This page was last updated on 3 November 2020
While much of this information is still relevant, please check governmental and other official sources for the latest regulations/restrictions, information and advice that apply in your part of the world.
This page is the Real Bread Campaign’s attempt to collect together advice, guidance and other information from reliable sources for the benefit of Real Bread business owners in the UK, their staff members, their customers and other people in their local communities.
The situation, advice and information changes continually. For updates, please keep an eye on our free enewsletter, social media channels and news pages.
If you have a question that you think we should add to our Q&A section, a correction to make, or link to relevant, useful information from an official, or other reliable, source please email it to us.
NB Information here is not necessarily definitive and might be outdated. The main sources of current official information in the UK are:
See below for links to information from official sources outside the UK.
- The Real Bread Campaign says buy local!
- Where can I find flour?
#LockdownLoafers - recipes, information and advice for homebakers
- How YOU can help us with what needs doing right now
- The Real Bread Campaign's letter to the Prime Minister
- COVID caring and coping
More information from Sustain:
- Supporting local food online
- Moving your local food organisation online
- Defending our food supply
- Coronavirus food alert
Given the very limited staffing (one person, part-time) of the Campaign, the fragmentation of - and continual changes to - restrictions and official guidance, this page focuses on the UK - and England in particular. This is where our office, and the majority of the paying supporters of our charity’s work are based. Apologies that we are unable to provide local, regional and devolved national information, or information from outside the UK.
For Real Bread professionals
Everything that you do/don't do should be informed by official instruction from your national government and local authority.
In England, a key source is this guidance for food businesses.
Real Bread Campaign supporters can ask questions and share advice and information with each other in The Real Baker-e forum on Facebook.
What support is the government offering?
The government continues to publish a range of support measures and information for business owners. This includes:
- Financial support for your business
- Claiming for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
- Defering your VAT payments
- Preventing your business from being evicted
- Additional government resources to support your business during coronavirus disruptions
- Your responsibilitiees as an employer
- Guidance on the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (PDF)
- Government-backed Bounce Back Loans of £2k-£50k for SMEs. Term of 6 years, with no fees or interest for the first 12 months:
- This guidance on the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF) was written for local authorities, but you might find it useful to know.
Can I run a delivery service?
Yes. See government guidance on how to help safely.
How do I start a delivery business/service?
Read this article: Real Bread online shops and deliveries
Here is the Food Standards Agency's guide to distance selling, mail order and delivery
How do I set up an online shop?
Read this article: Real Bread online shops and deliveries
Can I keep my retail bakery open?
Yes, for deliveries, takeaway and click'n'collect orders. For how to do so safely, see the government's guidance for food businesses.
What about other takeaway food?
Yes. Many bakeries have been selling pizzas, sandwiches and other food to go. The UK government amended regulations, making it easier for food businesses to sell hot and cold food for delivery or takeaway. For how to do so safely, see the government's guidance for food businesses.
Can I open my café / bakery’s seating area?
That depends on the national (and perhaps regional or even local) restrictions that apply where you are.
November update: Local and regional exceptions apply and, from 5 November to at least 5 December, all eateries must close
From 4 July in England 'all indoor and outdoor hospitality that are self-contained and can be accessed from the outside' can reopen. 'This includes, restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs and workplace canteens.' The government issued caveats and guidance on how to do so safely..
Food Standards Agency guidance on adapting and re-opening your food business.
Should my shop / eatery operate a one in / one out policy?
Official social distancing guidance in the UK is to stay at least two metres away from other people, or (when this is not physically possible) at least metre with 'extra precautions' such as face masks and/or screens. See the government's guidance for food businesses.
(Some bakeries are not allowing customers into their shops at all, instead serving from the door or window and urging any people who are queuing to stay at least two metres away from each other. Maybe draw chalk lines on the ground as a guide?)
What about farmers' / local market stalls?
November update: As essential businesses, outdoor food stalls remain permitted. No seating/tables, though.
Exceptions to the general closure of businesses announced in the government guidance of in March 2020 include market stalls 'which offer essential retail, such as grocery and food.' Sustain is one of the organisations fighting the corner for food markets.
As a stall holder, please make every effort to ensure that you (and any staff you have) follow social distancing and other extra health guidelines. If the market operator hasn't stepped up already, urge them to limit numbers at the market, enforce the guidelines for all stallholders and customers, give you authority to enforce the guidelines, and to have authoritative signage up that explains this clearly. See the government's guidance for food businesses.
Are bakers key workers?
Yes. In its guidance for schools, childcare providers etc. the government’s list of key workers includes ‘those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery.’
Should I still accept/handle cash or is it safer for my staff and customers to go contactless?
There is no official advice to do this, though some bakeries, and other shops, are doing so. According to WHO FAQs, the COVID-19 virus can remain viable on some surfaces for days.
What extra precautions should my staff take?
- The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and businesses
- Public Health England’s COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings guidance
- The government's guidance for food businesses.
The government's guidance on staying safe outside your home includes wearing of masks, distancing, and reducing the time you spend with others at work.
Should bakery staff wear masks?
24JUN20 update: Guidance on staying safe outside your home. Includes wearing of masks, distancing, and reducing the time you spend with others at work.
21APR20: Open letter from HSE on PPE, flour dust, COSHH, RIDDOR etc.
Bakers should wear masks as they would normally, eg to minimise flour dust inhalation, as per HSE advice.
What extra precautions should we ask (and help) customers to make?
Unless people have a valid reason (physical and/or psychological) they must wear a face covering in indoor settings - eg buying/collecting in a bakery. Official guidance is that ‘customers should be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds more frequently than normal.’ We have heard from some bakeries that they have 60%+ alcohol hand sanitiser by the door and are asking customers to use it as they enter and before they leave, but this isn't mandatory. Customers should also be encouraged and helped to stay at least two metres away from each other and members of your staff. See the government's guidance for food businesses.
Can I still run baking classes?
November update: Face-to-face classes will not be possible from 5 November until at least 5 December.
A growing number of baking teachers are running online classes.
Baking schools that have had to cancel face-to-face class bookngs have tended to give full refunds or offer vouchers / free rebooking for when classes are permitted again.
Where do I find ingredients when my usual supplier(s) can't help?
The Guild of Fine Food has set up a map of food producers of all types, distributors and retailers with availability. You can also try posting your need on social media using #RealBread and your local area's hashtag.
How do I keep my business going?
Things that some bakeries, baking schools, and other small businesses, are doing: include:
- Online sales and deliveries
- Vouchers – ie the customer pays now for a class they’ll take at a later date
- Selling bread making kits (eg flour, yeast or sourdough starter, dough scraper, proving basket and recipes)
- Online video baking classes/courses
- Merch – aprons, t-shirts etc.
If you’ve come up with something that’s working for you, please email it to us.
Is there any non-governmental funding available?
Have a look at GrantsOnline.
LEAP: Small emergency loan programme Small loans of £5-20k for established community food businesses and agroecological growers
For employees and self-employed
What are my rights and what support can I get?
Please see the government's guidance for employees.
How do I socially distance at work?
See the government's guidance for food businesses, though this doesn't include how you stay two metres away from each other, as per official advice.
What if I don't feel safe about going to work?
Please see the government's guidance for employees. For trade unions / organisations offering guidance, see the links below.
What about self-employed people?
Please see the government's guidance for employees and for self-employed people.
I've lost my job / been furloughed. Where can I find work?
Job sites include:
- Sustain's Roots to Work for good food jobs
- Hospitality Redeployment Hub for short term non-hospitality jobs for hospitality people
For shoppers and home bakers
Where can I buy Real Bread?
You can find place to buy additive-free loaves from 900+ microbakeries and other bakeries on the Real Bread Map.
Particularly now, we suggest that you phone the outlet ahead of visiting to check if opening times, or other details, have changed since the owner last updated them on our website.
Which bakeries offer deliveries?
Check the Real Bread Map to find an outlet and read their details to see if they offer deliveries.
NB We also suggest you phone / check your local Real Bread bakery’s website and/or social media as many have introduced a delivery service (in some cases specifically for older and vulnerable people or key workers) but have not yet updated their details.
How can I learn to bake my own Real Bread?
We have many FREE recipes on our website and plan to add more. A growing number of baking teachers are running online classes - see the Real Bread Map, though many baking schools have not updated their listings this year to include their new online classes, so chek their websites and social media accounts.
Campaign ambassadors with YouTube channels stuffed with bread making videos include:
- Bread Angels founder Jane Mason
- Bake With Jack (Sturgess)
Can I bake bread with plain flour?
Yes! Try this basic white loaf or pitta.
Where can I buy flour?
We've written this article on the subject for when supplies are scarce.
Where can I find sourdough starter or baker's yeast?
You can make your own sourdough starter. Here's an old general list of where to find yeast, though we haven't updated it since 2012.
How do I bake for other people locally?
See our bakery support section, which includes a page on microbakery. See also the PDF version of Knead to Know, our guide to starting a microbakery from home, which is free (doughnations encouraged) to download.
Should I go out to buy Real Bread and other food?
Where permitted - and if you feel comfortable doing so - please do! Be sure to follow UK government guidance self-isolation, social distancing and health precautions in general - wearing a mask / face covering, physical distancing, frequent handwashing for 20 seconds etc.
In his address of 23 March, the Prime Minister announced that the reasons people should leave their homes included "shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible." Examples of essentials he gave were food and medicine, and he added that "you should do this as little as you can. And use food delivery services where you can."
Local bakeries and other small, independent businesses really need your support this year more than ever. Please be for them now so they can be there for you when we come through all of this!
Supermarket owners are likely to weather this storm generally unscathed, perhaps with a temporary dip in share prices/dividends and CEO bonuses - though panic buying might well even see their profits rise.
Small businesses on the other hand are likely to be hit hard and less likely to recover. They create skilled, meaningful jobs locally, helping to keep money circulating in your local economy and your high street alive. They might well still have stock when locusts have stripped supermarket shelves bare.
Another consideration is that supermarkets have more people visiting before, after and while you are there, therefore more opportunities of transmission of the virus.
Official UK sources
HSE (Health and Safety Executive)
Food Standards Agency
Official sources elsewhere
World Health Organisation (aka WHO)
WHO Q&A on coronaviruses including COVID-19
Countries in which we have the most supporters outside the UK.
Australia: Department of Health
Canada: Government site / Trade Commissioner Service
Ireland: Government site / Department of Health updates
USA: Center for Disease Control and Prevention / Small Business Administration
- Federation of Small Businesses
- Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service): Advice for employers and employees.
- Guild of Fine Foods: Advice for small, independent food producers and retailers
- ACS (The Association of Convenience Stores): Home delivery guidance for local shops
- London Farmers' Markets
- COVID-19 Mutual Aid UK (volunteers supporting local community groups organising mutual aid)
- UK Hospitality
- British Baker has frequently-updated, sector-specific advice and news pages
- Plunkett Foundation is offering free business support to rural community businesses
- Scottish Bakers Have created guidance and information that they have made freely available to all
In March, The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union and the Craft Bakers' Association both told us that they were prioritising offering support and advice to their paying members.
Those running news specifically about/for the bakery sector include:
Real Bread Campaign: The Real Bread Campaign finds and shares ways to make bread better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet. Whether your interest is local food, community-focussed small enterprises, honest labelling, therapeutic baking, or simply tasty toast, everyone is invited to become a Campaign supporter.
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