Wearing face coverings have become a legal requirement (30 November 2021)
On 30 November 2021, wearing face coverings in shops and other similar places used for the retail sale or hire of goods or services became a legal requirement. You can get full details of when to wear a face covering on GOV.UK. The focus of the new restrictions is retail shops and services, and public transport. There is no requirement to wear a face covering in hospitality settings like pubs, cafes and restaurants, and in anywhere that is not a shop, although it is advised that wearing a face covering in any indoor setting should be encouraged to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The requirement to wear a face covering applies to customers, visitors, and staff who work in public areas and are likely to come into close contact with customers. Where there is effective separation of staff and customers, for example through the use of physical screens, this may remove the need for staff to wear a face covering, but this would need to be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The laws on the wearing of face covering are enforced by police officers and Police Community Support Officers. Full details of the laws on face coverings are available on GOV.UK.
In shops and other indoor relevant places the person responsible for the premises (owner, occupier, manager) must either display a notice which informs customers and visitors of the need for them to wear a face covering. If a notice is not prominently displayed, there must be other ways to inform people of the face covering requirement. Failure to meet this requirement may result in a £1,000 Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN). This amount increases to £2,000 if a second FPN is issued, then £3,000 for the third, and then £10,000 for the fourth, and a further £10,000 for any subsequent FPNs issued. Not paying an FPN would lead to prosecution, and if convicted a court may issue an unlimited fine.
For more information or advice on the new rules, contact the Public Protection Service by email to EHTS@middlesbrough.gov.uk.
Venues and events where the NHS COVID Pass, or alternative proof of COVID-19 status, must be used as a condition of entry are:
- nightclubs, dance halls and discotheques
- any other late night dance venue that is open at any time between 1am and 5am, serve alcohol after 1am, have a dancefloor or space for dancing, provides music (live or recorded) for dancing.
- indoor events with 500 or more attendees, where those attendees are likely to stand or move around for all or part of the event, such as music venues with standing audiences or large receptions
- outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees, where those attendees are likely to stand or move around for all or part of the event, such as outdoor festivals
- events with 10,000 or more attendees, whether indoor or outdoor, such as large sports and music events.
If your venue is described above you must take reasonable measures to make sure that all visitors have the NHS COVID Pass (or other accepted evidence). All venues must have written risk assessment procedures that set out the measures to be followed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and produce and keep up to date a statement setting out measures for carrying out mandatory Covid-19 status checks.
Detailed guidance on carrying out Covid-19 status checks and the rules venues must follow is available here - Carrying out mandatory COVID-19 status checks at your venue or event - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Health and safety
Workplace health and safety, and health protection laws, will continue to require businesses to implement and maintain risk-based safety measures. This will include enabling social distancing, wearing face coverings (especially for workers whose role brings them into close contact with customers), good hygiene controls, and management of coronavirus cases.
Guidance for employers and self-employed people on keeping workplaces safe as coronavirus restrictions end is available from the HSE.
The government website also has guidance on current rules.
Businesses wishing to use their outdoor space can apply for a temporary Pavement Licence to put out temporary removable furniture. There will be no charge for the licence.
Recovery Loan Scheme
The Recovery Loan Scheme provides financial support to businesses across the UK as they recover and grow following the coronavirus pandemic. You can apply to the scheme if Covid-19 has affected your business. You can use the finance for any legitimate business purpose – including managing cashflow, investment and growth.
The Recovery Loan Scheme will run until 31 December 2021, subject to review. Find out more about the Recovery Loan Scheme and apply.
The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to create new job placements for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long term unemployment. Employers of all sizes can apply for funding which covers:
- 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage depending on the age of the participant) for 25 hours per week for a total of 6 months
- associated employer National Insurance contributions
- minimum automatic enrolment pension contributions
- a grant of £1,500 per job to cover setup costs and employability support
Omicron Leisure and Hospitality Grant
The Omicron Leisure and Hospitality Grant supports hospitality, leisure, and accommodation businesses with a one-off grant of up to £6,000, based on the business' rateable value.
Businesses must have been trading on 30 December 2021 and must have been within the rating system on that date. Please apply as soon as possible. The closing date is 18 March 2022. Find out more and apply for the Omicron Leisure and Hospitality Grant now.
COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF)
On 25 March 2021, the government announced an additional Business Rates support package, worth £1.5 billion, to support businesses in England which have been affected by COVID-19 but are not eligible for existing support linked to Business Rates. Guidance on this support package, the COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF), has now been published. You can read the full announcement about the Business Rates support package on GOV.UK.
The relief will be in the form of a reduction to the business' Business Rates bill. We're currently working through the government guidance and we'll update this page with more information as soon as possible.
The government has specifically excluded the following businesses from this scheme:
- businesses which are, or would have been, eligible for the Extended Retail Discount (covering retail, hospitality, and leisure) and the Nursery Discount
- properties which are unoccupied (other than those closed temporarily due to national coronavirus restrictions)
Additional Restrictions Grant
Our Additional Restrictions Grant scheme is currently under review and will be reopened as soon as possible, to provide businesses impacted by the Omicron variant and the coronavirus pandemic the opportunity for further grant support.
The government's coronavirus section has all the information you need if you're a business owner or a self-employed person. This includes any financial support available, guidance on how to run your business safely, and how to comply with NHS Track and Trace.
Working safely during coronavirus
The government has produced guidance to help employers, employees, and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic. The guides cover a range of different types of work. Read the government 'working safely during coronavirus' guidance now. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe.
Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality, leisure, and nursery education establishments
The government has announced these businesses will be supported with a 100% rates discount until 30 June 2021. This means that your business will not need to pay business rates during the first quarter of the financial year 2021/2022.
Updated bills will be issued for ratepayers then required to pay the normal charge or allowed a lesser reduction to 31 March 2022.
66% discount will be available, but this has been capped by the government, which means larger businesses will not qualify for it from all of their rates bills.
Support from Middlesbrough Community Learning
Middlesbrough Community Learning, Middlesbrough Council's apprenticeship, adult learning, and employability service, is reaching out to businesses and support services throughout the Tees Valley, to offer free advice and support.
Their current offer includes:
- Apprenticeships for new and current staff (including staff on furlough)
- Middlesbrough Council levy advice, guidance, and access (if eligible)
- Computing and ICT training (all levels, both classroom-based and online)
- Recruitment (access to local job candidates, sifting, and interview support)
- Functional Skills English, Maths and ICT (all levels, both classroom-based and online)
- Employability programmes (including interview preparation, CVs, self-marketing, self-employment, one-to-one advice)
- English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
- English and Maths (entry levels)
- Distance learning (online access to courses, often used as staff CPD and inductions, including stress management, first aid, risk assessments, mental health awareness, safeguarding, health and safety, alcohol awareness, and more)
- Training for life and work
- Volunteering and work experience opportunities with Middlesbrough Council
To find out more, contact Middlesbrough Community Learning on 01642 811400 or email email@example.com (Please note these contact details should not be used for grants information or advice, for grange information please see the section above).
I need help to grow my business
Our investment team can direct you to the right support to help your business with growth, recruitment, relocation, etc. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do I do if I do not appear to qualify for any of the grants?
Please visit the GOV.UK coronavirus section, as additional funding may be available from the government.
Can I get business support?
Advice, support, and finance to support growing businesses across the Tees Valley is available from the Tees Valley Combined Authority's business hub - Tees Valley Business.