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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/closing-certain-businesses-and-venues-in-england
Coronavirus restrictions remain in place. Some of the rules on what you can and cannot do changed on 12 April as part of the ‘COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021’.
When we reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, we reduce the spread of the infection. To reduce social contact, some businesses must remain closed or follow restrictions on how they provide goods and services.
This guidance sets out the restrictions that certain businesses and venues in England are required to follow.
1. Businesses subject to restrictions
All retail is now permitted to open.
These businesses should take steps to ensure they are COVID-19 Secure including, where possible, providing services remotely or virtually.
Toilets and other essential facilities within these premises (such as those for breastfeeding) should be kept open and carefully managed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Fitting rooms can also open, but retailers should follow guidance on how to reduce transmission risk in fitting rooms.
Door-to-door sales can take place, however should be outdoors (salespersons should not enter people’s homes) and people should maintain social distancing at all times.
The following hospitality venues are required to close indoor parts of their premises:
- bars, including those in hotels or members’ clubs
- social clubs
- cafes and canteens, excluding those exempted below
These premises may open to serve customers outdoors. In venues that serve alcohol, customers must order, eat and drink while seated. In other venues, customers can order at a counter but must eat and drink while seated. Payment should also be taken at the table or at another outdoor location. If it is not possible for a venue to take payment outdoors, for example because the venue’s portable payment device is not working correctly or if other types of payment, such as cash, cannot be used, then payment can be taken indoors. Further detail can be found here.
Venues will be prohibited from providing smoking equipment, such as shisha pipes, for use on the premises.
Closed premises can continue to provide:
food and drinks, including alcohol, on a takeaway basis. This means that customers can enter the premises to place and collect their order. Food and drinks can also be provided via drive through, as well as click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered by phone, online, via a mobile app or post, and collected without entering the premises) and delivery.
Venues must not offer alcoholic beverages if their licence does not already permit.
Hospitality venues providing food and drink for consumption off the premises are not permitted to allow customers to consume from any adjacent seating to the premises (with the exception of motorway service areas, airports, seaports, and the international terminal at Folkestone).
Room service in hotels and other guest accommodation continues to be permitted, but should be ordered by phone or online.
Only cafes or canteens in the following settings may remain open for consumption indoors:
- hospitals, care homes, or where necessary to safeguard health in extra care schemes
- schools and providers of post-16 education and training, such as further education colleges
- university accommodation, and on university campuses (where there is no practical alternative for staff and students to obtain food and alcohol is not served for consumption on the premises)
- criminal justice accommodation and immigration detention centres
- naval/military/airforce or MoD facilities
- workplace canteens (where there is no practical alternative and alcohol is not served for consumption on the premises)
- services providing food and/or drink to people experiencing homelessness can also remain open
Self-contained holiday accommodation may open. Please see further detail here.
All other holiday accommodation must remain closed. These venues must only provide accommodation for a person who:
- is unable to return to their main residence
- uses it as their main residence
- needs it while moving house
- needs it to attend a funeral, linked commemorative event or following a bereavement of a close family member or friend
- is isolating themselves from others as required by law
- is an elite athlete (or their coach or parent) and needs it for training or competition
- needs it for work purposes, or to provide voluntary or charitable service
- is homeless
- needs it to attend education or training
- needs it to visit a person who is dying
- needs it to care for a vulnerable person or seek respite from doing so, or needs to provide care or assistance to a disabled person staying in the same accommodation
- needs it to attend a medical appointment or treatment
- needs it as a parent for the purposes of access to a child where the child does not live in the same household as their parents or one of their parents
They can also open:
- to enable voting, including in an overseas election
- to operate blood donation sessions and food banks
- to provide support services to the homeless
- as a women’s refuge or a vulnerable person’s refuge
- for any purpose requested by the Secretary of State, or a local authority
Businesses and services that are permitted to continue in law may also resume in these settings. For example, a wake can be held at a hotel otherwise required to close.
Personal Care facilities and close contact services
Personal care facilities and close contact services may open. Please see further detail here.
Entertainment and tourism
The following businesses and venues must close:
- nightclubs, dance halls, and discotheques
- indoor play areas including soft play centres and areas, and indoor inflatable and trampolining parks (except for use by persons with a disability)
- bingo halls
- bowling alleys
- snooker and pool halls (except for elite sportspersons)
- amusement arcades and adult gaming centres
- escape rooms
- concert halls and theatres (except for formal education and training, rehearsal or broadcasting a performance). Outdoor halls and theatres must also remain closed, except for drive-in
- cinemas, including outdoor cinemas (except for drive-in)
- circuses (except for drive-in)
- sexual entertainment venues and hostess bars
Indoor attractions at the following must close, but outdoor attractions and spaces may open:
- sculpture parks
- stately or historic homes, castles or other heritage sites
- botanical gardens, including biomes or greenhouses
- landmarks including observation decks and viewing platforms
- aqua parks and water parks
- theme parks
- skating rinks (except for professional dancers or choreographers, elite sportspersons, access for fitness activity for persons with a disability, supervised activities for children, and for formal education and training)
- trampolining parks (except for elite sportspersons, access for fitness activity for persons with a disability,
- supervised activities for children and for formal education and training)
- games and recreation venues, including laser quest, escape rooms, paintballing and recreational driving facilities fairgrounds and fun fairs
- adventure parks and activities (such as ziplining and obstacle courses)
- aquariums, zoos, safari parks, and other animal attractions
- museums and galleries (excluding retail galleries where the majority of the art on display is for sale)
- model villages
- visitor attractions at film studios
Visitor centres at these attractions must also close, but this does not include toilets, or shops (that are permitted to remain open) where they can be accessed separately to the indoor attractions.
Those outdoor venues and attractions that are permitted to remain open can offer outdoor hospitality.
Performing arts venues must be closed to the public, with the exception of drive-in venues. Theatres and concert halls can continue to be used for formal education and training, rehearsals, and performances without an audience for broadcast or recording purposes. These venues can also be used for the purposes of government pilots.
Permitted venues, including exhibition and conference centres, can hire out function and event spaces for essential work, education and training purposes, where these events cannot reasonably be conducted from home. However, they must not host conferences, exhibitions, trade shows, private dining events or banquets.
Meetings for work, training or education purposes should not take place unless the event cannot be delayed, where it cannot reasonably be conducted from home, and if social distancing can be maintained and the venue can demonstrate it has followed COVID-19 guidance.
Event spaces, including in conference centres and exhibition halls, can also be used to provide socially beneficial public services such as Nightingale hospitals or food banks. People can only mix between households if an exemption applies - for example, if it is for work purposes, or voluntary or charitable purposes.
Sports and leisure
You can exercise outdoors in a group of 6 or a larger group of any size from up to 2 households (including their support bubbles, if eligible).
You can also take part in formally organised outdoor sports with any number of people. This must be organised by a business, charity or public body and the organiser must take the required precautions, including the completion of a risk assessment. You should avoid contact in training and, for some sports, avoid contact in all activities. Read the guidance on what avoiding contact means for your sport.
Indoor and outdoor sports and leisure facilities can open. However steam rooms and saunas must remain closed.
Indoor group classes must not go ahead unless they form children’s sports, including supervised activities for children, or are part of formal education or training. Disabled sport, both indoor and outdoor, may also take place.
Other venues subject to restrictions
The following facilities can open but may be subject to coronavirus restrictions:
- places of worship (communal worship is permitted, but social contact rules must be adhered to)
- libraries, community centres and town and parish halls (indoor group activities must not go ahead unless an exemption applies)
- burial grounds and crematoria
- recycling and waste centres
- car parks and public toilets
2. What can be done in businesses that are closed
As well as specific exemptions as set out in their relevant section, any closed premises can open for the purposes of:
- enabling access by the site owners or managers, staff or people authorised by them (including volunteers) for maintenance where this is reasonably necessary. This may include exhibit maintenance, animal or plant feeding, or repairs. Other work to ensure readiness to open, such as receiving deliveries of supplies, may also go ahead
- providing essential voluntary or public services (including the provision of food banks or other support to the homeless or vulnerable, hosting blood donation sessions, or support in an emergency)
- making a film, television programme, audio programme or audio-visual advertisement
- voting or related activities (except for in closed shops)
Support groups cannot meet in businesses that are closed to the public unless where a specific exemption is listed above.
3. Operating in a COVID-Secure manner
All businesses should facilitate working from home as far as possible.
Businesses and venues are required under health and safety legislation to follow the appropriate COVID-19 Secure guidance for their sector.
Please see links to sector-specific guidance on ensuring businesses and venues permitted to open can operate safely, and so that businesses and venues that are closed can prepare to reopen safely when legally permitted to do so.
This guidance will help you operate a safe workplace for those who are not able to work from home, and help you plan for reopening in the future.
- People who work in or run shops, branches, stores, or similar environments
- Restaurants, pubs, bars, and takeaway services
- The visitor economy and heritage locations
- Exhibition halls and conference centres
- Casinos, bowling alleys, and indoor play
- Close contact services
- Performing arts
- Sports and leisure providers, playgrounds and outdoor gyms
- Places of worship
- Community centres, village halls, and other community facilities
All businesses should demonstrate to their workers and attendees that they have properly assessed their risk and taken appropriate measures to mitigate it, for example by publishing their risk assessment online or making it available at the premises/event.
Businesses and venues must also take reasonable steps to ensure that social contact rules are followed within their venues.
In particular, those operating venues or running events following COVID-19 Secure guidelines should take additional steps to ensure the safety of the public. This includes taking reasonable steps to prevent large gatherings of people which risk a breakdown of social distancing rules.
There will be some situations where social distancing is not possible. This is likely to occur between very young children, who will find preserving consistent distance more challenging. Where it is not possible for young children to maintain social distancing, it is even more important that businesses implement other protective measures, such as frequent cleaning and handwashing.
Individual businesses or venues should also consider the cumulative impact of many venues reopening in a small area. This means working with local authorities, neighbouring businesses and travel operators to assess this risk and applying additional mitigations.
These could include:
- staggering entry times with other venues and taking steps to avoid queues building up in surrounding areas
- arranging one-way travel routes between transport hubs and venues
- advising patrons to avoid particular forms of transport or routes and to avoid crowded areas when in transit to the venue
Businesses should consider arranging regular asymptomatic testing for staff who cannot work from home. You can register to order tests if your business is registered in England and if your employees cannot work from home. Use this link to register and order COVID-19 tests for your employees.
Local authorities are responsible for permitting or prohibiting large organised outdoor events from taking place in their local area. See further guidance on organised events.
4. Employer duties for self-isolation
Employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to leave their designated area of self-isolation. See working safely guidance.
In the case of agency workers, agents must notify the employer, and the employer must notify an organisation to which the agency worker has been supplied.
In order to support businesses in meeting these obligations, a self-isolating worker or agency worker must notify their employer (or agency worker where applicable) as soon as is reasonably practical, as well as the start and end dates of their isolation period. Any failure by an employee to notify their employer is an offence.
5. Face coverings
In England, customers and visitors over the age of 10 must wear a face covering in a number of indoor settings, unless exempt. Face coverings must also be worn by retail, leisure and hospitality staff working in any indoor area that is open to the public and where they’re likely to come into contact with a member of the public.
Please see the latest face covering guidance
6. Compliance and enforcement
It is for each business to assess whether they are a business required to close having considered the guidance and regulations.
An owner, proprietor or manager carrying out a business (or a person responsible for other premises) who fails to fulfill the obligations placed on them in law, without reasonable excuse, commits an offence.
In England, Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers will monitor compliance with these regulations, with police support provided if appropriate.
Businesses and venues that breach restrictions will potentially be subject to a:
- Fixed Penalty Notice (fine) starting at £1,000 for the first offence and rising to £10,000 upon repeat offences
- Coronavirus Improvement Notice (which will require a minimum of 48 hours for a business to introduce necessary measures)
- Coronavirus Immediate Restriction Notice (which will impose the immediate closure or restriction of an activity within premises for a 48 hour period where rapid action is needed)
- Coronavirus Restriction Notice and Prohibition Notice (which will require the closure or restriction of an activity for a 7 day period)
It is also an offence, without reasonable excuse to fail to comply with a notice, this may result in a fine, or where necessary court proceedings, with magistrates able to impose potentially unlimited fines.
Please see further guidance for more information on Coronavirus Improvement and Restriction Notices.
Local authorities and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care also have the power to place restrictions on or close premises where they assess that they pose a serious and imminent threat to public health where this is necessary and proportionate to manage the spread of COVID-19 in the local authority’s area. See more information on these powers.
Individuals can also be issued with a fixed penalty notice, starting at £200 for those who participate in illegal gatherings. The police also have the power to take action against those holding or being involved in the holding of an illegal gathering of more than 30 people. This includes issuing a fixed penalty notice of £10,000.
7. Business support
The government has put in place a wide range of support for businesses affected by Coronavirus. For more information please visit the government’s business support page.
The second payment cycle of Local Restrictions Support Grant, covering the period between 16 February to 31 March 2021, is available through local authorities. Businesses required to close will receive up to £4,714 for this 44-day qualifying restrictions period. How much a business is eligible to receive depends on the rateable value of the property. Applications for payments for this period end on 31 May 2021.
For more information businesses can check eligibility here for a coronavirus grant because of national restrictions.
From 1 April, the Local Restrictions Support grants have been replaced with the Restart Grants. These grants will make available up to £6,000 per premises for non-essential retail businesses and up to £18,000 per premises for hospitality and other sectors that are opening later.
For more information businesses can check Restart Grant eligibility here.
Local Authorities in England are also receiving a further £425 million of discretionary business grant funding, in addition to £1.6 billion already allocated, through the Additional Restrictions Grant. Local authorities have significant discretion as to how they use this funding to support businesses.
Businesses can check eligibility for the Additional Restrictions Grant here.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been extended until the end of September 2021 and is available for all eligible firms across the UK.
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) 4 and 5 were announced by the Chancellor in the March 2021 budget. SEISS 4 will provide support for the 3 months from February and SEISS 5 will provide support from May until the end of September 2021. This will provide support to self-employed individuals whose businesses have been adversely affected by COVID-19.
From 6 April, the government has introduced the new Recovery Loan Scheme to replace the existing loan schemes: providing lenders with a guarantee of 80% on eligible loans between £25,000 and £10 million to give them confidence in continuing to provide finance to UK businesses.
8. Business rates
In England, the government has provided a 100 per cent business rates holiday for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. This 100 per cent holiday has been extended to June 2021, after which businesses will receive 66% relief, up to a cap, for the following nine months. Nurseries in England will also receive this relief.
9. Scope of restrictions
The Devolved Administrations have issued their own guidance and regulations on these matters. The guidance can be found below: