England lockdown – guidance for North East businesses

The whole of England has been placed in a new national lockdown. The government’s advice is to ‘Stay at Home’. People must not leave or be outside of their home except where they have a ‘reasonable excuse’. This will be put in law.

The guidance below explains what the new restrictions mean for North East businesses.

Which businesses must close?

  • Non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, auction houses (except for auctions of livestock or agricultural equipment) and market stalls selling non-essential goods. These venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services.
  • Hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs; with the exception of providing food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect and drive-through. All food and drink (including alcohol) can continue to be provided by delivery.
  • Accommodation such as hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites, except for specific circumstances, such as where these act as someone’s main residence, where the person cannot return home, for providing accommodation or support to the homeless, or where it is essential to stay there for work purposes.
  • Leisure and sports facilities such as leisure centres and gyms, swimming pools, sports courts,fitness and dance studios, riding arenas at riding centres, climbing walls, and golf courses.
  • Entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, indoor play and soft play centres and areas (including inflatable parks and trampolining centres), circuses, fairgrounds, funfairs, zoos and other animal attractions, water parks and theme parks.
  • Indoor attractions at venues such as botanical gardens, heritage homes and landmarks must also close, though outdoor grounds of these premises can stay open.
  • Personal care facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons. Tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services must also close. These services should not be provided in other people’s homes.
  • Community centres and halls must close except for a limited number of exempt activities, as set out below. Libraries can also remain open to provide access to IT and digital services – for example for people who do not have it at home – and for click-and-collect services.
  • Outdoor sports courts, outdoor gyms, golf courses, outdoor swimming pools, archery/driving/shooting ranges, and riding centres must close.

Some of these businesses and places will also be permitted to be open for a small number of exempt activities. A full list of exemptions can be found in the guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England.

Which businesses can remain open?

Businesses providing essential goods and services can stay open. The full list of these businesses can be found in the guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England, but include:

  • Essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, building merchants and suppliers of building products and off-licences.
  • Market stalls selling essential retail may also stay open.
  • Businesses providing repair services may also stay open, where they primarily offer repair services.
  • Petrol stations, automatic (but not manual) car washes, vehicle repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses.
  • Banks, building societies, post offices, short-term loan providers and money transfer businesses.
  • The majority of public services will continue and people are permitted to leave home to visit them.
  • Organised outdoor sport for disabled people is allowed to continue.

All businesses and venues should continue to follow COVID-secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers.

Can I access financial support if my business has been affected by the national lockdown?

Yes, there is a range of financial support packages available for businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. To find out what support is available for your business, visit Government’s business support finder.

To support businesses through the new national lockdown, additional funding support has been made available.

  • Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will receive a one-off grant worth up to £9,000. 
  • A £594 million discretionary fund will provide additonal support to businesses not eligible for the new one-off grant. Those businesses will be able to apply to the fund via their Local Authority.

Should I be working from home?

You may only leave your home for work if you cannot reasonably work from home.

Where people cannot work from home – including, but not limited to, people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction, or manufacturing – they should continue to travel to their workplace. This is essential to keeping the country operating and supporting sectors and employers.

Public sector employees working in essential services, including childcare or education, should continue to go into work.

Where it is necessary for you to work in other people’s homes – for example, for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople – you can do so. Otherwise, you should avoid meeting for work in a private home or garden, where COVID-19 secure measures may not be in place.

Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.

The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-19 secure guidelines are followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.

Can I still travel for work?

You are permitted to travel for work – including outside your local area – when you cannot work from home.

Otherwise you must not leave your home unless you have a reasonable excuse (for example, for work or education purposes). If you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall.

If you need to travel, walk or cycle where possible, and plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practice social distancing while you travel.

Avoid car sharing with anyone from outside your household or your support bubble – see the guidance on car sharing. If you need to use public transport, you should follow the safer travel guidance.

Will schools, colleges and universities remain open?

Colleges, primary (reception onwards) and secondary schools will only remain open for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term.

Some university students will be allowed to return to face-to-face learning, but the vast majority of students should remain where they are wherever possible, and start their term online, as facilitated by their university until at least Mid-February. Students that live at university should not move back and forward between their permanent home and student home during term time.

Additonal guidance for university students is available here.

Where can I access more information about the new national lockdown guidance?

Visit gov.uk to read the England national lockdown guidance in full.

For more information about the support available for businesses in the North East LEP region impacted by coronavirus, visit the COVID-19 Toolkit.