Coronavirus: Resources for businesses to operate safely

Last updated: 17 May 2021

The resources and information on this page are designed to help local customer-facing businesses to operate safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

COVID-19 Response: Spring 2021

The Government's “COVID-19 response – Spring 2021” was published on the 22 February 2021.

The full version of the document can be found on the Government's website COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021 (Summary)

The comprehensive document sets out 4 steps to the lifting of restrictions, with a projected final date of no earlier than 21 June where it is hoped the majority of restrictions on the way we live our lives and run our businesses will be lifted.

This guidance is based on the information and guidance we have received from government and we will provide updates as further information and clarification is announced.

Further general information and guidance from Government can be found on the Government's website.

The Roadmap

Step 1: March 2021

The main changes announced here were the return of schools, changes to who and how many people can meet outdoors in public spaces, opening of outside sports and leisure facilities and relaxations on child care arrangements.

Step 2: 12 April 2021

The following businesses and activities re-opened from 12 April 2021

  • All retail shops and businesses
  • Personal care (close contact services such as hairdressers, tattooists, nail bars)
  • Libraries
  • Most outdoor attractions
  • Indoor leisure services for individual use (Gyms)
  • Self -Contained accommodation (single household use only)
  • All children’s activities
  • Outdoor hospitality (pubs, restaurants, cafes)
  • Indoor parent and child groups (up to 15 parents)

Step 3: 17 May 2021

Most businesses in all but the highest risk sectors are able to reopen from Monday 17 May, including:

  • Indoor hospitality will reopen. Customers will have to order, eat and drink while seated.
  • Indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas and children’s play areas can reopen
  • The rest of the accommodation sector, including hotels, hostels and B&Bs can reopen
  • Indoor adult group sports and exercise classes can take place
  • Up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions and wakes, as well as funerals. This limit will also apply to other types of significant life events including bar mitzvahs and christenings.
  • The government will also allow some larger performances and sporting events in indoor venues

Use of marquees and gazebos

To make sure that businesses can make the most of the summer, businesses such as pubs and restaurants, will be allowed to use their land more flexibly to set up marquees and provide more outdoor space for diners as restrictions ease, allowing them to serve more customers and recover from the effects of the pandemic.

However to be COVID compliant walls to tents, marquees, gazebos, etc. under the roof must be at least 50% open to the outside. They must not be fully enclosed or substantially closed at any time. So rather than 4 walls, it should be 2.

Doors, windows and passageways are not considered openings.

Preparing for reopening

The roadmap provides businesses and the public with plenty of notice to prepare for the gradual removal of restrictions and we should all make best use of the notice period.

You should consider the following checks and considerations before reopening:

  • Review your COVID safe measures and risk assessment, including refresher training for staff, signage and queue management
  • If you intend to open for outdoor service on or after the 12 April, you must assess how many customers you can safely accommodate, seated, allowing for adequate Social Distancing, queue management, ordering and payment.
  • Make sure you have enough trained staff to manage your customers safely and in accordance with the regulations and guidance. Make sure your customers understand your rules and maximum capacity.
  • Where possible, let customers know about your rules and seating capacity before you open. Using Social Media is a good way to get the message out and manage customer expectations.
  • Make sure you have systems in place to take orders and payments at the table
  • If you provide food, ensure your kitchen staff review your food supplies for durability dates, condition and labelling
  • Check for any pest activity
  • Make sure your staff have the necessary food, safety and COVID awareness training. Refreshers courses are recommended for all.
  • Carry out a deep clean of your Kitchen ready for trading
  • Review your menu and allergens controls. It’s recommended to keep your menu simple
  • Consider introducing COVID testing for your staff

Training and Support

The Council is here to help with advice and support where we can. Please refer to our website for latest information on COVID controls and guidance. We are also happy to answer specific questions or offer clarifications where we can. Please email your enquiries or concerns to

Please remember that we do not have all the answers! We expect the Government will issue further guidance on how businesses can reopen in line with the roadmap, and please remember that the dates will be subject to Government review and are not fixed – they are “no earlier than” dates.

Advice for business owners and operators

You must keep on protecting your customers and helping them to protect themselves.

The following tips are for business owners and operators who remain open under the current guidelines.

Before their visit

  • Where possible, encourage customers to phone-in, use an app, or offer another method for them to place their orders before they visit.

Entering your business

  • Calculate how many customers can queue in the shop safely to maintain 2 metres social distancing and display this result clearly at the entrance to avoid confusion.
  • We recommend that you provide floor markings outside at 2-meter intervals if queues to enter the business are expected, to assist with effective social distancing.
  • Queues to enter the business should be managed to ensure that safe social distancing is observed, as well as to avoid causing an obstruction on the street.

Inside your premises

  • Ensure that customer ordering and waiting areas are not overcrowded by sticking to the maximum customer calculation.
  • Try to encourage customers to wear a face covering correctly. It should cover both their mouth and nose.
  • Use floor markings to aid in effective 2-meter spacing for your customers.Try to avoid customers waiting by doors offering entry or exit from the business.

Following their visit

  • Try to encourage customers to vacate the area as soon as possible once they have collected their purchase. Gatherings in groups is not permitted by law.

Posters to download and print

Government messaging posters

The following posters feature current government messaging. Download and print them to display in your premises.

NHS Test and Trace QR code poster

Support the NHS Test and Trace service by displaying a QR code poster unique to your premises. Businesses are legally required to do this from September 24.

GOV.UK: Create a coronavirus NHS QR code poster

Opening guidelines poster

Tell your customers when you are open and any distancing guidelines that are in place.

Download the Opening guidelines shopping poster

Health and Safety Executive poster

Demonstrate your compliance with health and safety guidelines using this Health and Safety Executive (HSE) poster.

Download the Health and Safety Executive poster

Maintaining social distancing in your store

The advice below is to help business owners re-open their stores in a way that is safe for staff and customers.

This advice was compiled in June 2020. For the latest guidance on social distancing requirements for businesses, visit GOV.UK: Working safely during coronavirus

Customer numbers

  • Define the number of customers that can reasonably follow social distancing within the store and any outdoor selling areas. Take into account total floorspace as well as likely pinch points and busy areas.
  • Limit the number of customers in the store, overall and in any particular congestion areas, for example doorways between outside and inside spaces.

Advice to give your customers

  • Encourage customers to shop alone where possible, unless they need specific assistance.
  • Remind customers who are accompanied by children that they are responsible for supervising them at all times and should follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Encourage customers to use hand sanitiser as they enter and discourage handling products whilst browsing, if at all possible.

Making changes to your store layout

  • Look at how people walk through the shop and how you could adjust this to reduce congestion and contact, for example, queue management or one-way flow.
  • Use outside premises for queuing where available and safe.
  • Ensure any changes take into account reasonable adjustments for those who need them, including disabled shoppers.
  • Manage outside queues to ensure they do not cause a risk to individuals or other businesses, for example by introducing queuing systems, using barriers and having staff direct customers.

Making changes to your services

  • Suspend or reduce customer services that cannot be undertaken without contravening social distancing guidelines. This may include re-thinking how assistance is provided, for example, using fixed pairs of colleagues to lift heavy objects rather than a single colleague lifting with a customer.

Risk assessment

Complete your risk assessment – you will need this to display your COVID-19 Safe Poster

Make the most of your window display

With shorter or different opening hours and customers queuing in front of them, now is the time for many businesses to rethink how their window displays can work even harder to increase sales. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  1. Make your window attractive and interesting – your customers have time to explore with their eyes while they are waiting.
  2. Make sure your shopfront is clean and glass crystal clear.
  3. Make a plan and rotate your display regularly to maintain ongoing interest.
  4. If you are proud of your display/s shout about it – photograph them and post on social media.
  5. Use your window for competitions to make visitors look harder at what you have got – Find something ‘hidden’, answer a question – related to what you sell.
  6. Most customers will be need-driven – they will know what they want before they come in – especially if they have to queue first and maybe conscious of time. So, think about what else you sell that a customer might add to their main reason for shopping with you? Load your window, where they may be waiting inside, and till area, all with quality impulse buys to build your average sale.
  7. Do you offer click and collect (if no, why not?) or home delivery options? Well tell customers clearly in the window along with how they can find you online – don’t lose the sale if they come to buy and find you shut or too busy for them to wait! Make yourself ‘convenient’ to buy from and exciting when they shop in person!
  8. Light your windows well – This is just as important in the daytime as night time – you have got to shout through those window reflections!

PPE suppliers

Below is a list of PPE suppliers to consider using.

Face covering suppliers

Masks are also available from Boots and Marks & Spencer in Swan Walk Shopping Centre.

Contact us

Produced in partnership with local task forces and businesses, we have produced pack of resources and information to help retail businesses reopen safely to the public.

The guides were produced and distributed to businesses in June 2020. For the most up to date guidance, visit GOV.UK: Working safely during coronavirus

High Street Recovery Pack: Retail

High Street Recovery Pack: Restaurants

High Street Recovery Pack: Hairdressing salons

High Street Recovery Pack: Leisure and tourism

High Street Recovery Pack: Beauty salons and spas

Restaurants poster

Tell your customers when you are open, any guidelines you have in place, and whether you are offering takeaway

Download the Restaurants poster

Hairdressing and beauty salon poster

Tell your customers when you are open, any guidelines you have in place, and how to book appointments

Download the hairdressing poster

Tourism and leisure poster

Tell your visitors when you are open, any social distancing measures you have in place, and how visitors can book tickets.

Download the Tourism and leisure poster

HM Government, European Union and Horsham District Council logos