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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
COVID-19 case numbers are rising rapidly across the country. We must act now to control the spread of the virus. The single most important action we can all take to fight coronavirus is to stay at home, to protect the NHS and save lives.
When we reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, we reduce the spread of the infection. That is why you must:
- stay at home, except for where you have a reasonable excuse
- avoid meeting people you do not live with, unless for a permitted reason
- close certain businesses and venues
This guidance sets out the restrictions that certain businesses and venues in England are required to follow.
1. Businesses subject to restrictions
Business permitted to open
The following businesses and venues that provide goods for sale or hire are permitted to remain open, including if they operate from a market stall, or at a defined concession within a shopping centre:
- food retailers, including food markets, supermarkets, convenience stores and corner shops. This also includes fresh food retailers (such as butchers, bakers, greengrocers, fishmongers, and delicatessens)
- off licenses and licensed shops selling alcohol
- pharmacies (including non-dispensing pharmacies) and chemists
- mobility and disability support shops
- builders merchants and suppliers of products and tools used in building work and repairs. This doesn’t include carpet stores and showrooms, such as those for bathrooms, kitchens, tiles and glazing
- garden centres and agricultural supplies shops. This does not include florists or nurseries
- veterinary surgeons, animal rescue centres, boarding facilities, and retailers of products and food for the upkeep and welfare of animals. Animal grooming facilities may also stay open but must only be used for the purposes of an animal’s welfare (and not for aesthetic purposes)
- dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health services, including services relating to mental health
- banks, building societies, credit unions, short term loan providers, savings clubs, cash points and undertakings which by way of business operate currency exchange offices, transmit money (or any representation of money) by any means or cash cheques which are made payable to customers
- post offices
- funeral directors
- laundrettes and dry cleaners
- bicycle shops, vehicle repair and MOT services
- petrol stations and automatic car washes
- taxi or vehicle hire businesses and motorway service areas
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.
Storage and distribution facilities including delivery drop off or collection points, are also able to open where the facilities are in the premises of a business allowed to remain open. For example, you can return an order to a drop box in a supermarket or drop it off for collection in a newsagents. Deliveries of supplies can also go ahead for premises that are otherwise required to close by law.
Businesses that provide services (rather than goods) - such as accountants, solicitors, and estate agents - are not required to close, unless listed below.
This includes businesses which have as their main activity repair services, such as electronics repair services. This does not include shops that would otherwise be considered non-essential retail, such as a mobile phone store that offers some repairs.
Businesses providing services that are permitted to remain open should take steps to ensure they are COVID-19 Secure including, where possible, providing services remotely or virtually.
Businesses required to close
Any business or venue that provides goods for sale or hire and is not listed above must close (other than where there is an explicit exemption for a specific purpose). They may continue offering delivery and click-and-collect services (where items are pre-ordered and collected without entering the premises). People can also leave home to collect or return orders from these businesses.
These closures include, but are not limited to, the following premises:
- clothing and fashion stores and tailors
- retail travel agents
- homeware stores
- carpet stores
- kitchen, bathroom, tile, and glazing showrooms
- tobacco and vape shops
- electronic goods and mobile phone shops
- charity shops
- photography studios
- antique stores
- homeopathic and naturopathic medicine, traditional chinese medicine, and ayurveda
- markets (except livestock markets or stalls which fall under the list of essential businesses above, for example those selling food)
- car and other vehicle showrooms and other premises, including outdoor areas, used for the sale or hire of caravans, boats or any vehicle which can be propelled by mechanical means. However taxi or vehicle hire businesses can continue. For example a customer could order a rental vehicle online and collect it in person.
- car washes (except for automatic car washes)
- auction houses (except for auctions of livestock or agricultural equipment)
- betting shops
Door-to-door sales should not take place, and sales activities should be conducted remotely (such as by phone, online, or mail).
Guidance on mixed retail
A business selling a significant amount of essential retail may also continue to sell goods typically sold at non-essential retail. For example, a supermarket that sells food is not required to close off or cordon off aisles selling homeware.
Where a business selling essential retail has another, separate business embedded within it that is required to close, the embedded business must close. For example, an electronics business operating a concession within a supermarket must close, as would a bookstore inside a garden centre.
Where a business has sufficiently distinct parts, and one section provides essential retail and one section provides non-essential retail, the non-essential sections should close to limit interactions between customers and the opportunity for the virus to spread. Sufficiently distinct sections might involve operating in separate buildings, across separate floors, a door between sections, using separate cashiers, or another clear demarcation between sections. For example a food shop may stay open, but a homeware section on a separate floor or separate building should close.
The following hospitality venues are required to close for consumption on the premises:
- bars, including those in hotels or members’ clubs
- social clubs
- shisha bars
- cafes and canteens, excluding those exempted below
These closed premises can continue to provide:
food and non-alcoholic drinks on a takeaway basis (between 5am and 11pm). This means that customers can enter the premises to place and collect their order. Food and non-alcoholic 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).
all food and drink (including alcohol) can continue to be provided through delivery services. Venues offering delivery services must not include 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 premises below may remain open:
- 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
Holiday accommodation must close. Hotels, hostels and other holiday accommodation including (bed and breakfast accommodation, holiday apartments, homes, cottages or bungalows, campsites, caravan parks or boarding houses, canal boats or any other vessels) 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
- was staying there for when England entered lockdown
- 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
- 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
- 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 must close or not take place within accommodation settings. For example, a wake cannot be held at a hotel.
Personal Care facilities and close contact services
Personal care facilities and close contact services must close. This includes:
- hair, beauty and nail salons
- tattoo parlours
- spas, saunas, steam rooms
- massage centres
- body and skin piercing services
- tanning salons
These venues may continue to sell retail goods (such as shampoo or beauty products) online or via click-and-collect.
Those who provide personal care services from a mobile setting including their own home, in other people’s homes and in retail environments (such as a concession in a larger, separate business) must also stop operating.
Personal care services provided for essential medical and health needs, which cannot be deferred, may continue. For example, treatments for a diagnosed health condition or injury that is currently causing severe pain or mobility issues, or severely impacting quality of life, or for cosmetic treatments associated with cancer treatment. This does not extend to services provided for general stress relief, relaxation or preventative healthcare purposes. The guidance on safer working in the Close Contact Services should be followed.
Those providing their services in a professional capacity as part of those sectors that remain open can continue to operate. For example, make-up artists in film and TV production, and on fashion shoots. However, these services cannot be carried out in premises required to close.
Entertainment and tourism
The following businesses and venues must close:
- nightclubs, dance halls, and discotheques
- sexual entertainment venues and hostess bars
- indoor play areas (including soft play centres and areas, and inflatable parks)
- trampoline parks (except for disability sport, elite sportspersons, supervised activities for children and education and training)
- skating rinks (except for professional dancers, elite sportspersons, access for fitness activity for disabled persons, supervised activities for children, and education and training)
- adventure playgrounds and parks, ziplining
- theme parks, circuses, fun fairs and fairgrounds
- water parks and aqua park
- zoos and safari parks
- visitor attractions at farms, wildlife centres, and other animal attractions
- model villages
- museums and galleries
- visitor attractions at film studios
- bingo halls
- bowling alleys
- arcades, adult gaming centres, and betting shops
- indoor games, recreation and entertainment venues (such as escape rooms and laser quest)
- theatres and concert halls (except for formal education and training, rehearsal or broadcasting a performance)
- cinemas, drive-in cinemas, theatres and outdoor concert venues must also not operate
- snooker and pool halls (except for elite sportspersons)
Indoor attractions at the following must close, but outdoor attractions and spaces can remain open for the purposes of exercise:
- sculpture parks
- stately or historic homes, castles or other heritage sites
- botanical gardens
- biomes or greenhouses
- landmarks including observation decks and viewing platforms
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 food and (non-alcoholic) drinks as a takeaway service.
Performing arts venues must be closed to the public. This includes drive-in venues. However 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 should minimise time spent outside your home.
You can only leave home to exercise, and not for the purpose of recreation or leisure (e.g. a picnic or a social meeting). This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
Exercise classes and personal trainer sessions can continue to go ahead, but must only take place one-on-one unless everyone is within the same household or support bubble. These should only go ahead in public outdoor places (such as a park) and not in private homes or gardens.
Sports and leisure facilities must close. This includes:
- leisure centres
- sports courts
- dance studios and fitness studios
- climbing walls and climbing wall centres
- swimming pools
- golf courses
- driving and shooting ranges
- archery venues
- riding centres
Outdoor playgrounds (excluding adventure playgrounds) may stay open.
Leisure and sport facilities may continue to be accessed for elite sport and professional dance.
Leisure and sports facilities may continue to host registered childcare where these are located in these premises, but not to use the closed facilities (such as a swimming pool in a leisure centre).
You may continue to access riding centres for the purposes of tending to the welfare of an animal that you own or care for. Riding centres may continue to be used for the purposes of exercising an animal where this is necessary for their welfare.
Indoor sport and exercise classes must not go ahead unless they are part of formal education or training or form a supervised activity for children. Disabled persons may continue to access closed facilities for the purposes of individual fitness activity.
Organised sports can only continue to take place outdoors for disabled persons and as part of formal education and training. Contact in training and activities, and for some sports, should be avoided. Find out what this means for your sport.
Other venues subject to restrictions
The following facilities can open but may face restrictions on the activity they host:
- places of worship (communal worship is permitted, but social contact rules must be adhered to)
- burial grounds and crematoria
- recycling and waste centres
- car parks and public toilets
The following venues must close, but may open for specific purposes listed below:
- click-and-collect services, for example to borrow books or DVDs, so long as customers do not enter the premises
- delivery services. For example, for no/low contact home library service, dropping material off to those who are unable to attend the premises. This also covers school library services, dropping project boxes off to schools
- providing digital access to public services. This includes allowing someone to complete a job application
- the purposes of formal education or training
- support groups
- registered childcare
Community facilities (community centres and town and parish halls)
- the purposes of formal education or training
- support groups
- registered childcare or supervised activities for children
- wedding ceremonies, funerals and wakes (numerical limits must be adhered to)
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. The law states that people must only leave home to travel to work where they cannot reasonably work from home.
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
Local authorities are responsible for permitting or prohibiting large organised outdoor events from taking place in their local area. See further guidance on large outdoor 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.
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.
Businesses which are required to close will receive up to £3,000 per month. Those businesses not required to close but severely affected are eligible for up to £2,100 per month. The Local Restrictions Support Grant is available through local authorities. How much a business is eligible to receive depends on the rateable value of the property.
In addition, as of 5 January 2021, businesses that have been required to close due to national restrictions imposed by the government may be eligible for a one-off grant of up to £9,000. How much a business is eligible to receive depends on the rateable value of the property.
For more information businesses can check eligibility here for a coronavirus grant because of national restrictions.
Local Authorities in England have also received a further £594 million payment, in addition to £1.1 billion payment last year, through the Additional Restrictions Grant. This funding is for additional business support to complement the Local Restrictions Support Grant schemes for closed and affected businesses. Local authorities have significant discretion as to how they use this funding to support businesses.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been extended until the end of April 2021 and is available for all eligible firms across the UK.
8. Business rates
In England, as announced on 16 March 2020, the government will provide a business rates holiday for businesses and venues in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. This includes the businesses and venues in scope for closure listed above. All eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will pay no business rates in England for 12 months from 1 April 2020, and nurseries in England will also receive a 1-year holiday. There is no rateable value threshold on this support – businesses large and small will benefit.
9. Scope of restrictions
The Devolved Administrations have issued their own guidance and regulations on these matters. The guidance can be found below: