• Covid -19 Information

Covid -19 Information

Covid-19 - All the latest information, news and guidance

On this dedicated Covid-19 web page you will find everything you need to know from the latest news, information, support and guidance to keep all visitors, employers and employees up to date and ensure Swindon town centre remains a safe place to visit and work.

It is important that as a community we support one another, both for the protection of our health but also the protection of the economy. We remind people to following the guidelines when visiting the town centre, to #LoveLocal and support our local businesses.

Behind the scenes inSwindon BID is continuing to work on projects and events that will ensure Swindon Town Centre is a destination of choice for shopping, business and leisure. #ShineOnSwindon

For all the latest information and updates, please continue to our Latest News section below.

inSwindon BID Company

LATEST NEWS

29th September 2020

Major expansion of post-18 education and training to level up and prepare workers for post-COVID economy.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson acts to boost productivity and help the country build back better from coronavirus.

  • Lifetime Skills Guarantee to give adults the chance to take free college courses valued by employers
  • New entitlement to flexible loans to allow courses to be taken in segments, boosting opportunities to retrain and enhancing the nation’s technical skills
  • PM acts to boost productivity and help the country build back better from coronavirus

Read the full press release here.

24th September 2020

Chancellor outlines Winter Economy Plan.

Rishi Sunak unveils government’s plan to protect jobs and support businesses over the coming months.

Delivering a speech in Parliament, the Chancellor announced a package of measures that will continue to protect jobs and help businesses through the uncertain months ahead as we continue to tackle the spread of the virus. The package includes a new Jobs Support Scheme to protect millions of returning workers, extending the Self Employment Income Support Scheme and 15% VAT cut for the hospitality and tourism sectors, and help for businesses in repaying government-backed loans.

Read the full news story here.

22nd September 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19): What has changed – 22 September.

The government has today announced further national measures to address rising cases of coronavirus in England.

It is critical that everybody observes the following key behaviours:

  • HANDS - Wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds.
  • FACE - Cover your face in enclosed spaces, especially where social distancing may be difficult and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
  • SPACE - Stay 2 metres apart where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place.

Read the full news story here.

Updated guidance for working safely and keeping your workplace Covid secure (Updated 24th September 2020)

Full details here

18th September 2020

Venues required to enforce rule of 6, NHS QR code posters and contact logs.

Hospitality venues in England are from today legally required to enforce the rule of 6 or face a fine of up to £4,000.

  • Regulations come into force today to ensure that businesses comply with the rule of 6 and maintain social distancing between customers
  • businesses failing to comply could be issued with fines of up to £4,000
  • designated venues will also will now have a legal requirement to maintain records of customer contact details and display an official NHS QR code poster ahead of the rollout of the NHS COVID-19 app

Read the full press release here

Customer Logging Toolkit can be downloaded here

Download resources to support visitors at your business or organisation. These resources can be shared by email, hosted on your website or displayed at your venue.

Introducing the app - explainer pack (PDF: 1.6MB)

NHS COVID-19 app features - overview poster (PDF: 1.9MB)

How to create a QR poster for your venue (PDF: 605KB)

Tips for displaying your QR poster in England (PDF: 1MB)

How to use QR codes to check into a venue (PDF: 653KB)

How to download the app on Android phones - guide (PDF: 2.7MB)

How to download the app on iOS iPhones - guide (PDF: 2.3MB)

12th September 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Meeting with others safely (social distancing). Published 9th September 2020

Guidance that applies to England only. If you live in an area where local restrictions are in place you should also consult the local restrictions guidance, for information about what you can and can’t do to manage the outbreak.

Read the full guidance here

It is critical that everybody observes the following key behaviours:

  • HANDS - Wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds.
  • FACE - Wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
  • SPACE - Stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors).

11th September 2020

Find out how to make your workplace COVID-secure.

14 guides cover a range of different types of work. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe. Priority actions are outlined at the top of each guide.

Read all guides here

11th September 2020

NHS Test and Trace service in the workplace

Guidance on the NHS Test and Trace service for employers, businesses and workers.

The NHS Test and Trace service:

  • provides testing for anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus to find out if they have the virus
  • gets in touch with anyone who has had a positive test result to help them share information about any close recent contacts they have had
  • alerts those contacts, where necessary, and notifies them they need to self-isolate to help stop the spread of the virus

By following instructions to self-isolate, people who have had close recent contact with someone with coronavirus will be protecting their family, friends, colleagues and other people around them, and will play a direct role in stopping the spread of the virus.

See further information on how the NHS Test and Trace service works.

Read the full guidance here

7th September 2020

Council focuses on economic recovery as Swindon prepares to bounce back

‘Swindon’s bouncing back’ – that’s the clear message from Swindon Borough Council and business leaders as the town begins to step up its economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

From today (7 Sept), a new campaign has been launched to highlight the positive steps taken by the Council and partners to encourage investment in the town and to help businesses get back on their feet.

Official data published in August by Centre for Cities, an independent think tank dedicated to helping the UK’s towns and cities improve, classifies Swindon’s town centre economy as ‘Strong’, an assessment of the performance of Swindon’s centre before the pandemic.

Andrew Carter, Chief Executive of Centre for Cities, said: “Swindon entered lockdown with a strong economy, and early indications suggest that it is bouncing back. Footfall in the town centre is now at almost 80 per cent of pre-lockdown levels, and its increase this summer outperformed the national average.

“However, cities across the country are facing a tough future, with retail and hospitality jobs under threat while many people continue to work from home. Swindon Council’s encouragement of town centre visitors and support for businesses puts the area in a strong position to move forward and protect jobs.”

The Council is bringing together a number of projects – some of which directly relate to coronavirus and some of which form part of the Council’s wider economic investment plans – to reassure residents and businesses that the town is well placed to bounce back from the current recession.

As a direct result of the pandemic, the Council has:

  • Introduced a fast-track system to process temporary pavement licences to enable hospitality businesses to serve customers outdoors
  • Administered around £30m in lifeline funding to over 2,300 local businesses affected by COVID-19
  • Provided wellbeing advice and support to local businesses and residents over the past six months
  • Worked with landlords and businesses across the borough to welcome people back to work safely

In terms of wider economic support, the Council has:

  • Bid for a slice of the Government’s £3.6 billion Towns Fund to help revitalise the town centre
  • Sought to regenerate Fleming Way with a new £25m bus interchange
  • Introduced schemes to make it easier for people to walk and cycle around the town
  • Allocated almost £200,000 of funding to help shops reopen safely
  • Worked with Swindon & Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership to fund the town’s Quality Bus Corridors
  • Progressed an ambitious five-year plan for a Swindon Heritage Action Zone to revitalise the town’s unique heritage and unlock its economic potential
  • Paved the way for Zurich’s new state-of-the-art office to be built in the town centre
  • Coordinated support for businesses at risk of closure and people at risk of redundancy

Councillor David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “These past few months have posed unprecedented challenges for residents, businesses and local economies across the country, but there are reasons to be optimistic here in Swindon.

“Our town has always responded well to economic shocks and there are promising signs we will do so again. We cannot control the global recession, but what we can do is use our influence and local powers to stimulate investment and growth.

“As our lives slowly begin to return to normal, we want to use this opportunity to make sure Swindon’s economic recovery is strong and enduring.

“So that not only means providing support to local businesses to help them get back on their feet, as we have been doing in recent months, but pushing ahead with major capital projects such as Zurich’s new state-of-the-art headquarters and improving our connectivity through the ongoing work at Junction 15 of the M4.

“We have also been making our case for tens of millions of pounds from the Government to transform Fleming Way and invest in the seven projects identified in our Towns Fund bid. It is through these projects that we will stimulate our local economy and help us bounce back even stronger.”

The Council is playing a key role in the economic recovery of Swindon, but its contribution is just one part of a wider effort involving residents and businesses, all of whom have an important part to play in boosting the local economy.

Swindon is already an attractive location for businesses, with more than 9,200 firms currently choosing to make it their home.

Through its partnership with Swindon & Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP), the Council regularly renovates buildings to provide attractive office space, makes land available for companies to redevelop and promotes the area through targeted campaigns and programmes.

SWLEP successfully bid for an additional £4m to invest in the Council-owned Carriage Works through the Government’s Getting Building Fund.

Paddy Bradley, CEO of the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Our local industrial strategy identifies the contribution that Swindon makes to the area’s economy and the opportunities for further growth within the town.

“Swindon has a proud heritage of development and changing with the times. The £4m contribution to the new use of the Carriage Works is a great example of Swindon, in partnership with the SWLEP, building on its entrepreneurial traditions and being at the forefront of innovation, investment and meeting the challenges laid down by this global pandemic.”

Keep up to date with Swindon Borough Council https://www.swindon.gov.uk/bouncingback

14th August 2020

Help and support if your business is affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).

Watch videos and register for the free webinars to learn more about the support available to help you deal with the economic impacts of coronavirus.

Click here to register for free webinars.


12th August 2020

Swindon Borough Council reinforces COVID safety messages to local residents

‘Swindon: it’s up to all of us’ is the headline call to action of a new town-wide communications campaign launched today (12 august) to reinforce a number of important public health messages to swindon residents.

The campaign is urging all individuals in the town to play their part in minimising the spread of covid-19 and keep themselves and the community safe. Earlier this week over 1,000 residents shared an update social media post from the council on the current situation, which reached over 85,000 people – showing the swindon community is keen to help spread the word.

13th August 2020

Prime Minister announces stronger enforcement measures as easements resume.

The Government has announced a series of tough new enforcement measures targeting the most serious breaches of social distancing restrictions as lockdown restrictions are ease for close contact businesses.

Read the full press release here.

10th August 2020

Eight reasons to Shop Local this week to help the high street bounce back.

Government urges shoppers to visit their local high street and support businesses during Shop Local Week.

  • Shoppers are being urged to hit the high street and support their local businesses during Shop Local Week (10-16 August)
  • shopping local helps support the local economy, creates jobs and boosts local communities
  • businesses have brought in a wide range of measures, such as plastic partitions at tills and hand sanitiser stations, to protect customers

Read the full press release here.

31st July 2020

Swindon Borough Council outline Covid-19 Outbreak Management Plan.

As we are moving towards recovering from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, local authorities are required to have a COVID-19 management plan for controlling and preventing the spread of the virus.

Our Outbreak Management Plan outlines measures to protect the public’s health by preventing, identifying and containing local Covid-19 outbreaks. The council’s Director of Public Health has been responsible for defining these measures and producing the plan in conjunction with the newly established Covid-19 Health Protection Board.

The aim of the plan is to:

  • prevent the spread of COVID-19
  • reduce the rate of infection
  • respond rapidly to any rises in infection so that they can be contained quickly and safely

Read the full document here.

28th July 2020

The 'Eat Out to Help Out' Scheme launches on Monday 3rd August, where many of Swindon town centres restaurants and establishments that offer an eat in service welcome customers back with up to 50% off food and non-alcoholic drinks every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday throughout August.

Below is the list of Swindon town centre outlets that have joined the scheme.

Octagon Cafe - Newbridge Square

Love Brownies - Faringdon Road

Aby's Indian Experience - Faringdon Road

Abes Cakes - Market Street

Boswell's Cafe - Brunel Shopping Centre

McCtaffs Cakes & Tearoom - Brunel Shopping Centre

Broccoli Pasta & Pizza - The Crossing

Indys Vegan Kitchen - The Crossing

Triple Two Coffee - The Crossing

Chopstix - The Crossing

Fillerz - The Crossing

Franklins - The Crossing

Taste of India - The Crossing

Burger Priest - The Crossing

Second Cup - The Parade

Costa Coffee - Havelock Square, The Parade and Swindon Train Station

Subway - The Crossing & Regent Circus

Rudi's Bar - Regent Circus

Lamaya Restaurant - Regent Circus

Swindon Rendevous - Theatre Square

McDonalds - Canal Walk

MoMo King - Havelock Street

Korky's Grill - Fleet Street

Jack Spice - Fleet Street

Da Vinci Restaurant - Fleet Street

Ibis Budget Hotel - Henry Street

Holiday Inn Express - Bridge Street

28th July 2020

The government has launched a new calculator to help employers with their next CJRS claims.

Employers can use the calculator to work out how much they have to pay their furloughed and flexibly furloughed employees, how much they can claim for employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions and how much they can claim back.

You can access the new job retention calculator here: https://bit.ly/CJRSCalculator (Please note that the calculator will be updated to reflect changes to the scheme over the coming months).

In addition, employers can now also download a template if you're claiming for 100 or more employees through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (for claims on or after 1 July 2020).

You can download the new template here: https://bit.ly/CJRSTemplate

24th July 2020

Today face coverings become mandatory in enclosed public space such as shops, supermarkets, shopping centres and takeaways.

Under the new regulations laid today, members of the public will need to wear face coverings – for example, a fabric covering, scarf or bandana – that covers the nose and mouth in additional enclosed public spaces, as well as frequent hand washing and careful social distancing.

The government has published everything you need to know about face coverings and how they help stop the spread of Covid-19. When to and where you are required to wear a face covering and full details of exemptions.

Read the full press release here.

20th July 2020

Face Coverings: When to wear one and how to make your own.

This information relates to the use of face coverings in public spaces where social distancing is not always possible. It is important to follow all the other government advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) including staying safe outside your home.

Read the full guidance here.

Face mask exemptions - all you need to know

The full list of exemptions has not yet been published, but the guidance is expected to be similar to public transport rules.

The government currently says you don't have to wear a covering if you have "any physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability", and would experience "severe distress" from doing so.

This includes:

if you're travelling with someone who requires lip-reading

if you suffer from severe distress when you put it on

suffer from a disability where you're unable to put it on

or you need to eat, drink or take medication

If you are travelling with someone who requires lip-reading or reading facial expressions, wearing a mask will not be compulsory.

Those who suffer from autism are also exempt.

The new rule will not apply to retail staff, but will apply to all members of the public. Children under 11 are also exempt.

20th July 2020

Face coverings to be mandatory in shops and supermarkets from 24 July.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock spoke about plans to make face coverings mandatory in shops and supermarkets from 24 July 2020.

Read the full statement here.

17th July 2020

Indoor theatre performances with socially distanced audiences will be able to take place across the country from 1 August.

The announcement marks a major step in getting the arts and cultural sectors fully back up and running, and follows the government’s announcement of £1.57 billion of funding for the arts, culture and heritage sector earlier this month, the biggest ever one off investment in these industries.

Read the full press release and guidance here.

17th July 2020

PM statement on coronavirus: 17 July 2020

PM, Boris Johnson announces the next stage in the UK Government's coronavirus recovery strategy.

Read the full speech here.

15th July 2020

VAT: reduced rate for hospitality, holiday accommodation and attractions.

If you’re a VAT registered business, check if you can temporarily reduce the rate of VAT on supplies relating to hospitality, accommodation, or admission to certain attractions. The temporary reduced rate will apply to supplies that are made between 15 July 2020 and 12 January 2021.

Read the full guidance here.

13th July 2020

Register your establishment for the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme.

Find out how to register your restaurant or establishment for the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme.

Read the full guidance here.

9th July 2020

Beauty salons set to reopen for some services next week under new government guidelines.

Businesses including beauty salons, nail bars and tattoo studios can reopen safely from Monday 13 July.

Read the full press release here.

For guidance and support, click here.

9th July 2020

Performing Arts given green light to resume outdoors.

Outdoor performances with social distancing can resume from July 11.

Read the full press release here.

For full guidance detail, click here.

9th July 2020

Government announces gyms and pools to reopen safely.

Outdoor pools can reopen to the public from 11 July followed by indoor gyms, pools and leisure centres on 25 July.

Read the full press release here.

For guidance and support, click here.

9th July 2020

Thousands of business advisers to offer free services to small firms.

Thousands of expert professional and business services advisers have signed up to offer free online advice to help small businesses bounce back from coronavirus (COVID-19).

Read the full press release here.

8th July 2020

Chancellor's Plan for Jobs will help Britain bounce back.

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak today set out a ‘Plan for Jobs’ that will spur the UK’s recovery from the Coronavirus outbreak.

Delivering his Summer Economic Update in Parliament, the Chancellor announced a package of measures to support jobs in every part of the country, give businesses the confidence to retain and hire, and provide people with the tools they need to get better jobs.

The plan for jobs is the second part of a three-phase plan to secure the UK’s economic recovery from coronavirus. Throughout the pandemic, the UK Government has acted with speed to protect lives and safeguard jobs.

Read the full statement here.

3rd July 2020

Council and police urge caution as pubs, bars and restaurants prepare to reopen.

The Council is urging residents to act sensibly this weekend as hospitality businesses prepare to reopen across Swindon.

Read the full press release from Swindon Borough Council here.

2nd July 2020

Public asked to leave a name and number with venues to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Executive Chair of NHS Test and Trace encourages everyone to “play their part in new national effort” by providing their names and phone numbers to the venues and businesses they visit from this Saturday.

  • New guidance published for hospitality and leisure sector sets out how organisations can keep a secure, short-term record of staff and visitors as they reopen this weekend
  • Restaurants, museums, and places of worship among venues asked to help visitors and employees stay safe

Read the full press release here.

27th June 2020

Government unveils £200 million package to help innovative businesses bounce back.

The Sustainable Innovation Fund will help companies recovering from the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) keep their cutting-edge projects and ideas alive.

Read the full press release here.

25th June 2020

Bill to allow al-fresco drinking and dining welcomed by hospitality industry.

With many hospitality businesses hanging by a thread, a new government bill to enable al-fresco dining and drinking is very welcome.

A Business and Planning Bill is being published by ministers today and will undoubtedly help the very survival of many of our pubs and restaurants threatened with closure as a result of the coronavirus.

Read the full statement from Business West here.

The government have released full guidance to accompany pavement licensing proposals introduced in the Business and Planning Bill.

The temporary pavement licences process introduces a streamlined consent route to allow businesses to obtain a licence to place temporary furniture, such as tables and chairs outside of cafes, bars and restaurants quickly, and for no more than £100.

Click here for full guidance on Pavement Licences

24th June 2020

Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services.

Guidance for people who work in or run restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes or takeaways.

Read the full guidance here.

24th June 2020

Close contact services.

Guidance for people who provide close contact services, including hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, tattooists, sports and massage therapists, dress fitters, tailors and fashion designers.

Read the full guidance here.

24th June 2020

5 steps to working safely.

Practical actions for businesses to take based on 5 main steps.

1. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment

2. Develop cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures

3. Help people to work from home

4. Maintain 2m social distancing, where possible

5. Where people cannot be 2m apart, manage transmission risk

Read the full 5 step detail here.

23rd June 2020

PM announces easing of lockdown restrictions.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has today (Tuesday 23 June) set out further changes to lockdown measures in England to enable people to see more of their friends and family, help businesses get back on their feet and get people back in their jobs.

Read the full press release here.

22nd June 2020

Plans to ease guidance for over 2 million shielding.

Millions of people shielding from coronavirus (COVID-19) will be advised they can spend more time outside their homes from Monday 6 July, the Health and Social Care Secretary has announced.

Read the full press release here.

19th June 2020

Government provides further halt to business evictions and more support for high street firms.

New code provides support to shops and local firms planning their future recovery with their landlord.

  • The UK government will extend measures to prevent high street businesses facing eviction over summer
  • New code provides support to shops and local firms planning their future recovery with their landlord
  • Industry leaders back code and welcome measures to support affected businesses

Read the full statement here.

19th June 2020

Government publishes coronavirus (COVID-19) R value and growth rates.

The government has today (Friday 19 June) published UK wide and regional growth rates for England for the first time, alongside R values.

The current growth rate for the UK as a whole is -4% to -2% and the R estimate for the UK, as a whole, remains at 0.7-0.9. Read the full statement here.

Check the current growth rates and the latest regional R values.


19th June 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19): scientific evidence supporting the UK government response.

The national and global response to the spread of COVID-19 continues to develop quickly and our collective knowledge of the virus is growing by the second. Click here for all the latest updates.

17th June 2020

Swindon Borough Council Discretionary Grants

Eligible firms in Swindon are now able to apply for the Discretionary Grant Fund which will allow some small businesses who have not previously been eligible for other government grant schemes to access critical support. This money is a grant and does not need to be paid back.

Mandatory criteria for all applicants includes:

  • Ongoing fixed property related costs (e.g. rent, mortgage, rate etc.)
  • Small or micro businesses with 49 employees or less
  • Demonstrate a financial fall in income as a result of COVID-19 (even if you are still trading)
  • Occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000
  • Have been trading on 11 March 2020
  • For applicants working from home, you must demonstrate your defined work area and costs associated.

Applications will be considered from:

  • Small businesses in shared offices or other workspaces where someone else pays the business rates
  • Regular market traders with fixed building costs and street trading licences
  • Bed & Breakfasts that pay council tax instead of business rates
  • Charity properties in receipt of charitable business rate relief in properties with low rateable assessments
  • Other types of companies or charities where applicants meet the mandatory criteria

Any business which has received or is eligible for some other COVID-19 government grant schemes, including the Small Business Grant or Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant, is not eligible for this discretionary funding. However, if you have used the Job Retention Scheme, Self-employed Income Grant, furloughed any of your workforce or accessed a COVID-19 loan, you can apply.

Even if you are now planning to reopen your business or you have been trading throughout, you are still able to apply if you can demonstrate income loss due to COVID-19.

A full list of the criteria, guidance and the application form can be found here and applications must be made before 9pm on Sunday 21 June.

16th June 2020

Changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The government have published revised guidance for the Job Retention Scheme, including details on changes that will come into affect from 1st July 2020. (Published 12th June 2020).

Read the full guidance here.

15th June 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19): letter to the retail sector.

Letter from the Minister for Small Business, Consumers & Labour Markets, Paul Scully, to those working in retail.

You can read the letter here.

11th June 2020

Local authorities across England receive funding to support new Test and Trace service.

Local authorities across England have been allocated a share of £300 million to support the new Test and Trace service.

Read the full press release here.

10th June 2020

Advice on staying secure during COVID-19.

Guidance from the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure for businesses and insolvency office holders on managing security risks during the pandemic.

Click here for details.

9th June 2020

Thousands of high street shops, department stores and shopping centres to reopen safely in England.

Shops in England selling non-essential goods will be able to reopen from Monday 15 June, the Business Secretary confirmed today, thanks to continuing progress in meeting our 5 tests.

Read the full press release here.

8th June 2020

Business Secretary launches working groups to help unleash Britain's growth potential.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma is creating 5 new business-focused groups to unleash Britain’s growth potential and create jobs, as part of the government’s plans to help the economy bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic.

Read the full statement here.

4th June 2020

Face coverings become mandatory on public transport

From Monday 15th June, you will be required to use a face covering when using public transport in England.

"While respecting social distancing and maintaining good hand hygiene remain the most important steps we can all take to stay safe, wearing a face covering can play a role in helping us to protect each other" Transport Secretary Grant Shapps

Read the full press release here.

How to make and wear a face covering here.

For all Swindon Bus Company information and timetables

For all Stagecoach information and timetables.

For travel by train:

First Great Western - train information and Trainline - train information

1st June 2020

Working safely during Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Updated guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments.

Read the full guidance here.

29th May 2020

Stay Alert and Stay Safe (Social Distancing Guidance)

This guidance explains the measures that will help you to stay alert and safe as we continue to respond to the challenges of coronavirus.

This guidance applies in England

28th May 2020

Six people can meet outside under new measures to ease lockdown from Monday 1st June.

PM Boris Johnson announced groups of up to six people will be able to meet outdoors in England from Monday 1 June, provided strict social distancing guidelines are followed.

Read the full press release here.

28th May 2020

Government launches NHS Test and Trace service

New guidance means those who have been in close contact with someone who tests positive must isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms.

Read the full press release here.

25th May 2020

Prime Minister sets out timeline for retail to reopen in June

The Prime Minister has set out plans for thousands of high street shops, department stores and shopping centres across England to reopen next month once they are COVID-19 secure and can show customers will be kept safe.

Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June and all non-essential retail outlets from 15 June.

Read the full press release here.

Read the full updated Guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments here.

24th May 2020

£50 million boost to support the recovery of our high streets

A new £50 million fund for councils to support their local high streets get safely back to business announced today by High Streets Minister Simon Clarke

Read the full statement here.

19th May 2020

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme set to launch

Employers will be able to make claims through the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme from 26 May.

This scheme will allow small and medium-sized employers, with fewer than 250 employees, to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related SSP.

Read the full press release here.

13th May 2020

Government announces roadmap taskforces

Five new ministerial-led taskforces have been set up to develop plans for how and when closed sectors can reopen safely, following publication of the UK’s roadmap to rebuild Britain.

Read the full document here.

12th May 2020

UK Government Guidance to help employers and employees understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

The government, in consultation with industry, has produced guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible. The links below will provide essential information to ensure the safety of everyone during the Coronavirus pandemic in the working environment.

Shops & Branches: Full guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments.

Offices & Contact Centres: Full guidance for people who work in or run offices, contact centres and similar indoor environments.

Restaurants offering Takeaway or Delivery: Full guidance for people who work in or run restaurants offering takeaway or delivery services.

12th May 2020

UK Government Guidance for your safety outside of your home.

Staying safe outside of your home: Full guidance you should follow to ensure that time spent outside your home is as safe as possible.

12th May 2020

Chancellor extends furlough scheme until October.

The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will remain open until the end of October, the Chancellor announced today (Tuesday 12 May 2020).

Read the full statement here

11th May 2020

The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy.

This government have published a 60 page document describing the progress the UK has made to date in tackling the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and sets out the plans for moving to the next phase of its response to the virus.

Read the full document here.

10th May 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation on coronavirus.

Boris Johnson announces the three steps of the government's route out of lockdown to protect the public and save lives.

Step One: Anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work.

And we want it to be safe for you to get to work. So you should avoid public transport if at all possible – because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited.

So work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home.

And to ensure you are safe at work we have been working to establish new guidance for employers to make workplaces COVID-secure.

And when you do go to work, if possible do so by car or even better by walking or bicycle. But just as with workplaces, public transport operators will also be following COVID-secure standards.

And from this Wednesday, we want to encourage people to take more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise.

You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports but only with members of your own household.

You must obey the rules on social distancing and to enforce those rules we will increase the fines for the small minority who break them.

And so every day, with ever increasing data, we will be monitoring the R and the number of new infections, and the progress we are making, and if we as a nation begin to fulfil the conditions I have set out, then in the next few weeks and months we may be able to go further.

Step Two: At the earliest by June 1 – after half term – we believe we may be in a position to begin the phased reopening of shops and to get primary pupils back into schools, in stages, beginning with reception, Year 1 and Year 6.

Our ambition is that secondary pupils facing exams next year will get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays. And we will shortly be setting out detailed guidance on how to make it work in schools and shops and on transport.

Step Three: At the earliest by July - and subject to all these conditions and further scientific advice; if and only if the numbers support it, we will hope to re-open at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, provided they are safe and enforce social distancing.

Read the full statement here.

The Prime Minister is due to reveal further details on plans on Monday 11th May 2020

4th May 2020

Bounce Back Loan Scheme Opens for Applications

Following the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s announcement on 27 April (link), the Bounce Back Loan Scheme opens for applications from today Monday 4th May 2020).

Delivered by lenders accredited by the British Business Bank for this scheme, Bounce Back Loans target small and micro businesses in all sectors, providing loans from £2k up to 25% of the business’ turnover with a maximum loan of £50k. Providing lenders with a 100% government-backed guarantee and standardising the application form is expected to lead to a faster process with many loans becoming available within days. Scheme Features:

  • Up to £50,000 loan: Loans will be from £2,000 up to 25% of a business’ turnover or £50,000, whichever is lower.
  • 100% guarantee: The scheme provides the lender with a government-backed, full guarantee (100%) against the outstanding facility balance, both capital and interest. The borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt.
  • Interest rate: The government has set the interest rate for this facility at 2.5% per annum, meaning businesses will all benefit from the same, low rate of interest.
  • Interest paid by government for 12 months: The government will make a Business Interruption Payment to the lenders to cover the first 12 months of interest payable, so businesses will benefit from no upfront costs.
  • No principal repayments for first 12 months: Borrowers will not have to begin principal repayments for the first 12 months, thereafter capital will be repaid on a straight line basis.
  • No guarantee fee for businesses or lenders to access the scheme.
  • Finance terms: The length of the loan is for six years but early repayment is allowed, without early repayment fees.
  • No personal guarantees: No personal guarantees are allowed, and no recovery action can be taken over a principal private residence or principal private vehicle.

Should you want further information, the following links might be helpful:

Link to the Bounce Back Loan Scheme on the British Business Bank website: here. This includes:

FAQ’s for SMEs on the Bounce Back Loan Scheme: here

A list of Bounce Bank Loan accredited lenders: here

For further information, please see the British Business Bank Press Notice: here

4th May 2020

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FROM SWINDON BOROUGH COUNCIL

New Cash Grants

Swindon Borough Council have received early notification about additional Coronavirus cash grant support for affected small businesses with fixed property costs. At this time, they are unable to administer the grant applications until they have received information and guidance from the Government as to the process and set up.

We will continue to keep you updated and thank you for your patience.


4th May 2020

Social Distancing Recommendations for Retail

Although is not clear when the non-food retail sector will re-open for business and the final decision on this will be made by the Government and the public health experts. However, it is important to be ready.

The safety and wellbeing of every retailers’ staff and their customers is a top priority.

To assist, BRC (British Retail Consortium) have provided recommendations which will assist retailers to facilitate the introduction of social distancing.

Read the guidance here

1st May 2020

Covid-19 testing has now been expanded to include more groups in England.

Coronavirus testing has now been made available to all NHS staff and care home residents who are asymptomatic.

For Guidance on coronavirus testing, including who is eligible for a test, how to get tested and the different types of test available.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested

28th April 2020

The Chancellor has announced a new loan scheme - the Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan

A loan to help small and medium-sized businesses affected by coronavirus, key details of the loan are listed below.

  • The scheme will go live from Monday 4th May 2020 and cash will be released within days for eligible businesses.
  • Businesses can borrow between £2,000 and £50,000.
  • The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.
  • Loan terms will be up to 6 years.
  • The government will work with lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan.
  • The scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders.
  • Small businesses boosted by bounce back loans, read the full press release here.

28th April 2020

Free online learning platform to boost workplace skills

Free courses are available through a new online platform hosted on the gov.uk website, called The Skills Toolkit. The new platform, www.gov.uk/theskillstoolkit, gives people access to free, high-quality digital and numeracy courses to help build up their skills, progress in work and boost their job prospects.

25th April 2020

New measures to protect UK high street from aggressive rent collection and closure.

High street shops and other companies under strain will be protected from aggressive rent collection and asked to pay what they can during the coronavirus pandemic. Read the full press release here

23rd April 2020

Coronavirus testing is now available for all essential workers in England and anyone in their household who are showing symptoms.

Booking the test has been made simpler via a new online system. Click here for details

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'Save The High Street' Recovery Health-Check for Local Business.

This week the Government outlined the first steps to guide us through the easing of the Coronavirus lockdown. To assist this vital recovery, ‘Save The High Street’ have compiled a checklist of top strategies for business on the high street.

The most important recovery and resilience strategies for local business owners have been included in the survey and covers the most important strategies for high street business owners right now, across 6 key themes:

1. Reducing your costs
2. Selling in new ways
3. Adapting your marketing
4. Collaborating as a high street
5. Preparing for the future
6. Funding your business

Click Here to get started

On completion of the survey ‘Save The High Street’ will also provide you with your Recovery & Resilience Health-Check, including:

  • A personalised report and score, highlighting vulnerabilities and opportunities across your business.
  • 6 top recommendations selected for you, each with useful content and step-by-step guides.
  • A telephone call with an expert consultant to discuss your report and recommendations (optional and for the first 1,000 responses).

This is FREE for all local business owners, from retailers to restaurateurs, salons to cafes, travel agents to lawyers, boutiques to galleries, and everyone in the UK. Provided by SaveTheHighStreet.org


COMPASSIONATE LEADERSHIP - HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT YOUR TEAM DURING CHALLENGING TIMES

“Compassionate leadership is the most potent way people can deal with what feels frightening and overwhelming”

(Kings College, 2020)

Leadership is quite often linked to words such as strong, resilient, brave and bold; however compassionate leadership is a key quality and in the midst of an international crisis, it is increasingly important. Compassionate leadership requires a level of emotional intelligence to understand the mind-set of your team. It requires leaders to pause and reflect, to offer a level of humility, to be honest, to remove barriers to communication and to put trust in our workforce.

How to build compassion in to your leadership

When staff are furloughed: Your workforce will have a range of responses to this: some staff will take this well and understand the decision process, some will find it hard to process and may react emotionally.

Your role as a leader is to understand that this is a normal response and it is also a moveable feast. Staff members may seem fine, but four weeks into lockdown, their feelings may change and there is a role for you to play in supporting their mental wellbeing. Mental Health UK have produced a helpful blog with things for you to consider.

It is also important for you to pause and reflect on your role in the bigger picture, you do not have a cure for coronavirus, you are not responsible for a potential recession and you cannot fix mental health problems within your workforce. You must prioritise your own mental wellbeing too.

Staff who are still working: this will present different emotions and may also include additional pressures such as home schooling, caring for relatives, general increase in anxiety and an increase in workload.

Kings College promote three overarching themes for compassionate leadership, which will apply to all businesses:

  • Connection and belonging – this is vital for good mental wellbeing as it's important your staff feel supported and connected, especially if they are feeling unsettled or anxious. This also includes ensuring that everyone feels part of the process and not excluded.
  • Autonomy and control - during a challenging time it's normal to want to take control, but you must ensure your staff have a voice and their knowledge and skill sets are being utilised or they risk losing their sense of purpose. Now is the time to put trust in your team to support you.
  • Competence - passionate and dedicated staff will want to go over and above and as a leader it is your role to review workloads, communicate effectively and ensure your team works together. This is especially important when staff are working in isolation and are not able to participate in activities that are good for their mental health, such as socialising with friends.

Key Workers - This comes with additional challenges and complexities. Key workers might be nationally recognised as heroes, but with constant reminders of death rates, staff working out in the community in any role may experience an increase in anxiety. They may also have challenges around home / work life balance and additional workload pressures.

Your role as a leader should be:

  • Keeping all staff protected from chronic stress and supporting all staff to prioritise their mental health. Mind have produced a guide for key workers that you might want to send to your staff.
  • Ensure that good quality communication and accurate updates are provided to all staff, especially those who are out in the community who may not have a business email address.

3. Rotate workers from higher-stress to lower-stress functions where possible to avoid burn out.

4. Implement good channels of communication for those working in the community including buddy schemes, regular supervision and team catch-up’s.

Being a compassionate leader will help your staff during this difficult time. The world will look very different beyond coronavirus and this approach to leadership will help motivate your staff beyond this challenging period.

Acknowledgements: Swindon Borough Council, Swindon & Gloucestershire Mind and Business West, Swindon Mindful Employer Network.


RESILIENCE AND GROWING THROUGH STRESS

“Resilience, the ability to recover from setbacks, adapt well to change, and keep going in the face of adversity”

(Harvard Business Review, 2015)

Resilience can be one of the main factors on which we judge ourselves and others on. A lack of resilience is often perceived as weakness or failure, which can lead to spiraling negative thought processes and self-doubt.

This self- doubt is more likely to affect your leadership than the set- back you faced in the first place. A more constructive approach to resilience is to understand your current level of ability to bounce back, accept where you are and grow through adversity.

Understanding your current level of resilience

The Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale is a great self-assessment tool, which looks to identify your ability to adapt to change, cope with stress, handle unpleasant feelings and make informed decisions under pressure. There also needs to be a level of self-reflection to help understand your coping mechanisms as well as your available resources such as your social networks and your physical health.

It is then about acceptance. You may not feel resilient and that is okay, even the best leaders in the world suffer set-backs, cry and have sleepless nights thinking they will never get through it, but they do and they grow from these challenges.

Growing your resilience levels

American psychologist Martin Seligman discusses his research findings in this area as part of HBR’s Mental Toughness. He highlights that most of his research participants claimed that their success had come from a challenging and sometimes quite traumatic experience, including the loss of a business due to an economic crash.

Growth from set-backs has been covered extensively by other psychologists including Richard G. Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun, who focus on improved relationships, personal strength and a greater appreciation for life, people do survive even the hardest of times.

How do we grow our resilience?

Seligman suggested that the key to resilience building comes down to learning from set-backs, not letting them define you or dictate your future prospects.The suggested mechanisms for this were self-care, developing optimism and focusing on strengths.

Self-care from set-backs:

During a period of high pressure, or indeed a set-back, you need to prioritise your health This article from Noam Shpancer here suggests:

  • Nurturing rather than isolating yourself
  • Prioritising meaningful activities
  • Being honest and flexible with your feelings
  • Problem solving rather than avoiding the problem or worrying

Developing an optimistic view:

  • Personalisation - How much of the situation are you actually responsible for? How much of it can you actually change?
  • Pervasiveness - How much will this actually impact your life? How much will this actually impact your future? Does this define you?
  • Permanence - Will this set-back be short term? Will it actually affect you long term?

To gain a better understanding of developing optimism click here

Focus on your strengths to move forward:

Once you have applied self-care and questioned any pessimistic views you hold, your next move should be to focus on your strengths. The VIA strength survey allows us to hone in on and utilise our resources to overcome adversity.

However the current challenge is affecting you or your business, prioritising your wellbeing and understanding that all challenges can be overcome is going to be key to moving forward, even if these challenge seem impossible. Anyone that is struggling with additional stress and pressure should also be aware that there is national and local support available, please click here.

Acknowledgements: Swindon Borough Council, Swindon & Gloucestershire Mind and Business West, Swindon Mindful Employer Network.


Swindon Borough Council #HereForSwindon

Swindon Borough Council measures to support residents and businesses during the Covid-19 outbreak. The council is responsible for administering the following grant funding in Swindon Borough:

- Small business grant funding
- Cash grant for retail, hospitality, and leisure
- Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure
- Business rates holiday for nurseries

Swindon Borough Council have now published a list of businesses and organisations who they believe may be eligible for government grants but are yet to apply. Please visit their website to check the list, have a look at the eligibility criteria and get in touch: www.swindon.gov.uk/covidbusiness

They have processed over £20m in grants to 1,670 firms in Swindon so far but would still need to hear from more so they can help be #HereForSwindon

Service updates, health advice, and other things you should know: swindon.gov.uk/coronavirus

How our most vulnerable residents can get essential food, household supplies and prescriptions: swindon.gov.uk/emergencyhelp

For any other information relating to Swindon Borough Council's #HereForSwindon campaign, visit: https://www.swindon.gov.uk/hereforswindon

Over the last three weeks 1,951 eBooks have been loaned from Swindon Library's online collection. There are hundreds of books and audio books to choose from, sign up to become an online library member here.

Government Support for Businesses, Employers and Employees

You can now claim wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Claim for 80% of your employee’s wages plus any employer National Insurance and pension contributions, if you have put them on furlough because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Details on this and other Government available support can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

The Government has provided full guidance in the following documents:

GOV.UK website - Coronavirus (COVID-19): business support grant funding - guidance for businesses

GOV.UK website - Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on business support grant funding

GOV.UK website - Business rates: expanded retail discount - guidance

GOV.UK website - Business rates: nursery (childcare) discount 2020 to 2021: coronavirus response – local authority guidance

Find out what financial support is available for your business: www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder


Trading Through Coronavirus

Business West is offering guidance and support to businesses and their employees across the South West of England and beyond during this period of unprecedented disruption. Their expert team are busy answering 100's of your questions and concerns on how coronavirus (COVID-19) is impacting your business.

Find out more here: https://www.businesswest.co.uk/trading-through-coronavirus

Stay at home to stop coronavirus spreading

Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus. You should only leave your home for very limited purposes:

  • shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
  • one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household
  • any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: When and how to use masks

The World Health Organisation (WHO) provides advice on the use of masks in communities.

Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19 can be found here.

DENTISTS & OPTICIANS - URGENT CARE AND ADVICE

BRUNEL DENTAL PRACTICE

Owing to the Corona virus outbreak Brunel Dental practice is now closed and will be open only on Monday and Thursday 10 am to 3 pm for pre-booked emergency patients only. Click here for home care sheets which you may find helpful.

AMBIENCE DENTAL PRACTICE

Ambience Dental Practice Is Temporarily Closed for Face To Face Appointments They are operating a telephone triage service & remote prescription service. Please call for urgent care & emergencies on 01793 529 985

WHITE HORSE OPTICAL

White Horse Optical have ceased all non essential eye examinations and offer only essential services. Essential services include eye examinations based on a clinical need, and urgent eye care pathways. If you have any concerns please contact us by phone 01793 432751 or email swindon@whitehorseoptical.co.uk.

HAINE & SMITH OPTICIAN

Haine & Smith have as of 23/03 made the decision to temporarily close all of our practices from Wednesday 25th March. They will be running an urgent and essential service by phone only. Details of how to contact Haine & Smith can be found in the FAQ of their home page.

VISION EXPRESS

Vison Express are currently only able to provide essential care for emergencies and urgent needs only. Call us on 0800 038 2177 to arrange an appointment.

SPECSAVERS

Specsavers are temporarily closed due to the current situation, for urgent or essential care, please contact the store on 01793 617858

Swindon Town Centre Open For Essentials

A number of businesses continue to trade through these very challenging times to provide essential goods and services. In line with the government guidelines, stay home and only visit Swindon Town Centre for essentials and please follow the two metre distancing to protect yourself, the staff and other visitors.

Swindon Town Centre businesses providing an online service

In line with the government guidelines, non-essential businesses are closed in Swindon Town Centre but continue to provide an online service.

Restaurants and Takeaways providing Home Delivery

Swindon Town Centre restaurants and takeaways offering contact free home delivery.

Parking in Swindon Town Centre

The following town centre car parks are completely closed:

- Brunel North
- Spring Gardens

The following town centre car parks are open with no lift access:
- Brunel West
- Fleming Way
- Whalebridge

All surface level car parks where you pay and display are open for essential journeys.
Car park tariffs are in operation.