COVID-19: Guidance & Advice

At GO! Southampton, we understand how hard things are for all our levy payers. The coronavirus outbreak has put tremendous pressure on any and every business in Southampton and we know it will be a long, hard road to recovery for businesses after what we hope is the third and final lockdown. We want our members to know that the BID team will continue to support them in whatever way we can.

On this page you’ll find the latest information about our services and how to contact us, as well as useful COVID-19 links and key updates in terms of support for businesses in these unprecedented times.

In addition to this webpage, we’re sending weekly email bulletins with the latest updates – to sign up to receive these please contact confirming you wish to subscribe.

Latest Government guidance

On 22 February 2021, the Prime Minister announced the roadmap for recovery and how lockdown restrictions are set to be eased over the coming months. We have summarised the four steps below in terms of businesses reopening, see the full ‘COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021’ here.

Step 1 – 8 March

  • Universities can reopen for teaching practical courses
  • You should continue to work from home if you can

Step 2 – 12 April

  • Non-essential retail, personal care (hairdressers, nail salons) and indoor leisure facilities (gyms) can reopen
  • Public buildings and outdoor attractions (libraries, theme-parks, zoos) can reopen
  • Hospitality venues can serve customers outside for table service only (no curfew of ‘substantial’ meal rule)
  • You should continue to work from home if you can
  • For all the above venues must be COVID-secure to open and social distancing/face covering rules apply

Step 3 – 17 May

  • Indoor hospitality can reopen with table service only (no curfew of ‘substantial’ meal)
  • Indoor attractions/venues (cinemas, theatre, museums) and accommodation sect can reopen
  • Performances can take place indoors at 1,000 people or half-capacity (whichever is lower) and outdoors with 4,000 or half full (whichever is lower)
  • You should continue to work from home, if you can
  • For all the above venues must be COVID-secure to open and social distancing/face covering rules apply

Step 4 – 21 June

  • Government hopes to remove all legal limits on social contact
  • All other businesses will be able to reopen including nightclubs
  • Restrictions will be eased on large events/performances as mentioned in Step 3

*Please note that each of these steps will be at least five weeks apart to allow time for scientific data to show the effects of the previous step on the infections rates. Each step will be reviewed against these four tests:

  • The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully
  • Data shows that vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisation and death in people who are vaccinated
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisation which would put unstainable pressure on the NHS
  • The risk assessment is not changed by new variants of concern

Reopening guidance for businesses

As per Step 4 of the roadmap out of lockdown, all previous restrictions will be lifted as of 19 July 2021. The ‘Working safely during coronavirus‘ guidance has been updated to help businesses get up and running and workplaces operating as safely as possible. The guides focus on 12 different sectors, but businesses may need direction from multiple guides. Click here to see the full set of guidance.

You can also head to our reopening page here for some further guidance for specific sectors.

What support is available to businesses?

Council update – business rates relief & grant funding
  • Restart Grant Scheme – A new £5billion Restart Grant Scheme for businesses will replace old grant schemes. One-off grants of up to £6,000 for non-essential retail and up to £18,000 for hospitality, leisure, personal care and gyms. For more information including more specific eligibility and where to apply go to the council’s website here.
  • Lockdown Grant Scheme (CLOSED)– One-off grants of up to £9,000 per property will be awarded to help businesses throughout the spring. Read more here, more details to follow.
  • Local Restrictions Support Grant scheme (CLOSED) – businesses who have been forced to closed due to national restrictions can apply for the Local Restrictions Support Grant scheme through the Southampton City Council website to receive grants of between £1,000 and £3,000, depending on rateable value. Businesses who are closed but are providing takeaway/delivery services are still eligible for the grant.
  • Business Rates for Retail, Hospitality, Leisure – businesses in the retail,  hospitality and leisure sectors will not have to pay business rates for the 2020-21 tax year. This reduction will be applied automatically to businesses’ bills by 1 April. If businesses have not received an amended bill by 3 April 2020 they should email
  • Small Business Grant Funding (CLOSED) – the Government is providing additional funding to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR). This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs. Businesses can find out more and apply here
  • Cash Grant for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure (CLOSED)– businesses in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector will receive a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property. Businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000. Businesses with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000. Businesses can find out more and apply here
  • Local Authority Discretionary Grant Fund (CLOSED) – The scheme is offering grants of up to £10,000 to micro and small businesses who are not eligible for other Government grants. The Council will give priority to some business and will base their decision on local economic needs as well as the businesses turnover, number of employers and fixed property costs. This fund has now closed.
Government support 

The Government has a dedicated business support website as part of its coronavirus response – view it here. Support measures announced to date by the Government include the following (most recent and live schemes first):

  • Recovery Loan Scheme – A new Recovery Loan Scheme to allow businesses of any size to apply for loans from £25,001 to £10million. If you have already received previous support through COVID-19 guaranteed loan schemes you can still apply for the Recovery Loan Scheme. The amount and length of the loan available will depend on the type of finance you apply for and the lender. For the list of accredited lenders go to the British Business Bank website here.
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme:  businesses can claim up to 80% of furloughed workers’ wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month (per employee). This scheme will be extended until 30 September 2021 and employees will continue to receive 80% of their salary for hours not worked. The Government will ask for a contribution of 10% in July and 20% in August and September from employers as businesses begin to reopen. To find out more go here.
  • Business rates relief –The 100% business rate relief will be extended until the end of June 2021 and the remainder of the tax year will be reduced by two thirds. This is a £6billion tax cut for businesses. Read more here.
  • Self-Employment Income Support Scheme: to help self-employed people to receive a grant of 80% of average monthly trading profits. The scheme will continue until 30 September 2021 and 600,000 more workers will be eligible provided they filed a tax return in 2019/2020. Find out if you’re eligible and apply here.
  • VAT reduction – The Government will extend the 15% VAT cut for the hospitality and tourism industry until 30 September 2021 and an interim rate of 12.5% for another six months until April 2022. The New Payment Scheme will allow businesses who deferred their VAT bill to pay it back in smaller interest-free instalments (throughout 2021-22) rather than one lump sum payment at the end of March 2021. Read more here.
  • Help To Grow’ support for SMEs –A UK wide ‘Help to Grow’ programme to help small businesses develop digital and management skills by providing world-class training. The programme will be set up by Autumn 2021 but businesses can register their interest here.
  • Apprenticeship incentives – Incentives for hiring new apprenticeships, regardless of age, will increase to £3,000. Read more here.
  • Please note this scheme has been postponed until further notice. The Job Support Scheme: With the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough scheme) coming to an end on 31 October, a new Job Support Scheme has been announced, coming into effect from 1 November 2020 for six months. Under the new scheme, designed to support businesses and keep staff employed whilst demand may be low during the winter, employees working at least 20% of their usual hours will have some of their remaining wages topped up. All hours worked by an employee must be paid in full by the employer. Of the employee’s hours not worked, 5% will be paid by the employer and 66.67% by the Government. Find out more here. 
  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLOSED): offers loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank – the interest-free period on these loans has been extended to 12 months. Read more
  • Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLOSED): helps support larger firms with an annual turnover of £45m or more. The scheme will be available through a series of accredited lenders, which are listed on the British Business Bank website here. To apply for this scheme go here.
  • Bounce Back Loan Scheme (CLOSED): much like the above offering small businesses up to £50,000 through a Government-backed loan from accredited lenders. Find out how to apply here.
  • A statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs. Read more
  • A new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans. Read more
  • The HMRC Time To Pay Scheme. Read more
  • A ban on evictions for commercial tenants who miss rent payments. Read more

For more details and the very latest information about specific support for businesses click here. Sign up for the Government’s specific business support email bulletins here.
You can read the full set of measures announced by the Chancellor in the 2021 budget on the Government website here.

What is GO! Southampton doing to help?

City centre recovery plan
Our city-centre recovery plan recaps what we did from the first lockdown in March 2020 until December 2020 to support our levy payers, outlines our current recovery activity and future plans. View the plan on our recovery page here. A printed version of the plan was hand-delivered to our levy payers. In September we distributed our Autumn Newsletter – you can view it here.

Covid-19 Winter Plan
During the second lockdown in November, the team worked hard to adjust our priorities and projects to ensure they align with supporting levy payers during November and into Christmas. You can view the plan here. In December, before Christmas our team delivered our Winter Newsletter – you can view it here.

Spring Reopening 2021 Plan
You can view our latest city centre reopening plan here, to read more about the services and projects we are implementing to help with businesses and the overall city’s recovery.

City Reopening and Guidance for Members
We’ve been working closely with the Council to prepare for the city’s reopening, with initiatives including installing floor markers outside of stores to assist with queue management and increased pedestrianisation to aid social distancing.

You can also head to our reopening page here for some further guidance for specific sectors.

Southampton Inside Out
We’ve been working in partnership with Southampton City Council and other stakeholders on Southampton Inside Out, a new initiative to create more opportunities for outdoor dining in the city. The project includes a pilot scheme in Bedford Place/Carlton Place which launched in August 2020. To find out more head to our dedicated #SouthamptonInsideOut page here.

We’ve Missed You SO Much marketing campaign
In August 2020, in partnership with Southampton City Council, we launched a new Visit Southampton marketing campaign ‘We’ve Missed You SO Much’, welcoming people back to the city. The campaign targets those living in and around Hampshire who are familiar with Southampton and encourages them to return to the city, offering reassurance that it’s a safe place to visit and ‘still the same at heart’. Promotion included digital display and Facebook advertising, outdoor media, radio advertising, print ads and a leaflet door drop distribution, as well as the production of a campaign video. Campaign part-funded by the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

On 12 April, in line with Step 2 of the Government’s roadmap, we reignited the We’ve Missed You SO Much campaign with a new look and feel. We will continue our work on encouraging local residents and workers back into a safe city centre. This campaign will include digital and physical advertising including a leaflet delivered to every household in Southampton (117,000). We would love for all of our partners, stakeholders and businesses to help amplify the reopening messaging and share our assets across your channels (web, social and email). You can download our partner toolkit here which has a number of the ‘We’ve Missed You SO Much – Welcome Back’ assets to use. If you are able to point to our main landing page the URL is

New to the campaign, we have created additional ‘We’re SO Open’ social media assets specifically for businesses who can open from 12 April (retail, outdoor hospitality, health, beauty) to share on their channels. We have created two versions, a lighter ‘daytime’ version and a purple ‘nighttime’ version which may be more fitting for the night-time economy/hospitality venues. Please tag Visit Southampton in your content and we can reshare your messaging.  Download the toolkit here.

Southampton From your SOfa
GO! Southampton has been working closely with cultural partners across the city to bring together a new campaign entitled Southampton from your SOfa. Utilising our B2C Visit Southampton platforms we have been working in collaboration to enable businesses in the city who are currently closed due to Government guidelines, be able to connect with their audiences online. The webpage features a whole host of activities, talks, gigs, concerts, interviews, exhibitions, webinars and more which sit within the arts, music, theatre, heritage and other cultural sectors. We understand the importance of the cultural sector in the city. Not only the vibrancy it brings, but also the positive impacts from an economic perspective.

We are promoting the page across our Visit Southampton social channels and would love if your business could get behind us and share our content. Please use the #SotonFromYourSOfa in any posts or communications. If your business is offering something that would fit into one of the categories on our pages then get in touch with us on and we can add it to our channels.

We are working with Southampton City Council to ensure that businesses receive the best possible information on the current situation. We will be sending out regular email bulletins to all businesses on our database. As of May 2021, we have sent 63 business bulletins to our members. To register for updates, email confirming you wish to subscribe. We also wrote to members on 18 March 2020 – you can view the letter here.


  • If you are a consumer-facing business get in touch with us at  and we can discuss ways we can help promote your business on our Visit Southampton channels.
  • If you would like to provide an offer to the SO card please email Flo at Find out more about the SO card here.
  • If you have a listing on the Visit Southampton website and would like to amend the entry or update your opening times please email
  • If you have an event listed on the Visit Southampton website which has now been cancelled or postponed please edit the listing. If you have any queries or need assistance please email
  • If you are a B2B business, we can also promote your event, service, offer or new through our GO! Southampton social media channels. Email us at
  • For social media updates, please follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter

Our Services 

  • Our ranger team – Debbi is continuing to support open businesses and reporting any environmental issues. You can contact Debbi at
  • Our security team will continue to patrol the BID area to support those essential retailers who remain open. They are helping to prevent and deter crime and anti-social behaviour, including working with Hampshire Constabulary to minimise the risk of commercial burglaries. As of 1 April 2021, the security team will be working 10am- 8pm Monday to Saturday and 11am – 5pm Sunday – and increase of 32 hours per week to help further support businesses. They can be contacted on 07725 737236.  
  • Our cleaners – Martin and Jim – will continue to provide extra cleansing services to our members, including jetwashing and graffiti removal. The team will now be focussing on spraying public furniture including benches, bins and fingerposts with disinfectant across the city centre. You can reach them via email at
  • We have recently launched our new waste recycling service with Southampton City Council. You can save up to 50% off your dry mixed recycling costs.  You can sign up or find out more by

Contact us
Email or find contact details for individual team members here.

Other useful information

Southampton City Council
– Visit for the Council’s latest information.
– Subscribe to the Council’s business e-newsletter here.
Our previous email bulletins are listed below, if you would like to hear from up on future updates please email us on

13 May 2021

6 May 2021

29 April 2021

22 April 2021

15 April 2021

8 April 2021

1 April 2021

25 March 2021

18 March 2021

11 March 2021

4 March 2021

25 February 2021

18 February 2021

11 February 2021

4 February 2021

28 January 2021

21 January 2021

14 January 2021

7 January 2021

17 December 2020

10 December 2020

03 December 2020

Winter 2020 Newsletter

26 November 2020

19 November 2020

12 November 2020

03 November 2020

22 October 2020

08 October 2020

Autumn 2020 Newsletter

24 September 2020

27 August 2020

20 August 2020

13 August 2020

8 August 2020

30 July 2020

23 July 2020

16 July 2020

09 July 2020

02 July 2020

25 June 2020

18 June 2020

15 June 2020

11 June 2020

04 June 2020

28 May 2020

21 May 2020

13 May 2020

07 May 2020

30 April 2020

24 April 2020

21 April 2020

17 April 2020

15 April 2020

09 April 2020

06 April 2020

01 April 2020

27 March 2020

24 March 2020

23 March 2020

20 March 2020

18 March 2020