District Dispatch - 11 January 2022
We know how challenging it has been for our local businesses since the new Omicron variant appeared and so we are pleased to tell you that further support is now available.
We have been awarded over £5 million to support those businesses who have been affected, through three new Government schemes. The first is a Hospitality and Leisure Grant based on the premises' rateable value; the second is an Additional Restrictions Grant to support those who may not be eligible for the first grant; and the third is the Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund, which is a new business rates relief scheme.
We are urging all businesses to check our webpage to see if they are eligible and to apply. Throughout the pandemic, our teams have made it a priority to issue grants to businesses as soon as they possibly can and so they have again opened up the application process at record speed.
Supporting businesses is a top priority for us. As you are aware, we have run various schemes, provided training opportunities, and issued grant funding since the pandemic began. We also have a dedicated Economic Development Team who provide support to businesses across the district and you can find out more about their work and the support they provide on our businesses support and advice webpage.
You may remember that before Christmas I announced that we were inviting independent businesses in the district to join a virtual high street. We have partnered with ShopAppy — an online shopping platform that you can use to browse products and services from small businesses across the district and pay for them online or in store. It means that if shoppers are going to make a purchase online then they can make that purchase from an independent business within our district and know that the money will go back into the local economy. Data from ShopAppy has shown that subscribers have seen a big uptick in additional sales with the click and collect service it offers. This is yet another enhancement we are offering to help give a welcome boost to our local businesses and to encourage people to shop locally. If you own a business and are interested in joining, please email: email@example.com
As you are aware, England's current Plan B coronavirus measures will continue for now and will be reviewed again by 26 January. This means that face coverings are compulsory in most public indoor venues other than hospitality; the NHS Covid Pass is mandatory in nightclubs and where large crowds gather; and people have been asked to work from home if they can. Everyone should test using a lateral flow device, particularly before entering a high-risk setting involving people you wouldn't normally come into contact with or when visiting a vulnerable person. Lateral flow tests remain free of charge and can be collected from local pharmacies or can be ordered online.
From Tuesday 11 January, people who test positive with a lateral flow test will be required to self-isolate immediately but won't be required to take a confirmatory PCR test. This is a temporary measure while levels of Covid-19 are high. Lateral flow tests are taken by people who do not have Covid-19 symptoms. Anyone who develops one of the three main Covid-19 symptoms should stay at home, self-isolate, and take a PCR test. You can find out more from the official PCR test announcement on the Government's website.
The Government has also announced that fully vaccinated people and those under 18 will no longer need to take pre-departure tests when coming to England. However, within 48 hours of arrival, everyone aged five and over must take a lateral flow test or a PCR test, which must be bought from a private test provider — if your lateral flow test is positive, you must isolate and take a PCR test. You can find out more on the Government's travel to England guidance.
Finally, please do sign up to our email newsletter if you haven't already. This provides you with the latest updates and the support that is available.
Cllr Eileen Lintill
Leader of Chichester District Council