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Coronavirus (COVID-19): updates and advice, including help if you are struggling financially

Reopening Dorset high streets

As the coronavirus emergency restrictions gradually lift, businesses in Dorset will be facing new challenges and opportunities as to how they operate. We want to make the process of reopening as easy as possible for local businesses by offering advice and guidance:

Get in touch

If you have a question regarding regulatory matters affecting your business and reopening Dorset high streets safely please email us.

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Latest Government announcement 

On 9 September, some key changes to the law were announced. This affects pubs, restaurants, cafes and a range of other places people visit. From 14 September, businesses can only allow customers to visit their premises in groups of up to six people (unless they are visiting as a household or support bubble which is larger than six).

Also if your business is not already taking part in the test and trace system by collecting customers details, be aware that from 18 September it becomes a legal requirement.

From 24 September you will be legally required to display one of the QR posters as an option for customers to use to registering their details. 

See more details.

What can open

Most businesses in Dorset are now able to open safely if the government’s five tests are met and the business follows the COVID-19 secure guidelines. Businesses have, with the support of local authorities, been working to  reopen in a safe manner, drawing on the guidelines that have been made available for various business sectors.

See full details of any remaining businesses that must remain closed or any special restrictions.

The businesses still required to close are: 

  • nightclubs, dance halls, discotheques 
  • sexual entertainment venues and hostess bars 
  • exhibition halls and conference centres (unless for a government endorsed pilot)

Ensuring customers and staff are safe

Government guidance is available with specific sections on shops and branches and food take-away outlets.Guidance on opening hair salons and similar salons and spas after the lockdown has been produced by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. This provides detail on cleaning considerations, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and social distancing requirements.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have provided guidance to assist with the process of you risk assessing your business and putting reasonable steps in place to help ensure customer and staff are kept safe.

Examples of measures that have been put in place in retail and public premises which have been allowed to open include:

  • ensuring a distance of two metres between customers and staff
  • use of plastic screens
  • controlling numbers at any one time within the shop
  • queue control outside of shops and other premises

We are making changes to some high streets to help address the need for more space outside businesses.

Track and Trace requirements become law

From 19 September it is a legal requirement for pubs, cafés and restaurants, and a range of other places customers tend to stay in for longer, to collect customer contact details for use with the NHS track and trace system. This was previously Government guidance but this is now legally required. You will need to collect and retain a customer’s name; telephone number (or failing that an email address, or failing that a postal address) together with the date and time that the customer entered the premises. Details need to be kept for 21 days in case they are needed by the NHS track and trace system, then destroyed.

Care should be taken not to inappropriately disclose data in your possession or when you destroy it, as required by the General Data Protection Regulations.

From 24 September businesses required to comply with the NHS Track and Trace system are legally required to display a poster including a QR code (dynamic quick response code) as a way of customers providing their contact details quickly and accurately. This is designed to speed up the gathering of the data needed to meet these requirements.

See further details on how to create and use a QR code poster for your business.


When any buildings reopen after lockdown, it is essential that water systems are not put back into use without considering the risks of Legionnaires’ disease.

There is an increased risk of waterborne pathogens such as Legionella bacteria being present as a consequence of the conditions that lockdown may have created. These references provide guidance:

Tourism businesses

The Visit Dorset website has Covid related information including Action Cards to help those managing tourism businesses, by explaining the steps to take early on in outbreak management. Also included are downloadable information posters, produced by the NHS, covering what holidaymakers need to do if they are visiting an area and develop Covid symptoms. 

Contact us

Further questions contact our Food, Safety and Port Health team.

We have the authority to deal with the health and safety issues arising from coronavirus in certain premises including shops, hotels, restaurants and pubs for example. For some businesses the Health and Safety Executive or other agencies are the appropriate body to contact instead. You can check by visiting the Health and Safety Executive website

Getting a licence or changing a licence to trade differently

See our licencing guidance.

Providing takeaway food and drink

See our separate food delivery and takeaway Coronavirus guidance.


There is now no reason to restrict customer toilet access, before opening toilets a business needs to carry out a risk assessment and put measures in place to reduce risks, including appropriate cleaning.

Dealing with waste from businesses

Whether your business is open or closed there is the duty to ensure that waste is disposed of properly by a licensed waste carriers. There have been some instances of business that have closed their doors without due consideration to waste that has remained on the premises during the period of lockdown or their waste contractor was unable to collect. 

If food waste has been left then there may be a build-up of insect activity in the premises or vermin activity if not secured properly in lidded containers. You may need to bring in pest control contractors to eliminate or control this. Our website has information on pest control. If you don’t currently have or are looking to change your waste contractor, our Commercial Waste Team may be able to help.

Downloadable posters

Download and print these posters to use in your shop.


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