COVID-19: advice and guidance

England has moved to Plan B in response to the risks of the Omicron variant.

This means:
– Face coverings are now required by law in most indoor settings
– Office workers who can work from home should do so
– Certain venues and events are required by law to check all visitors aged 18 years or over are fully vaccinated, have proof of a negative test in the last 48 hours, or have an exemption

Plan B is due to expire on Wednesday 26 January subject to a review.

For more details on what you can or cannot do, check the Government website HERE.


The self-isolation advice for people with coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed, further information HERE.

Advice from the NHS
Official guidance on the NHS Test and Trace service for employers, businesses and workers is available HERE.

Businesses need to ensure a safe and well-structured environment for their staff and customers. Bristol Covid Marshals will continue to visit businesses to provide support and guidance.

Latest Covid-19 Secure Government guidance links

  • Shops & branches – HERE
  • Close contact services – HERE
  • Gyms – HERE
  • Guidance for people who work in or run restaurants offering takeaway or delivery services – HERE
  • Guidance for maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace –HERE
  • Create a coronavirus NHS QR code for your business

Everyone should remain cautious

It’s important to stay cautious, and help protect yourself and others:
– If you think you might have COVID-19 symptoms, take a PCR test and stay home
– Wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds with soap
– Wear a face covering in crowded places and public transport
– Get vaccinated, book an appointment HERE


Support for businesses most impacted by the Omicron variant
On Tuesday 21 December, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced £1 billion in support for businesses most impacted by Omicron across the UK.

  • Businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises, plus more than £100 million discretionary funding will be made available for local authorities to support other businesses
  • Government will also cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK
  • £30 million further funding will be made available through the Culture Recovery Fund, enabling more cultural organisations in England to apply for support during the winter

Further information HERE.

Business Rate discounts
Business Rate discount for Retail, Leisure and Hospitality – HERE
Business Rate discount for Small Businesses – HERE

Temporary VAT cut
The temporary VAT cut – from 20% to 5% – for certain sectors like hospitality and tourism, it will remain until the end of September 2021, followed by a 12.5% rate for a further six months until 31 March 2022.

NHS Test and Trace Support Payment scheme
How to get a payment of £500 if you are on a low income and lose income due to self-isolating or looking after a child or young person who has to – HERE

Recovery Loan Scheme – HERE

Bristol City Council business support
Visit the Bristol City Council website Covid-19 page.
If you have any questions about COVID-19, or businesses challenges, please email Responses will take a maximum of 7 days.
The Bristol City Council business newsletters are a great resource for insights, ideas and support, we would also highly recommend that you subscribe to receive them.


Watch out for scam text messages about business grants
Scam messages are being sent offering grants to businesses. The messages start with GOV.UK and end with and include a link to make a claim. Please do not click on the links!
To report any instances, please email and the details will be forwarded to the relevant teams.

Empty premises
Crime prevention advice for empty commercial premises


Businesses continue to face tough challenges and many people are struggling with the uncertainties brought about from the pandemic. There are many mental health support tools available to businesses and individuals. More info HERE.

The Thrive at Work programme, developed by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), offer free e-learning courses for Managers. ‘Managing Mental Health at Work’ is designed for SMEs (with a maximum headcount of 250) to equip their managers with the confidence and skills to have supportive conversations with their staff about mental health and wellbeing, particularly in these challenging times. Developed in partnership with Mind, the leading mental health charity, the course is free to access (funded by WECA) for SMEs in the West of England.