Tougher rules for businesses not following Covid-secure guidance when English lockdown ends

23 November 2020

Local authorities will have greater powers to enforce compliance on businesses operating in an unsafe way, including financial penalties, when England returns to tiered restrictions on 2 December 2020.

The situation with Covid-19 is rapidly changing and this article will continue to be updated throughout. For the latest guidelines, please refer to

The Government has announced that England will be moving back into a system of tiered restrictions as part of its “Covid-19 Winter Plan” for when the second national lockdown ends on 2 December. Although the restrictions will be “tougher” than they were in October, it currently appears that the lettings industry will be able to continue operating as it has during the lockdown, with “moving home” listed as being exempt from the restrictions on gatherings at every tier. Courts will also remain open at every tier.

At every tier, “anyone who can work from home should do so” and the government is encouraging employers to enable a greater degree of home working, while recognising that there are instances where this isn’t possible, including for mental health reasons or concerns.

Where working from home is not possible, businesses “must have taken clear steps to protect the health and safety of staff and customers by making their workplaces COVID-secure”. Although the government recognises that “the vast majority of businesses are operating within the rules and have gone to enormous lengths to ensure they are COVID-secure” it says that “a small number of businesses are not complying with the law and operating in an unsafe way.” 

Therefore, local authorities will be given new powers to ensure that businesses are complying with the law and operating in a COVID-secure way and “take swift and effective action against those premises that are posing a risk to public health”.

This means that local authorities will be able to “compel the immediate closure of a premise that is not complying with COVID-Secure regulations”. Businesses who do not meet the requirements of an improvement or restriction notice issues by local authorities will face financial penalties. 

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The Covid-19 Winter Plan also emphasised that financial support will continue to be available to businesses until at least 31 March 2021, including the:

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has already been extended until the end of March 2021 for all parts of the UK, with employees receiving 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.
  • Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, which is in place until April 2021. The scheme is currently in its third stage and will offer grants to the self-employed at 80% of average trading profits for November to January, capped at £7,500 in total.
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and Bounce Back Loans Scheme (BBLS), which will be open until the end of January 2021.

This article is intended as a guide only. For more information, see

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