This guidance, published 24 February 2021, details the steps to reopen certain businesses and venues in England as follows:
Businesses permitted to open remain the same as currently allowed.
In addition, businesses eligible to host childcare and supervised activities for children (such as community centres or libraries) will be able to host these activities for children providing that they are necessary to enable parents to work, seek work, attend education, seek medical care, or attend a support group.
At this stage, some further settings will be permitted to open.
This will include outdoor sports facilities such as:
People can use these venues in a group of six people, or with members of up to two households.
At this step, formally organised outdoor sport will also return - this can include a larger number of participants, provided that appropriate steps are taken to make it COVID-Secure in line with the law. Indoor facilities, such as changing rooms, should not be used at this time, although toilet facilities can be accessed. At this stage, these gatherings must only include participants - not spectators.
Businesses eligible to host childcare and supervised activities for children will now 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).
Following the move to Step 2, further settings will be permitted to open. Unless a specific exemption exists, these must only be attended/used in line with the wider social contact limits at this stage - as a single household or bubble indoors; or in a group of 6 people or 2 households outdoors.
Non-essential retail will reopen. This will include but not be limited to:
Personal care facilities and close contact services will reopen. This will include:
Indoor sports and leisure facilities will reopen. This will include at:
Self-contained holiday accommodation in which all facilities (including for sleeping, catering, bathing, and indoor lobbies and corridors for entry and exit) are restricted to exclusive use of a single household/support bubble will reopen.
Outdoor areas at hospitality venues (cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs, social clubs, including in member’s clubs) can reopen, including for takeaway alcohol. These venues may allow customers to use toilets located inside. At any premises serving alcohol, customers will be required to order, be served and eat/drink while seated (“table service”). Venues will be prohibited from providing shared smoking equipment such as shisha pipes.
Outdoor attractions will reopen at:
Public buildings, such as community halls and centres, and libraries, can reopen.
Businesses eligible to host childcare and supervised activities for children will now be able to host these activities (including sport) for all children, regardless of circumstances.
Permitted businesses operating in otherwise closed attractions (such as a gift shop or a takeaway kiosk at a museum) may only open where they are a self-contained unit and can be accessed directly from the street.
Outdoor gatherings or events, organised by a business, charity, public body or similar organisation, can be organised, subject to specific conditions: that they comply with COVID-Secure guidance including taking reasonable steps to limit the risk of transmission, complete a related risk assessment; and ensure that those attending do not mix beyond what is permitted by the social contact limits (unless another exemption exists, such as for work purposes, or supervised activities for children). This could enable spectators at a grassroots sports match or a village fete, provided people do not mix beyond groups of 6 people or two households.We will update guidance to local authorities on how smaller outdoor events like these should be run safely.
In all the venues above, indoor events that bring people together - even if they do not mix with other households - must not run until Step 3. This is only permitted if there is an explicit exemption - this includes support groups, supervised activities for children, parent-and-child groups (up to 15 people, not counting those aged under five), communal worship, or a wedding, reception or commemorative event like a wake.
Over the spring, the Government will run a scientific Events Research Programme. This will include a series of pilots using enhanced testing approaches and other measures to run events with larger crowd sizes and reduced social distancing to evaluate the outcomes. These pilots will start in April.
Following the move to Step 3, further settings will be permitted to open. Unless a specific exemption exists, these must only be attended/used in line with the wider social contact limits at this stage - in a group of 6 people or 2 households indoors; or in a group of no more than 30 people outdoors.
Indoor areas of hospitality venues will reopen. As outdoors, table service will be required. Venues will be prohibited from providing shared smoking equipment such as shisha pipes.
Indoor entertainment and visitor attractions will reopen. This will include:
Remaining outdoor entertainment events, such as cinemas, theatres, and other performance events will also be permitted.
Remaining holiday accommodation can reopen, as can saunas and steam rooms. Indoor team sport and group exercise classes will return.
At this step, both outdoor and indoor gatherings or events, organised by a business, charity, public body or similar organisation, can be organised, subject to specific conditions: that they comply with COVID-Secure guidance including taking reasonable steps to limit the risk of transmission, complete a related risk assessment; and ensure that those attending do not mix beyond what is permitted by the social contact limits (unless another exemption exists, such as for organised sport or exercise, supervised activities for children or a significant life event).
Spectators will be allowed at elite sporting events and performance events. Attendance at these events will be restricted to 50% of capacity up to 1,000 people for indoor events, and 50% of capacity up to 4,000 people for outdoor events. For outdoor events taking place in venues with seated capacity of over 16,000, event organisers may apply a 25% capacity cap, up to a maximum of 10,000 seated people. Large business events will also be able to go ahead, subject to the same capacity requirements.
In Step 4 we hope to reopen remaining settings such as nightclubs and adult entertainment venues, and to lift the restrictions on social contact and large events that apply in Step 3. This is subject to the outcome of the Events Research Programme, and a review of social distancing measures.
We will also look to relax COVID-Secure requirements on businesses, subject to the outcome of the reviews.
The following businesses and venues that provide goods for sale or hire are permitted to remain open, including if they operate from a market stall, or at a defined concession within a shopping centre:
Toilets and other essential facilities within these premises (such as those for breastfeeding) should be kept open and carefully managed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Storage and distribution facilities including delivery drop off or collection points, are also able to open where the facilities are in the premises of a business allowed to remain open. For example, you can return an order to a drop box in a supermarket or drop it off for collection in a newsagents. Deliveries of supplies can also go ahead for premises that are otherwise required to close by law.
Businesses that provide services (rather than goods) - such as accountants, solicitors, and estate agents - are not required to close, unless listed below.
This includes businesses which have as their main activity repair services, such as electronics repair services. This does not include shops that would otherwise be considered non-essential retail, such as a mobile phone store that offers some repairs.
Businesses providing services that are permitted to remain open should take steps to ensure they are COVID-19 Secure including, where possible, providing services remotely or virtually.
Any business or venue that provides goods for sale or hire and is not listed above must close (other than where there is an explicit exemption for a specific purpose). They may continue offering delivery and click-and-collect services (where items are pre-ordered and collected without entering the premises). People can also leave home to collect or return orders from these businesses.
These closures include, but are not limited to, the following premises:
Door-to-door sales should not take place, and sales activities should be conducted remotely (such as by phone, online, or mail).
A business selling a significant amount of essential retail may also continue to sell goods typically sold at non-essential retail. For example, a supermarket that sells food is not required to close off or cordon off aisles selling homeware.
Where a business selling essential retail has another, separate business embedded within it that is required to close, the embedded business must close. For example, an electronics business operating a concession within a supermarket must close, as would a bookstore inside a garden centre.
Where a business has sufficiently distinct parts, and one section provides essential retail and one section provides non-essential retail, the non-essential sections should close to limit interactions between customers and the opportunity for the virus to spread. Sufficiently distinct sections might involve operating in separate buildings, across separate floors, a door between sections, using separate cashiers, or another clear demarcation between sections. For example a food shop may stay open, but a homeware section on a separate floor or separate building should close.
The following hospitality venues are required to close for consumption on the premises:
These closed premises can continue to provide:
Hospitality venues providing food and drink for consumption off the premises are not permitted to allow customers to consume from any adjacent seating to the premises (with the exception of motorway service areas, airports, seaports, and the international terminal at Folkestone).
Room service in hotels and other guest accommodation continues to be permitted, but should be ordered by phone or online.
Only cafes or canteens in premises below may remain open:
Holiday accommodation must close. Hotels, hostels and other holiday accommodation including (bed and breakfast accommodation, holiday apartments, homes, cottages or bungalows, campsites, caravan parks or boarding houses, canal boats or any other vessels) must only provide accommodation for a person who:
They can also open:
Businesses and services that are permitted to continue in law must close or not take place within accommodation settings. For example, a wake cannot be held at a hotel.
Personal care facilities and close contact services must close. This includes:
These venues may continue to sell retail goods (such as shampoo or beauty products) online or via click-and-collect.
Those who provide personal care services from a mobile setting including their own home, in other people’s homes and in retail environments (such as a concession in a larger, separate business) must also stop operating.
Personal care services provided for essential medical and health needs, which cannot be deferred, may continue. For example, treatments for a diagnosed health condition or injury that is currently causing severe pain or mobility issues, or severely impacting quality of life, or for cosmetic treatments associated with cancer treatment. This does not extend to services provided for general stress relief, relaxation or preventative healthcare purposes. The guidance on safer working in the Close Contact Services should be followed.
Those providing their services in a professional capacity as part of those sectors that remain open can continue to operate. For example, make-up artists in film and TV production, and on fashion shoots. However, these services cannot be carried out in premises required to close.
The following businesses and venues must close:
Indoor attractions at the following must close, but outdoor attractions and spaces can remain open for the purposes of exercise:
Visitor centres at these attractions must also close, but this does not include toilets, or shops (that are permitted to remain open) where they can be accessed separately to the indoor attractions.
Those outdoor venues and attractions that are permitted to remain open can offer food and (non-alcoholic) drinks as a takeaway service.
Performing arts venues must be closed to the public. This includes drive-in venues. However theatres and concert halls can continue to be used for formal education and training, rehearsals, and performances without an audience for broadcast or recording purposes. These venues can also be used for the purposes of government pilots.
Permitted venues, including exhibition and conference centres, can hire out function and event spaces for essential work, education and training purposes, where these events cannot reasonably be conducted from home. However, they must not host conferences, exhibitions, trade shows, private dining events or banquets.
Meetings for work, training or education purposes should not take place unless the event cannot be delayed, where it cannot reasonably be conducted from home, and if social distancing can be maintained and the venue can demonstrate it has followed COVID-19 guidance.
Event spaces, including in conference centres and exhibition halls, can also be used to provide socially beneficial public services such as Nightingale hospitals or food banks. People can only mix between households if an exemption applies - for example, if it is for work purposes, or voluntary or charitable purposes.
You should minimise time spent outside your home.
You can only leave home to exercise, and not for the purpose of recreation or leisure (e.g. a picnic or a social meeting). This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
Exercise classes and personal trainer sessions can continue to go ahead, but must only take place one-on-one unless everyone is within the same household or support bubble. These should only go ahead in public outdoor places (such as a park) and not in private homes or gardens.
Sports and leisure facilities must close. This includes:
Outdoor playgrounds (excluding adventure playgrounds) may stay open.
Leisure and sport facilities may continue to be accessed for elite sport and professional dance.
Leisure and sports facilities may continue to host registered childcare where these are located in these premises, but not to use the closed facilities (such as a swimming pool in a leisure centre).
You may continue to access riding centres for the purposes of tending to the welfare of an animal that you own or care for. Riding centres may continue to be used for the purposes of exercising an animal where this is necessary for their welfare.
Indoor sport and exercise classes must not go ahead unless they are part of formal education or training or form a supervised activity for children. Disabled persons may continue to access closed facilities for the purposes of individual fitness activity.
Organised sports can only continue to take place outdoors for disabled persons and as part of formal education and training. Contact in training and activities, and for some sports, should be avoided. Find out what this means for your sport.
The following facilities can open but may face restrictions on the activity they host:
The following venues must close, but may open for specific purposes listed below:
As well as specific exemptions as set out in their relevant section, any closed premises can open for the purposes of:
Support groups cannot meet in businesses that are closed to the public unless where a specific exemption is listed above.
All businesses should facilitate working from home as far as possible. The law states that people must only leave home to travel to work where they cannot reasonably work from home.
Businesses and venues are required under health and safety legislation to follow the appropriate COVID-19 Secure guidance for their sector.
Please see links to sector-specific guidance on ensuring businesses and venues permitted to open can operate safely, and so that businesses and venues that are closed can prepare to reopen safely when legally permitted to do so.
This guidance will help you operate a safe workplace for those who are not able to work from home, and help you plan for reopening in the future.
All businesses should demonstrate to their workers and attendees that they have properly assessed their risk and taken appropriate measures to mitigate it, for example by publishing their risk assessment online or making it available at the premises/event.
Businesses and venues must also take reasonable steps to ensure that social contact rules are followed within their venues.
In particular, those operating venues or running events following COVID-19 Secure guidelines should take additional steps to ensure the safety of the public. This includes taking reasonable steps to prevent large gatherings of people which risk a breakdown of social distancing rules.
There will be some situations where social distancing is not possible. This is likely to occur between very young children, who will find preserving consistent distance more challenging. Where it is not possible for young children to maintain social distancing, it is even more important that businesses implement other protective measures, such as frequent cleaning and handwashing.
Individual businesses or venues should also consider the cumulative impact of many venues reopening in a small area. This means working with local authorities, neighbouring businesses and travel operators to assess this risk and applying additional mitigations.
These could include:
Local authorities are responsible for permitting or prohibiting large organised outdoor events from taking place in their local area. See further guidance on large outdoor events.
Employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to leave their designated area of self-isolation. See working safely guidance.
In the case of agency workers, agents must notify the employer, and the employer must notify an organisation to which the agency worker has been supplied.
In order to support businesses in meeting these obligations, a self-isolating worker or agency worker must notify their employer (or agency worker where applicable) as soon as is reasonably practical, as well as the start and end dates of their isolation period. Any failure by an employee to notify their employer is an offence.
In England, customers and visitors over the age of 10 must wear a face covering in a number of indoor settings.
Please see the latest face covering guidance
It is for each business to assess whether they are a business required to close having considered the guidance and regulations.
An owner, proprietor or manager carrying out a business (or a person responsible for other premises) who fails to fulfill the obligations placed on them in law, without reasonable excuse, commits an offence.
In England, Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers will monitor compliance with these regulations, with police support provided if appropriate.
Businesses and venues that breach restrictions will potentially be subject to a:
It is also an offence, without reasonable excuse to fail to comply with a notice, this may result in a fine, or where necessary court proceedings, with magistrates able to impose potentially unlimited fines.
Please see further guidance for more information on Coronavirus Improvement and Restriction Notices.
Local authorities and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care also have the power to place restrictions on or close premises where they assess that they pose a serious and imminent threat to public health where this is necessary and proportionate to manage the spread of COVID-19 in the local authority’s area. See more information on these powers.
Individuals can also be issued with a fixed penalty notice, starting at £200 for those who participate in illegal gatherings. The police also have the power to take action against those holding or being involved in the holding of an illegal gathering of more than 30 people. This includes issuing a fixed penalty notice of £10,000.
The government has put in place a wide range of support for businesses affected by Coronavirus. For more information please visit the government’s business support page.
Businesses which are required to close will receive up to £3,000 per month. Those businesses not required to close but severely affected are eligible for up to £2,100 per month. The Local Restrictions Support Grant is available through local authorities. How much a business is eligible to receive depends on the rateable value of the property.
In addition, as of 5 January 2021, businesses that have been required to close due to national restrictions imposed by the government may be eligible for a one-off grant of up to £9,000. How much a business is eligible to receive depends on the rateable value of the property.
For more information businesses can check eligibility here for a coronavirus grant because of national restrictions.
Local Authorities in England have also received a further £594 million payment, in addition to £1.1 billion payment last year, through the Additional Restrictions Grant. This funding is for additional business support to complement the Local Restrictions Support Grant schemes for closed and affected businesses. Local authorities have significant discretion as to how they use this funding to support businesses.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been extended until the end of April 2021 and is available for all eligible firms across the UK.
In England, as announced on 16 March 2020, the government will provide a business rates holiday for businesses and venues in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. This includes the businesses and venues in scope for closure listed above. All eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will pay no business rates in England for 12 months from 1 April 2020, and nurseries in England will also receive a 1-year holiday. There is no rateable value threshold on this support – businesses large and small will benefit.
The Devolved Administrations have issued their own guidance and regulations on these matters. The guidance can be found below: