COVID-19: guidance for businesses from 19 July

COVID-19: guidance for businesses from 19 July

Step 4 of the roadmap

The government has confirmed COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted across most areas from 19 July under step 4 of the roadmap (GOV.UK). 

We recommend that you keep following the COVID-safe behaviours we have had in place over the last year to protect your business and employees. You have a duty of care to your employees under the Health and Safety at Work Act (

All businesses should follow the working safely guidance (GOV.UK).

Providing a safe workplace will:

  • increase the confidence of your employees
  • reassure your customers that your place is safe to visit 
  • reduce infection rates, helping to keep your business open

Health and Safety Executive has published a standard risk assessment guidance and a risk assessment template to help you write a risk assessment.

Download a PDF version of this guide. (pdf, 209KB) (opens new window)

Face masks and space

You're not legally required to wear a face masks from 19 July but advice remains in place around wearing a mask in enclosed and crowded spaces such as public transport.

Businesses can set the rules for their own premises but customers should be encouraged to wear face coverings and to make space where possible. Staff should wear appropriate protection, especially when dealing with customers.

You should:

  • place posters in the window so they are clearly visible on entry and use signage to encourage customers to wear face masks and make space
  • clearly indicate the measures you have put in place

Ventilation of indoor workplaces

Ventilation is important to remove harmful virus particles from the air. 
Business owners must identify areas of the workplace that are not well ventilated and:

  • include them as a priority in your risk assessment
  • introduce control measures to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 as far as is reasonably practicable

Ways to ventilate

Natural ventilation: it is best not to recirculate air from one place to another. Opening windows and doors allows fresh air in and for air to circulate.

Mechanical ventilation: uses fans and ducts to bring in fresh air from outside. It can be used where natural ventilation is not practical, for example in a nightclub.

Air cleaning and filtration units: can be used to remove contaminants, such as COVID, where it’s not possible to maintain adequate ventilation.

With COVID likely to be with us for many years, you should prefer long term solutions to short term fixes. Where applicable, you should also make sure you keep volume down in line with your licence conditions, to prevent undue noise and disturbance to your neighbours.

It is just one safety measure and must be used in combination with other COVID-secure measures to mitigate against the risk.

Visit the Health and Safety Executive website for the latest advice on keeping workplaces safe to reduce COVID-19 transmission.

Read our COVID guidance on the ventilation of indoor workplaces (pdf, 92KB) (opens new window)

Close contact services

Because of the close proximity to a customer’s face, mouth and nose, close contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, should continue to take precautions and wear protective equipment including a:

  • face visor or close-fitting goggles and
  • Type II face mask

It is important for staff to wear both a visor and a mask.

You should continue to operate by appointments only.

Hospitality businesses

From 19 July, the following restrictions no longer apply:

  • indoor and outdoor social distancing
  • table service for food and drinks
  • no standing while drinking or enjoying entertainment

Business owners must decide what measures they implement to help manage customers and protect their staff. 

We encourage businesses to continue using COVID-secure measures set up under step 3 of the roadmap:

  • ask customers to remain seated to prevent a build-up of people at the bar or till area 
  • continue using app-based ordering and payment systems 
  • use outdoor space to allow for additional tables and chairs

You should also make sure that:

  • staff and customers clean their hands regularly by providing soap or alcohol gels 
  • you clean surfaces that people frequently touch
  • staff and customers do not come onto the premises if unwell

Outdoor structures or shelters

You must apply for an outdoor hospitality licence to have tables, chairs and other temporary furniture or structures on the pavement or road outside your premises. This will make sure your insurance policy is valid while you are trading on the highway.

You should talk to us before you start work on any outdoor structure or shelter, to make sure it:

  • fits with the licence conditions 
  • is suitable and safe for use on the highway


Shelters and structures

Any shelters or structures with a roof must be at least 50 per cent open sided to be classed as outdoor space. For example, a completely enclosed gazebo is not classed as outdoors, it must be half open to comply. 

If a structure is more than 50% enclosed you must treat it as an indoor space and follow the coronavirus rules for indoors spaces (for example, only allowing customers in groups of 6 people or 2 households).

Marquee with closed sides

This structure is more than 50% enclosed so it is classed as indoors. If you opened half of the side areas, it would be classed as outdoors.

Shed with three enclosed sides and an open front

This structure is classed as indoors because more than 50% of it is enclosed.

Large umbrella

This structure is classed as a outdoors, because it has open sides. Other structures that provide a canopy with open sides would also be classed as outdoors.

Test and Trace

Participation in Test and Trace is to become voluntary but we recommend displaying QR code posters (GOV.UK) to give your customers the choice of checking in on the NHS Test and Trace app.


The government is encouraging businesses and larger events, including clubs and festivals, to use the NHS COVID Pass ( as a means of entry to help control higher risk settings. Anyone over 16 can get one in England.

The pass will show:

  • proof of double vaccination, or single dose of Janssen vaccine
  • negative PCR test or rapid lateral flow test within the past 48 hours
  • positive PCR test within the past 6 months, showing natural immunity following a COVID infection

You should think about how this may affect access to your premises and:

  • make sure customers know entry requirements
  • have measures in place to avoid queue forming

Customers can get a COVID pass by:

  • downloading the NHS App, they must be registered with a GP surgery in England to use the app
  • using the online NHS COVID Pass service
  • asking for a paper version online, which shows you've been vaccinated against COVID-19 but does not show COVID-19 test results
  • asking for a letter 2 weeks after having your second dose of the vaccine or 2 weeks after a single-dose Janssen vaccine, it should take 5 working days to get it


Vaccinations will help protect your workforce and you should encourage all your staff to get their vaccinations.

All adults over the age of 18 in England can book their COVID-19 vaccination on the NHS website or by calling 119.

Regular rapid testing

We recommend getting regular Lateral flow (rapid) tests to help identify cases and prevent the spread of the virus. Testing can provide confidence to your workers and customers and help protect those around you. They are quick, free and available to anyone without COVID-19 symptoms, giving you the result within 30 minutes.

Tests should be taken in the morning, before leaving the house, to check you are COVID-free and not at risk of spreading the virus without knowing.

Read our Guide to rapid testing for coronavirus (COVID-19).

Order tests online on the government website.


If you or one of your employees receives a positive test result or has any COVID-19 symptoms they must self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test

You or your employees should also self-isolate if you have been told to by NHS Test and Trace, for example if you have come into close contact with anyone who has tested positive.

You cannot ask a self-isolating worker to come to work. 

Workers should only return to work when they have self-isolated for the required time, or later when they feel better, or when they receive a negative PCR test result following a positive Lateral flow (rapid) test.

Change from 16 August

Double vaccinated people will no longer be legally required to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case. Instead, they will be advised to take a PCR test and quarantine for 10 days if they test positive.

Financial support

The NHS Test and Trace Support Payment scheme supports low income workers whose earnings are affected by having to self-isolate or look after a child or young person who has to self-isolate with a £500 grant.

Working from home and returning to work safely

It is no longer necessary for people to work from home. 

There is no requirement to return to workplace-based working.

Employers can start planning a safe, gradual return to the workplace or agree alternative working arrangements with your employees. 

If you’re reopening your business after a period of closure, you should remember to:

  • complete a COVID-19 risk assessment ( to help you manage risk and protect people
  • make sure there is good ventilation in enclosed areas of the workplace to reduce the spread of the virus
  • assess the risk of legionella within your hot and cold water systems
  • increase how often and how thoroughly you normally clean your workplace, and be sure to clean surfaces that you do not normally clean
  • check and test the equipment you have not used while your business was closed

Visit the HSE website for guidance on making your workplace COVID-19 secure.

Domestic and foreign travel

If you or any of your employees plan to travel domestically or internationally for any reason, make sure you:

  • do so safely
  • plan your journey as far in advance as possible
  • have contingency plans ready in case you or someone you are travelling with becomes unwell

For foreign travel, the governments traffic light system (GOV.UK) remains in place and travel across the European Union remains restricted and travel is not recommended outside of the countries on the green list. 

From 19 July, people arriving from amber list countries who are fully vaccinated will not be required to isolate. 

Many UK airlines have stated that they will retain their current guidance around wearing masks onboard, making facemasks compulsory on flights. 

The one-metre plus social distancing rule will remain at a border, to stop people from red and amber list countries mixing with other people.