Business Closures and Stay at Home FAQs

To reduce social contact and help stop the spread of coronavirus, the Government has ordered certain businesses and venues to close. A list of these businesses can be found here.

With the exception of these organisations, the Government has not required any other businesses to close – indeed it is important for business to carry on.

Where businesses continue to open, employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home. Certain jobs require people to travel to their place of work – for instance if they operate machinery, work in construction or manufacturing, or are delivering front line services. If your employees cannot work from home then they can still travel to work, provided they are well and no one in their household is self-isolating. This is consistent with advice from the Chief Medical Officer (CMO).

Employers who have people in their offices or onsite should ensure that employees are able to follow Public Health England guidelines including, where possible, maintaining a 2 metre distance from others, and washing their hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds (or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available).

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does my business need to close?

If your business is on this list, it must close.

With the exception of these organisations, the Government has not required any other businesses to close – indeed it is important for business to carry on.

However, you should take every possible step to facilitate working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.

And if you have people in your offices or onsite you should ensure that they are able to follow Public Health England guidelines including, where possible, maintaining a 2 metre distance from others and washing their hands.

 

 

If my business must temporarily close, what does that mean for my employees?

The government has provided a range of financial support to help you support your employees, including a job retention scheme. Employers should consider carefully what is available to help them stand behind their workforce in these unprecedented times.

 

 

Do I need to issue a formal letter to my employees to give them permission to travel to work?

No, you do not have to issue letters or forms giving employees permission to travel to work. If you think it would provide reassurance to your employees, you can. Travelling to work, where it is not reasonably possible to work from home, is allowed. There is no legal requirement to provide a letter to prove this. Find out more on GOV.UK.

 

If my business must temporarily close, what does that mean for my stock and premises?

Businesses should leave all premises secure with the appropriate level of security surveillance.

 

If you are not mandating that I close, but I have to have people on site, for example, to operate machinery, who is allowed to be on site?

If your employees cannot work from home then they can still travel to work, provided they nor anyone in their household are showing coronavirus symptoms.

If your employees are showing coronavirus symptoms or living with anyone showing coronavirus symptoms, they should stay at home and not come into work. More details for how long they should stay at home can be found here.

Employees who are extremely vulnerable should follow the shielding guidelines and should not come into work.

 

Doesn’t this conflict with the stay at home guidance from the Prime Minister?

The Prime Minister has given a clear instruction that the British people must stay at home except for very limited purposes.

The limited purposes include travelling to and from work where work cannot be done from home. This is consistent with advice from the Chief Medical Officer (CMO).

 

If I have to have people on site but cannot fully follow health guidance on social distancing at work due to the nature of the work, can I continue to operate?

Yes, you can continue to operate so long as the guidance is followed where possible. This is consistent with the Chief Medical Officer’s advice. The guidance is available here.

We have more specific advice for tradespeople here.

 

What if my staff can work from home but we work much better in the office together?

People must work from home where they can. We ask you to take every possible step to allow your employees to work from home.

We must ensure that everyone plays their part during this challenging period, to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and save lives.

 

What if I have a dispute with my employees about whether they should come to work or how to keep them safe?

In these unprecedented circumstances, we would urge employers to follow public health guidance, take socially responsible decisions and listen to the concerns of their workforce.

Employers and employees should seek to come to a pragmatic agreement about these arrangements.

If individuals or employers need advice they should approach ACAS where they can get impartial advice about in work dispute.

 

What if my staff can’t come in because the schools have closed?

Schools in England, Scotland and Wales are now closed except for teaching vulnerable children and some children of key workers, listed here.

If employees need time off for childcare or to make new arrangements because their school has closed, they can use:

  • time off to care for someone else
  • holiday, if their employer agrees

There’s no statutory right to pay for time off for dependents, but some employers might offer pay their workers depending on the contract or workplace policy.

Businesses can also consider furloughing staff where possible, as HMRC will reimburse 80% of their wages, up to £2,500 per month, under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Support for businesses is available to help them pay staff who can’t come to work, find out more here.

 

I am a food delivery truck driver, does this restriction mean I cannot go out to make deliveries?

The government has introduced temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the drivers’ hours rules starting from 00:01 on 18 March 2020 and ending 11:59 pm on 16 April 2020.

This relaxation applies solely to drivers involved in the supply of food and other essential products to supermarkets. This includes the movement of such goods from importers, manufactures and suppliers to distribution centres.

It does not apply to drivers undertaking deliveries directly to consumers. Read more here.

 

Should construction sites be closing?

Saving lives is the Government’s number one priority, which is why we have told people they must stay at home. Travelling to work is an exception, only where this cannot be done from home, provided you and your household are well and not self-isolating. This is consistent with the Chief Medical Officer’s advice.

Construction sites have not been asked to close, so work can continue if it is done safely. Employers should ensure their workers on-site are able to follow the public health guidance, and they should consider responsible arrangements for ensuring their workers can travel in line with this advice, such as through staggering site hours to reduce public transport use during peak periods. We will keep these arrangements under constant review and take any steps required.

 

These measures will impact how my business operates, what support is there available to me?

The Chancellor has outlined an unprecedented package of measures to protect businesses, jobs and incomes as part of the national effort in response to coronavirus. Businesses will be eligible for different schemes to support them through this time.

Click here to see the schemes available, who is eligible, how to access them and when they are available.

 

What if I have more questions?

We are working with industry bodies, including business representative organisations, on how businesses in different sectors can best apply the advice, operate and keep people safe. We recommend you liaise directly with your sector’s body. Further sources of support can be found on Other sources of support and Support for businesses from outside of government.