Coronavirus support: Frequently Asked Questions
Last updated: 31 July 2020
To ensure that people are given the most up to date information, we have collated a series of Frequently Asked Questions. There are some questions that we don’t yet have answers for, but we will continue to update this page, so please keep checking back for the latest updates and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.
If you have a specific question that is not answered below, or would like to talk to someone please email us on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Latest government advice – new local restrictions in Greater Manchester
On Thursday 30 July, the UK Government announced new local restrictions that apply across the whole of Greater Manchester which aim to minimise the spread of Covid-19.
Official guidance has been released confirming that households should not mix indoors. This includes a rule prohibiting the mixing of households in hospitality venues such as pubs, bars and restaurants; however affected venues are ready to adapt to these rules in line with the Covid-19 Secure guidance that they followed when planning their reopening.
The full guidance, which also includes a useful Q&A, now available on the Government website
When can hotels and other accommodation providers re-open?
Following the announcement by the Government on the 23rd June hotels and accommodation providers can open from the 4th July as long as risk is mitigated. For more information on how to open and guidelines please see:
- Guidelines from the Government
- Guidance from UKHospitality
- VisitEngland’s ‘Good to Go’ industry standard
What PPE will I need to re-open and what will staff require?
For more details on PPE requirements please refer to page 15 of the UK Hospitality Guidelines document.
What other guidelines are available to me?
The main guidelines regarding the re-opening of the sector are the Government Guidelines, UK Hospitality Guidelines and VisitEngland’s Good to Go. There are also new guidelines that take businesses through the licensing process for outdoor seating and although there isn’t a timeframe for opening yet the MIA have launched guidelines for getting event and conference space ready when the time comes.
When can shortbreaks and staycations be booked from?
Room inventory can be open to be booked from the 4th July 2020 onwards.
Managing finance and business support
What measures is the Government putting in place to support businesses?
On Tuesday 17 March the Chancellor outlined the support measures being brought forward by the Government. Key findings relevant for the tourism and hospitality industry include:
- All retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England will receive a 100% business rates holiday for the next 12 months;
- Increase in grants to small businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief from £3,000 to £10,000;
- Further £25,000 grants to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000;
- Confirmation that government advice to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres etc. is sufficient for businesses to claim on their insurance where they have appropriate business interruption cover for pandemics in place;
- Relaxation in planning regulations to allow pubs and restaurants to start providing takeaways without a planning application;
- Support for liquidity amongst large firms, with a major new scheme being launched by the Bank of England to help them bridge COVID-19 disruption to their cash flows through loans;
- Increasing the amount businesses can borrow through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme from £1.2 million to £5 million and ensuring businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as Government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments;
- The Bank of England scheme and business interruption loan scheme will be available from the beginning of next week (w/c 23 March).
How do I find out about the Job Retention Scheme?
- The Chancellor announced that the CJRS scheme launched today and 140,000 firms have successfully applied, covering 1 million people. HMRC has produced step by step guidance on how to make a claim. There is also a calculator
- The online system can process up to 450,000 applications per hour and employers should receive the money within 6 working days of making an application. To receive payment by 30 April, you will need to complete an application by 22 April. Please keep a note or print-out of your claim reference number as you won’t receive a confirmation SMS or email.
- HMRC are also holding webinars providing an overview of the scheme to help employers and employees deal with the economic impacts of coronavirus.
What does the furlough extension mean?
- Job Retention Scheme is to be extended for four months to end of October with no changes to the current scheme until the end of July.
- From August to October the scheme will change to allow employers to bring back workers on a part-time basis and share the cost of salaries.
- Throughout, employees will continue to receive 80% of their salaries up to £2,500 per month.
- Further detail will be released on the flexibility from August, though this may not be till the end of May.
Can I apply for a Large Business Interruption Loan?
To apply for the loan you need to be:
- UK based in business activity
- Have an annual turnover between £45m and £500m
- Be able to secure regular commercial financing
- Have a borrowing scheme that the lender would consider viable, were it not for the Covid-19 Pandemic and believes will enable you as a business to trade out of any short term to medium term difficulty
Full details on the loan can be found at the UK Government website.
What are Bounce Back Loans?
The Chancellor has announced new “bounce back loans” for SMEs will be available from 9am next Monday. Small businesses will be able to access loans worth 25 per cent of their turnover, up to £50,000, and the government will pay the interest for the first 12 months. The loans will be 100 per cent guaranteed by the Treasury, meaning the government will take on all the default risk. The good news for SMEs is that, unlike the other loan schemes, there are no tests of business viability and no complex eligibility criteria. Instead, there will be just a simple online form to complete.
Full details on the loan can be found at the UK Government website.
Is there any Coronavirus grant support funding?
The following funding is available for eligible companies:
- The Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) will provide businesses with a grant of £10,000 to help support them during the Covid-19 crisis. This grant is for businesses, with a property, that as of 11 March 2020, were in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rates Relief.
- The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF) will offer businesses in these sectors across Greater Manchester a grant of up to £25,000. This grant is for businesses in those sectors with a rateable value of less than £51,000 and who would have been eligible for the Expanded Retail Discount Scheme. For businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or less the grant will be £10,000. For businesses with a rateable value of £15,000-£51,000 the grant will be £25,000.
Businesses need to apply via the Local Authority where they are located.
Full details can be found at GC Business Growth Hub
What local support is available regarding finance?
Marketing Manchester is working with The Growth Company to provide online business support which can be applied to any organisation within the visitor economy.
We know that the fundamental issue for most businesses is cashflow so there is a dedicated page for this which you can access here. Furthermore, a Cashflow and supply chain challenges webinar was held on 16 March and the recording is available to view here.
Managing outbreaks of Coronavirus
How can I protect my staff?
As an employer the health, safety and wellbeing of your workforce is your top priority. The advice from ACAS is to:
- Keep all staff updated on actions being taken to reduce the risk of exposure in the workplace;
- Ensure there are clean places to wash hands with hot water and soap, and keep encouraging everyone to wash their hands regularly;
- Ensure that you follow NHS advice if you or your employees suspect you may have Coronavirus.
The advice from the Goverment for non-health and social care settings is:
- where possible, alter business-as-usual ways of working to ensure social distancing can take place. In some circumstances this could involve the erection of physical ‘splash barriers’ to decrease staff anxiety, or redesign of customer flows to minimise contact opportunities
- ensure staff are aware and signs are visible in the workplace reminding employees and customers not to enter the premises if they have COVID-19 symptoms such as a high temperature or persistent cough (or a member of their household displays symptoms) and to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- that employees are provided with regular breaks to allow them to wash their hands for 20 seconds. Break areas and break times should also be set up to allow for social distancing to occur to minimise contact during these times
For more information visit the UK Government website.
What should I do if there is a suspected case of coronavirus on my premises?
If a guest or customer develops symptoms, they should:
- Stay at least 2 metres away from other people;
- Go to a room or area behind a closed door, such as a sick bay or staff office;
- Avoid touching anything;
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue and put it in a bin, or if they do not have tissues, cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow;
- Use a separate bathroom from others, if possible.
The unwell person should use their own mobile phone to call either:
- 111, for NHS advice;
- 999, if they’re seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk.
They should tell the operator:
- Their symptoms;
- If they have travelled from a recently affected area in the last 14 days.
There are specific NHS guidelines for decontamination in non-clinical settings, such as hotel rooms if a possible or confirmed COVID-19 case has spent time there while symptomatic.
Can I get my employees tested?
Eligibility has expanded to all workers who have to leave their home in order to work. People can self-refer, or be referred by their employer. Details can all be found here.
What is the guidance for the cleaning of non-healthcare settings?
The Government has issued revised guidance for businesses on how to safety clean areas in non-healthcare settings such as:
- waiting rooms
- hotel rooms
- student accommodation
Read the guidance a the UK Government website.
What local support is available regarding Coronavirus cases?
The Growth Company ran a Duty of Care for Employees webinar on 16 March and the recording is available to view here.
The webinar addressed the following questions: what measures you can put in place to delay the spread of COVID-19 in your business; how can you support and offer guidance to staff with confirmed or suspected COVID-19; implications for business travel, event attendance or for colleagues returning from affected areas; when and how to manage self-isolation; and the latest government advice and guidance regarding your legal obligations to your workforce
When are employees eligible for Statutory Sick Pay and what happens if I must close the business and lay off staff?
The usual sick leave arrangements apply if someone has coronavirus. Employees should let their employer know as soon as possible if they’re not able to go to work.
ACAS also provides further information on pay entitlements in the following scenarios:
- If an employee must go into self-isolation.
- If an employee is not sick but the employer tells them not to come to work (eg, if they have recently travelled to an affected area).
- If an employee needs time off work to look after someone.
- If an employee appears well, but does not want to go to work, due to concerns about catching the infection.
Under emergency legislation, the Government has also recently confirmed that statutory sick pay will be made available from day one when self-isolating.
What does the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme mean for my business?
On Friday 20 March, the Chancellor announced measures to support the UK’s public services, people and businesses through the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This included details of a Job Retention scheme to enable all UK employers regardless of size or sector that will cover 80% their employees’ salary (up to a cap of £2,500 per employee per month) where they would otherwise have been at risk of redundancy.
HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement.
In the meantime:
- Do all you can not to make anyone redundant;
- Secure all the evidence of your financial situation, planning and decision-making for the past two months;
- Use known and trusted sources including HMT, BEIS and HMRC for further information regarding the scheme;
- Access The Growth Company’s coronavirus (COVID-19) online resources and sign-up for updates if you haven’t already. The Growth Company Business Growth Hub is funded by government to deliver business support and as soon as further information becomes available it will be emailed to you directly.
Furlough eligibility cut-off date extended to 19 March:
- The eligibility cut-off date for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Furlough scheme) has been extended from 28 February to 19 March. Employers are now able to claim for furloughed employees that were employed and on their PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020. This means that the employee must have been notified to HMRC through an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020. The scheme is due to be fully operational next week.
- If you made employees redundant, or they stopped working for you on or after 28 February 2020, you can re-employ them, put them on furlough and claim for their wages through the scheme. This applies to employees that were made redundant or stopped working for you after 28 February, even if you do not re-employ them until after 19 March.
Can Furloughed Workers Receive Full Parental Leave Entitlement?
DWP has confirmed that
- Pay for furloughed workers taking family related leave is to be calculated based on usual earnings rather than furlough pay
- Full earnings will apply to Maternity Pay, Paternity Pay, Shared Parental Pay, Parental Bereavement Pay and Adoption Pay
Full details on the loan can be found at the UK Government website.
How can I reassure staff?
It is natural that staff will be unsettled about the potential spread of the COVID-19 infection in Greater Manchester. The key message is not to panic. Reassure everyone that the information you provide is there to support them – and not to scare them.
The World Health Organisation also has some advice about coping with anxiety during the current outbreak, which you may feel is helpful to share.
What is being done to mitigate the impact for Greater Manchester’s Tourism industry?
Marketing Manchester has supported the industry through several challenging situations in the past. We are working very closely with tourism and hospitality businesses – as well as regional and national partners – to closely monitor the situation and clarify the best advice and information for our sector.
We have a weekly industry update newsletter which is posted on to the Marketing Manchester website; we have conducted business impact surveys, of which the results are being used to shape our reports into various bodies including the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, VisitBritain and Government; and we have set up a Greater Manchester tourism and hospitality industry emergency response group to collate business insight.
Whilst providing ongoing business support is our number one priority right now, in the background we are also working on recovery marketing planning.
This is a constantly changing situation and we need to time our campaign sensitively; however, we want to be able to move fast to put Greater Manchester top of mind when the right time comes.
In the meantime, we are working on a new area of the Visit Manchester website and supporting social media campaign which will inspire virtual visits to locations and venues across Greater Manchester. This campaign aims to keep a visit to Greater Manchester in the forefront of people’s minds, with content providing a vibrant insight into the city’s attractions to support future planning. This campaign is expected to run until it is the right time to launch our comprehensive recovery campaign.
Are business closures compulsory?
The legal requirement forcing listed businesses to close (restaurants, pubs etc) came into force on 21st March. Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers, with police support if appropriate, will work together to issue prohibition notices challenging unsafe behaviours where businesses do not follow these restrictions. The fines for non-compliance are unlimited. More information here.
Can my business operate as a takeaway?
The government is introducing a time limited permitted development right through secondary legislation (negative SI) to allow the temporary change of use of a pub (A4 – drinking establishment) and a restaurant (A3 – restaurants and cafes) to a hot-food take away for a period of up to 12 months. More information here.
Business support and advice
- UK Government Business Support
- UK Government guidance for employers and businesses
- New guidance for employers and employees regarding the CJRS
- UK Government advice for accommodation providers
- VisitBritain UK travel industry advice
- VisitBritain Business Advice Hub
- Local Authority Grant Funding
- Business Growth Hub resource portal
- UKHospitality advice for the hospitality industry
- ACAS practical information on coronavirus
- Manchester City Council information for businesses and employers
- Cash Grant for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure
- HMRC Guidance on Self-Employment Support
- HMRC Guidance on allowable expenses, trading profits and total income inclusions
- Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
- Future Fund provides convertible loans of between £125k-5m to UK-based companies, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors
- Easing of Lockdown: Manchester Business Guidance
Health and well being
- Self-Catering COVID Cleaning Protocols
- Back to Work COVID-19 Risk Assessment Templates and Guidance
- Public Health England: what you need to know
- NHS advice
- Stay at home guidance for people with confirmed or possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection
- Safe working guidance
- Use of public transport for those who have to
- Travelling safely
- How to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment
- Cleaning your workplace safely
Surveys, workshops and webinars
- COVID-19 Consumer Sentiment Tracker
- Multiple dates – Webinar – Coronavirus COVID-19 Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme
- Webinar – job retention scheme webinars