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Business advice and business support grants

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

If you are a local business or venue, you can get regular updates on government advice and support and local business support during the Coronavirus outbreak.

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

Restrictions on businesses and venues

  • From the 12 April 2021 hospitality venues can serve people outdoors. There is no need for customers to order a substantial meal with alcohol, and no curfew - although customers must order, eat and drink while seated.
  • Accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs, campsites, and guest houses must remain closed.
  • From the 12 April 2021 there are exemptions that mean some accommodation is open:
    • for those who use these venues as their main residence, and those requiring the venues where it is reasonably necessary for work or education and training
    • accommodation in a campsite or caravan park, provided that the only shared facilities used by guests are washing facilities, toilets, water points and waste disposal points
    • holiday accommodation in separate self-contained premises for members of the same household with no shared kitchens, bathrooms, sleeping rooms and other communal areas
  • Indoor leisure facilities, such as gyms and swimming pools, are open from 12 April 2021 but only for use by people on their own or with their household. Outdoor sports facilities, such as tennis and basketball courts are already permitted to re-open, and people can take part in formally organised outdoor sports.
  • Most outdoor attractions and settings, including zoos, and theme parks, are also open from 12 April 2021 although wider social contact rules will apply in these settings to prevent indoor mixing between different households. Drive-in cinemas and drive-in performances will also be permitted.
  • Non-essential retail and public buildings, such as libraries and community centres, are also open from 12 April 2021.

All businesses and venues that are open are expected to follow COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers.

If you are concerned that a business is not following requirement relating to Covid 19 restrictions and regulations you can report your concerns here: Reporting a business 

Salons and spas

Personal care facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons, tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services are open from 12 April 2021.

The guidance for close contact services remains and requires practitioners to wear both a clear visor or goggles and a Type II face mask to keep their clients safe.

NHS Test and Trace app QR code

The NHS Test and Trace app includes a built-in QR scanner to quickly and easily check-in at venues. The app allows people to know more quickly if they are at risk of the virus, so they can take action fast to protect their families, friends and communities.

Businesses can visit the website and 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.

Government support and advice for businesses during the Coronavirus outbreak

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

COVID-19 – Bedford Borough Council Commercial Tenant Survey

We want to know about how your business has been affected by COVID-19 lockdown since March 2020. This short questionnaire will help us understand your situation and how we can best assist you.

Take the Bedford Borough Council Commercial Tenant Survey here

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 telephone 0300 01234 35.

Legislation to enforce closure

Legislation is in place to ensure that these closures and restrictions are enforceable where businesses do not adhere to requested measures. Businesses found to be operating in contravention of these regulations will be committing an offence and may be subject to prohibition notices and potentially unlimited fines.

Please let us know if a business is operating when it should be closed by emailing

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. 

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: