (restaurants and cafes) or
- (ii) Class A4 (drinking establishments)
- a mixed use for any purpose within Class A3 and A4 or
- a use as a drinking establishment with expanded food provision
To a use, at any time during the period 24 March 2020 and ending on 23 March 2021 for the provision of a hot food takeaway then you need to do the following:
However the new temporary permitted development rights only apply where conditions have not been imposed removing the right to use the premises as a take-away.
If you are uncertain of whether rights have been removed to use the premises as a take-away please contact us.
- notify in writing by email if the building and any land within its immediate grounds is being used or will be used, for the provision of takeaway food at any time during the period set out above.
- Provide the address, business premises number and post code to identify the building/immediate land that is being used.
What we will do:
- We will acknowledge receipt of your notification (by email)
- Update the electronic planning record to reflect the temporary use.
Advice on food safety
Under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, you can continue to operate, but you must do so in a safe manner. Ensure that you follow the Government's full guidance for food businesses on coronavirus.
If you (or any employees) become unwell with a new continuous cough or a high temperature then you must follow the stay at home guidance.
Food businesses and home catering
If you’re a pub, restaurant, café or leisure venue that provides food, you may be thinking about delivering the food you make to your local community.
Food businesses must be registered as a food business with us first to be able to sell or supply food. If you are changing what you do, such as undertaking home deliveries and or different foods which could be ready to eat ‘high risk’ foods you must tell us.
As well as your normal safe control measures for preparing food safety, consider the following:
- Keep high risk foods out of the ‘temperature danger zone’.
- Cold food must be at or below 8oC.
- Hot food should be cooked to 75oC and if not served immediately, held hot at or above 63oC until served or prepared for delivery.
- Check the cold food (fridge/ freezer) and hot food temperatures regularly with a clean thermometer.
- All foods must be delivered to consumers in a way that ensures they cannot be contaminated.
- Keep foods covered by using food grade wrapping, for example: lidded containers, cling film, foil tightly wrapped around the food.
Separate certain foods
- Keep any raw food (such as raw meat, fish, unwashed vegetables and fruit) segregated from ready to eat foods – storing them and delivering them in separate containers.
- Keep any food prepared for a customer with an allergy separate from any other foods, so that there is no risk of cross-contamination.
- Allergen information must be provided before the food is purchased in writing or verbally over the telephone. It must also be available in a written format when the food is delivered, for example, with a label.
- Further information on allergen management can be found on the Food Standards Agency website.
Contact free service and delivery
- Limiting customer contact when serving or delivering orders will help keep everyone healthy.
- Ensure you use social distancing (2 metres between people).
- Where you are handed goods, money etc. wash your hands frequently – if you cannot do so, use disposable gloves and or alcohol based hand sanitiser.
- Take payments over the phone or internet rather than taking a cash payment.
- Staff should wash their hands thoroughly in between serving each customer, for at least 20 seconds. Delivery drivers should use hand sanitiser or disposable gloves and wash their hands thoroughly on return to the business.
Set up an area for customers to stand, ensuring they are distanced from staff and other customers.
Ensure you have a system in place to ascertain whether customers are self-isolating, so that staff can be aware of this and appropriate precautions can be taken. For example, leaving deliveries at the customers' doorstep, rather than handing it over to them, then knocking on the door /phoning the customer to alert them, stepping back and waiting nearby for your customer to collect the food.
Vehicles or containers
- Food delivery vehicles e.g. cars, cycles, must be in good condition and clean.
- Boxes/ trays used to store packaged food containers should be cleaned and disinfected frequently, ideally with a sanitiser or disinfectant (tested to BS EN 1276/ BS EN 13697) adhering to the ‘contact’ time specified on the label, using a single use cloth or paper towel.
Keeping food hot or cold whilst delivering
- Foods that need refrigerating must be kept cool while they are being transported.
- Ideally pack foods in an insulated box or cool bag with cool pack(s).
- Hot food must be kept as hot as possible and transporting in an insulated box will help. It’s recommended you keep delivery distances short and times limited to within 30 minutes and no longer than 2 hours.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has provided advice for selling food online, for takeaway or delivery.
Staff Hygiene and Infection Control
- You and your staff must practice high levels of personal hygiene at all times.
- The food business must ensure food handlers (including delivery drivers) are fit for work.
- Staff must be provided with clear instructions about infection control and any staff likely to come into contact with food must report any illness or symptoms to the food business operator immediately.
Ice cream vans
You will need to apply social distancing as described under 'Contact free service and delivery', but also the following:
- Ensure that there is two metre separation between the person serving and customers. You could do this by putting a sign on your van reminding customers to keep their distance, for example.
- How will you ensure there will be no public gathering around the van? We recommend you do not use your music as this may attract a crowd.
- Will there be more than one person working in the van? How will you ensure social distancing (of two metres) between the people whilst they are working?
- You must have a supply of both hot and cold water available inside the van.
- Make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly (for at least 20 seconds) in between serving each customer. If you cannot do so, then use disposable gloves and/or alcohol based hand sanitiser. Change your gloves regularly and between serving each customer.
- We recommended that you only sell packaged food rather than open food.
The Government have issued guidance on COVID-19 for employees and businesses.
Email us if you're changing what you do.
Help for self-employed people
What are the key measures to note for the self-employed?
The minimum income threshold for Universal Credit will be temporarily removed for those directly affected by COVID-19 or in self-isolation, providing compensation for any income losses.
Universal Credit will be available to those directly affected by COVID-19 or in self-isolation, with no need to attend a job centre.
At present, single claimants under the age of 25 are eligible for a monthly entitlement of £251.77, while those aged 25 and over can claim £317.82.
You can apply online
You can find details of your nearest Job Centre Plus here or contact the Maidstone office on 0800 169 0190.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
ESA will be available to those directly affected by COVID-19 or in self-isolation, from the first day of sickness rather than the eighth day. At present, single claimants under the age of 25 can claim up to £57.90 per month, while those aged 25 and over can receive up to £73.10
HMRC 'Time to Pay'
HMRC has launched a helpline for businesses and the self-employed concerned about paying tax due to COVID-19. Businesses may be eligible to receive financial support, on a case-by-case basis, through the 'Time to Pay' support scheme. HMRC's dedicated helpline number is 0800 0159 559.
HMRC will also waive penalties related to late payments and interest in cases where a business has administrative problems in contacting them or paying taxes as a result of COVID-19.
Business Interruption Loan Scheme
A temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme administered by the British Business Bank, which supports businesses in accessing bank loans (worth up to £1.2 million) and overdrafts - approach one of the 40+ accredited lenders with a borrowing proposal.
A delay to proposed IR35 tax reforms - measures aimed at clamping down on tax avoidance by targeting contractors who provide the same services as employees (but which has affected freelancers more widely) - will now be delayed by one year, to April 2021.
What key measures do not apply to the self-employed?
Statutory sick pay is not applicable for the self-employed, as this is money paid by employers. The above-mentioned adjustments around Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance are designed to ease the burden on the self-employed.
You should be aware that from the 23rd March 2020 The Prime Minister announced the closure of all non-essential shops and public places. You can find details whether your business is essential or not under the GOV.UK guidance.
Any business failing to adhere to government advice will be formally closed.
Find out more information on the changes to health and safety on our Health and Safety pages.
COVID-19 is mainly passed on by person-to-person spread between people who are in close contact with one another and by droplets produced when an infected person coughs and sneezes. It can also spread through contact with a surface or object that has the virus on it. Cleaning helps minimise the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Fortunately, normal cleaning methods do kill the virus. You can find guidance on cleaning in non healthcare settings on GOV.UK.
There is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 is being transmitted by money however that’s not to say that it cant be transmitted through handling money we just don’t have the evidence. The best advice is to where possible use contactless. You should wash your hands after handling money, especially if handling or eating food. Doing so is “good hygiene practice”.
Aid social distancing
- If it is possible limit numbers inside essential businesses at any one time
- Mark out using tape standing distance points
- Cleaning and washing hands at all times
Return from foreign travel
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises British people travelling abroad to return to the UK now, if commercial flights are still available. The government is in contact with airlines, foreign governments and local authorities to ensure British people travelling abroad can return to the UK as soon as possible. If you’re unable to leave at this time, you should:
- Follow the advice of local authorities, including local measures to help minimise your risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Find suitable accommodation
- Keep up-to-date with travel advice from GOV.UK and the latest information from transport providers and local authorities on your departure options
- Keep in regular contact with family and friends at home, so they know you are safe and well
You must follow the advice of local authorities. Your safety and security is the responsibility of the local authority where you are.
All the latest most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 can be found on GOV.UK.