Our Colchester


Please use this link to read our reopening pack designed for businesses in the town centre.


Recent update (Thursday 16th July)

Face Masks

In England, you must by law wear a face covering in the following settings:

Measures can be taken if people do not comply with this law. Transport operators can deny service or direct someone to wear a face covering. If necessary, the police and Transport for London authorised officers can issue fines of £100 (halving to £50 if paid within 14 days). Shops and supermarkets will be expected to encourage compliance with the law (as they would do more generally) and can refuse entry. In both cases, if necessary, the police have the powers to enforce these measures, including through issuing a fine of £100 (halving to £50 if paid within 14 days).

You are also strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

Reopened on 4th July:

  • Pubs, bars and restaurants but only with a table service indoors, and owners will be asked to keep contact details of customers to help with contact tracing. Further advice from the licensing team can be read here.
  • Hotels, holiday apartments, campsites and caravan parks but shared facilities must be cleaned properly
  • Hair salons and barbers will be able to reopen but must have protective measures, such as visors, in place. Further advice from the licensing team can be found here.
  • Libraries, community centres and bingo halls
  • Cinemas, museums and galleries

Keeping workers and customers safe during COVID-19 in resturants, pubs, bars and takeaway services. 

This guidance applies to any food preparation or service setting where food and drink is sold for consumption at venues or for takeaway or delivery. For example, restaurants, pubs, bars, beer gardens, food to go, cafes, social and similar clubs operating as bars and restaurants, mobile catering and contract catering or similar environments where food and drink is purchased and consumed at a venue in their indoor or outdoor areas or offered for takeaway or delivery.

This guidance also considers entertainment in restaurants, pubs and bars and similar venues where food or drink is served, provided they meet current government criteria for safe reopening.

It does not apply to food preparation or food service in clinical or healthcare settings.

All non-essential retail have be allowed to open since Monday 15th June. It is important that your business is COVID-Secure and has as many safety measurements in as possible. The BID is implementing floor stencils, hand sanitizer stations and floor stickers across the town. Please get in touch if you have any questions around these implementations or around reopening in general. Please email hello@ourcolchester.co.uk.

Business Grant Process

  1. Visit Colchester Borough Council small business and retail grant funding page and check your business against the criteria.
  2. If you haven't already, send the following to businessrates@colchester.gov.uk
  • Applicant full name (including title)
  • Phone number
  • Business email address
  • Rate payer date of birth
  • Business Rate account reference
  • Full property address
  • Name of business/organisation
  • Registered Company name (As registered with Companies House if applicable)
  • Company number (As registered with Companies House if applicable)
  • VAT Registration Number
  • Business Bank sort code
  • Business Account number
  • Name on the business bank account
  1. Be patient, the Business Rates team are working through each business as quickly as possible, the busier their phone lines and emails are, the less time they have to process the grants

Why has my grant been delayed or declined?

If a business has been declined the grant or there is a significant delay, it is likely to be for the following reasons:

  • They do not have an assessment with the VOA and therefore aren’t in the ratings list
  • The premises is part of a larger assessment which hasn’t been split into individual businesses, therefore the individual business premises does not have an assessment with the VOA
  • The business is registered for business rates but hadn’t applied for Small Business Rates Relief (we would encourage all businesses eligible for Small Business Rates Relief to apply online as this may enable a grant payment)

Support for Businesses paying sick pay to employees

To help relieve the pressure of paying employees sick pay, the Government will be introducing a scheme for small and medium businesses to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The Government will work with businesses over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for businesses as soon as possible.

How it will work:

  • Businesses with fewer than 250 employees (as of 28th February 2020) are eligible.
  • The refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee absent due to COVID-19.
  • Businesses can reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP due to COVID-19.
  • Businesses should maintain records of employee absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note.


Support for businesses paying business rates

The Government has announced emergency extensions to Retail Relief for businesses, providing 100% Business Rates Relief for 12 months from 1 April 2020. All enquiries about the businesses rates holiday should be directed to the local authority (Colchester Borough Council). More information can be found here.

How it will work:

  • Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019/20 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority (Colchester Borough Council) as soon as possible.
  • A £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value (RV) between £15,000 and £51,000.

There is no need to contact the council to apply for this relief, but if you do have questions you can call on 01206 282333 or email businessrates@colchester.gov.uk.


Support for businesses paying little or no business rates

To help small businesses meet their ongoing business costs, the Government will provide additional funding for local authorities to support those paying little or no business rates (due to Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) or Rural Rate Relief (RRR)). This scheme is expected to be operating by early April and will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses currently eligible for SBRR or RRR.

How it will work:

  • If your business is eligible for SBRR or RRR, your local authority will contact you directly; however,
  • Colchester Borough Council (CBC) is working hard to identify all those who may be eligible but may require anditional information and contact details to be sent to them.
  • You will receive a phone call, text or email if CBC already hold your information.

More information can be found here.


Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

A new temporary ‘Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme’ has now launched to support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.

How it will work:

  • The Government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs.
  • The Government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value.
  • Businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.


Support for businesses paying tax

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible for support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s existing ‘Time To Pay’ scheme.

How it works:

  • If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559. Arrangements will be made on a case-by-case basis.



Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and Government-ordered closures should be covered. Check your existing insurance policy, and terms & conditions, as they are all different; contact your provider is you’re unsure.

How it works:

  • Pubs, clubs, theatres, social venues etc can make a claim. This is because the Government advised the public to avoid these businesses on 17th March 2020.

Advice and support from Government is changing daily, therefore we will be keeping this page as up to date as we possibly can, so you have the latest information.


Extra information you may find helpful


Key points:

  • Drinks-giant Diageo has announced a range of new initiatives in a bid to support the on-trade industry. On 17 March, Diageo-owned Guinness pledged £1,000,000 to support bartenders in the free trade across Great Britain.
  • Facebook pledged to create new 'virtual training' to support businesses operating during the coronavirus outbreak.

If you would like to share your thoughts or the impacts on your businesses through COVID-19 please complete this form: http://ow.ly/mBfZ50yT5l5