Frequently asked questions

What rules do I need to know before visiting the high street?


As a shopper, you are able to visit the high street freely but must not socialise with anyone outside your household indoors (including in cafes and restaurants) or with more than six people in total outside. You must wear a mask inside business premises (unless you are exempt) and must keep 2 metres apart from those outside your household as far as is possible. We would also strongly encourage shoppers to observe indoor and outdoor signage to keep safe.




Are there other ways in which I can help to make my premises safer as a business owner?


There are various ways in which you can help to ensure your premises are a safe and attractive place for visitors. We are encouraging business owners to make best use of their display windows this Christmas period, whilst you may wish to put up signage in your premises to make your expectations of shoppers and diners clear. You may also want to consider whether you are able to manage the peak level of demand on your business whilst maintaining your COVID-secure status. If not, you may wish to establish an entrance management practice at peak times or operate on an appointment-only basis. Businesses may also want to consider discretionary measures such as encouraging shoppers to use card payments wherever possible or providing hand sanitiser at entrance and exit points.




When and where do I have to wear a face covering or mask?


From 24th July, it will be mandatory for shoppers to wear face coverings in shops and supermarkets, unless they have a mental or physical disability that prevents them from doing so. Those who fail to do so may have to pay a fine of up to £100. This rule does not apply to other types of business, such as pubs and restaurants, at this time. It is already mandatory to wear a face covering on public transport.




What rules do I need to know before re-opening my premises as a business owner?


Firstly you need to check whether you are able to re-open by visiting the Gov.uk website: Local restriction tiers: what you need to know - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk. Our expectation is that retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will be able to trade to people in person but business owners are encouraged to regularly check the Gov.uk website to make sure they only open to the extent they are able to. The Gov.uk website: Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) - Guidance - GOV.UK also contains a list of guidance documents available for specific types of business to make sure you are operating in a COVID-secure way. You must follow this guidance if you are planning to re-open your premises to the public.




What is the We Are Back initiative?


The We Are Back initiative has been launched to provide businesses and shoppers with support to help our high streets re-open in a way that is safe for visitors and workers and which helps support our local businesses to recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19. The initiative is being led by Rochford District Council with funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). More information on the Re-opening High Streets Safely Fund can be found here.




What is meant by “re-opening high streets”?


During the outbreak of COVID-19, many high street businesses and other retailers were required to close their doors. The main exception to this was essential retailers. The Government has now announced that other types of business can re-open, including open air markets, garden centres and some food and drink vendors on a ‘takeaway’ basis. The Government has also announced a series of dates from which other types of business can re-open. From Monday 15thJune, all non-essential retailers will be permitted to re-open. Other types of business, including hairdressers, cafes and restaurants, are expected to re-open on Saturday 4th July at the earliest.




Are other retail businesses and local parades included?


Whilst the We Are Back initiative is primarily aimed at the larger centres of Rochford, Rayleigh and Hockley, where the footfall and density is greatest, the We Are Back initiative is also providing support to local parades including Golden Cross, Hullbridge and Great Wakering.




What support is available to businesses through the We Are Back initiative?


The We Are Back initiative has already delivered information packs to high street businesses and other retailers providing information on the support available to them with a branded risk assessment, branded social distancing poster and branded window sticker. Digital versions of these information packs are available to download here. The We Are Back initiative has also created this website to help direct businesses and shoppers to relevant support and advice. This website will be kept up to date as more support and advice becomes available.




What other support is available to high street businesses and other retailers?


The Council has a business support webpage containing information on relevant support, training and networking opportunities available to businesses including high street retailers. This can be accessed here. Organisations including BEST Growth Hub and FSB are also hosting a series of webinars specifically tailored for retail businesses. More information on these webinars is available here.




Will physical changes be made to the high streets in response to COVID?


We are working hard to consider what physical changes may be needed to ensure that visitors to the high streets can safely social distance and shop with confidence. As an interim measure we will be putting up signs and directions to encourage visitors to follow social distancing rules and safer pedestrian paths, including discouraging two-way use of narrower sections of footway and alleyway. We are exploring the introduction of more permanent changes or traffic management measures where these are justified and feasible.




How can I make my trip to the high street safer?


Visitors to the high street are required to follow the latest public health advice issued by the Government at all times. This is available at: www.gov.uk/coronavirus At this time, we are also asking that visitors to our high streets:

  • Do not travel to the high street if you have any COVID symptoms
  • Maintain a 2 metre distance from those outside your household
  • Follow signs and instructions provided on the street and in stores wherever possible
  • Practice safe queuing by not joining queues where it would block the footway
  • Avoid handling products whilst browsing, if at all possible
  • Use digital means of payment where available
  • Wear a face covering if using public transport
  • Consider bringing your own face coverings and hand gel with you to the high street
  • If you are intending to use Rochford District Council run car parks, download the ‘Pay by Phone’ app on your phone in advance
Please note that this advice may change at short notice in line with changes to the Government’s public health advice.




Will public car parks be open when I visit?


All Rochford District Council owned car parks are open. Please note charges are in place and will be enforced. While the purchase of a ticket using cash will be possible, it is strongly advised that the PayByPhone payment option is used to avoid queuing and contact with coins and the ticket machines. More information on how to pay by phone is available at: www.rochford.gov.uk/parking-and-travel




Will the markets be operating?


Both Rochford and Rayleigh markets are now operating in their usual locations (on a Tuesday and Wednesday respectively). Please note that in the interests of public safety both markets are currently operating at reduced capacity with fewer stalls than normal. The capacity of these markets may be allowed to increase over time where it is safe to do so.




Will public toilets be operating?


Crown Hill (Rayleigh) and Back Lane (Rochford) toilets are open to the public. Visitors to our high streets are advised to follow public health advice at all times by maintaining a 2 metre distance from others and washing their hands thoroughly and frequently, particularly after using public toilets. Please note that the public toilets in Hockley remain closed at this time. This page will be updated when more is known about timescales for their re-opening.




What time is best to visit?


We are encouraging visitors to consider travelling to the high street at quieter times to help reduce any risks of overcrowding. We expect the high streets to be busiest between 10am and 11am, and around lunchtime.




How far do I need to keep apart from other households?


From 4th July, people should either stay 2m apart or ‘1m plus’ – which is one metre plus mitigations. These mitigations will depend on the workplace or setting. For example, on public transport, people must wear a face covering, as it is not always possible to stay 2m apart. In other spaces, mitigations could include installing screens, making sure people face away from each other, putting up handwashing facilities, minimising the amount of time you spend with people outside your household or bubble, and being outdoors.




When can my business re-open?


We expect non-essential retail, hair and beauty, libraries and gyms to be able to re-open their doors from the 12th April 2021. Also on this date, hospitality businesses including cafes and restaurants will be able to welcome outdoor customers on a table service only basis.

From 17thMay 2021, we hope that hospitality businesses will be able to start serving customers indoors, however this will depend on Government monitoring of the rate of COVID infections closer to that time.

Nightclubs are likely to remain closed until 21stJune 2021, when all remaining restrictions are expected to be lifted.

More information on the Government’s roadmap can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-spring-2021




Are there grants available to support the re-opening of my business?


The Government has announced in its budget that it will provide ‘Restart Grants’ of up to £6,000 per premises for non-essential retail businesses and up to £18,000 per premises for hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym businesses, giving them the cash certainty they need to plan ahead and safely relaunch trading over the coming months.

The Council is awaiting guidance from Government before it can provide this funding.

Businesses are advised to check the Council’s website regularly where information will be published as soon as a launch date is known.

Link: www.rochford.gov.uk/businessratesCOVID19





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