Is your business reopening soon? Here’s what you need to know

Guidance on who can reopen and when; how to keep your workplace safe; ordering tests for your employees; and new Restart Grants.

PLEASE NOTE: All guidance, including dates for reopening, is subject to change in accordance with the government’s ‘four steps’, set out in the roadmap out of lockdown. Check the GOV.UK Coronavirus homepage for the latest updates.

Guidance will also be updated on our COVID-19 Business Support Hub.

Which businesses can reopen, and when?

As part of the roadmap out of lockdown, businesses and venues have been provided dates on which they may reopen, providing the government’s ‘four tests’ have been met.

Step 1 – as of March 29th 2021

As of March 29th, some businesses and venues are permitted to open, including:

  • gyms
  • swimming pools
  • sports courts (such as tennis and basketball courts)
  • golf courses, including mini golf
  • water sports venues
  • businesses eligible to host childcare and supervised activities for children (outdoors)

Step 2 – no earlier than April 12th 2021

Businesses and venues permitted to open no earlier than April 12th include non-essential retail and personal care premises, including:

  • clothing stores and tailors
  • charity and antique shops
  • homeware and carpet stores
  • electronic goods and mobile phone shops
  • hair, beauty and nail salons
  • tattoo studios

For further details on which businesses and venues can reopen in steps 3 and 4, read the official guidance here.

How to work safely during the pandemic

Sector-by-sector guidance has been produced to help businesses that are allowed to open to operate safely and lawfully.

There are guides covering 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. Priority actions are outlined at the top of each guide.

Keeping workplaces safe as restrictions ease

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides the latest information on issues around workplace safety during the pandemic, including face coverings, testing and vaccinations.

Advice also includes carrying out a risk assessment and sharing this with staff. A risk assessment is part of the process businesses should go through before they reopen, as outlined by the government in its 'working safely during coronavirus' guidance.

A pavement licence could allow your business to reopen sooner

Following the current government roadmap, there is a window between April 12th and May 17th when hospitality businesses can open but only trade outside.

Applying for a pavement licence now could allow your business to make use of outside space near or next to your premises and enable you to put tables and chairs out on the public highway for your customers to eat and drink outside. It could enable you to open earlier than May 17th and could extend the number of people you can seat and serve.

Buckinghamshire Council has reduced the cost of pavement licences and streamlined the application process. You can apply for a pavement licence at the reduced cost of £100 and the process takes two weeks. Apply for a pavement licence here.

Information for clinically extremely vulnerable workers and their employers

From April 1st 2021, clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) individuals are no longer advised to shield. Everyone is advised to continue to work from home where possible, but CEV individuals who cannot work from home are no longer advised not to attend their workplace.

Employers are required to take steps to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace and should be able to explain to staff the measures they have put in place to keep them safe at work.

Read a list of useful links and guidance that may be useful both for clinically extremely vulnerable individuals and their employers, covering a range of topics including general guidance, financial support, workplace safety, employment rights, household support, and other external guidance.

Order COVID-19 tests for your employees - register by April 12th

Businesses can order free rapid lateral flow tests to test their employees twice a week in the workplace – but only if employees cannot work from home.

You must register by 11:59pm on 12th April 2021.

Businesses can order COVID-19 rapid lateral flow tests for employees if their:

  • business is registered in England
  • employees cannot work from home

A previous requirement for businesses to employ 50 people or more has been removed.

If you cannot provide testing in the workplace - If you have 10 or more employees, from early April you’ll be able to order tests for your employees to collect from their workplace and use at home twice a week. You can do this if you cannot provide testing in the workplace.

If your business is closed or you cannot provide tests now, you should still register so you can order tests in the future.

Do not use this service if you or your employees have symptoms. Anyone with symptoms should order an individual test and stay at home.

Rapid COVID-19 test service in Buckinghamshire

Fast, free rapid COVID-19 testing is available for people Buckinghamshire.

There are four test sites open in Amersham, Aylesbury, Buckingham and Wycombe.

To get tested and/or collect home test kits, simply visit one of the test centres at a time that is convenient to you.

There is no longer a need to book a test slot.

Rapid testing to help identify asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 in Buckinghamshire launched on 3rd February. Feedback from users is that the process is 'smooth and efficient', with the majority of people in and out within 15 minutes.

If you live or work closer to a rapid testing centre in an area that borders with Buckinghamshire, such as Slough, you can use that centre.

Business Restart Grants

New, one-off Restart Grants will be available via Buckinghamshire Council and will be payable in April 2021.

Full details, including the eligibility criteria, are available on the council’s Restart Grants page.

Test and Trace Support Payment

People self-isolating may be entitled to a Test and Trace Support Payment of £500 if they:

  • Have been told to stay at home and self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace
  • Are employed or self-employed

COVID-19 Business Support Hub

Visit the Buckinghamshire Business First COVID-19 Business Support Hub for the latest information and guidance.

Business community ambassadors