Coronavirus (COVID-19)

See our dedicated coronavirus webpage for changes and updates to our services, how to get help in your community and support and advice for businesses.

All coronavirus information


Help for businesses

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak presents a significant challenge to businesses around the globe.

The government has published its latest advice and support measures for employers and businesses, with further guidance and information in the coming days and weeks.

We are working to implement these measures and to support our local businesses as efficiently as possible. We recognise this is a concerning time for our residents and businesses alike and the situation is changing on a daily basis. We will continue to bring you the most up-to-date advice by updating this webpage and social media.

Businesses looking for health information can go to

Government support

An unprecedented multi-billion support package for business and jobs was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak including:

  • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
  • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme.
Guidance: COVID-19 Support for businesses

Self-employed income support scheme

HMRC is beginning to contact customers who may be eligible for the government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

The details of the scheme are as follows:

  • You will be able to apply for a taxable grant worth 80% of your average monthly profits over the last 3 years, up to £2,500 per month
  • The scheme is open to those with trading profits up to £50,000 a year who make the majority of their income from self-employment
  • You will be able to claim these grants and continue to do business
  • HMRC will administer this grant
  • Money, backdated to March, will be paid in a single sum (and subject to tax)
  • The scheme will be open for at least 3 months
  • To minimise fraud only those already in self-employment, who have a tax return for 2019 can apply

You can check your eligibility using the new online checker tool. Once the online check is complete, those who are eligible will be given a date when they can submit their claim.

The claims service will open on Wednesday, 13 May. The claims process will be very simple, and those eligible will have the money paid into their bank account by 25 May, or within six working days of completing a claim. 

There is also further guidance available on ‘How HMRC works out trading profits and non-trading income' and ‘How different circumstances affect the scheme’.

Beware of scams: HMRC will never contact you out of the blue asking for personal information such as your name, credit card or bank details.

More information about the scheme and how it will work

Frequently Asked Questions

What else is available for the self-employed?

You can also access:

For information on all the government's business support schemes.

Business Rates

The business rates relief is being applied to all eligible business accounts. You do not need to take any further action as the discount will be applied automatically and the bills amended accordingly. This includes the 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses, estate agents, letting agents, betting shops and bingo halls.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans

The Chancellor has announced the new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBIS), small and medium sized businesses with access to working capital (including loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance) of up to £5 million in value and for up to 6 years.

The government has extended this scheme so that all viable small businesses affected by COVID-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible should they need finance to keep operating during this difficult time.

The government is also stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and making operational changes to speed up lending approvals.

The government will continue to cover the first twelve months of interest payments and facility arrangement fees charged by lenders, so businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.

The government has also just announced (on the 17 April) a new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan (CLBILS) scheme for larger companies. The new scheme means that all viable businesses with a turnover of more than £45m will be able to apply for government backed support. 

It will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25m to firms with an annual turnover of more than £45m.  Firms with a turnover of more than £250 million can borrow up to £50 million from lenders.

The scheme will be available through a series of accredited lenders, which will be listed on the British Business Bank website.

Read more on the GOV.UK website.

Note: Any business interested in applying should talk to their bank or finance provider (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible and discuss their business plan with them. This will help the finance provider to act quickly once the scheme has launched.

More information can be found on the British Business Bank website.

Small business grants and cash grants for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure

We are now processing application forms and are paying out millions in grants to eligible businesses.

On Friday, March 27th, letters and application forms were sent out via Royal Mail to the trading addresses of the businesses that met the criteria from Central Government.

If you run a business which is eligible but haven’t yet returned your form, please email it back to [email protected] as soon as you can.

We will endeavour to make payments within 7 working days of receipt, further to the appropriate checks being made.

Businesses who are unsure about their eligibility can contact our Economic Development team via [email protected] for advice, help and support.

Check your eligibility for these grants

Discretionary small business grant scheme

Applications for this scheme is now open and will close at 5pm on Monday, 3rd August.

What is the discretionary business grant scheme?

We have received £1.5 million from central government to support certain businesses and charities which were previously outside the scope of the other small business and cash grant schemes.


The discretionary fund will support eligible businesses which have ongoing fixed premises or business related property costs and have been impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

Which businesses are eligible?

The discretionary fund will prioritise the following types of businesses:

  • Nurseries and childcare facilities registered with OFSTED and in receipt of the business rates nursery discount for 2020/21
  • Medical therapeutic services (for instance, chiropractors, physiotherapists and chiropodists) with a business rates assessment
  • Indoor fitness and dance studios and sports venues/facilities.
  • Businesses supplying goods or services to the retail, hospitality, tourism, travel and leisure sectors
  • Businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces who pay an all-inclusive rent and therefore do not have their own business rates assessment (examples include units in industrial parks, science parks and incubators)
  • Regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, but who do not have their own business rates assessment. The scheme includes market stall holders, street traders and mobile businesses, however, only traders with a formal site agreement or market licence will be eligible. Traders that trade across multiple local authorities will only be able to claim a grant from one area.
  • Bed & Breakfast businesses which pay council tax instead of business rates
  • Charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for small business rates relief or rural rate relief
  • Other types of businesses

of which have:

  • relatively high ongoing fixed premises or business related property costs
  • suffered a significant fall in income due to the Covid-19 crisis
  • been trading on or before 11 March 2020 and is located within the Braintree District
  • occupied a property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent below £51,000*

*Priority will be given to applicants that have evidenced high fixed property costs (with a rateable value of less than £51,000) and a significant loss of turnover. However, businesses with a rateable value above this threshold will also be considered subject to the availability of funds.

You can view the full eligibility criteria in our discretionary business support grant policy.

Which businesses are ineligible?

The discretionary fund is for the businesses ineligible for other forms of grant support. This scheme excludes businesses which were eligible for the:

  • Small Business Grant Fund
  • Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant
  • Fisheries Response Fund
  • Domestic Seafood Supply Scheme (DSSS)
  • The Zoos Support Fund
  • The Dairy Hardship Fund

You will not be eligible for another grant if you have already received a payment under this discretionary scheme.

Companies that are in administration, are insolvent or where a striking-off notice has been made are not eligible for support.

Businesses based at home (with the exception of bed and breakfasts) are excluded from this scheme.

You can still apply, however, if you have claimed against either the self-employed income support scheme or the coronavirus job retention scheme.

What help is available?

Grants between £2,000 and £10,000 are available, plus up to a maximum of £25,000 in exceptional circumstances.

The amount awarded will depend on the type and size (turnover and number of employees) of the business, extent of the fixed costs for the premises and the level of income lost because of the coronavirus.

We expect that most of the eligible small businesses in our district will be awarded grants up to a maximum of £10,000. However, grants of up to £25,000 will be considered if a particular business supports important sectors of the local economy.

As this grant funding is limited, not all applications will be successful, but will, however, be assessed by need. The level granted to individual businesses will be determined on a case by case basis.

How do I apply for this grant?

Applicants must complete and return an application form before 5pm on Monday, 3rd August.

Please email [email protected] or [email protected] to ask for an application form.

Please fill-out your form in full, scan or take a photograph of it before emailing it back to [email protected]

When will I receive my payment?

We will start processing payments to successful applicants after the application deadline closes on Monday, 3rd August.

All applicants will receive an email to advise them of their outcome within 7-10 working days of that date. If your application is successful, your business will then receive payment within a further 5 working days.

Will this scheme be changed?

This scheme will be kept under review. The type of businesses eligible or the levels of grant funding that can be awarded may change depending on the developing effect of COVID-19 on the local economy and on the amount of funds available.

If you need further help

If you are unable to complete the form or are unsure if your business is eligible, please email [email protected] for help, support and advice.

Bounce Back Loan scheme

The new Bounce Back Loans scheme is now open for applications. The scheme allows small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days.

The government guarantees 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. Loan terms will be up to 6 years. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. 

The government has also agreed with lenders that an affordable flat rate of 2.5% interest will be charged on these loans. Businesses can apply online through a short and simple form. You can find further information about the scheme, including eligibility, here.

The scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders and will run alongside the existing Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

Working safely

The government, in consultation with industry, has produced ‘COVID-19 secure’ guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible. The new guidance covers 12 workplace settings, from outdoor environments and construction sites to factories and takeaways.

This sets out practical steps for businesses focused on 5 key points, which should be implemented:

    1. 1. Work from home, if you can
    1. 2. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions
    1. 3. Maintain 2 metres social distancing, wherever possible
    1. 4. Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, manage transmission risk
    1. 5. Reinforcing cleaning processes

The 12 guides 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 employees safe.

You must not reopen if your business is closed under current government rules. Check if your business or venue can open.

  • Close contact services - Guidance for people who provide close contact services, including hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, tattooists, sports and massage therapists, dress fitters, tailors and fashion designers
  • Construction and other outdoor work – Guidance for people who work in or run outdoor working environments
  • Factories, plants and warehouses - Guidance for people who work in or run factories, plants and warehouses
  • Heritage locations – Guidance for people who work or volunteer in heritage locations
  • Hotels and other guest accommodation - Guidance for people who work in or run hotels and other guest accommodation
  • Homes – Guidance for people working in, visiting or delivering to home environments as well as their employers
  • Labs and research facilities – Guidance for people who work in or run indoor labs and research facilities and similar environments
  • Offices and contact centres – Guidance for people who work in or run offices, contact centres and similar indoor environments
  • Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services - Guidance for people who work in or run restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes or takeaways
  • Shops and branches – Guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments. You can also find a list of questions and answers here.
  • Vehicles – Guidance for people who work in or from vehicles, including couriers, mobile workers, lorry drivers, on-site transit and work vehicles, field forces and similar
  • The visitor economy - Guidance for people who work in hotels and guest accommodation, indoor and outdoor attractions, and business events and consumer shows

The government has also published guidance for multi-purpose community facilities and places of worship:

You can watch these recorded webinars to help you work out what you need to do to reopen your business safely and use this risk assessment tool to find out what you need to do.

You can view a list of questions and answers from the Working safely in Shops and Branches Webinar here.

You can view FAQs for hospitality businesses on the UK hospitality website.

Businesses can also download and print the government’s ‘staying COVID-19 secure' poster to display within their workspaces.

Planning rules will be relaxed so pubs and restaurants can operate as hot food takeaways during the coronavirus outbreak. Read more via the Government website: Government to grant permission for pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways as part of coronavirus response.

Test and Trace Guidance on maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support the NHS Test and Trace can be found on GOV.UK.

Action cards

The government has produced action cards for anyone responsible for a business or organisation on what to do in the event of one or more confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in your organisation.

They have been developed to cover a range of businesses and organisations to provide specific advice on the issues each type of organisation may face now lockdown restrictions have been eased

    • Workplace action cards (including, but not limited to, arts venues, food and drink establishments, food processing, construction, shops, and hair and beauty)
  • Food businesses

    The Food Standards Agency has published guidance to help food businesses better understand how to work safely during this time.

    What if a member of staff tests positive?

    The food standards agency has also published guidance for food businesses undertaking a rapid shut-down in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

    Planning rules will be relaxed so pubs and restaurants can operate as hot food takeaways during the coronavirus outbreak. Read more via the Government website: Government to grant permission for pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways as part of coronavirus response.

    Eat out and help out scheme

    Register your establishment for the "Eat out to help out" scheme

    Restaurants and other establishments serving food for on-premises consumption can now register for the “Eat out to help out” scheme. You can register if your establishment:

    • sells food for immediate consumption on the premises
    • provides its own dining area or shares a dining area with another establishment for eat-in meals
    • was registered as a food business with the relevant local authority on or before 7 July.

    Registration will close on 31 August.

    Posters, images and other promotional materials for use by establishments who are taking part in the 'eat out to help out' scheme are available on GOV.UK.

    Note: If you have signed up to this scheme and wish to be part of a campaign which showcases your venue to our residents, please email us at [email protected]

    Business support guidance and helpline

    You can contact the government’s Business Support Helpline for free advice. 

    You can call them on 0800 998 1098. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm.

    You can find more information about the support available to businesses impacted by COVID-19.

    Employers and businesses owners should check for daily updates at GOV.UK and subscribe to receive email alerts to ensure they are acting on the most up to date information.

    Other support organisations

    Coronavirus relief for contracted suppliers

    We are most appreciative of the ongoing commitment and support from our contracted suppliers to maintain services and supplies to the council during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

    We also appreciate that some suppliers may struggle to fully meet their full contractual obligations, and that we may need to alter our requirements, temporarily suspend some services, or change ways of working to do what is necessary for our community.

    During this period, we would like to work together with our contracted suppliers to provide support where it is possible in order that we can resume normal contract service delivery as soon as possible once the COVID-19 outbreak is over.

    Supplier relief

    We are able to offer some supplier relief (support) on a case by case basis according to the nature of the services, goods or works being provided, the challenges being faced, the contracted terms and the constraints of any statutory requirements.

    Every contract will have its own unique characteristics and therefore the relief available will vary case by case, but some examples could be as follows:

    • accelerated invoice payment
    • increased frequency of invoicing
    • payment in advance or on order (not receipt)
    • redeployment of any currently unrequired services capacity to other areas of need
    • change to contract requirements including an extension to current agreed end date
    • change to delivery locations, frequency and timing of delivery
    • changes to targets and performance indicators
    • extension of time for contract performance
    • revised milestones or delivery dates
    • payment at usual contractual rates for certain critical services with analysis and reconciliation at a later date

    There may be other forms of relief that may be helpful in the short-term so please feel free to suggest those to us if it ensures we can maintain business continuity.

    Supplier relief is currently available up to the end of June 2020, and this may be extended further at a later date if we are advised of this by government.

    Requesting relief

    If you need some flexibility or support up to the end of June 2020 and would like to request some contractual relief, you should make contact with your normal contract manager or day to day contact to discuss the options that might be available.

    We will then send you a response to relief request letter which will ask you to detail your rationale and justification for relief in order that we can quickly determine the best solution in the best interests of both parties and our community.

    If you are unsure of the email address of the contract manager or your day to day contact you can also contact us with your relief request [email protected]. The request will be shared with the correct person and you will be advised of the correct email address for future communication.

    Supplier obligations during the relief period

    We need all suppliers to ensure that business continuity is maintained wherever possible, and that you enact your business continuity plans to do your utmost to support our requirements.

    In some cases we may need to make quick decisions with imperfect information, and any supplier relief offered is conditional on suppliers agreeing to act and work on a total open book basis with appropriate cost transparency, in order that we can continue to meet our value for money obligations.

    Other conditions for any supplier relief are as follows:

    • Suppliers must commit to ensuring that any required cost data is made available to the council where requested or agree to provide it at a later date for audit and reconciliation
    • Where relief is offered suppliers must agree to continue to pay their own employees and subcontractors to ensure business continuity
    • Suppliers should retain records during the relief period in order to support future reconciliation
    • Suppliers should strictly adhere to the agreed invoicing protocols in order that we can pay you quickly
    • Suppliers should identify in their invoices which elements relate to normal business as usual matters, and which elements are related to the impact of Covid-19 where relief has been agreed
    • Suppliers must not make relief claims to another source of government funding which results in the same relief being paid by government twice
    • If it is found that any supplier is found to be taking undue fair advantage, or failing in their duty to act transparently and with integrity, then we have a right to take action to recover payments made.

    We feel sure that everybody will work together to deliver the best outcomes for our community and that any agreed relief up to the end of June 2020 is offered on this basis.

    Your best efforts to support the council and our community are genuinely appreciated.

    Safety guidance for taxis and passengers

    Safety guidance for taxis and passengers 

    Our taxi drivers are taking steps to keep you safe during this time and are ready whenever you need them.

    We have outlined some actions you can take to help protect yourself and others from coronavirus (COVID-19).

    Taxi drivers 

    1) Be alert and assess the risks

    • Think about your vehicle and your customers and how you can reduce the risks 
    • Consider installing a screen as these may be beneficial (check with your insurance provider and the licensing team before installation) 

    2) Maintain hygiene 

    • Regularly apply hand sanitiser or wash your hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and water.
    • Keep your vehicle clean and your driving area regularly including your steering wheel
    • Clean surfaces you or others touch on a regular after every fare
    • Consider wearing face coverings as a precautionary measure where possible. It may protect others.

    3) Waiting for fares 

    • Remain in your car wherever possible. 
    • (Out of your vehicle) keep your distance from people outside your household.

    4) Get Tested

    5) Stay healthy

    • Your health matters
    • Follow these five steps to mental wellbeing


    1) Follow the driver’s advice

    • You may be asked you to sit in the back left-hand seat if travelling alone
    • Face away from the other passengers where possible

    2) Keep your distance 

    • When waiting for a taxi, keep your distance from people outside of your household

    3) Maintain Hygiene 

    • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or apply hand sanitiser 
    • As a precautionary measure wear a face-covering where able. It may protect others
    • If your driver asks you to wear a face-covering please do so

    4) Avoid physical contact

    • Be aware of the surfaces you touch
    • Keep at least two metres (six feet) apart from others while waiting for a taxi

    5) Make contactless payments

    • Pay in advance or use a contactless card where you can
    • If you can only use cash ‘do not place it in the driver’s hand’ - wash or wipe your hands before and after you’ve handled it

    Stay updated

    We are asking all businesses to please sign up to our business e-newsletter and our closed Facebook page which is for businesses only – just search for Braintree District Businesses. We will update these channels as regularly as possible to make sure your business has access to the latest information.

    This information was last updated at 9:17am on Wednesday 8th April 2020.