New rules for businesses

Following the Governments update on Tuesday 22 September, businesses must now follow these rules, or risk a substantial fine: 

  • Rule of six: pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants will now need to take bookings of no more than six people, ensure people are not meeting in groups of more than six people on their premises, and make sure there is sufficient space between tables. 
  • Table service only: pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants should operate table service only – ordering food or drink is not permitted at the bar or counter. 
  • Test and trace: designated businesses and organisations, including hospitality, close contact services and leisure venues, are now legally required to log details of customers, visitors and staff for NHS Test and Trace and from Thursday 24 September businesses are required to display official NHS QR code posters under law. 
  • Face coverings: will now be compulsory for bar staff, shop workers, waiters and taxi drivers to help control the spread of coronavirus. Customers must also wear a face covering in premises providing hospitality (bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes), except when seated at a table to eat or drink. 
  • 10pm closing time: bars, pubs and restaurants must now close no later than 10pm, and remain closed until 5am. Takeaways must also close their doors to the public at 10pm, however, deliveries of food are still allowed between 10pm and 5am. 

Council officers are visiting all businesses to check these new rules are in place and will provide advice and guidance where needed. We all need to work together to make Lewisham safe. Businesses could face fines from £500 to £8,000.

NHS track and trace for your business

Hospitality businesses must create a unique QR Code and create posters for display at your premises to enable customers to ‘check-in’ through the NHS COVID-19 app. This includes hair and beauty salons, pubs, restaurants and cinemas. See the full list of settings required to display a QR code by law

Please remember businesses are legally obligated to log customer details manually where the customer does not have the NHS COVID-19 app.

Find out more about how the app works

Create a coronavirus NHS QR code poster here.

Support your employees to Self-isolation

You could be fined if you do not stay at home and self-isolate following a positive test result for COVID-19, or if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and instructed to self-isolate. If employees are prevented from isolating when they need to, businesses could face fines of up to £10,000. 

If you are self-employed and cannot work from home you may be entitled to a one-off payment of £500 through the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme. Details of how to claim will be available on our website shortly.

Latest updates on self-isolation

Trading Safely

Businesses have been working hard to open with COVID secure measures in place. These measures are vital in building the confidence of customers and residents to shop locally. Please keep up to date with our trading safely page. If you are finding social distancing difficult in your business, consider a pavement license which could allow more space for table service.

Trading safely in Lewisham.

Winter Economy Plan

Last week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak outlined the Governments winter economy plans. They include: 

  • The introduction of the ‘Job Support Scheme’. Intended to support businesses that are facing lower demand, the scheme will see the Government top-up wages of employees that are working less hours. It will be introduced on 1 November and will run for six months. 
  • The Extension of the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. 
  • The application deadline for all coronavirus loan schemes extended until 30 November 2020. 
  • Businesses that deferred payment of their VAT payments between March and June 2020 will be given more time to pay. 
  • Self-employed and other taxpayers will have more time to pay taxes due in January 2021, building on the Self-Assessment deferral provided in July 2020.

See the Chancellor’s full update.

End of the furlough scheme

The Government’s Job Retention Scheme ends on the 31 October. From the 1 September the Governments furlough contribution fell from 80% to 70%, and from the 1 October, the Government’s contribution will fall further to 60%.

See more about changes to the furlough scheme.


KickStart is a Government scheme to help employers offer paid jobs to 16–24 year-olds. The Government is only taking applications from businesses hiring 30 or more young people. Lewisham has one of the highest number of micro businesses (10 people or less). The Council are here to help small to medium sized employers (SMEs) who want to get involved in the Kickstart Scheme but have less than 30 job vacancies. Let us know if you are interested in KickStart.


If you are thinking of creating an apprenticeship in your organisation we can support you to make this happen. Apprentices are an excellent source of fresh new talent and are an extremely cost-effective way of creating a flexible and committed workforce. Their skills can be cultivated to meet the specific needs of your organisation over a relatively short period of time. Together with borough partners, we run a highly successful apprenticeship programme, matching suitable candidates with available opportunities. Find out how we can support you to offer an apprenticeship as part of our 100 in 100 campaign.

Small business support fund

Thank you to everyone who applied to the Small Business Support Fund. This fund is now closed. If you would like to speak to us about your application, please email

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