Latest information on COVID-19

Latest information on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Update from Visit County Durham 

You will be aware that all VCD campaign and marketing activity stopped in March; the team focus switched to business support, advice and guidance, and the development of a virtual visit content hub and micro site -, encouraging consumers to ‘#LoveDurham from your sofa.’


Following the announcement from the Prime Minister on Sunday 10 May, regarding it now being possible to drive to other locations for exercise, irrespective of distance, we do not intend to change our consumer messaging at this stage.


We do not feel this is a message suitable for the destination at this time. There is still widespread concern within the industry that the loosening of restrictions may see a return to crowded car parks and people flocking to rural and coastal locations, at a time when the resident community is still concerned about an influx of visitors. Therefore, we will continue to focus on promoting a ‘virtual visit’ to the county, which in essence is an inspiration and planning tool for a future visit, whenever that may be. 


We are working closely with local, regional and national partners on recovery planning for Durham’s visitor economy, and acknowledge that building confidence amongst businesses, as well as consumers, with regards to adhering to Government guidelines will be key to recovery, and we will continue to support businesses and consult them in our recovery planning.


By working in partnership with the industry, we will be ready to promote our amazing county, to existing and new audiences, when it is appropriate to do so.


Michelle Gorman, managing director and Ivor Stolliday, chair of Visit County Durham.


Help us Save our Industry

By the time the tourism industry opens it will already have lost four months of trading. Social distancing restrictions will limit opportunities to recoup losses, with additional costs of PPE and other measures, and before we know it winter will be upon us again. Our survey work shows that business confidence beyond the summer period plummets and the picture worsens further when looking a year or more ahead. Guaranteed Government support for the industry through the winter, confirmed now, is urgently required. That’s why we are working with Cumbria Tourism and backing a petition calling for this.


With your help let’s make this campaign gather national focus and get national support from politicians, industry and visitors.


Please can we ask for your help. Will you sign our petition HERE and share the link and our social media posts with your staff, customers. Together let’s make our voices heard and help save businesses, jobs and services. #savetourismjobs


VisitEngland COVID-19 Business SupportLatest information and Announcements

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


As the situation evolves, we recommend all County Durham tourism businesses and stakeholders stay informed by reading the latest health information from the above resources. Please also provide feedback and comments direct to


Click for Latest VCD Grapevine COVID-19 Business Support e-news >


Latest announcements:

6th July


  • From Monday 6th July, Go North East will be adding further weekday services to their schedule. This provides around 75% of their usual weekday timetable and includes most peak services. Weekend services are running at around 65% of usual timetable.

5th July

Financial Support

3rd July

Financial Support

  • Government announces £10m for small businesses to kickstart tourism. The package will give small businesses in tourist destinations grants of up to £5,000 to help them adapt their businesses following the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses can use the funding to pay for specialist professional advice such as human resources, legal or financial expertise, to adopt new technology and online systems or to purchase new equipment. 100% of the money will come from government with no obligation for businesses to contribute financially.


2nd July


  • Tourism and hospitality businesses are being asked to temporarily collect details and maintain records of staff, customers and visitors on their premises to support NHS Test and Trace. The publication provides guidance on how businesses can do this in a proportionate and effective way.
  • UKHospitality, The Beer & Pub Association and The British Institute of Innkeeping have produced an updated FAQ guidance briefing to help business understand the Government’s reopening guidelines and how it is interpreted.

1st July

Financial Support

  • The VAT payments deferral scheme ended on 30th June 2020 as previously set out. If you’re a UK VAT-registered business that deferred VAT payments between 20th March 2020 and 30th June 2020, you now need to: set-up cancelled Direct Debits in enough time for HMRC to take payment; continue to submit VAT returns as normal, and on time; pay the VAT in full on payments due after 30th June. Any VAT payments you have deferred between 20th March and 30th June should be paid in full on or before 31st March 2021.
  • The flexible furlough scheme started on 1st July. Businesses now have the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back to work part-time.


  • Check if you should go back to work. This service helps you find out if you should go back to work during this phase of coronavirus lockdown. If you’re currently on furlough you can stay on furlough. However, if you are asked to come off furlough by your employer, you can use this service to find out if you should be going back into work, and how to return to work safely. If you or anyone in your household currently have symptoms of coronavirus then you must not go to work.

30th June

Financial Support


29th June



Previous Announcements


Business Support

  • A New tool has been developed to help businesses in England identify whether they can reopen safely during coronavirus.  This tool encourages businesses to carry out a risk assessment and helps to identify the workplace adjustments that they should make. This guidance is only for businesses that are allowed to reopen. (21st June)
  • The Government has extended measures to prevent struggling companies from eviction until the end of September. A new code of practice has been developed with the retail, hospitality and property sectors to provide clarity for businesses when discussing rental payments and to encourage best practice so that all parties are supported. (21st June)
  • The Business Energy Efficiency Project (BEEP) has produced advice for businesses to help improve energy efficiency and reduce bills. (9th June)
  • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has created a Coronavirus Business Support Blog to help businesses get the support they need (5th May)
  • WTM Portfolio has launched a new online portal, WTM Global Hub, to connect and support travel industry professionals around the world (23rd April)

Financial Support

  • A new £200 million package to help innovative businesses bounce back has been launched. The Sustainable Innovation Fund will help companies recovering from the impact of coronavirus keep their cutting-edge projects and ideas alive. Businesses can apply for support through the fund from today, Monday 29th June. (27th June)
  • A new template is available for download for employers who will be claiming for 100 or more employees through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The new form is for claims on or after 1 July. (21st June)
  • Updated guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme including details on how the scheme will change from 1st July. (12th June)
  • HMRC are running webinars on Thursday 18th and Friday 19th June on the extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. (12th June)
  • Updated guidance on extension of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. (12th June)
  • Updated guidance on activities that can be supported through the Reopening High Streets safely Fund, how it will be administered, and key European Regional Development Fund contractual requirements. (12th June)
  • TODAY is the final day an employer can furlough an employee for the first time through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. (9th June)
  • FAQ page has been added to guidance to help local authorities and partners deliver activities supported through the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund. (8th June)
  • Government to provide guarantees of up to £10 billion to Trade Credit Insurance schemes for business-to-business transactions. (4th July)
  • HMRC has produced updated information on how to treat certain expenses and benefits provided to employees during coronavirus.under Training/Events (3rd June)
  • The Local Authority Discretionary Fund is now open for applications and gives financial support to specific types of small businesses who were not eligible to apply for funding from the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Fund. (2nd June)
  • The Chancellor announced that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be extended, with eligible individuals able to claim a second and final grant in August – the grant will be worth 70% of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits capped at £6,570 in total. Further guidance on the second grant will be published later this month. The first SEISS grant will close to new applications on 13 July. (29th May)
  • The Chancellor further announced changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. From 1 July 2020, businesses will be given flexibility to bring previously furloughed employees back part-time – this is a month earlier than previously announced. From August 2020, the level of the grant will be slowly tapered to reflect that people will be returning to work. The scheme will close to new entrants on 30 June, with the last three-week furloughs before that point commencing on 10 June for new entrants. (29th May)
  • Small businesses and employers across the UK who have paid statutory sick pay to staff taking coronavirus-related leave will be able to claim back the money from today under the Coronavirus Sick Pay Scheme.(26th May)
  • Changes have been made to guidance for local authorities on the Local Authority Discretionary Fund – businesses who are eligible for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme are now eligible to apply for this grant. (24th May)
  • The government has announced a new £50 million fund for councils to prepare for the safe reopening of high streets and other retail spaces. (24th May)
  • A new page has been published pointing businesses to the main links for making a claim to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. (15th May)
  • The Government will temporarily guarantee business-to-business transactions currently supported by Trade Credit Insurance, ensuring the majority of insurance coverage will be maintained across the market. (13th May)
  • Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is now open for applications. Check if you are eligible and find out how to make a claim. (13th May)
  • The government’s £500 million Future Fund opens for applications today. UK-based companies can now apply for a convertible loan of between £125,000 and £5 million, to support continued growth and innovation in sectors such including technology and the creative industries. (May 21st)
  • An additional £20million has been committed to the Fast Start Competition for innovative businesses and start-ups driving forward new technological advances. (May 21st)
  • Update on temporary changes to the VAT payments due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 (7th May)
  • HMRC will begin contacting customers who may be eligible for the government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). The claims service will open on 13 May (4th May)
  • A new top-up to local business grant funds scheme has been announced to help small businesses including bed and breakfasts (2nd May)






Health & Safety

  • VisitBritain in partnership with the UK’s national tourist organisations, has launched ‘We’re Good to Go’, an industry standard mark that helps businesses demonstrate that they are adhering to the respective Government and public health guidance, have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and checked they have the required processes in place. The scheme is free to join and open to all businesses across the industry. (24th June)
  • If your business needs Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to open and operate safely, take the North East COVID-19 Economic Response group’s survey to help monitor demand in the region. (24th June)
  • The AA has launched its COVID Confident assessment scheme which will indicate to customers that a participating establishment has in place the necessary risk assessment, safety measures and staff training to re-open safely, in line with the UK’s respective government guidelines as they are published. (17th June)
  • The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has started awarding its Safe Travels stamp to destinations that have adopted its safety and hygiene protocols. (8th June)





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Registered office: Visit County Durham, 2nd Floor, County Hall, Dryburn Road, Durham, DH1 5UL