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Coronavirus Guidance

Coronavirus Hub: Advice and guidance for small businesses

Coronavirus Hub: Tangible advice and guidance on adapting your business during the pandemic


We want to support you in anyway we can during this critical time, that’s why we’ve compiled the latest Government guidance, webinars and resources as well as a free Bira membership support package to support you, your employees and your business.

With the rapidly changing nature of the Coronavirus information and measurements advised by the Government can change quickly. Please take the time to visit the Government website, the Scottish Government website the Welsh Government website or the Northern Irish Government website and our regional advice page.

In response to the Government’s action plan to help tackle the Coronavirus, we’ve outlined information on what business owners and employers can do to mitigate the impact to them.

Shops that are allowed to continue to trade under lock-down measures+

Shops up and down the country have been forced to shut their doors following the Government-imposed lockdown in a bid to stop the spread of Coronavirus.

Boris Johnson announced that Brits will only be able to shop for essential items such as food, and all non-essential traders and services must close for the at least three weeks. Supermarkets, pharmacies, DIY stores and most recently Health Stores have been announced that they are still allowed to continue to trade.

Click here to take a look at the full list of shops and services that are still allowed to trade.

Take a look at the Governments list of businesses that are required to close.

Transitioning out of lockdown+

Financial business support +

Government Support: In response to the outbreak of coronavirus Covid-19, the Government has put together an emergency package of financial support for independent retailers. These include:

In addition, there is information on financial support from devolved governments:

HMRC support: If you have any concerns and fears about not being able to pay your tax bills as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) then we recommend you contact Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in relation to the following business support:

Bank support: If you feel the impact of COVID-19 will cause your business to struggle financially, it is a good idea to speak to your bank about the options you have as soon as possible. Our advice is that prevention is better than cure and that you are in a better position knowing the options you have available.  Find out more here

Existing Supplier support: Check with your existing business service suppliers to see what support you may be able to receive from them during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Local Authority support: You may be able to receive support with your Business Rates during the Coronavirus outbreak. Take a look at the information below to see if you can get a discount from your local council or whether you may be eligible for one or more business rates relief schemes.

Employer and employee support+

Government support:
The Government has outlined various support for employers and employees during the Covid-19 pandemic covering:

Ellis Whittam Coronavirus Hub: With the situation evolving daily, Bira's approved Employment Law and HR service provider Ellis Whittam, has created a Coronavirus Advice Hub designed to offer a single source of regularly updated guidance so that you can take decisive action, minimise disruption, and keep people safe. Bira members can get instant access to:

  • Sample letters and policies;
  • Risk assessment templates;
  • FAQs and guidance documents.

Access the Ellis Whittam Coronavirus Hub by clicking here.

Distance training courses by Bira Training: Making the most of your time in isolation to self-educate can be a good way at keeping the boredom at bay whilst improving or learning new skills. Bira Training provides distance learning courses across Buying and Merchandising, Selling and Managing. Take a look at our courses accredited by the City & Guilds that you can complete at your own pace, designed to equip you and your team with the skills you’ll need to run your business.

Find out how to access retail Distance Training courses containing practical activities and exercises you can complete at home by clicking here.

Regional support+

Your regional Government

For members in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland it is advisable to keep updated on the latest government advice from your devolved government websites.

Find out more

Business Support groups and organisations

Independent retailers have access to various business support groups, both regionally and on a national scale. Bira have put together a business support package which can be found here.

You can also join your own community groups and by looking online and on social media. Another suggestion would be looking at your local Chamber of Commerce for support which can be found here .

Chambers of Commerce

The British Chambers of Commerce are also providing support to businesses. You can access the British Chambers of Commerce website here.

You can also contact your local chamber of commerce here.

Extension of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) arrangements - updated 25.03.2020

BIDs will be able to extend the maximum duration of their BID arrangements until 31 March 2021 by delaying BID ballots due to take place this year. This enables BIDs, and the local authorities who administer the ballot process, to concentrate on responding to the current emergency.

How you can help us to help more retailers+

Your member benefits:
Bira members have access to crucial services that could be beneficial to your business at this critical time. Now more than ever, independent retailers like you may need our support and guidance. It’s important that you explore and share all of the services that are freely available to you through your Bira membership. View and share all member benefits.

Share the Coronavirus Hub on social media: We want as many retailers to keep informed of the rapidly changing guidance and information available to support them during the Coronavirus outbreak. Share our Coronavirus Hub on social media or via email

Comment from Bira’s CEO:
“I know these are unforeseen, uncertain and troubling times for small independent retailers. We are taking our responsibilities to respond to coronavirus – Covid 19 – very seriously. First and foremost, let me promise you that looking after you, the rest of our members and the team here at Bira is our top priority.

I can assure you I am keeping abreast of all the latest Government information which I will be sharing with you on this web page. The information in this section will likely be updated regularly throughout the day, each day, as the situation unfolds, so please be sure to keep revisiting and please share it with other retailers as we need to come together to help each other through the challenge of the coming weeks and months. Having successfully campaigned to have rates relief extended to all retailers, we are now pushing government to make the cash grants and business interruption loans available quickly and with easy access.”– Andrew Goodacre, Bira CEO


Latest updates: Below outlines the latest updates that have been made to the advice and guidance that’s available to you on the Bira Coronavirus Hub.

A quick and easy guide to Click and Collect for retailers (even if you don’t have an ecommerce platform) – added 2nd November
Non-essential retail and hospitality to shut in new lockdown in England – added 1st November
Furlough and grant schemes extended through second lockdown – added 1st November
New five-tier Covid alert for Scotland – added 1st November
Welsh lockdown: No definitive ‘non-essential’ product list available – added 1st November
Local lockdowns: Covid messaging update for Coventry, Slough and Stoke-on-Trent – added 20th October
New support for businesses impacted by lockdown restrictions – added 22nd October
Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire raised to Tier Three restrictions
Bira angry over Welsh Government U-turn on ‘essential’ stores
Businesses reminded to display QR codes – or face fines
Health & Safety Guide: Cleaning Activities in the Retail Sector
A guide to preparing for Christmas in post-Covid retail
Retail footfall drops in September as ‘second wave of pandemic sweeps UK’
Maybe* Report: what shoppers want from retail over Christmas 2020.
CEO Comment: Is a national ‘circuit breaker’ the answer?
Changing employment contracts – Our key FAQ’s
Free downloadable COVID posters for your shop
FAQs for the Welsh Government
Coronavirus: Pensions Questions and Answers for Employers
Reopening for non-essential retail in Leicester- added 17.07.2020
Wales issue new guidance to retailers– added 16.07.2020
Mandatory face masks: What you need to know – added 14.07.2020
Eat Out to Help Out: What you need to know – added 10.07.2020
Face masks in Scottish shops mandatory from July 10– added 02.07.2020
Deadline to apply for SEISS grant approaching– added 02.07.2020
Non-essential retailers in Leicester forced to close again– added 30.06.2020
Retailers in Scotland urged to promote use of face masks– added 26.06.2020
Scotland update: Restrictions eased from July 6– added 24.06.2020
Retailers in Scotland urged to promote use of face masks– added 26.06.2020
Deadline for deferring VAT payments imminent– added 23.06.2020
Hairdressers and hospitality set to reopen on July 4– added 23.06.2020
Bira members’ survey results helps extend government protection scheme– added 19.06.2020
Non-essential retailers in Wales to reopen on Monday– added 19.06.2020
Shops in Scotland can reopen on June 29 – under strict conditions– added 18.06.2020
What you need to know about reopening changing rooms– added 09.06.2020
Lay-offs, holidays and furlough, short-time working and guarantee payments – updated 10.06.2020
Bira opposed to proposed relaxation of Sunday trading laws – added 04.06.2020
Scottish grant scheme extended – added 09.06.2020
Bira opposed to proposed relaxation of Sunday trading laws – added 04.06.2020
Reopening date confirmed for non-essential shops in Northern Ireland– added 04.06.2020
Face coverings to be mandatory on public transport in England – added 04.06.2020
Business rates revaluation postponed in Wales – added 03.06.2020
Bira 5-Step Guide to Covid-Secure Reopening – added 02.06.2020
Retail sector guidance published for Scotland – added 01.06.2020
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – updated 29.05.2020
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme – updated 29.05.2020
Furlough scheme update – no employee contribution until September – added 29.05.2020
Reopening Retail: Live Employer Q&A – added 29.05.2020
Bira Direct Supplier – Reliable Source now offers Social Distancing Kits – added 29.05.2020
Could there be changes to the furlough scheme? – added 29.05.2020
Ready to reopen? Don’t forget your risk assessment – 26.05.2020
Non-essential retailers will be able to open from June 15 – 25.05.2020
Government hosts free webinars – 22.05.2020
When can you claim for Covid-19 Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)? – 21.05.2020
Restrictions to start being lifted in Scotland – 21.05.2020
Bira Direct Supplier trading status and PPE options – 21.05.2020
Employer/Employee Support – last updated 20.05.2020
Regional support – last updated 19.05.2020
Shops allowed to continue trade under new lock-down measures – last updated 19.05.2020
Re-opening and empty building Checklist and Risk Assessment – last updated 18.05.2020
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme – what you need to claim it – added 13.05.2020
Furlough Scheme extended until October – added 12.05.2020
Bira CEO advice on life after lockdown – added 12.05.2020
Social distancing signs and screens – added 12.05.2020
Re-Opening an Empty Building Checklist – added 12.05.2020
If you’re not already, start selling online – added 12.05.2020
Gov advice for re-opening your shop added 12.05.2020
Bira Direct Suppliers’ trading status – last updated 12.05.2020
Bounce Bank Loan – updated 06.05.2020
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) – added 06.05.2020
Rainy Day Trust financial support for furloughed employees – added 06.05.2020
Government’s bounce back loan scheme now open – added 04.04.2020
Business rates relief advice – added 30.04.2020
Bira welcomes 100% Government-backed loans for smallest businesses – added 27.04.2020
Submit your Coronavirus-related questions to us. – added 22.04.2020
Taxassist Coronavirus Webinar on 27th April – added 22.04.2020
Furlough template letter – added 19.04.2020
Employer/Employee Support – last updated 15.04.2020
Lay-offs, short-time working and guarantee payments – last updated 15.04.2020
Coronavirus guidance webinar with Ellis Whittam – added 13.04.2020
Relaxed Trading Laws  – last updated 08.04.2020
How to stay connected to your customers via social media (webinar) – added 02.04.2020
Remote working: The four tools you can’t live without (webinar) – added 02.04.2020
Relaxed Trading Laws – last updated 02.04.2020
Coronavirus support package offering temporary Bira membership – added 31.03.2020
Restrictions lifted to help traders during Covid-19 outbreak – updated 26.03.2020
Further businesses and premises to close – updated 25.03.2020
COVID-19 advice for accommodation providers – updated 25.03.2020
Protection from eviction for commercial tenants – updated 25.03.2020
Commercial insurance – updated 25.03.2020


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