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Official guidance from UK government

For the latest information and advice, UK employers and business owners should visit the official guidance for employers and businesses. Businesses should check for daily updates and subscribe to receive email alerts to ensure they are acting on the most up to date information.

There may be some variations to the below measures announced among devolved nations. Further information on support for businesses in the devolved nations can be found:

If you have any queries please contact:

UK Chambers of CommerceGlobal British Chambers of Commerce

Recent and upcoming changes

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Restrictions are easing across the UK.

In England

In Scotland

In Wales

  • The stay local restriction was lifted on 27 March. It is illegal to travel in or out of Wales without a reasonable excuse, such as work. Holiday accommodation open for people living in Wales only. Read about the rules on GOV.WALES.

In Northern Ireland

Roadmap steps in England

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Step 2 - from 12 April

The Prime Minister has confirmed that the UK government will proceed with Step 2 of the roadmap on Monday 12 April, allowing non-essential retail to reopen and other activities to take place.

  • Personal care premises and public buildings reopen, including hairdressers, nail salons, libraries and community centres.
  • Outdoor hospitality venues, such as restaurants and pubs, reopen with table service only. Most outdoor attractions, including zoos, theme parks, and drive-in cinemas and concerts reopen.
  • Indoor leisure and sports facilities reopen for individual and household bubble exercise. All childcare and supervised activities allowed indoors including parent and child groups for up to 15 people.
  • Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies, wakes and other commemorative events can take place for up to 15 people.
  • The number of visitors in care homes increases from one to two.
  • The ‘minimise travel’ advice, in place since 29 March, will continue throughout step 2 of the roadmap.

Free, regular, rapid coronavirus COVID-19 testing is available to everyone in England from 9 April.

Step 3 - no earlier than 17 May*

Gatherings of over 30 people remain illegal; outdoor performances such as outdoor cinemas, and outdoor theatres can reopen. Indoors, the rule of 6 or 2 households will apply; indoor hospitality, entertainment venues such as cinemas and soft play areas, the rest of the accommodation sector, and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes will also reopen. International travel will be subject to review.

Step 4 – no earlier than 21 June*

No legal limits on social contact, reopening the remaining closed settings like Nightclubs, and larger events, no legal limit on all live events (all subject to review).

The decision on each stage will be based on data not dates, and government will move cautiously to keep infection rates under control. The roadmap can be found in full here.

* Earliest possible date

Guidance and support for business

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Coronavirus Business Support

A full range of business support measures are available to UK businesses and employees. This page helps businesses find out how to access support schemes, who is eligible and how to apply.

The UK government's Coronavirus business support hub brings together key information for business.

Working safely during Coronavirus

The government has updated the guidance for businesses on working safely during Coronavirus. In consultation with industry, this guidance has been produced to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible. There are 8 guides which cover 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.

Further guidance for employers and businesses including:

Once you have carried out a risk assessment you should display this notice in your workplace to show that you have complied with the guidance on managing the risk of Coronavirus.

Education and Skills

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Kickstart Scheme

  • Chambers of Commerce across England, Scotland and Wales are authorised gateways to the Kickstart scheme.
  • Chambers can help businesses to apply for a grant and provide a wide range of support for the employer and young person to ensure the Kickstart placement is a success.
  • Review the details and contact your local Chamber for more information.

Further and Higher Education

Higher education restructuring regime

  • A scheme for higher education providers in England facing financial difficulties as a result of coronavirus

Apprenticeships


Advice for visa customers who need to apply for a passport

  • Advice for visa customers and applicants in the UK, visa customers outside of the UK and British nationals overseas who need to apply for a passport and who are affected by travel restrictions associated with Coronavirus.

The Skills Toolkit

The Skills Toolkit is a free online learning platform to boost workplace skills during the Coronavirus outbreak and beyond.

Transport and travel

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Framework to safely reopen international travel

On 9 April Transport Secretary Grant Shapps MP set out a framework to chart the safe return of international travel.

A traffic light system, which will categorise countries based on risk alongside the restrictions required for travel, will be set up to protect the public and the vaccine rollout from international COVID-19 variants.

Key factors in the assessment will include:

  • the percentage of their population that have been vaccinated
  • the rate of infection
  • the prevalence of variants of concern
  • the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing

The report, produced by the Global Travel Taskforce, shows how international travel could resume from 17 May 2021 at the earliest, in an accessible and affordable way. This includes the removal of the permission to travel form - meaning passengers would no longer need to prove they have a valid reason to leave the country.

It is illegal to travel abroad for holidays.

Follow current COVID-19 rules where you live: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In England, you must have a permitted reason to travel abroad and complete a declaration form.

Some countries have closed borders, and any country may further restrict travel or bring in new social distancing rules with little warning. Check UK government advice for all the countries you will visit or transit through.

When you return, follow the rules to enter the UK from abroad (except from Ireland).

Minimise travel

The ‘minimise travel’ advice, in place since 29 March, will continue throughout Step 2 of the roadmap.

Safer Travel messages

As services get busier, it is more important than ever that the public follows Safer Travel guidance so they and others can travel safely.

People are being asked to minimise their travel. If they need to travel, they should follow the UK government’s guidance on how to travel safely:

  • No matter how you travel, you should plan ahead, and avoid busy times and routes where possible.
  • Walk or cycle where possible.
  • If using public transport, you should regularly sanitise your hands, wear a face covering unless you are exempt, and keep your distance where possible.
  • It is a legal requirement that, unless exempt, you must wear a face covering on public transport and inside transport hubs, e.g. train stations. You could be fined £200 minimum if you do not comply.
  • If travelling by car, you should avoid sharing a car with anyone outside of your household or support bubble. If this isn’t possible, you should open the windows, wear a face covering unless exempt, and leave seats free to social distance.

Trade

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‘Bounce back’ plan for agriculture, food and drink industry launched

  • A ‘bounce back’ plan of trade measures for the agriculture, food and drink industry was announced on 22 June to help support businesses that have been impacted by Coronavirus.

Trade Credit Insurance backed by £10 billion guarantee

  • On 4 June, the UK government announced guarantees of up to £10 billion to Trade Credit Insurance schemes for business-to-business transactions.
  • The measures will support thousands of businesses by protecting against customer defaults or payment delays
  • The scheme is available on a temporary basis for nine months, backdated to 1 April 2020, and available insurers operating in the UK market.

Force Majeure Certificates

These are certificates attesting the existence of force majeure circumstances i.e. circumstances beyond the control of the applicant such as fire, flood, industrial disputes, or in present circumstances, a pandemic. Please note that we can only certify factual details that can be evidenced. We cannot comment as to whether or not Force Majeure applies or argue such claims on behalf of the applicant. It is the responsibility of the applicant to claim Force Majeure and the issuing body’s role is to provide a certificate in support of such claim.

Delaying import duty payments as a result of Coronavirus

HMRC has released guidance on how to request an extension to the payment period for import duty/import VAT payments. Deferment is not automatic and requires immediate action.

Duty deferment account holders - Duty deferment account holders who are experiencing severe financial difficulty as a result of Coronavirus and who are unable to make payment of deferred customs duties and import VAT due on 15 April 2020 can contact HMRC for approval to enter into an extended period to make full or partial payment, without having their guarantee called upon or their deferment account suspended. The account holder should contact the Duty Deferment Office 03000 594243 or by email [email protected] or the Coronavirus helpline on 0800 024 1222. Account holders will be asked to provide an explanation of how Coronavirus has impacted their business finances and cash flow.

Duty Deferment account holders will be able to use their accounts during the extended payment period agreed unless they default on a subsequent payment in that period, in which case HMRC may consider suspending their account. The outstanding payment will not affect their duty deferment limit so they will not need to increase their guarantee to cover the outstanding payment. Where HMRC agree to an extended payment period, interest will not be charged on the outstanding payments provided they are paid in full by the agreed date.

Duty/import VAT payments not covered by a duty deferment account - Registered Importers who pay cash or an equivalent and are facing severe financial difficulties as a direct result of Coronavirus can contact HMRC to request an extension to the payment deadline at the time the payment is due. They will be asked to provide an explanation of how Coronavirus has impacted on their business finances. HMRC will consider this request and decide whether or not to agree an additional time to pay. The decision will be taken on a case-by-case basis and could be refused.

If the request is approved the conditions, including the length of time offered, will depend upon the importer’s individual circumstances and may require the holding of a guarantee for the period of the time extension. We cannot offer this facility to non-registered importers. For further information, please contact the Customs Debt Policy inbox.

Maintaining the flow of trade at the Border

In order to maintain the flow of trade at the border during the current COVID-19 outbreak, Border Control Posts (BCP) may temporarily accept scanned or electronic copies of health certification from competent authorities or operators in some specific scenarios/circumstances in relation to:

  • Third country imports - products of animal origin (POAO) including fish and fishery products for human consumption. It does not include those derived from porcine origin, animal by-products (ABP) other than unprocessed ABPs of porcine origin and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin (HRFNAO). It does not apply to germinal product and live animals (other than live fish).
  • Intra-EU trade - this measure applies to Intra Trade Animal Health Certificates (ITAHCs) and journey logs for livestock imports. Official Veterinarians (OVs) in the UK may also issue ITAHCs and journey logs for livestock exports from the UK to the EU, submitted on TRACES (if applicable) and via email to EU member states.

Any measures taken are only for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak. Please refer to gov.uk for wider COVID-19 guidance or speak directly to the relevant BCP for further clarification and if you have questions about a particular import.

Coronavirus: Export Controls and Licences

In this 1-hour webinar, representatives from the Institute of Export & International Trade’s Export Control Profession and the Department for International Trade’s Export Control Joint Unit cover:

  • Continuation of UK export licensing during the pandemic;
  • EU controls relating to PPE and medical supplies and how they apply to UK;
  • Worldwide controls on PPE and medical supplies;
  • Importance for Export Control staff to communicate with their companies and supply chains;
  • The response of the IOE&IT and the Export Control Profession to the crisis.


BCC Welcomes Global Travel Framework But Warns Questions Remain

 Responding to the publication of the Global Travel Taskforce Framework for International Travel, British Chambers of Commerce Director of Policy James Martin said: “The sector has been hard hit in the last year, with prolonged uncertainty about when the full resumption of travel will be possible. This framework provides some welcome clarity however much uncertainty remains around what countries will be on the green list come May 17th.

BCC reacts to Prime Minister's update on Roadmap Out Of Lockdown

BCC welcomes news that Phase 2 reopening will go ahead in England on April 12 but calls for more information on COVID certificates and International Travel proposals.

BCC Quarterly Economic Survey Q1 2021:  Firms Fighting for Survival but More See a Route Out of Crisis

UK’s largest independent survey of business sentiment and a leading indicator of UK GDP growth – found that business conditions remained historically poor in the first quarter of 2021 as the third lockdown severely limited activity.

BCC Signs Armed Forces Covenant

The British Chambers of Commerce has today (29th March 2021) signed the Armed Forces Covenant in a virtual signing event attended by the Assistant Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Simon Brooks-Ward CVO OBE TD VR.