City Reopening – the next steps for your business

As we begin to move out of lockdown and various sectors begin to reopen, we’ve pulled together key information and guidance below to support our businesses in Southampton they prepare to open their doors again. Our COVID-19 page, containing information and updates from the start of lockdown through until mid-June is still available here.

Supporting non-essential retail

From 15 June non-essential retailers were allowed to reopen providing they adhered to the COVID-secure guidelines and produced a valid risk assessment. Since March we have been working closely with Southampton City Council to prepare for the city’s reopening on 15 June. Floor markers, designed by Local Artist Nathan Evans, have been installed outside of stores to assist with queue management. Other measures we have implemented/are implementing with the Council include:

  • Floor arrows within the city centre to encourage a one-way flow of traffic
  • Extra space for residents to walk and cycle more freely especially around busy bus stops
  • Plentiful, secure and convenient cycle parking
  • Enhanced street cleaning regimes for priority and high contact areas

We also produced business guidance for the retail sector prior to opening week which outlines key points to get your business COVID-secure, necessary risk assessment practice and effective queue management for customer-facing businesses. View the document here.

Be Smart Stay Apart
For consumers, we’ve created a ‘Be Smart Stay Apart’ webpage on the Visit Southampton website, containing key information and advice to offer consumers reassurance about the measures being taken in the city centre.

Southampton Inside Out
Ahead of the hospitality sector reopening, we’ve been working with the Council and other stakeholders to explore how we can increase/simplify opportunities for outdoor space to be utilised for customer seating. Find out more about our Southampton Inside Out initiative here.

Preparing for 4 July

On 23 June, the Government confirmed which sectors will be able to reopen from  4 July in the next phase lockdown restrictions being eased (read the announcement here). Many businesses in the hospitality sector will be able to reopen from 4 July, providing it is safe to do so and they adhere to COVID-secure guidelines, including:

  • Pubs and bars
  • Restaurants and cafés
  • Hotels and accommodation 
  • Hairdressers
  • Cinemas and theatres (with the exception of live performances)
  • Museums and galleries
  • Visitor attractions and libraries
  • Theme parks and arcades
  • Places of worship
  • Community centres and social clubs

General guidance for the pubs, bars and restaurants

The ‘Working safely during COVID-19’ Government guidance has been updated to reflect the changes for restaurants, pubs and bars. The advice covers a spectrum of areas such as staff areas, customer toilets, serving food and drink, keeping the venue clean and dealing with inbound and outbound goods. Much like all other sectors, organisations must carry out a mandatory risk assessment to assess and create interventions for any risks. Summarised below are some sector-specific points for venues to consider:

Data Collection
Venues should keep a record of any customers for 21 days to help with the NHS track and trace system. Bookings systems will be able to help track contact details and the Government is working on publishing more details on data protection legislation shortly. Gathering of data must comply with GDPR (current data protection law)– see the full guidance from ICO here. Main areas to consider are:

  • Only collect the minimum amount of information necessary for contact tracing (full name, date and time of visit and email or telephone number)
  • Keep customers informed as to why you are collecting their data using a privacy notice
  • Protect the data by nominating one staff member to have access to it
  • Do not use the data for your business’ marketing communications
  • Discard data after the nominated time (21 days)

Social Distancing
All venues must adhere to social distancing measures for both staff and customers. Furniture, seating areas and waiting areas should be rearranged to fit with the 2m rules. Where 2m is not possible, 1m+ is allowed if extra mitigation measures are put in place. For example, dining tables and chairs should be 2m apart from each other (on all sides) or 1m+ with protective screens around them. Businesses should also think about liaising with neighbouring businesses and Southampton City Council on managing outside queues.

Managing Numbers
As current Government guidance states that only two households can be together at any one time in indoor or outdoor settings, or up to six people can meet if, from more than two households, businesses should restrict the number of people at a table at any time help adhere to these rules. Those from separate households should still be socially distancing.

Venues could utilise booking systems to manage numbers and keep capacity at a safe level. Making pre-booking mandatory (online and/or telephone bookings) will also assist with data collection and help to remove issues with queuing to enter your venue.

Handling food
When handling food, businesses can refer to the Food Standard Agency’s website which has information on reopening and adapting food businesses. This guidance is advised to be used in conjunction with the above Government guidelines. There are pages on cleaning effectively in your business, food safety for food delivery and a reopening checklist.

Minimising Contact
Businesses should find ways to minimise contact between customers and staff members. This could be done through the use of an ordering app, encouraging customers to pre-order online, having specific areas or zones for kitchen workers and limiting times at counters or collection points.

Guidance for other sectors

In addition to the above, the Government has released new working safely guidance for the other sectors that are allowed to open from 4 July as well as sectors who will be allowed to open from 13 and 25 July. Below are links to each guide; some organisations may need to refer to more than one:

The Visitor Economy – including accommodation providers and indoor and outdoor attractions
Hotels and Other Guest Accommodation – to be read in conjunction with the Visitor Economy guidance
Heritage Locations – including heritage attractions and various places/businesses that happen to be in a historic building setting

Close Contact Services – including hairdressers/barbershops and from 13 July, beauty salons, tattooists, spas, massage studios and nail bars. High-risk face to face services such as facial waxing, eyelash treatments or facials are not permitted.

Providers of grassroots sport and gym/leisure facilities – From 25 July, indoor gyms, fitness studios, pools and leisure facilities will be able to open providing the correct measures are in place.

Risk Assessments

For all industries and businesses wishing to reopen they must complete a risk assessment. The Health and Safety Executive has produced guidance to help you work safely / be COVID-secure and manage the risk associated with running your business at this time. Find the full guidance here. It is not mandatory but it is strongly advised that businesses display this official poster in their shop window once they have completed the necessary steps. This will help reassure your customers. Our rangers will also be distributing a COVID-secure poster which algins to the overall ‘Be Smart, Stay Apart’ branding for businesses to display. This is complementary to the official poster and should not replace it.

Eat Out to Help Out scheme

The Government’s Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme aims to support the hospitality sector during the pandemic by increasing covers on quieter days. Customers can receive 50% off when dining in from Monday – Wednesday throughout August. Businesses will have to register for the scheme and claim the money back through the Government. Full guidance on the scheme is available here, you can view some key information on our dedicated page here.

Southampton From Your SOfa

Many cultural venues remain unable to open, with significant challenges around adhering to social distancing guidelines in a commercially viable way. Working in partnership with a range of cultural partners across the city we’ve launched ‘Southampton From Your SOfa’ – a digital hub of online content to showcase the city’s cultural sector its positive economic impact.

Content is hosted on our Visit Southampton website and we’re currently working with four local artists to bring the campaign to life. We’ll also be sharing a partner toolkit in the coming weeks so any of our levy payers can help promote this initiative, view the Southampton From Your SOfa content here.

Our City Recovery Plan

We have now published our city centre recovery plan which recaps what we’ve done through lockdown to support our levy payers and outlines our current recovery activity and future plans. View the plan on our recovery page here. A printed version of the plan will be hand-delivered to our levy payers in the coming weeks.

Contact us

If you have any queries relating to the reopening of your business / the city centre, please contact or contact individual team members here.