• Covid -19 Information

Covid -19 Information

A message from our Interim BID Manager

This past month, as expected, there has been a major impact on Swindon Town Centre and its businesses. But this is no different to what other towns and cities are facing as we all follow the Government advice and have businesses only open in the town centre for essential goods and services.

On this dedicated Covid-19 webpage you will find everything you need to know from the latest Government advice and support through to information on businesses that are open either in-store for essentials, online or delivery.

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 only visit the town centre for essential needs, but to please use the online services available and to #LoveLocal and support our local businesses.

We look forward to coming through the other side. 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. These projects will come into fruition when we have a firm understanding of how we come out the current lockdown situation.

Mark Rogers, Interim BID Manager for inSwindon BID


LATEST NEWS

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.