Last updated: 24/06/2020

Business advice and support relating to Covid-19

We understand that business owners will have many questions in these uncertain times. This page is for business owners with questions or concerns about regulatory matters. General advice from Cornwall Council can be found on the Information about Coronavirus (Covid-19) page.

Due to offices being closed and people working from home please email the Business Regulatory Support Hub at businessadvice@cornwall.gov.uk. Our Hub advisors will contact you as soon as possible. 

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020.

The Government passed legislation, which required certain businesses to close with immediate effect.  These are significant measures in the overall plan to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The government have issued guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

The government have published a series of FAQs regarding: what you can and can't do after 4 July.

The government have issued guidance on which businesses and venues should remain closed until 4 July 2020.

Business Recovery Guide

If you are uncertain whether your business needs to close please check the guidance. If after checking the guidance you are still unclear please contact our Business Support Hub and we would be happy to help.  You can contact us via email at businessadvice@cornwall.gov.uk.

Cornwall Council anticipate that the majority of businesses will understand why these restrictions have been brought into place, and will remain closed. The Secretary of State has designated powers to

  • Local Authority Environmental Health Officers
  • Trading Standards Officers

to deal with any non-compliance.

Food Businesses

Some business may have already or will in due course consider switching to offering takeaways to local residents. The council’s Business Regulatory Support service has developed take away and delivery guidance. This will answer most questions on how to make alterations to your business model in a safe and compliant manner.

Further information regarding food delivery and take away has been issued by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

View the latest Government Guidance on the closure of certain businesses and venues as part of further social distancing measures.

For food businesses that are required to temporarily close we have produced an easy to follow checklist.

If businesses start to operate a takeaway service, and also offer alcohol with those meals they should check their licences permit ‘off sales’. If they are delivering alcohol they must also check there are no conditions that prohibit this. Businesses cannot serve hot food and drinks after 11pm without a Late Night Refreshment Licence.

The Food Standards Agency have prepared the following advice for iindividuals or groups that are preparing meals to share within the community.

The Food Standards Agency have published guidance for businesses on how to safely redistribute surplus food in the community and avoid unnecessary food waste.

The Food Standards Agency have released new guidance for the food industry on reopening and adapting businesses during COVID-19.

Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have produced a guide for food businesses operating under the COVID-19 lockdown.

Non-compliance

Please contact the Council's support team via email at covid19@cornwall.gov.uk or using our online form if any of the following apply:

  • You have concerns over a business not complying with closure regulations.
  • You are aware of a holiday let business remaining open.
  • You are unsure if your business should be closed.

To report a business that you believe should be closed please contact the Council's Covid19 support team using our online form or by emailing us at covid19@cornwall.gov.uk.

Schools

As the recovery from this pandemic begins, we want to be able to provide schools such with the best advice and support as possible. We want to be able to assist you in re-opening as quickly as possible, but most importantly as safely as possible for staff, students and visitors alike.

We have put together some guidance and service information to assist you in the transformation back into safe and healthy operation.

Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

The government, in consultation with industry, has produced guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible. The  guidance is to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

Closure of Holiday Lets

Cornwall Council is calling on holiday accommodation providers, including letting agents and online booking platforms, to support the COVID-19 response by following the Government’s closure orders.

We are conscious that things are changing rapidly and it can be challenging to keep abreast of the current Government position during the pandemic. Therefore we thought it may be helpful to produce an update on the recent changes to legislation and guidance affecting the tourism industry and in particular holiday accommodation.

Trading Standards

The Trading Standards team have been made aware of a number of Covid-19 related scams. More information on these scams and the support available can be found on the Cornwall Council website.

Holiday Accommodation Booking Cancellations

In Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly the restrictions on non-essential travel and the mandatory closure of most business premises has prompted a number of enquiries from hotels and other accommodation providers seeking clarification as to their rights and obligations in relation to forced cancellations. Our Trading Standards team have released the following advice for businesses relating to booking cancellations.

We have also received enquiries from members of the public concerning the cancellation of holidays and as a result we are now offering this advice and guidance to anyone wondering where they stand.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a programme of work to investigate reports of businesses failing to respect cancellation rights during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Business interruption insurance during the coronavirus pandemic

We are aware that many local businesses are trying to claim on their insurance but are being asked to prove there was a case of Covid19 within 25 miles of their business. Our Trading Standards team have produced the following guidance to support them with their claim.

Inspections and interventions

The Food Standards Agency have advised that all planned food hygiene, food standards and animal feed interventions, should be deferred for a period of 12 weeks from 18 April 2020 until 17 July 2020. We have issued guidance on the exceptions to this and information regarding urgent reactive work.

Licensed Distillers: Gin, Vodka and Rum

During the present emergency, if you’re a licensed distiller or gin manufacturer and you want to produce hand sanitiser you do not need to tell HMRC or get their approval. If you hold duty suspended ethanol in an excise warehouse, you can denature ethanol by either:

You do not need to tell HMRC, but you must keep a record both of the:

  • amounts of ethanol denatured
  • method used

The government has issued further guidance for producing hand sanitiser.

Further to HMRC’s announcement about alcohol used to make hand sanitisers, HSE have made a very similar ruling that manufacturers do not need to register alcohol based hand sanitisers under the biocidal product regulations.

Legionella are you controlling the risks?

Cornwall Council's Environmental Health Team is issuing a safety reminder that while many buildings, offices and leisure facilities are shut down due to the pandemic, that water systems and leisure facilities, such as spa pools, are still well maintained to prevent future health issues like Legionella outbreaks. This applies to all buildings irrespective of size and use, appropriate measures must be planned and implemented. The following guidance has been set out to support businesses control the risks of legionella.

ESGLI have published guidance for managing Legionella in building water systems during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Export health certificates

Where required we can still issue export health certificates.

Licensing

The Institute of Licensing has provided updated guidance on the delivery of alcohol.

Approved venues

Licensed venues for weddings and ceremonies can access regular updates on the Cornwall council website. Any queries relating to switching dates should be via email at ceremonies@registration.cornwall.gov.uk.

Wedding Cancellations

Working alongside the Ceremonies and Registration teams, our Trading Standards Team have prepared the following advice regarding wedding cancellations due to Coronavirus.

Pensions

The Pensions Regulator have issued guidance relating to pensions that you need to consider.

Further advice and support

Frequently Asked Questions

Question asked on 19th March:

Would it be possible for pubs that can no longer operate but have kitchens if it would be possible to rent those kitchens to someone who might do food delivery or to prepare food for sale through mobile food trucks.

Answer provided on 20th March:

If a business wants to do this first they should register with their local authority for the food hygiene element.

Cornwall Council Licensing Officers see no reason for it to affect the pubs licence. However if the Food Business Operator who is sub-letting the kitchen is to sell or provide alcohol than they would need to apply accordingly.

Please bear in mind that if takeaway operations are to take place there is a requirement that a change of use under planning law should be applied for under normal circumstances. In respect of this Cornwall Councils Planning Department have stated they are happy to relax ‘change of use’ for temp businesses wanting to diversify into delivery companies at this time within Cornwall.

Cornwall Council’s Head of Development Management within our Planning and Sustainable Development Service has stated that:

“The government are currently considering a temporary permitted change for pubs and restaurants to operate as take-aways - the legislation hasn’t come out as yet but it is expected. In the meantime, the Local Planning Authority would take a pragmatic approach to such uses if they are to operate for a temporary period of time.”

Further information on planning and COVID 19 can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Updated Response - 30th March

The government has made clear that all pubs, restaurants and cafes should no longer be open for on-site consumption.  They can however remain open to provide a takeaway service.  This right will be enshrined in legislation with a permitted development right (PDR) coming into force at 10am on Tuesday 24 March for a 12 month period. To support pubs and restaurants and ensure access to food during the emergency period, this new national PDR will allow:

  • pubs
  • restaurants
  • cafes

to operate temporarily as hot food takeaways (A5 use class).

To give greater flexibility, the PDR will also seek to cover cold and pre prepared food and will allow for takeaway and delivery. The pub, restaurant or café will remain in its current use class during this period. The PDR will be time limited to 12 months. Beyond this time, a planning application would be required for continued use as a takeaway.  

Question Asked 30th March:

Would a shop have to stop selling alcohol until a replacement DPS was appointed if the existing DPS for a store was unable to work due to Covid-19

Answer provided on 31st March:

It is not a requirement in any circumstances for a DPS to be physically present at the premises, unless there is a specific condition on the premises licence requiring the DPS to be present at all times. Such a condition is unusual. The role of a DPS is to be the point of contact with the Responsible Authorities and to have day to day management of the premises and a good awareness of what is happening there. Some elements of management and awareness can be conducted remotely. If the DPS is unable to fulfil their role for a short time, this is not an immediate offence. It is important to have a written record of who is authorised at the premises to supply alcohol. If your DPS will be away long term, or you lose contact, then you should consider a variation of the DPS, through an application to the Council.

Ordinarily, the Licensing Authority would consider 12 weeks to be ‘long term’. However, in the current crisis we would not insist on a variation of DPS if another personal licence holder is not readily available to be appointed as DPS.

In the meantime, however, we would recommend that existing DPS/personal licence holders cascade training and authorise other staff members to sell alcohol in their absence; it is recommended that written records of training and authorisations are kept for audit purposes.