Latest information on COVID-19

COVID-19 Business Hub
COVID-19 Business Hub

COVID-19 Business Hub

Latest information on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Last night (Monday 4 January), following a rapid rise in coronavirus infections, hospital admissions and case rates across the country, the Prime Minister announced a national lockdown for England. New rules have been issued on what you can and cannot do under this new lockdown. Everyone should follow the new rules now, and they will become law from 00.01 on Wednesday 6 January. The restrictions are expected to last until the middle of February if the situation in hospitals improves.


Key points:

  • People will be permitted to leave home for limited reasons, including shopping for essentials, work if you cannot work from home, exercise, or to seek medical assistance
  • People cannot leave their home or the place where they are living for holidays or overnight stays unless you have a reasonable excuse for doing so. This means that holidays in the UK and abroad are not allowed. This includes staying in a second home or caravan, if that is not a primary residence.
  • Shielding will begin again, those at risk will receive a letter.
  • Primary schools, secondary schools, and colleges must move to online learning from tomorrow – except for vulnerable children and children of key workers. Nurseries will continue to be open.
  • People can exercise in a public outdoor place alone, with the people they live with, with their support bubble (if you are legally permitted to form one), in a childcare bubble where providing childcare or, when alone, with 1 person from another household. Outdoor sports venues, including tennis courts, golf courses and swimming pools, must close.
  • The regulations require some businesses to close and impose restrictions on how some businesses provide goods and services, including: non-essential retail, hospitality venues, accommodation, leisure and sports facilities, entertainment venues, animal and indoor attractions, personal care facilities.

As we enter the second week of the new national lockdown, leaders of the seven North East England Local Authorities have issued a statement in response to the introduction of a new national lockdown in England.


Durham Business Recovery Grant

To support local businesses in looking forward and meeting the challenge of recovery, Durham County Council has introduced a £5 million Durham Business Recovery Grant. Open to businesses in all sectors located in the County, the grant is aimed at those with a credible plan to adapt and recover from the effects of COVID-19 but requiring financial support to implement their plan.

The grants range from a minimum of £1,000 up to a maximum of £40,000 and are able to contribute 75% towards eligible recovery plan costs, with the business expected to meet a quarter of the project cost.

The grants are not intended to provide crisis funding, general working capital or subsidise losses but can be used towards costs such as adapting operational models and working practices, adapting premises or business models to attract new customers or visitors, developing and marketing new product offerings or other relevant costs to meet a defined need that will help to increase sales.

There is no time limit or closing date for applications, so we strongly advise you take your time in understanding the eligibility criteria and thinking about what you need prior to beginning the application process.


Update from Michelle Gorman, Managing Director, Visit County Durham

Despite starting 2021 with another devastating national lockdown, I am still confident that as the year progresses, the county’s visitor economy will recover and prosper. When lockdown is lifted, families and loved ones will want to reconnect, and as a county with wide open spaces, crowd free beauty spots and businesses that hold covid-safe accreditations, Durham is best placed to capitalise on the demand for the ‘safecation’.
Until then, Visit County Durham is committed to continuing to support businesses during this incredibly challenging time. Access the Visit County Durham Covid-19 Business Hub for information and support, or email


Visit County Durham’s virtual ‘Tourism of the Future’ Autumn Conference was held on Wednesday 4th November 2020. The conference heard from Foresight Factory on future tourism trends, UKHospitality on current impacts of the pandemic and the latest industry lobbying of government, and an update from Visit County Durham. Download the presentations from the conference.


Latest information and announcements

We would advise all partners to regularly check this website and the VisitBritain and Government business support web pages, all of which are being continually updated with the latest advice and information for all tourism businesses.


The latest VCD Grapevine COVID-19 Business Support e-news


Latest announcements:

22 January


  • Following the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, there have been no changes to subsidy control and state aid conditions for all National and Local Restriction coronavirus support grants. Local councils will set out the eligibility requirements for each grant and government will publish further guidance on subsidy rules in due course.

21 January


  • A new section on correcting errors on VAT returns relating to the VAT payments deferral scheme has been added to the Pay VAT deferred due to coronavirus (COVID-19) page. The new section includes information on how to defer any extra payments resulting from error corrections and HMRC VAT assessments.
  • The application deadline for an animal welfare grant of up to £730,000 for zoos or aquariums affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) has been extended to 26 February 2021.

20 January



19 January


  • An overhaul of the Prompt Payment Code (PPC) to crack down on delayed invoices owed to small businesses has been announced by the government. Under new reforms, companies that have signed up to the Prompt Payment Code will be obliged to pay small businesses within 30 days - half the time outlined in the current Code.

18 January


  • The Supreme Court has substantially allowed the FCA’s appeal on behalf of business interruption insurance policyholders. The legal process for impacted policies is now complete and means that covered policyholders will now have their claims for coronavirus-related business interruption losses paid. The FCA has published draft guidance for policyholders on how to prove the presence of coronavirus, which is a condition in certain types of policy. The FCA will issue finalised guidance as soon as possible after the consultation which closes on 22 January.


  • From today, all travel corridors with the UK will be suspended – meaning that all international arrivals who have departed from or transited through any country outside the Common Travel Area in the previous 10 days will be required to both take a pre-departure test, and self-isolate immediately for 10 days on arrival. This includes British and Irish nationals.
  • People aged 70 and over and the clinically extremely vulnerable to begin receiving invitations for vaccinations from today.

15 January


Catch up on previous annnouncements

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