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Information for businesses on COVID-19 restrictions

Cheshire West and Chester is in Local COVID Alert Level: High

New restrictions have been introduced in west Cheshire in response to a sharp increase in the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the borough.

Your questions answered

On 12 October, the Prime Minister announced a new three tier system.

  • Tier 1 infection rate (medium)
  • Tier 2 infection rate (high)
  • Tier 3 where infection rates are remaining static (very high)

Cheshire West and Chester is Tier 2 from 14 October.

  • Businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-Secure manner, other than those which remain closed in law
  • certain businesses selling food or drink on their premises are required to close between 10pm and 5am. Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises, can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through
  • people must not socialise with anybody outside of their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place
  • people must not socialise in a group of more than six outside, including in a garden or other space like beaches or parks (other than where specific exemptions apply in law)
  • schools, universities and places of worship remain open
  • weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees
  • people can continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, for work or to access education but should look to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible
  • currently additional restrictions won't impact close-contact services such as nail bars, beauty, hairdressers etc
  • leisure facilities such as cinema's, ten-pin bowling, bingo halls, gyms and leisure centres can all stay open so long as they do so in a COVID-secure way
  • exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors. These will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with)

People must:

  • Wear a face covering in those areas where this is mandated

People should continue to:

  • Follow social distancing rules
  • wash hands regularly
  • work from home where they can effectively do so
  • walk or cycle where possible or plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport.
  • This aligns the whole of the Cheshire and Warrington area.
  • neighbouring authorities however, in Halton and the wider Liverpool city-region are Tier 3
  • North Wales (Flintshire, Wrexham, Denbighshire) are in local lockdowns in line with the restrictions imposed by the Welsh Government. Currently, they are not part of the 3-Tier system
  • locations in Tier 3 will stay there for four weeks, others will be reviewed every two weeks and can be moved between tiers.
  • there is a support team of officers working in towns and high streets to help businesses identify areas where they can implement/improve COVID-compliance
  • three Business Information Officers are now employed to provide additional interaction with businesses across the borough
  • Business Growth Team, partners including Growth Hub etc. offer free and impartial business support and advice so that organisations can access information on the latest support schemes, how to access them etc. This includes the loan funds and national support that is available including the Job Support Scheme from 1 November.
  • The Local Enterprise Partnership will be reopening the Cheshire and Warrington recovery grant from 2 November. This is offering revenue support although funds are limited. Further details can be found on the Cheshire and Warrington Growth Hub website.
  • Visit our Let's Talk Business website which provides a central platform for business advice, alongside the Cheshire and Warrington Growth Hub,
  • Cheshire West and Chester Council has waived the Alfresco licence fee until Autumn 2021. Pedestrian areas in Chester city centre have been extended to be traffic free until 8pm (until March 2021)
  • re-opening the high street campaign is underway with funding from an ERDF grant. The campaign will support businesses/trade and consumer confidence. This campaign will also provide assets that businesses can use with their own staff/imagery, so it has the most impact at a local level. Part of the campaign will also include a web platform and will promote businesses in key themes.
  • Marketing Cheshire/LEP partners will also be running a campaign from November that will celebrate local business
  • Chester Bid will deliver shop local activity including Chester gift card, and activity map, to support footfall
  • Northwich Bid has been signposting and supporting its members to access available funding schemes
  • Part of the recovery approach is to drive forward investment in major schemes like Northgate, that can create jobs, investment and supports retail and hospitality. The new Bus transport hub opens in November in Ellesmere Port and work starts on the new public hub building in November. Work is also scheduled to start in the New Year on the site of Northwich Market
  • The Council previously distributed £70 million of government grants and working with partners, the Council will continue to lobby Government for additional support for Tier 2 locations

The Council's Regulatory Services have been supporting and visiting businesses across the borough since the start of the pandemic offering advice and guidance.

The Council has teams of officers deployed in five locations (Chester, Northwich, Winsford, Ellesmere Port and Neston, Frodsham) to support businesses with what they can put in place to continue operating and provide confidence to consumers.

The officers are visiting businesses daily and can also be contacted directly at:

  • Self-employment grant, second and final grant closes 19 October. Pays 70 per cent of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total
  • as Cheshire West and Chester isn’t in a lockdown situation, businesses are still able to operate, and they won’t be eligible for the national Furlough Extension Scheme
  • the national Job Support Scheme starts from 1 November and last for an initial six months. It’s designed for companies that will experience reduced demand, but where they want to retain employees to scale up/back as the business demands. The company will pay its employee for the time worked, but the cost of hours not worked will be split between the employer, Government and the employee (through wage reduction). Government will pay up to a third of wages and the employer a third so employees can earn up to 77 per cent and keep their jobs
  • business loan schemes are still open, and information is available on the Cheshire and Warrington Growth Hub. The hub can help with understanding the details and criteria.

A support bubble is where a household with one adult joins with another household. Households in that support bubble can still visit each other, stay overnight, and visit public places together.

There are exceptions from legal gatherings limits for registered childcare, education or training, and supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care, youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups. This means early years and childcare settings, including childminders, after-school clubs and nannies can be provided.

The following people can provide childcare support in private homes and gardens:

  • registered childcare providers, including nannies
  • people in your support bubble
  • people in your childcare bubble

Schools, colleges and universities remain open and are operating in a COVID-secure way. University students must follow the specific guidance and rules set by their university.

You may continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, for work, voluntary, charitable or youth services, or to access education, within a high alert level area, but you should aim to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible.

Workplaces should be implementing COVID-secure measures.

Venues following COVID secure guidelines can host more people in total, but no one must mix indoors with anyone who they do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with) unless exemptions apply. Outdoors, you can meet in groups of up to six people.

This includes in:

  • pubs and restaurants
  • shops
  • leisure and entertainment venues
  • places of worship

At least one person in your group should give their contact details to the venue or check in using the official NHS COVID-19 app so NHS Test and Trace can contact you if needed.

Certain businesses selling food or drink on their premises are required to close between 10pm and 5am. Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises, can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through. Orders must be made via phone, online or by post.

All businesses and venues should follow COVID-secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers.

Restrictions on businesses and venues in high alert level areas include:

  • certain businesses selling food or drink on their premises are required to close between 10pm and 5am. Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises, can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through. Orders must be made via phone, online or by post. Hospitality venues in ports, on transport services and in motorway service areas do not need to close at 10pm but must not serve alcohol after that time.
  • businesses must ensure that they operate in a COVID-secure manner, including restrictions on table service and group bookings
  • certain businesses and venues are required to collect customer, visitor, and staff data to support NHS Test and Trace
  • the wearing of face coverings for customers and staff in certain indoor settings
  • businesses must ensure that if their workers are required to self-isolate, they do not work outside their designated place of self-isolation
  • businesses and venues must ensure people do not meet in their premises with people from outside of their household or support bubble
  • businesses and venues that fail to comply with these restrictions may face fines of up to £10,000, prosecution, or in some cases closure.

Official/registered tradespeople can go to other people's homes or gardens for work purposes, as long as they follow national guidance on how to work safely there.

Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work and people looking to move home can continue to undertake viewings. Remember to social distance and wear a face covering.

Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and wedding receptions are restricted to 15 people. Receptions should be sit down meals to ensure people can keep their distance from each other, and mustn't take place in private dwellings.

Anyone working at these ceremonies or events is not included as part of the person limit. These events should comply with the COVID-19 secure guidance and venue capacity.

Campaigns have been running since the start of the pandemic led by the Business Improvement Districts in Chester and Northwich and Marketing Cheshire.

A new high street campaign is underway, to support the activity already in place. It's a marketing campaign that shows businesses and residents how they can 'play their part' in supporting the local economy, crucially adapting and keeping it fully open.

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