Useful information for the Cheapside community
NHS Test and Trace
Guidance for Employers and Businesses
The NHS Test and Trace service forms a central part of the Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy, which seeks to help the nation return to normal as soon as possible for as many people as possible, in a way that is safe and protects our NHS and social care sector. Once launched, this service will also play a vital role in providing an early warning if COVID-19 activity is increasing locally, regionally or nationally. This information will then be used to inform the Government’s approach to stop the spread of the virus.
Transport for London – Briefing for businesses
20 May 2020
Following the Government’s recent announcement of a roadmap to easing existing lockdown measures, Transport for London are working to safely and gradually build up service levels to where they were before the coronavirus pandemic. This toolkit sets out their latest travel advice for businesses, as well as sharing some tips for planning to return to work in the longer term.
City of London Corporation Guidance
Please see below a letter from the Rt. Hon. the Lord Mayor William Russell and the Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Policy & Resources Committee, Catherine McGuinness.
Dear Business Owner,
We hope you are keeping safe and well in these difficult times. We are all in a very different environment both in terms of work and home life. It is extremely important to us that our businesses have the right information at the right time, which is why we are writing to you.
Preparations are underway to assist with the economic recovery of the City. We are working closely with the government, the Mayor of London, London Boroughs, Transport for London and major business organisations, to prepare for a further gradual relaxation of the lockdown measures in the City.
We know how important it is for businesses to be confident that their employees and customers will be able to travel into and around the City safely. We are looking at options to increase space available to assist with social distancing measures, advice for queues management for shops, and how to accommodate and increase in the number of people who choose to cycle.
Central Government has published guidance on how to maintain safety in the workplace, including offices. For those properties where we are the landlord, we are in discussions with managing agents and tenants about the safe use of the buildings. We do not anticipate an immediate return to normal, with large numbers of people returning to the City as the lockdown restrictions are lifted, and encourage businesses to think about how they can continue to operate with fewer people in the workplace and stagger journeys to and from work.
Central Government has provided consolidated information to support business in response to this pandemic. This information can be found here. However, as the situation progresses the City is are becoming increasingly aware of businesses/sectors that are not provided for within pre-existing schemes. We continue to raise these concerns with Central Government and would like to encourage you to contact your local Common Councillors with any matters we may usefully bring forward in these discussions. You can find the details of your local Common Councillors and Ward Aldermen here.
Based on guidance from Central Government, the City Revenues Team has now awarded the 100% retail relief to those occupied properties that are eligible to receive the Enhanced Retail Relief and Small Business Rates Relief in the 2020/21 financial year. We continue to make business rate grant payments to all eligible businesses and we have now paid around 90% of the money allocated to us by government. Revised bills showing the adjustment have been issued. More information, including information for Serviced Offices and how to contact the team, can be found on our Business Rates webpage.
We will be providing updates and information on our plans for the City on our dedicated COVID-19 Advice for Businesses website and via social media @cityoflondon. Our website features a range of information on topics such as latest government advice, business grants schemes and updates on support offered by the City of London Corporation. It also provides links to related areas such as parking for key and non-key workers, and other helpful advice and information from Business and Trade Associations.
The City of London Corporation will continue to keep you updated as the situation develops and as we move through a relaxation of the lockdown.
Alderman William Russell, The Rt Hon The Lord Mayor
Catherine McGuinness, Chair of Policy & Resources
Gradual safe return to the Square Miles streets
Follow the link below to read how The City of London Corporation has detailed its transport plans to ensure the gradual safe return of people who work, live and visit the Square Mile.
COVID-19 Mandate Fraud
The threat from mandate fraud has increased during the COVID-19 response. This could result in organisations losing substantial amounts of money that will be difficult to recover. However, whilst mandate fraud is becoming more sophisticated, it is entirely preventable if your organisation is aware and takes the threat seriously.
Read the Government Counter Fraud Function COVID-19 Mandate Fraud Guidance
City of London Corporation:
Member Briefing – Support for Businesses
An overview of the City’s response to COVID-19 in support of businesses as of 21 April 2020.
Security, fraud and scams
How you can help to protect your business from online fraud whilst working from home.
Criminals will use any opportunity they can to take money from innocent people. This includes exploiting tragedies and global emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, to scam people in a variety of ways. The number of these scams are only likely to increase and we need individuals and businesses to be fully aware and prepared.
As more people stay indoors and work from computers and laptops at home, there is more opportunity for criminals to try and trick people into parting with their money at a time when they are anxious and uncertain about the future.
The CoL Counter Terrorism already received nearly 400 reports of fraud related to COVID-19, the majority of which are online shopping scams where people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser, and other products, which have never arrived. We have also seen a large amount of phishing emails and texts circulating, that use COVID-19 as a hook, and try to get recipients to click on links or attachments which harvest information and lead to the individual revealing personal or financial details.
While the number of reports of fraud in general is not increasing, we are warning people that the current social situation we find ourselves in could lead to any number of fraud types increasing as this immediate public health crisis unfolds. We are advising people to be particularly vigilant around:
Computer Software Service Fraud – as more people work from home, fraudsters may capitalise on slow networks and IT problems, to commit computer software service fraud. Be wary of cold calls or unsolicited emails offering you help with your device or to fix a problem.
Mandate Fraud – with more people working at home, it may be easier for fraudsters to impersonate senior decision makers, with seemingly valid reasons why they cannot be contacted, and request a change in a direct debit, standing order or bank transfer mandate, by purporting to be an organisation you make regular payments to. The change they ask you to make will divert funds to their own bank account.
Many organisations are either moving to working remotely for the first time or significantly increasing it, and this presents a number of cyber security challenges. Advice on how to respond to those challenges is set out in the NCSC’s working from home guidance.
There are a number of practical steps organisations can take to reduce the risk including:
- Supporting people to use stronger passwords and setting up two factor authentication.
- Ensuring staff know how to report problems, especially those related to security.
- Creating ‘How do I’ guides for new software and tools staff may be using.
- Using VPNs to allow users to securely access the organisation’s IT services.
- Ensuring devices encrypt data whilst at rest.
Some organisations may be allowing staff to use their own devices to work remotely. In this case, please refer to the NCSC’s Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) guidance.
In addition to following the guidance set out above, it is worth being aware of phishing emails which trick users into clicking on a bad link. Once clicked, the user is sent to a website which could download malware onto your computer, or steal passwords. We know that cyber criminals are opportunistic and will look to take advantage of people’s fears, and there is evidence that the coronavirus outbreak is being exploited in this way.
Those who do fall victim shouldn’t feel bad – these scams can be extremely convincing – but what they should do as quickly as possible is report it to their IT department when the incident is work-related or Action Fraud when it is personal. They can also open their antivirus (AV) software if installed, and run a full scan, following any instructions given. If they’ve been tricked into providing password, they should change their passwords on all their other accounts. The NCSC’s guidance on suspicious emails provides more tips on this.
Our Cyber Griffin team have also created a series of short video guides on how to keep you and your family safe while online at home which contain practical hints and tips and cover a range of topics, including passwords, phishing, vishing and multi-factor authentication.
To report a fraud please follow this link: actionfraud.police.uk/
Useful Business Links
During the uncertain times of the Coronavirus Pandemic we have collated the below useful links which may be of use to our business community:
Working from home
Thousands of people are now working from home for the first time due to the coronavirus outbreak.
For others, it’s just like any other week. About 1.5 million people work from home, and it’s becoming more popular all the time. So if you’re not self-isolating, but have been told to work remotely, what’s the best way to stay efficient and keep your spirits up?
For some people, the prospect of staying in their pyjamas all day is the most tantalising aspect of working from home. But washing and getting dressed will not only improve your state of mind, it will psychologically prepare you to start work.
Whether you need to change into business attire depends on the type of person you are and the nature of the job you have. Some people find that dressing formally is helpful, and also useful if they need to dial into a video call.
If you’re employed by a company, you’ll probably have set hours of work, and it’s important to stick to these when you’re working from home.
Be ready to start your day at the same time as you would normally arrive in your office or workplace, and finish your day at the same time.
Working from home shouldn’t mean you stay cooped up indoors all day. While you might not miss your daily commute, it does guarantee that you leave the house at least once during the day as per government guidlines.
So get your shoes on, get outside and remember to stay 2 metres away from other passer-by and enjoy that fresh air. A different perspective will also help undo mental blocks and give you a fresh pair of eyes for any tasks you’re struggling with.
When you’re at work, you’re more likely to engage with colleagues but when you’re working from home, you could spend the whole day without speaking to anyone which can be isolating.
Pick up the phone or learn how to Zoom and do video calls!
It’s good to have a routine when you’re working from home, but work shouldn’t become monotonous. And you shouldn’t stay glued to your screen all day. It’s important to take regular screen breaks and get up from your desk and move around just as you would in an office. Plus drinks lots of water and keep hydrated!
Have a family break! Play a quick game with them, have snacks and drinks talk about their day so far! This is also a challenging time for our children with no real daily structure.
Food delivery and takeaway guidance
Following new Government restrictions placed on public houses, restaurants, cafes etc during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you may be considering diversifying your food business to provide food from your normal menu or new dishes for delivery or takeaway.
This can be a great service to the community. After working long hours, key workers may want access to quick hot food, and those who are self-isolating may seek alternative ways to access the food they enjoy in their own homes.
For more information please read the following flyer from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health:
Food delivery and takeaway guidance