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COVID-19 BUSINESS SUPPORT

Posted: Thursday 20th August 2020
UPDATED INFORMATION Hitchin Town Centre Businesses 20/8/20
Local business outbreak advice from Public Health Hertfordshire 
Over the past few weeks we have been lobbying the Herts County Council to clarify the processes and procedures adopted by North Herts Council in the event of a local outbreak within a premises. I am pleased to inform you that Jim McManus, Director of Public Health Hertfordshire has now published advice on these matters. Please CLICK HERE to view the advice for businesses. Please also CLICK HERE to download the 'Play Your Part' poster. 

Please follow the below links for further support 
NHS Test and Trace service and other government information
Hertfordshire County Council information
Practical suggestions and signage to keep your business safe
NHS Test and trace workplace guidelines
Govt guidance on maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors

Find out how government financial incentives could boost your business – Monday 16th September at 6pm
The government has introduced a range of financial incentives and initiatives for businesses who are looking to create vacancies and work experience opportunities for young people.
We are offering all businesses the opportunity to find out more through a free webinar, delivered by Hitchin resident and business owner, Anna Morrison CBE. We will be covering traineeships, kickstart, apprenticeships, T Levels and much more! To book your place, CLICK HERE 

Cardboard Collections 
As our free cardboard collection service is growing week by week, we now have a dedicated Ranger responsible for scheduling collections. If you haven't had a collection or need to book or amend your collection day/s please contact Tim on 07595414578 

Marketing, Events and Promotions
We are working hard to create a series of marketing, events, and promotional activities to highlight the offer of the town. To compliment the new HitchinBasket.com website, we are creating a series of speciality shop and eat maps for the public to use while visiting the town. Although many activities have been postponed, we are looking forward to bringing back new events in the autumn/winter such as family friendly trails, Street Days and speciality markets. if you have any additional suggestions on future events and promotions please contact marketing@hitchinherts.com   

Hand Sanitisers, Face Masks & Floor Stickers  
We have plenty of equipment available to ensure you and your staff are as safe as possible while trading in the town centre. The Information Centre is open Monday to Saturday 9:30am to 4:30pm for you to come and collect reopening packs and extra products. If you cannot make it over, contact our Rangers who can drop them off. Please call 07540706832 or email rangers@hitchinherts.com   
 
  • Hand Sanitiser 500ml 70% Alcohol - £5
  • External social distancing floor stickers - £2
  • Cotton washable facemasks - £25 (pack of 50)
  • IIR anti droplet 95% filtration facemasks - £35 (Pack of 50)
  • Anti-bacterial wipes - £3

HitchinBasket.com 
The towns new business directory website has seen huge numbers of visitors. If you get a chance, please go on your profile and let us know if the information is correct. You can add additional pictures, videos and social media feeds. Please get in touch with marketing@hitchinherts.com      
 
 
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Posted: Thursday 23rd July 2020
IMPORTANT INFORMATION Town Centre Businesses
I have detailed below the new 'Eat Out To Help Out' scheme for cafes and restaurants as well as information on mandatory wearing of face masks, discounted PPE, cafe licences and Hitchin Basket. If you need anymore information please get in touch with me tom.hardy@hitchinherts.com 

Register your establishment for the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme
You can use the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme to offer a discount to diners and encourage them to eat at your restaurant.
 
You can use the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme:
  • all day, every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 3 to 31 August 2020
  • to offer a 50% discount on food or non-alcoholic drinks to eat or drink in (up to a maximum of £10 discount per diner)
  • to claim the money back from the government

There is no limit to the number of times customers can use the offer during the period of the scheme. Your customers cannot get a discount for someone who is not eating or drinking.
Alcohol and service charges are excluded from the offer.

Registration will close on 31 August.

You can register if your establishment:
 
  • sells food for immediate consumption on the premises
  • provides its own dining area or shares a dining area with another establishment for eat-in meals
  • was registered as a food business with the relevant local authority on or before 7 July

You cannot register:
 
  • an establishment that only offers takeaway food or drink
  • catering services for private functions
  • a hotel that provides room service only
  • dining services (such as packaged dinner cruises)
  • mobile food vans or trailers

To register, you must have:
 
  • the Government Gateway ID and password for your business (if you do not have one, you can create one when you register)
  • the UK bank account number and sort code for the business (only provide bank account details where a BACS payment can be accepted)
  • the address on your bank account for the business (this is the address on your bank statements)
  • the date your business started trading

You may also need your:
 
  • VAT registration number
  • employer PAYE scheme reference number
  • Corporation Tax, Self Assessment or Partnership Self Assessment unique taxpayer reference

What happens next
  • You’ll be registered instantly and will receive a registration reference number - you’ll need this when you claim the reimbursement.
  • You can download promotional materials to help you promote the scheme and let your customers know that you’re taking part.
  • The name and address of your establishment will be added to a list of participating establishments, which will be available to the public. If you’ve registered more than 25 establishments, the website URL will be added as well.
  • The list of registered establishments is not available yet.
  • You should contact HMRC if any of your registration information changes.
  • When you start offering the discount,you should include the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme name on the bill when you offer the discount.
  • You should wait until you’re registered before you offer discounts to your customers. You cannot offer discounts before 3 August.
  • When you register for the scheme, it is expected that you will offer it during the whole of your opening hours on all the eligible days that you are open and on all qualifying sales of food or drink.
  • If a customer purchases a meal with the intention of eating it but then takes it away and leaves the premises, you can still apply the discount.

Records you must keep for each day you’re using the scheme, you must keep records of the:
 
  • total number of people who have used the scheme in your establishment
  • total value of transactions under the scheme
  • total amount of discounts you’ve given

If you are using the scheme for more than one establishment, you must keep these records for each.
 
Making a claim
  • You cannot claim yet. The service you’ll use to claim reimbursements will be available on 7 August 2020.
  • The service will close on 30 September.
  • You must wait 7 days from registration to make your first claim. HMRC will pay eligible claims within 5 working days.
  • You will be able to submit claims on a weekly basis.
  • You’ll still need to pay VAT based on the full amount of your customers’ bills.
  • Any money you receive through the scheme will be treated as taxable income.
  • HMRC will provide more guidance on how to make a claim when the registration service is open.

CLICK HERE to register for this scheme 

Face coverings will be mandatory in shops and supermarkets from 24 July
The Government will be making face coverings mandatory in shops and supermarkets from 24 July 2020. We advise that you keep a stock of masks to give away or sell to customers that arrive at your premises without a face covering. This does not include coffee shops, cafes and restaurants. It is not mandatory for shop staff to wear a face covering but Government advice states a shield or cover is best practice.   
 
Exemptions to wearing a face covering where they are mandated
In settings where face coverings are mandated in England, there are some circumstances, for health, age or equality reasons, whereby people are not expected to wear face coverings in these settings.
This includes:
  • young children under the age of 11
  • not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
  • if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
  • to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
  • to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
  • to eat or drink, but only if you need to
  • to take medication
  • if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering

There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering when asked:
 
  • If asked to do so by shop staff for the purpose of age identification
  • If speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. Some may ask you, either verbally or in writing, to remove a covering to help with communication

Hand Sanitisers, Face Masks & Floor Stickers  
We have plenty of equipment available to ensure you and your staff are as safe as possible while trading in the town centre. The Information Centre is open Monday to Saturday 9:30am to 4:30pm for you to come and collect reopening packs and extra products. If you cannot make it over, contact our Rangers who can drop them off. Please call 07540706832 or email rangers@hitchinherts.com   
 
  • Hand Sanitiser 500ml 70% Alcohol - £5
  • Outdoor/indoor social distancing floor stickers - £2
  • Cotton washable facemasks - £25 (pack of 50)
  • IIR anti droplet 95% filtration facemasks - £35 (Pack of 50)
  • Anti-bacterial wipes - £3

Street Café Licence
New legislation passed through Government today passing responsibility for Street Cafe Licences onto NHDC. The new process is aimed at  making applications for street furniture more streamlined and cheaper for businesses such as cafes, restaurants and bars. This will support businesses to operate safely while social distancing measures remain in place. Hitchin BID is in discussion with North Herts Council on the logistic of taking over the street cafe licence for the whole town centre and take over responsibility for regulating this. 

HitchinBasket.com 
The towns new business directory website has seen huge numbers of visitors. If you get a chance, please go on your profile and let us know if the information is correct. You can add additional pictures, videos and social media feeds. Please get in touch with marketing@hitchinherts.com      
 
 
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Posted: Monday 13th July 2020
UPDATED INFORMATION Hitchin Town Centre Businesses 13/7/20
We have been doing our upmost over the past 3 months to keep you all up to date with the fast-moving changes and announcements by the Government and communicating relevant information on how and when you can access support, guidance and equipment.
 
The Hitchin BID team have been working hard to provide businesses with subsidised PPE, external floor stickers and signage to ease the financial pressures of reopening. We’ve installed 10 outdoor public hand sanitiser stations throughout the town and erected social distancing signage to help customer shop safely. As well as this we are working closely with the Council on reducing traffic by increasing pedestrianisation of the narrower areas of the town.
 
The recent launch of hitchinbasket.com has been successful in highlighting what the town centre has to offer by allowing customers to search for specific products and services available in the town centre. We are now working on launching the new ‘Eat Alfresco’ opportunity opening the Market Place up to restaurants and cafes for outdoor dining.
 
We are staying on top of delivering the BIDs day to day activities with our cardboard and coffee recycling, Street Rangers, floral displays, Information Centre and promotional activities to ensure the town centre is a vibrant, clean, safe and well promoted place for visitors and businesses to benefit form.
 
This situation has certainly highlighted the importance of our town centre businesses and community. When this crisis has passed, I’m confident that Hitchin will be stronger and more resilient to future challenges. If you require any equipment, guidance or assistance from the Hitchin BID team please get in touch.   
 
Businesses able to reopen from Monday
The following businesses which had to remain closed in law will be permitted to reopen from Monday 13 July: 
 
  • Spas
  • Nail bars and salons and beauty salons
  • Tanning booths and salons
  • Massage parlours
  • Tattoo parlours
  • Body and skin piercing services

The Chancellors Job Retention Bonus.
This is a one-off payment of £1,000 to employers that have used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for each furloughed employee who remains continuously employed until 31‌‌‌ ‌January 2021. The bonus will provide additional support to retain employees.
To be eligible, employees will need to:
 
  • Earn at least £520 per month (above the Lower Earnings Limit) on average for November, December and January
  • Have been furloughed by you at any point and legitimately claimed for under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • Have been continuously employed by you up until at least 31‌‌‌ ‌January 2021.

Employers will be able to claim the bonus from February 2021 once accurate RTI data to 31‌‌‌ ‌January has been received. More information about this scheme will be available by 31‌‌‌ ‌July and full guidance will be published in the Autumn.

Other new measures announced
The Chancellor also announced other measures, including:
 
  • The Eat Out to Help Out Scheme – during August, diners can get 50% off Monday to Wednesday on meals and non-alcoholic drinks, up to £10 per person, when eating at participating restaurants, bars, cafes and other establishments that have registered
  • VAT reduction – from 15‌‌‌ ‌July until 12‌‌‌ ‌January 2021, the UK government will cut VAT from 20% to 5% on any eat-in or hot takeaway food and drinks from restaurants, cafes and pubs, excluding alcohol. This VAT reduction also applies to all holiday accommodation in hotels and B&Bs.

Hand Sanitisers, Face Masks & Floor Stickers  
We have plenty of equipment available to ensure you and your staff are as safe as possible while trading in the town centre. The Information Centre is open Monday to Saturday 9:30am to 4:30pm for you to come and collect reopening packs and extra products. If you cannot make it over, contact our Rangers who can drop them off. Please call 07540706832 or email rangers@hitchinherts.com  
 
  • Hand Sanitiser 500ml 70% Alcohol - £5
  • Outdoor/indoor social distancing floor stickers - £2
  • Cotton washable facemasks - £25 (pack of 50)
  • IIR anti droplet 95% filtration facemasks - £35 (Pack of 50)
  • Anti-bacterial wipes - £3

Tate Recruitment Free Webinar 
Emma Tarbox, the Manager of Tate Recruitment on Hermitage Road is running a free webinar on 22nd and 29th July for local businesses to gain insight and knowledge in helping you prepare your staff with a positive and productive mindset, ready to face the new working world. Please Click Here for more information or contact Emma.Tarbox@tate.co.uk 

Street Café Licence
New legislation is due to be passed at the end of this month to make applications for street furniture more streamlined and cheaper for businesses such as cafes, restaurants and bars. This will support businesses to operate safely while social distancing measures remain in place. Hitchin BID is in discussion with North Herts Council on how and when the applications will be available. I will contact you as soon as this comes out.

Opening the High Street Safely Fund
We have been working with NHDC on accessing a new funding stream from the Government. The ‘Opening High Streets Safely Fund’ is only accessible via the local council and would give us the opportunity to fund and run a town wide shop safe campaign to reassure and encourage customers back into the town centre.     
 
Pedestrianisation
We have been working with Herts County Council, North Herts Council and Highways on reducing through traffic in parts of the town centre to promote social distancing. From Monday 13th July the High Street will be closed Monday to Sunday 10:00am to 5:00pm to all traffic implemented under an Emergency Traffic Order. With the increasing need for businesses to trade outside and create more open spaces we are running a short survey with businesses to see how changing traffic flow and pedestrianisation would help businesses. If you run a business on Sun Street, Bucklersbury, High Street or Hermitage Road please Click Here to access and complete the survey.
 
Marketing, Events and Promotions
We are working hard to create a series of marketing, events, and promotional activities to highlight the offer of the town. To compliment the new HitchinBasket.com website, we are creating a series of speciality shop and eat maps for the public to use while visiting the town. Although many activities have been postponed, we are looking forward to bringing back new events in the autumn/winter such as family friendly trails, Street Days and speciality markets. if you have any additional suggestions on future events and promotions please contact marketing@hitchinherts.com  

NHDC Car Parks
We have been in discussion with NHDC regarding their car parks in the town centre. A range of options have been put forward such as ‘Free After 3pm’, pay on exit mechanisms and the suggestion of Hitchin BID taking over management of the car parks to bring it more in line with businesses aspirations. If you have any additional feedback or suggestions please email tom.hardy@hitchinherts.com   
 
Hitchin Market
We have joined discussions with Hitchin Market Ltd and NHDC on short term repairs and improvements to Hitchin Market. NHDC is keen to support the Market in any way it can to ensure its future success and are proposing a series of improvements to attract new stallholders and visitors. As the Market plays an integral part of the town centre offer, I have joined the strategic board to advise and guide these decisions.
 
Hitchin Information Centre
As part of NHDCs Community Facilities Capital Grant, we have been approved funding to refurbish the Hitchin Information Centre with work due to start on 20th July. Hitchin Information will remain open for businesses advice, guidance and to collect PPE.
 
HitchinBasket.com 
The towns new business directory website has seen huge numbers of visitors. If you get a chance, please go on your profile and let us know if the information is correct. You can add additional pictures, videos and social media feeds. Please get in touch with marketing@hitchinherts.com     
 
 
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Posted: Tuesday 30th June 2020
UPDATED INFORMATION Hitchin Town Centre Businesses 30/6/20
As many more businesses look to reopen in Hitchin town centre, we are working hard to help you access the information, equipment and guidance you need to ensure a safe and successful return to trading. As well as this we have an exciting new project on Hitchin Market place and plenty of discount/subsidised PPE available.
 
I appreciate there is a lot of information to take in so I am here to answer any questions you may have or put you in touch with the right organisation or person to ensure you get the help you need. Please get in touch with me anytime by calling 07597380818 or email me tom.hardy@hitchinherts.com      
 
Useful information on reopening
I have sourced the most up to date relevant information on reopening your business. Please click on the industry that best fits your business to read up on the latest information.

Close contact services hairdressers, barbers, tattooists, and massage therapists
Hotels and other guest accommodation
Offices and contact centres
Restaurants, pubs, bars, and takeaway services
Shops and branches

Please do get in touch if you have any questions around reopening safely under the new Government rules and guidlines. 

Hitchin 'eatALFRESCO'
We are now taking bookings for the new Hitchin eatALFRESCO opportunity. Using the Hitchin Market Place, town centre restaurants will have the chance (from Monday 13th July) to operate an outdoor dining area. This is only open to cafes and restaurants and priority will be given to those that do not have outdoor spaces. Please Click Here to access the booking form and read the terms and conditions. For more information please contact marketing@hitchinherts.com 
 
Hand Sanitisers, Face Masks & Floor Stickers  
We have plenty of equipment available to ensure you and your staff are as safe as possible while trading in the town centre. The Information Centre is open Monday to Saturday 9:30am to 4:30pm for you to come and collect reopening packs and extra products. If you cannot make it over, contact our Rangers who can drop them off. Please call 07540706832 or email rangers@hitchinherts.com 
 
  • Hand Sanitiser 500ml 70% Alcohol - £5
  • Outdoor/indoor social distancing floor stickers - £2
  • Cotton washable facemasks - £25 (pack of 50)
  • IIR anti droplet 95% filtration facemasks - £35 (Pack of 50)
  • Anti-bacterial wipes - £3

Pedestrianisation
We have been working with Herts County Council, North Herts Council and Highways on reducing through traffic in parts of the town centre to promote social distancing. From mid-July, the High Street will be closed Monday to Sunday 10:00am to 5:00pm to all traffic. Sun Street and Bucklersbury will be pedestrian and cycles only with the exemption of deliveries and disabled parking. This is being delivered under and Experimental Traffic Order and will be monitored on a regular basis to ensure we are providing the right balance between visitors using the town and businesses trading. I have also been in touch with the local MP to investigate fast track ways of closing roads to allow additional outdoor dining in the town.
 
HitchinBasket.com 
The towns new business directory website has seen huge numbers of visitors. If you get a chance, please go on your profile and let us know if the information is correct. You can add additional pictures, videos and social media feeds. Please get in touch with marketing@hitchinherts.com     
 
Continue Reading