UK government sets out a timeline for retail to reopen in June

Yesterday, the UK government announced a roadmap for reopening a broader range of shops in England starting from next month. From 1 June 2020, it intends to allow outdoor markets to reopen, subject to all premises being made COVID-secure, as well as car showrooms, which often have significant outdoor space and where it is generally easier to apply social distancing.

From 15 June 2020, the UK government intends to allow all other retailers, ranging from shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets, if the government’s five tests are met and they follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines.

Updated guidance for the retail sector has been published detailing the measures retailers should take to meet the necessary social distancing and hygiene standards. Please note that the new guidance for business is England only.

Take a look at our response to the Prime Minister’s announcement on the phased reopening of the retail sector in England. Share our Twitter and LinkedIn posts with your members.

Discretionary fund for small businesses now open to self-employed

Thanks to campaigning by the Chamber Network, the discretionary fund for small businesses is now open to the self-employed across England. Matt Griffith from Business West and Claire Walker met with Paul Scully MP, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets to discuss this issue last Wednesday. In follow-up, they shared this letter and the guidance was updated at the weekend. Please share the news with your members on social media.

Case studies for Reach Media research

As you may be aware, Reach Media – who publish many national and local newspapers – are running a survey on Coronavirus business impacts. With the QES as a priority, we have told them it is unlikely that Chambers will promote this to members. When they publish the results there may be opportunities to feed in business case studies in order to secure additional press coverage for your local Chamber. For further information on providing case studies, contact BCC press office.

New public health measures for all UK arrivals at the UK border

New measures, at the UK border to guard against a second wave of Coronavirus infections were announced by the Home Secretary on Friday 22 May. These measures are due to come into effect on 8 June 2020. They include 14 days self-isolation for anyone entering the UK, bar a list of exemptions including:

road haulage and freight workers, to ensure the supply of goods is not impacted;
medical professionals who are travelling to help with the fight against Coronavirus;
anyone moving from within the Common Travel Area, covering Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man;
seasonal agricultural workers who will self-isolate on the property where they are working.

Take a look back at our response to the Home Secretary’s announcement of a 14-day quarantine for all air passengers arriving in the UK. Share our Twitter and LinkedIn posts with your members.


QES data deadline is 11 June

The QES Q2 2020 fieldwork began on Monday 18 May. Please submit your data to BCC by Thursday 11 June and ensure that you always refer to the below QES checklist:

Have you sent the survey link directly to your members?
Have you sent out reminder emails to those who have yet to complete it?
Have you compiled your raw data in the correct template? [available here]
Have you sent your data to your regional coordinator or the BCC before the deadline?
Most importantly: Have you alerted your regional coordinator or the BCC if there are any issues?

Why QES is so important this quarter?

The Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) is the UK’s largest independent business survey. This will be the first QES since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic in the UK and the subsequent lockdown. While our weekly tracker data has already demonstrated a very clear decline in business activity when compared against QES historical data, QES Q2 will be the first major real comparison. Our data will mark the clear shift from pre-Coronavirus conditions to the current situation and will form a significant part of the historical record.

To avoid conflicting fieldwork, we have temporarily suspended the Coronavirus Business Impacts Tracker data collection while QES fieldwork takes place. Contact David Bharier with any queries.

Coronavirus sick pay scheme opens for applications

From today, small businesses and employers across the UK who have paid statutory sick pay to staff taking Coronavirus-related leave will be able to claim back the money. The new online service is run by HM Revenue and Customs, and after making an application employers will receive the money within six working days. Review the details and share with your members.

Meet the team – James Martin, Director of Policy

BCC’s new Director of Policy, James Martin shares some thoughts after his first week in post including the highlights, his priorities in the role along with the challenges and opportunities of starting a new job during lockdown.

Take a look at our short Q&A with James.