Skip to main content

Business advice and business support grants

To find out about the grants we are providing, visit our business support grants page. 

Managing COVID-19 risks and risk assessment

COVID-19 cases remain high in Bedford Borough and businesses are encouraged to consider sensible precautions and controls to protect their employees and customers.

This could include displaying posters and reminders for customers and/or employees to continue to wear face covering when entering your business or within certain areas of your business.

The Government and Health and Safety Executive state that businesses need to manage risk associated to COVID-19 as with other workplace health and safety hazards. This will ensure compliance with legal requirements for managing the health and safety of their employees, and ensuring measures are in place, as far as reasonably practicable, to protect customers and employees.

‘Working Safely’ guidance has been updated to provide examples of sensible precautions that employers can take to reduce risk in their workplaces. Employers should take account of this guidance in preparing the risk assessments they are already required to make under pre-pandemic health and safety rules. 

The HSE provides guidance on completing a COVID-19 risk assessment which includes practical measures you should take, including:

The HSE guidance can be found here Risk assessment - Working safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

How maintaining control benefits your business

  • Forms the basis of your Business Continuity Plan: Keeping the business open and profitable.  
  • Ensures your local communities are protected now and in the future.  
  • Boosts consumer confidence: Enhances business reputation as a 'safe' business to visit.  
  • Reduces the risk of transmissible disease and, therefore, protect staff, customers and your business. This is very important, as infections are still relatively high, which increases the likelihood of being infected. 
  • Gives staff and customers confidence to interact with each other safely.  
  • Supports employee wellness and mental health.  
  • Reduces staff sickness and increases staff retention.

NHS Test and Trace app QR code

Businesses are strongly encouraged to display QR codes for customers to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app, to support NHS Test and Trace, although it is no longer a legal requirement. 

Businesses can visit the website to create their own QR code poster. Businesses can create an official NHS Test and Trace app QR code and find more guidance on the NHS website.

When to self-isolate

Businesses must not require a member of staff who is self-isolating to come to work. Business should also make sure that staff who feel unwell do not come to work and customers who feel unwell, do not enter the business premises. Further guidance on when to self isolate can be found at when to self-isolate and what to do - Coronavirus (COVID-19) - NHS.

Government support and advice for businesses

There is lots of COVID-19 advice, guidance and support for businesses and employers including business rate relief, business grants and loans.

Local business support from SEMLEP’s Growth Hub

SEMLEP’s Growth Hub is a government-funded local business support service.

Its business advisers can help you to navigate the current COVID-19 financial support measures and official guidance, and help you to work through options if you are not eligible for the Government schemes.

They can support you directly on your business continuity planning and overall business resilience.

Email or call 0300 01234 35.

Restaurants and pubs - sale of takeaway food

There is a temporary change of use from restaurant and pubs to allow the sale of takeaway food. This means that the usual requirement to secure planning permission for these changes is not needed.

The following types of businesses can now sell takeaway food, in addition to all that fall within Class A5 (hot food takeaways) and any hot or cold pre-prepared food for takeaway or delivery.

  • Class A3 (restaurants and cafes)
  • Class A4 (drinking establishments)
  • Mixed use within Classes A3 and A4
  • Drinking establishment with expanded food provisions, to a use for the provision of takeaway food,

The temporary change of use applies for any period up to 23 March 2022, but the operator must notify the Planning Department that the property is, or will be, used for providing takeaways during this period.

After 23 March 2022 or when takeaway food is no longer provided, if earlier, the use of the building reverts to its pre-covid status.

Check that your lease does not prevent takeaway use, as changes in planning legislation do not negate any restrictions or covenants imposed through your lease.

How to apply for a temporary change of use

Email to implement this temporary change of use.

Please provide the following with your notification:

  1. “GPDO 2015, Schedule 2, Part 4, Class DA” in the subject line
  2. Contact name, address, email address and phone number
  3. Name and address of the business premises in question
  4. The date you intend to implement the temporary change of use

More details can be found in The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Order 2020.

Lateral flow testing in the workplace 

Find out more Information for businesses introducing COVID-19 lateral flow testing for employees. 

Employee vaccine toolkit

Along side the work place testing scheme, Public Health England has produced a toolkit containing information and various media to help employers support their workforce in the push for getting people vaccinated. The kit contains Q&A documents, messaging, an employer briefing sheet and many other useful tools and is available at: Employer Toolkit - Coronavirus Resource centre 

Resources for businesses 

Businesses seeking more information relating to Managing Covid-19 within their workplace, can find additional information here.

Posters (PDFs) that can be used in business premises:

Please email us at if your query cannot be answered by the guidance above.