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Business responsibilities and guidance during COVID-19

New rules and guidance have been introduced for all businesses operating during COVID-19 and in particular, from 4 July 2020, there are important changes on what businesses must do. ALL businesses should check these changes carefully.

As guidance is likely to be updated regularly, please continue to check this page as well as the information sources below, to ensure that you have the most current information. View the list of businesses that must remain closed by law and any exceptions to this on GOV.UK

Key changes

The following key changes have been introduced from 24 September 2020:

  • Many businesses will be required to close between 10pm and 5am. This includes takeaways, although delivery services can continue after 10pm.
  • Businesses selling food and drink to be consumed indoors, and on-site, must provide this through table service only.
  • It will be law for both face coverings and visors to be worn in close contact services.
  • Staff in hospitality and retail businesses will be required to wear face coverings.
  • Many businesses will be required to display the NHS Test and Trace QR Code.
WarningFrom 28 September 2020 COVID-19 secure requirements for businesses will become law. Businesses and organisations can be fined for not complying with these requirements.


The following key changes have been introduced for ALL businesses to adhere to from 4 July 2020:

  • From the 14th of September, gatherings of over 6 people will be against the law (with few exceptions).
  • Everyone must follow social distancing guidance where possible (including if you are offering food for takeaway or delivery)
  • Where 2 metre distancing is not possible, 1 metre distancing with additional risk mitigation is acceptable (‘1m plus’) - this must also be considered when providing customer seating
  • Employers must review their business’ risk assessments to account for COVID-19 related risks
  • Consider closing your business if you're unable to introduce measures to control the spread of COVID-19

Social distancing in the workplace

The government has published guidance on how to safely operate in different workplaces and sectors during the pandemic, including how to effectively maintain social distancing in these settings. If you're unable to consistently maintain 2 metre distancing on your premises, you can maintain 1 metre distancing if you use other suitable measures to control the risk of infection. It is very important that businesses follow this guidance to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep people safe.

You must not allow gatherings of more than 6 people to occur on your premises unless your business is exempt from these requirements. You are allowed to accommodate bookings and groups of more than 6 people, but you must split them up into separate groups of no more than 6 people while they are on your premises.

Other things to consider:

  • How will people move around in your premises? Try to avoid ‘pinch points’ and congestion, and if you have multiple entrances or exits available, try to put a ‘one-way’ system in place for people to follow.
  • Queues should be managed to ensure they don't cause a risk to other people or other businesses.
  • If you are offering tables and chairs for customers, these should be regularly disinfected immediately after use.
  • Limit the amount of cash being handled on-site, and if possible, try to use a contactless payment system for transactions. 

Government rules on ‘support bubbles’ and gatherings still apply to business premises. See what you can and can't do on GOV.UK

Test and Trace

From 24 September 2020 many businesses will have a legal requirement to display a NHS Test and Trace QR Code. You can read the guidance on what contact details you are legally required to take as a business on the GOV.UK website.You must handle this information in accordance with the GDPR requirements.

From the 18th of September, the law will require you to keep a temporary record of contact details for any customers and site visitors for 21 days, to help support the NHS Test and Trace system. This information can be requested by the authorities to help contain clusters or outbreaks of COVID-19. If you are not already taking bookings, you must ask people for these details before they leave your business premises.

Managing an outbreak

Public Health England have produced Action Cards for businesses to use as a reference when dealing with a suspected or confirmed case or COVID-19. You can access these on PHE's website.


If you have customer toilets, these must be available for use and you should be thoroughly cleaning them on a regular basis. You may need to manage how many people are allowed to enter your toilets at one time.

Risk assessments

Employers must carry out a risk assessment and take reasonable steps to protect their workers and others from COVID-19.

You will also need to consider whether any social distancing changes made to your business’ operations have introduced other risks. The Health and Safety Executive have published guidance on carrying out a COVID-19 risk assessment and talking with your workers about working safely during the outbreak.

Legionella risks

As many businesses are closed due to COVID-19, there is a risk of Legionella bacteria multiplying in dormant water in unused water systems, especially during warmer weather. Legionella bacteria is often naturally present in water systems, and can cause the potentially fatal Legionnaires’ disease.

Your business should already have a Legionella risk assessment, and this should be reviewed to ensure correct steps are taken to control any risks of Legionella bacteria building up in water systems during a closure period. The Health and Safety Executive have published guidance on Legionella risks during the outbreak, and what employers must do.

Planning and licensing changes

There are some changes to planning and licensing:

  • Planning regulations have been relaxed for a 12 month period, to enable restaurants, cafés and pubs which do not currently offer delivery or hot food takeaway to do so, without needing the normal planning permission. If you intend to make this change of use, please let our Development Management team know by emailing You will still need the appropriate licences, so please also contact our Licensing Team if necessary:
  • You must not include alcoholic beverages in your takeaway or delivery services if your license doesn't already permit this.
  • We will not be taking Planning Enforcement action against any retailer who makes or receives deliveries at 'unsocial' hours that would not normally be allowed due to the government relaxing regulations around the hours that retailers can make or accept deliveries of essential items. We appreciate that this may cause some disruption and noise disturbance to nearby residents, and ask you to bear with us at this time of crisis.

Food business changes

Registration for food businesses

If you are starting a new food business, or you are an existing food business who changed its operations due to the COVID-19 outbreak (including starting to offer food takeaway or delivery), you must let us know by emailing

If you are a new food business, download and complete our registration form and attach to your email.

Donate excess food

If you have any excess food, you can donate this to a local charitable organisation (such as Food Cycle or FareShare), rather than throw it away. However, you can only donate food that has not gone past its ‘use-by’ date, or, food that is past its ‘best before’ date, but is still safe to eat.

Dealing with food related waste

The following steps must be followed when dealing with food related waste: 

  • dispose hygienically of any waste that is generated - waste food must not be left to build up in storage areas or waste bins, as this can attract pests
  • recycle waste food
  • double bag and seal domestic tissues and cleaning cloths from any potentially infected households - to protect waste service operatives, these bags should be kept for 72 hours before collection, and clearly marked as ‘potentially contaminated personal waste’
  • do not put antibacterial wipes down the toilet
  • make sure all waste is collected by a registered carrier (all businesses have a duty of care for any waste they generate, but go to our business waste page for more details).

Complaints and advice

If you have concerns about a business in the Bath and North East Somerset area that is not following social distancing guidance, or you would like further advice on how to put safe working practices in place for your own business, email the Public Protection department

Keep updated

Social media is a valuable tool at a time like this, but it can also contain misinformation and rumour, which isn’t helpful. The following Twitter accounts will be regularly posting the latest factual advice and information related to COVID-19.

For updates about Bath & North East Somerset Council services during the crisis, visit our Coronavirus web page. You can also contact us through our dedicated email address Covid-19incidentcomms@