Coronavirus Update

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Businesses and Employers Bulletin – 25 March 2021

This bulletin is issued by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and provides the latest information for employers and businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19). All coronavirus business support information can be found at gov.uk/business-support

Check if you are eligible for a coronavirus Restart Grant

The Restart Grant scheme supports businesses in the non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure, personal care, and accommodation sectors with a one-off grant, to reopen safely as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Grants available from 1 April 2021 but applications can be submitted in advance.

Reopening safely as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted

Check how the rules will change on 29 March: Guidance has been updated to include a summary of changes to the rules in England from 29 March.

  • At this stage, some further settings will be permitted to open. This will include outdoor sports facilities and formally organised outdoor sport will also return. Indoor facilities, such as changing rooms, should not be used at this time, although toilet facilities can be accessed.
  • Businesses eligible to host childcare and supervised activities for children will be able to host all outdoor children’s activities, and outdoor parent-and child groups for up to 15 people (not counting those aged under five).

Full guidance on reopening business and venues in England can be found here.

You can read the ‘COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021’ for more information on the roadmap out of lockdown in England.

Working safely during Coronavirus: Guidance has been updated with a new shorter format focusing on actions to make your workplace COVID-secure and Step 1 of the roadmap out of lockdown.

Closing certain businesses and venues in England: Guidance that sets out restrictions on certain businesses and venues in England during National Lockdown has been updated.

New and updated guidance

Date extended for Possession of evictions by enforcement officers and notice to tenants in England

Guidance for landlords and tenants in the private and social rented sectors has been updated to reflect extension of date for prevention of evictions by enforcement officers in England to 31 May 2021 and confirmation of six months’ notice to tenants extended to 31 May 2021.

HMRC extended the time limit for notifying an option to tax land and buildings

Guidance has been updated to temporarily extend the time limit to 90 days from the date the decision to opt was made. This applies to decisions made between 15 February 2020 and 30 June 2021. For more information, click here.

Partially exempt VAT registered businesses

HMRC has released a brief outlining the accelerated process for VAT registered businesses to request temporary alterations to their partial exemption methods to reflect changes to their business practices because of the coronavirus pandemic. For more information on the brief, click here.

Find out about taxable expenses and benefits when they are paid to employees because of coronavirus and how to report them to HMRC

Guidance has been updated to reflect information about paying or refunding transport costs for employees.

Shielding advice for the clinically extremely vulnerable to stop from April

Clinically extremely vulnerable people in England are no longer advised to shield from Thursday 1 April 2021. For more information, click here.

Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme: claiming financial support Test and Trace Support Payment scheme updated to reflect that you can claim up to 42 days after the first day of your self-isolation period, and that the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme has been extended to parents and guardians who need to take time off work to care for a child who is self-isolating.

Travel

Update on red list travel ban Countries:

  • From 4am Friday 19 March, Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores) and Mauritius were removed from the red list travel ban countries;
  • From 4am Friday 19 March, Ethiopia, Oman, Qatar, and Somalia were added to the red list travel ban countries.

For more information on the England red list, click here.

Jobs that qualify for travel exemptions: Guidance has been updated to reflect that aviation and maritime crews are exempted from red list country quarantine measures.

Restrictions on entering the Netherlands

From Tuesday 16 March, you do not need to take a coronavirus test if you are an HGV or van driver returning to the Netherlands after spending less than 48 hours in the UK. Guidance has been updated to include information on COVID-19 test timeframes for round-trips between the UK and the Netherlands.

Suspension of Operations at Manston

From Sunday 21 March, all haulier processing operations, including COVID testing for hauliers, has been suspended at Manston Airport. If heading to the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel, you will be directed straight onto the M20. Free COVID testing for hauliers is still available at one of the many Information and Advice sites, and Inland Border Facility checks will continue to be processed by Ashford Sevington, or one of the other sites across the country. Hauliers are strongly encouraged to get a negative COVID-19 test, to use the Check an HGV is Ready to Cross the Border service and get a valid Kent Access Permit before arriving in Kent to minimise delays. Please also follow any traffic management signs.

Brexit Support Fund

£20 million SME Brexit Support Fund opens for applications: For businesses new to importing and exporting

From 15 March 2021, smaller businesses can apply for grants of up to £2,000 to help them adapt to new customs and tax rules when trading with the EU. The £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund enables traders to access practical support, including training for new customs, rules of origin and VAT processes. Check for more information about the SME Brexit Support Fund, including details of how to apply, applications will close on 30 June 2021 or earlier if all funding is allocated before this date.

Other useful links

Some aspects of business support are devolved. Specific information for businesses and employers in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales is available. In England, Growth Hubs can advise on local and UK Government business support. You can also find helpful business case studies and other useful information on the Coronavirus Business Support Blog.