COVID-19: Guidance & Advice

At GO! Southampton, we understand how hard things are for all our levy payers.

The coronavirus outbreak is putting tremendous pressure on any and every business in Southampton and it is not clear when things will get easier. We want our members to know that the BID team stands ready to support them in whatever way we can. We’re also helping the Council and others with their ongoing COVID-19 planning to support the City economy and businesses.

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. We also wrote to all levy payers on 18 March, with letters hand-delivered locally – see link below to view the full letter:

GO! Southampton’s COVID-19 Letter

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.

Recovery Support Survey 

As part of our recovery plan, a key aim is to support levy payers through the easing of lockdown measures and phased reopening of businesses. Working with Southampton City Council and following the latest Government announcements, we have created a short survey to help inform the support we and partners provide. Please fill out the survey here, closing date 15 June.

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. View our Visit Southampton blog, Southampton – Still Open for Business, for a list of stores still currently trading in the BID area.

For those companies who may be reopening, 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 8 different sectors, but businesses may need direction from multiple guides. Click here to see the full set of guidance.

Step two of the post lockdown plan suggests that non-essential retail businesses will begin to reopen in phases no earlier than 1 June.

On 25 May the Prime Minister announced the timeline for businesses to reopen in the coming weeks. From 1 June outdoor markets, garden centres and car showrooms will be able to open. On 15 June, all other non-essential business will be 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. 

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.

Step three indicates that other sectors including personal care (such as hairdressers and beauty salons), hospitality (e.g. food service providers, pubs and accommodation) public places (e.g. places of worship) and leisure facilities (such as cinemas) may begin to reopen no earlier than 1 July.

This phase of reopenings will involve careful phasing and piloting due to the higher risk nature of some of these businesses in terms of physical contact. The Government will establish a series of taskforces to work closely with stakeholders in these sectors to develop ways in which they can make these businesses and public places COVID-19 secure.

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
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?

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.

  • 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, our rangers are not currently working in the city, until further notice. The rangers@gosouthampton.co.uk email address will still be monitored so please continue to report any issues.
  • 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, Tyrone, 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.   

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 daily 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.

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