COVID-19: Guidance & Advice

As we are coming out of lockdown and into the recovery stages, we have created a new page for reopening and guidance for our members – view here.

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 info@gosouthampton.co.uk confirming you wish to subscribe.

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, although the gradual easing of lockdown means some of our members are now beginning to reopen, we know it will be a long, hard road to recovery for businesses. We want our members to know that the BID team will continue to support them in whatever way we can.

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 – read more here.

We’ve also published guidance for levy payers to help them with the safe reopening of their businesses, which you can view here.

Our City Centre 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.

Government’s Roadmap Out of Lockdown 

On Sunday 10 May, the Prime Minister addressed the nation, announcing his ‘first sketch of a roadmap for reopening society’, which included a new five-point COVID alert system to monitor the current threat level in the UK, and a three-step plan for the gradual easing of restrictions in the coming days, weeks and months, outlining what may begin to change, and the earliest date each step could start from. Subsequently, on Monday 11 May, more detailed information was published – read the 60 page document here, or summarised public guidance here

Business closures and the three-step plan

Previous measures meant that all non-essential businesses were to close, enforceable by law with some exceptions of supermarkets, health shops, pharmacies, post offices and banks. On 25 May the Prime Minister announced the timeline for businesses to reopen in the coming months as follows:

  • From 1 June outdoor markets, garden centres and car showrooms were able to open.
  • On 15 June, all other non-essential businesses were able to reopen providing they follow the COVID secure guidelines. These non-essential businesses include shops that sell clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, homeware and electronics, plus mobile phone stores, betting shops and chemists. 

From July 4, many other sectors will be able to reopen providing they adhere to the COVID-secure guidance. These include:

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

Close proximity venues will not be able to reopen from 4 July and must await further guidance from the Government. This includes nightclubs, nail bars, beauty salons, massage and tattoo parlours, casinos, soft-play areas, indoor gyms, swimming pools, water parks, bowling alleys and spas. If businesses are unsure as to whether they can open, they can see the full guidance here.

It is still however advised that if employers can work from home they should continue to do so but if they cannot they should try to avoid public transport to travel to work and walk, cycle or drive instead.

For those companies who may be reopening in the coming weeks, new ‘COVID-19 secure’ guidelines are now available to help businesses get up and running and workplaces operating as safely as possible. The guidance is based on five key points:

1. Work from home, if you can
2. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions
3. Maintain 2 metres social distancing, wherever possible
4. Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, manage transmission risk
5. Reinforcing cleaning processes

The guides focus on 12 different sectors, but businesses may need direction from multiple guides. Click here to see the full set of guidance.

What support is available to businesses?

Council update – business rates relief & grant funding

In line with support measures announced by the Government, as of 27 March the systems are now in place and the support schemes are now live for Southampton City Council to deliver business rates relief and grant funding to local businesses in the city as follows:

  • 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 business.rates@southampton.gov.uk
  • Small Business Grant Funding – 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 – 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 – 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. Applications close on Friday 3 July, apply online here.
Government support 

The Government has now launched a dedicated business support website as part of its coronavirus response – view it here. Support measures announced to date by the Government include:

  • 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). The scheme will be backdated to 1 March 2020 and has been extended until October 2020. Employers can apply for this now by going here. From August companies may have to start paying a percentage of the scheme to the Government in return for furloughed employers to be allowed to return to work part-time. Read more here.
  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme: 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: 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: 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.
  • Self-Employment Income Support Scheme: to help self-employed people to receive a grant of 80% of average monthly trading profits. Find out if you’re eligible and apply here.
  • VAT payments deferred for the period from 20 March to 30 June 2020. This is an automatic offer for all UK businesses, with no applications required. Read more
  • A statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs. Read more
  • A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England. 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
  • A three-month extension to the deadline for companies to file their annual accounts. 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.

What is GO! Southampton doing to help?

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.

In the coming weeks will we be 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 info@gosouthampton.co.uk and we can add it to our channels.

Communications
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. To register for updates, email info@gosouthampton.co.uk confirming you wish to subscribe. We also wrote to members on 18 March – you can view the letter here.

  • If your business is beginning to offer a delivery or takeaway service, creating online events or resources or have a promotion you would like to promote to your customers then email us on content@gosouthampton.co.uk .We can promote these on our Visit Southampton social media channels and on our blog.
  • If your business would like to offer an exclusive discount or rate for our BID members and levy payers then we can display these on our members area and through our GO! Southampton online communications (newsletter and social). Email us on content@gosouthampton.co.uk
  • If you have a listing on the Visit Southampton website and would like to amend the entry or update your opening times please email content@gosouthampton.co.uk
  • If you have an event listed on the Visit Southampton website which has now been cancelled or postponed please edit the listing. Please note events scheduled to take place before 30 June are now being removed from the events listings as default. If you have any queries or need assistance please email events@list.co.uk
  • Get updates on our own programme of business events here
  • For social media updates, please follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter

Rangers, Security and Cleaning 

  • Our ranger team – in light of current Government measures, Gabriella and Debbi have returned to work from 1 July. To report any issues you can contact them at rangers@gosouthampton.co.uk
  • 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. Their hours are currently 12pm-8pm daily, and their duties now include vehicle patrols. They can be contacted on 07725 737236.  
  • Our cleaners – Martin, Robert 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 cleaning@gosouthampton.co.uk

If your business remains open or is set to reopen (in line with Government guidance), please let us know at info@gosouthampton.co.uk so we can ensure our patrolling teams and police colleagues are aware and able to offer support.

Other services 

  • 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 contacting Southampton City Council Commercial Waste Team on 023 8083 4325 or by email commercial.waste@southampton.gov.uk  
  • Save money on your core business services (telecoms, energy, water, merchant fees) via our independent Business Costs Saving scheme. Any savings go directly to you. To start cutting your costs and saving money, Meercat Associates (who work on behalf of GO! Southampton) will simply need a copy of your recent bills, which will be analysed in confidence. To find out more, ring 01444 416529 or email savings@meercatassociates.com.  
  • The National BID Buying Group, operated by Meercat, are offering a PPE framework of suppliers and prices especially for their members. As GO! Southampton work on a joint procurement scheme with Meercat, all of our levy payers are able to access these prices on PPE supplies for their business. The National BID Buying Group have researched into the correct PPE and have only provided suppliers that meet the full specifications and/or have provided certificates. This means that by buying through them your business will have the right PPE keeping both your employers and customers safe. View the pricelist and enquiry form here.

Contact us
Email info@gosouthampton.co.uk or find contact details for individual team members here.

Other useful information

You can also subscribe for the Government’s email updates here or find out about its WhatsApp service here.

Government Briefings
The Government are currently holding televised press conferences. They tend to happen sometime between 4pm and 6pm. If you miss one, you can catch up on BBC iPlayer.

Southampton City Council
– Visit www.southampton.gov.uk/coronavirus for the Council’s latest information.
– View specific updates about Business rates here.
– Subscribe to the Council’s business e-newsletter here.

For information from the Council about the process for receiving business rates relief or how to apply for grant funding, see the Council update section further up the page.

Other useful links:
Arts Council Funding – view more information here.
HJS Human Resources – ‘Managing staff matters’ blog
Visit Britain / Visit England – advice for tourism & event businesses
Paris Smith LLP – legal advice and guidance
ACAS – advice on employment issues
ACS – guidance on offering home delivery services

Useful social feeds to follow:
Public Health England
World Health Organization
Southampton City Council
NHS UK

Our previous email bulletins are listed below, if you would like to hear from up on future updates please email us on info@gosouthampton.co.uk.

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