COVID-19: Guidance & Advice

As of 5 November 2020, all non-essential businesses must remain closed until at least 2 December 2020 due to the national lockdown. For the full guidance on Government restrictions please go 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 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. P

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 has been hand-delivered to our levy payers in the coming weeks.

The team have also compiled an Autumn newsletter which gives an update on many of the projects featured in the recovery plan along with other BID news. These are currently being hand-delivered to members, view it online here.

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 4 July, other sectors in hospitality, leisure, close contact services and tourism were able to reopen provided they adhere to COVID-secure guidance.
  • If businesses are unsure as to whether they can open, they can see the full guidance here.  Newest guidance from Government advises that if employees can work from home they should continue to do so.

New ‘Working safely during coronavirus‘ guidance is available 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. 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

Please note, businesses must also adhere to the ‘rule of six‘, hospitality venues must close at 10pm and many sectors must by law support the Test and Trace service/NHS COVID-19 app through data collection. Read what has changed here.

What support is available to businesses?

Council update – business rates relief & grant funding
  • Local Restrictions Support Grant scheme – 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. For more information and how to apply go here.
  • 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:

  • 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 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 was set to close on 31 October 2020 but has now been extended until March 2021. Employers will only need to pay National Insurance and pension contributions. The scheme will be review in January 2021. To find out more go 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.
  • The Government will extend the 15% VAT cut for the hospitality and tourism industry until March 2021. On top of this, 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
  • 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

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?

Please see our November Lockdown Planto find out which projects we have been working on to support our businesses and the wider city during the November lockdown and into the winter months. You can also see our City Centre Recovery Plan and Autumn Newsletter to read how GO! Southampton has been supporting the city since March. 

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, coinciding with the Council pedestrianising three sections of road in that area for an initial six month period from 21 August. To find out more head to out dedicated #SouthamptonInsideOut page here.

We’ve Missed You SO Much marketing campaign
In August, 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 has 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. We encourage our levy payers to help us increase the campaign’s reach and effectiveness by sharing content through their own channels (thank you to those who have already supported). To access the campaign toolkit or for more information please email and you can view the campaign page here. Campaign part-funded by the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

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

  • If your business is offering 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 .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
  • 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
  • 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 Debbi has returned to work from 1 July. To report any issues you can contact them 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. Their hours are currently 12pm-8pm daily, and their duties now include vehicle patrols. 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

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
  • 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 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.

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

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

Our previous email bulletins are listed below, if you would like to hear from up on future updates please email us on

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