Official guidance from UK government


For the latest information and advice, UK employers and business owners should visit the official guidance for employers and businesses. Businesses should check for daily updates and subscribe to receive email alerts to ensure they are acting on the most up to date information.

Step-by-step plan announced to ease restrictions in England

The Prime Minister, Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, announced to Parliament on Monday 22 February, the government’s roadmap to cautiously ease lockdown restrictions in England.

It published a four-step roadmap to ease restrictions across England and provide a route back to a more normal way of life. Before taking each step, the Government will review the latest data on the impact of the previous step, against four tests on vaccines, infection rates and new coronavirus variants to be met at each stage:

  • Step 1— no earlier than 8 March* - return to face-to-face education in schools and colleges; the Stay-at-Home requirement will remain, but people can leave home for recreation outdoors such as a coffee or picnic with their household or support bubble, or with one person outside their household. Further limited changes from 29 March, the Stay-at-Home order will end, although many lockdown restrictions will remain, Rule of six or two households outdoors allowed; outdoor sport and leisure facilities open, organised outdoor sport allowed.

  • Step 2 – no earlier than 12 April* - Non-essential retail and personal care open; hospitality outdoors open; indoor leisure (gyms and swimming pools) open and self-contained holiday accommodation open. Event pilots begin.

  • Step 3 - no earlier than 17 May* – Gatherings of over 30 people remain illegal; outdoor performances such as outdoor cinemas, and outdoor theatres can reopen. Indoors, the rule of 6 or 2 households will apply; indoor hospitality, entertainment venues such as cinemas and soft play areas, the rest of the accommodation sector, and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes will also reopen. International travel will be subject to review.

  • Step 4 – no earlier than 21 June* – No legal limits on social contact, reopening the remaining closed settings like Nightclubs, and larger events, no legal limit on all live events (all subject to review).

The decision on each stage will be based on data not dates, and government will move cautiously to keep infection rates under control. The roadmap can be found in full here.

* Earliest possible date

National lockdown in England

On 4 January, the Prime Minister announced a national lockdown in England. Further guidance and information available here.

Leaving home

You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. You may leave the home to:

  • shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person

  • go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home

  • exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.

  • meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one

  • seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)

  • attend education or childcare - for those eligible

Colleges, primary and secondary schools will remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term. Early Years settings remain open.

Higher Education provision will remain online until mid February for all except future critical worker courses.

If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay local in the village, town, or part of the city where you live. You may leave your local area for a legally permitted reason, such as for work.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential. You should not attend work

Meeting others

  • You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with (if you are legally permitted to form one).

  • You may exercise on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble.

  • You should not meet other people you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, unless for a permitted reason.

  • Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household.

Please note that there are different restrictions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


Guidance and support for business

Coronavirus Business Support

A full range of business support measures are available to UK businesses and employees. This page helps businesses find out how to access support schemes, who is eligible and how to apply.

The UK government's Coronavirus business support hub brings together key information for business.

Working safely during Coronavirus

The government has updated the guidance for businesses on working safely during Coronavirus. In consultation with industry, this guidance has been produced to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible. There are 8 guides which cover a range of different types of work. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe.

Further guidance for employers and businesses including:

Once you have carried out a risk assessment you should display this notice in your workplace to show that you have complied with the guidance on managing the risk of Coronavirus.


Education and Skills

Further and Higher Education

Higher education restructuring regime

  • A scheme for higher education providers in England facing financial difficulties as a result of coronavirus

Apprenticeships

Advice for visa customers who need to apply for a passport

  • Advice for visa customers and applicants in the UK, visa customers outside of the UK and British nationals overseas who need to apply for a passport and who are affected by travel restrictions associated with Coronavirus.

The Skills Toolkit

The Skills Toolkit is a free online learning platform to boost workplace skills during the Coronavirus outbreak and beyond.


Transport and Travel

National restrictions

If you live in England, you cannot travel overseas or within the UK, unless for work, education or other legally permitted reasons. For details, and for information on restrictions in other parts of the UK, check:

As well as following national restrictions, you must not travel if you have been advised that you must self isolate by the NHS test and trace service:

You should not travel if you:

  • are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms or have in the last 7 days

  • are self-isolating as a result of coronavirus symptoms

  • are sharing a household or support bubble with somebody who has experienced coronavirus symptoms in the last 14 days

If anyone in your household or support bubble, where relevant, has symptoms of coronavirus you should self-isolate.Face coverings mandatory on public transport and indoor transport hub
Face coverings must be worn in additional enclosed public spaces in England. In England you must wear a face covering by law in the following settings:

public transport

indoor transport hubs

shops and supermarkets

indoor shopping centres

banks, building societies, and post offices.

Transport operators can deny access to their public transport services if a passenger is not wearing a face covering, or direct them to wear one or leave a service if they are not wearing a face covering. Face coverings are not mandatory for anyone under the age of 11 or those with disabilities or certain health conditions. Review the list of face covering exemptions and share with your members. See further guidance and details of the legislation from the College of Policing.Passengers using public transport are required to wear a face covering across all public transport. This applies to trains, buses, trams, ferries and planes.

Guidance for aviation operators and safer air travel guidance for passengers

  • Department for Transport publishes COVID-secure aviation guidance to support operators and passengers.

  • Guidance for passengers and workers includes advice on wearing face coverings, checking in all baggage and creating safe work spaces.

  • When it is safe for restrictions on travel to be lifted, guidance will help the sector to protect staff and passengers.

Advice for UK employers and employees


Trade

‘Bounce back’ plan for agriculture, food and drink industry launched

  • A ‘bounce back’ plan of trade measures for the agriculture, food and drink industry was announced on 22 June to help support businesses that have been impacted by Coronavirus.

Trade Credit Insurance backed by £10 billion guarantee

  • On 4 June, the UK government announced guarantees of up to £10 billion to Trade Credit Insurance schemes for business-to-business transactions.

  • The measures will support thousands of businesses by protecting against customer defaults or payment delays

  • The scheme is available on a temporary basis for nine months, backdated to 1 April 2020, and available insurers operating in the UK market.

Force Majeure Certificates

These are certificates attesting the existence of force majeure circumstances i.e. circumstances beyond the control of the applicant such as fire, flood, industrial disputes, or in present circumstances, a pandemic. Please note that we can only certify factual details that can be evidenced. We cannot comment as to whether or not Force Majeure applies or argue such claims on behalf of the applicant. It is the responsibility of the applicant to claim Force Majeure and the issuing body’s role is to provide a certificate in support of such claim.

Delaying import duty payments as a result of Coronavirus

HMRC has released guidance on how to request an extension to the payment period for import duty/import VAT payments. Deferment is not automatic and requires immediate action.

Duty deferment account holders - Duty deferment account holders who are experiencing severe financial difficulty as a result of Coronavirus and who are unable to make payment of deferred customs duties and import VAT due on 15 April 2020 can contact HMRC for approval to enter into an extended period to make full or partial payment, without having their guarantee called upon or their deferment account suspended. The account holder should contact the Duty Deferment Office 03000 594243 or by email cdoenquiries@hmrc.gov.uk or the Coronavirus helpline on 0800 024 1222. Account holders will be asked to provide an explanation of how Coronavirus has impacted their business finances and cash flow.

Duty Deferment account holders will be able to use their accounts during the extended payment period agreed unless they default on a subsequent payment in that period, in which case HMRC may consider suspending their account. The outstanding payment will not affect their duty deferment limit so they will not need to increase their guarantee to cover the outstanding payment. Where HMRC agree to an extended payment period, interest will not be charged on the outstanding payments provided they are paid in full by the agreed date.

Duty/import VAT payments not covered by a duty deferment account - Registered Importers who pay cash or an equivalent and are facing severe financial difficulties as a direct result of Coronavirus can contact HMRC to request an extension to the payment deadline at the time the payment is due. They will be asked to provide an explanation of how Coronavirus has impacted on their business finances. HMRC will consider this request and decide whether or not to agree an additional time to pay. The decision will be taken on a case-by-case basis and could be refused.

If the request is approved the conditions, including the length of time offered, will depend upon the importer’s individual circumstances and may require the holding of a guarantee for the period of the time extension. We cannot offer this facility to non-registered importers. For further information, please contact the Customs Debt Policy inbox.

Maintaining the flow of trade at the Border

In order to maintain the flow of trade at the border during the current COVID-19 outbreak, Border Control Posts (BCP) may temporarily accept scanned or electronic copies of health certification from competent authorities or operators in some specific scenarios/circumstances in relation to:

  • Third country imports - products of animal origin (POAO) including fish and fishery products for human consumption. It does not include those derived from porcine origin, animal by-products (ABP) other than unprocessed ABPs of porcine origin and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin (HRFNAO). It does not apply to germinal product and live animals (other than live fish).

  • Intra-EU trade - this measure applies to Intra Trade Animal Health Certificates (ITAHCs) and journey logs for livestock imports. Official Veterinarians (OVs) in the UK may also issue ITAHCs and journey logs for livestock exports from the UK to the EU, submitted on TRACES (if applicable) and via email to EU member states.

Any measures taken are only for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak. Please refer to gov.uk for wider COVID-19 guidance or speak directly to the relevant BCP for further clarification and if you have questions about a particular import.

Coronavirus: Export Controls and Licences

In this 1-hour webinar, representatives from the Institute of Export & International Trade’s Export Control Profession and the Department for International Trade’s Export Control Joint Unit cover:

  • Continuation of UK export licensing during the pandemic;

  • EU controls relating to PPE and medical supplies and how they apply to UK;

  • Worldwide controls on PPE and medical supplies;

  • Importance for Export Control staff to communicate with their companies and supply chains;

  • The response of the IOE&IT and the Export Control Profession to the crisis.

Covid-19: Export Controls and Licences - YouTube