Coronavirus support for businesses

This webpage will be kept updated as things develop so please check back regularly. Last updated 1 March 2021

We understand that Coronavirus (COVID-19) is continuing to impact businesses in the National Park. This is an unprecedented and rapidly evolving situation. We know from past experiences such as flooding and the Foot and Mouth disease that such major incidents can have a devastating impact on our rural economy. We are also aware of many examples of creative resilience shown by businesses both during and after such events in recovery. We will work with partners to help promote and facilitate such a response.

Whilst we as a National Park Authority are not in a position to provide legal advice or to provide public health advice we can help share the various resources available for local businesses. This webpage will be kept updated as things develop so please check back regularly.

For general information about the National Park Authority's response to Coronavirus please see statements listed here.

Government Advice

We currently remain in national lockdown. Ignoring these instructions puts additional pressure on rural communities and series that remain at risk.

The Government's roadmap to reopening can be found here outlining the following steps:

  • Step 1 - Schools reopen from 8 March. From 29 March outdoor recreation can be undertaken within the 'rule of six' or a maximum of two households mixing.  Travel should be minimised and no holidays undertaken.
  • Step 2 -  No earlier than 12 April;. Non essential retail to reopen, outdoor attractions reopen,  hospitality businesses can operate outdoors, and self contained accommodation can be used by single households.
  • Step 3 - No earlier than 17 May: Domestic overnight stays permitted in all accommodation types, indoor entertainment and attractions reopen. Rule of six / max of two households remains for indoor settings.
  • Step 4 -  No earlier than 21 Jun: Social contact legal restrictions lifted.

Anyone within the area should continue to follow government advice on how to avoid catching or spreading the illness including regular hand washing and social distancing. Anyone who is deemed vulnerable owing to age (70+) or underlying health conditions should stay at home.

Government support

Since March 2020, the Government has announced several measures to help support businesses during these times. To find out more visit the Government's Business Support page. Measures announced to date include:

  • Business Rate Holiday (extended to June 2021 and than two thirds reduction for rest of year) and Grants to Small businesses and those in retail, hospitality and leisure sectors (a new round of restart grants in April 2021 will provide up to £6k for non essential retailers and up to £18k for hospitality and leisure businesses required to close during the lockdowns).
  • Discretionary grants for businesses not eligible under the above schemes but impacted by Covid.
  • Temporary reduction in VAT to 5% for hospitality sector to Sept 2020 followed by reduction to 12.5% until end of March 22
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough scheme) - extended to September 2021
  • Temporary changes to some planning requirements.

Business Grants are administered on behalf of the Government by the District Councils. For further details please visit Somerset West and Taunton and North Devon Council websites.

If you need advice, please contact the Heart of the South West Growth hub or call 03456 047 047 - they are offering a free advice line which can be used by all Exmoor businesses.

Planning opportunities

As the Planning Authority for Exmoor we have published the following two guides to help businesses that wish to consider diversification as a result of Covid-19 take advantage of temporary changes to Permitted Development Rights:

Intelligence gathering

Please keep us informed of any key impacts we may not be aware of. We are currently running a Visitor Economy Impact Survey to ascertain the impact of restrictions on occupancy and  visitor numbers / income during 2020. Closing date 12 March.

Local response

Our National Park Centres are currently closed to the public but continue to provide advice and information via email / phone. ENPA's public car parks and toilets remain open for local use.

National Park Authorities across England are working together to share best practice and have also approached central Government about the challenge the situation poses to the rural economy and the need to consider planning and resourcing recovery programmes in advance.

Exmoor National Park Authority is participating in weekly meetings of the Heart of the South West Economic Resilience and Opportunities Group between Government and business representatives across Somerset and Devon to consider the resilience and opportunities to our businesses of an economic shock such as this and is also liaising with Local Authorities in a weekly call focusing specifically on business support.

The National Park Authority is also linked in to the Tourism Alliance, receiving and responding to daily briefings. The Alliance represent the industry on the Tourism Incident and Emergency Response (TIER) panel convened by Visit Britain to feed directly into Government in such times and this is now meeting regularly.

Planning for recovery - Tourism

ENPA are working with Visit Exmoor and several tourism organisations and councils on the Exmoor Economy and Tourism Recovery Plan.  Further details and the latest copy of the Tourism Recovery Plan can be found here.

Helpful links