The new tiered coronavirus restrictions which came into force on the 2nd December introduce local variation to the rules individuals and businesses need to work within.
This therefore adds complexities to the rules which businesses must follow including for things such as business meetings.
Additional restrictions and business closures also increase the need for business support, so we summarise the key grants and support available to businesses at this time.
What are the rules relating to businesses opening in each of the 3 Tiers?
Different rules in each of the 3 tiers impact which businesses can continue to operate under the new system of restrictions.
For example, in Tier 2 pubs and bars must close unless operating as a restaurant. In Tier 3, all hospitality settings such as bars, pubs and restaurants must close (except for takeaway, click and collect, drive through or delivery services).
A larger number of indoor businesses must also close in Tier 3 such as indoor entertainment venues and indoor attractions.
Read this guide for full details of which businesses are subject to restrictions in each of the 3 Tiers.
All businesses which remain open in all of the Tiers must meet COVID-19 secure guidelines.
What are the rules relating to business meetings in each of the 3 Tiers?
Tier 1 business meeting rules
Tier 1 rules state that people can meet indoors with those outside of their immediate household/support bubble in no more than a group of 6.
There are some exceptions to this where people can meet in larger groups
- Gatherings for work purposes are allowed when reasonably necessary
- If meetings do take place in the workplace, the workplace must be set up to meet COVID-19 secure guidelines
- Business lunches are permitted given that individuals are able to meet indoors with people outside of their immediate household.
- Meals to socialise with work colleagues, in a group of more than 6, are not permitted.
- Conference centres and exhibition halls are open. Business events can take place, but capacity should be restricted to whichever is lower: 50% capacity or 4,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors
Tier 2 business meeting rules
In Tier 2 rules state that you must not meet with anyone outside of your household or support bubble in an indoor setting.
Some exceptions apply to this however and there are some situations in which it is possible to meet indoors such as for work.
Guidance states that
- Gatherings for work purposes are only allowed when they are reasonably necessary
- If meetings do take place in the workplace, then workplaces must be set up to meet COVID-19 secure guidelines
- Meals to socialise with work colleagues are not permitted (traditional Christmas parties are therefore not permitted)
- Larger business events can go ahead as conference centres and exhibition halls are open. Events must be limited to 50% capacity or 2,000 people outdoors (whichever is lower) and 50% capacity or 1,000 people indoors (whichever is lower)
For full rules relating to work and business in Tier 2 refer to the government guidance
Reports suggest that business lunches are allowed as long as social distancing is adhered to.
Tier 3 business meeting rules
General Tier 3 rules state you must not meet socially indoors or in most outdoor places with anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble if you have formed one. The rule of 6 applies to some outdoor areas such as public gardens, beaches, public spaces etc.
When it comes to work, the following apply
- Gatherings such as meetings for work purposes are allowed if reasonably necessary
- If meetings do go ahead in the workplace, the workplace must be set up to follow COVID-19 secure guidelines
- Business events cannot go ahead. Conference centres and exhibition halls are closed for the purposes of hosting conferences, exhibitions, trade shows etc
- Hospitality settings (including pubs, cafes and restaurants) must close under Tier 3 rules except for takeaway, delivery & click and collect. So, business lunches cannot go ahead.
For full rules relating to work and business in Tier 3 refer to the government guidance.
What grants and support are available in each of the 3 Tiers?
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
The CJRS (also known as the furlough scheme) was originally due to end on the 31st October and be replaced by the Job Support Scheme. But on the 5th November the Chancellor extended the furlough scheme until the end of March 2021.
Businesses can access the furlough scheme regardless of which Tier their business is in. Check here to find out if your business is eligible for the furlough scheme.
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
At the same time as the furlough scheme was extended, the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) was also increased. Previously set at worth 55% of average profits the third grant which can be claimed under the SEISS covering November to January will now be calculated at 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500.
A fourth grant will also be available covering February – April, with more exact detail to be provided by the government regarding the level of support it will provide.
As with the furlough scheme the SEISS can be accessed regardless of which tier you are currently in but certain eligibility criteria must be met. Find out if you are eligible for the third grant under the SEISS.
Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG)
The LRSG for closed businesses is designed to provide support to businesses closed due to local restrictions.
If your business was open as usual but has been forced to close due to Tier 2 or Tier 3 restrictions, you may be eligible for the LRSG. Eligible businesses are entitled to a cash grant from their local council for each 14-day period they are closed.
Find more details of the value of the grant and whether your business is eligible on the LRSG information page on gov.uk.
Other business support and grants available
The government also announced a number of other support packages and grants
- Mortgage holidays/payment deferrals extended
- Funding of £1.1billion given to Local Authorities to enable them to support businesses more broadly. Local Authorities to use funds at their discretion.
- Plans to extend application to deadlines for existing government backed loans schemes to the end of January and an ability to top up bounce back loans
This factsheet gives full details of the extended economic support being provided during the Coronavirus pandemic.
At Anthony Jones we are working hard to support businesses at this time. Our teams are available and contactable in the usual ways and we are regularly updating our blog and social media with relevant information relating to the pandemic. Do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions about your insurance.