COVID-19

Information for Real Bread business owners, their staff members, their customers and other people in their local communities.

This page was last updated in July 2020. Please check official sources for the latest information and advice.

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, 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NB Information here is not necessarily definitive and might be outdated.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:
England
Scotland
Northern Ireland
Wales

See also

More information from Sustain:

Given the very limited staffing (one person, part-time) fo the Campaign, and the speed at which the situation is developing, this page will focus on the UK, where our office, and the majority of the paying supporters of our charity’s work are based. Apologies that it doesn't detail the differing situations in the devolved nations, or include information from outside the UK. 

We did contact a number of larger organisations to suggest that we pool our knowledge and resourcesy...

If your organisation would like to work with us, please please email us.

For Real Bread professionals

Everything that you do/don't do should be informed by official instruction from your 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

See also

Can I run a delivery service?
Absolutely! In his speech of 23 March, the UK Prime Minister urged people to "use food delivery services where you can." 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. In his address of 23 March, the Prime Minister announced that "all shops selling non-essential goods" must close but that essentials included food and medicine. 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?
Yes, 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 governmnt issued caveats and guidance on how to do so safely.

Food Standards Agency guidance on adapting and re-opening your food business.

(On 20 March, the UK government announced that entertainment and hospitality premises must close. These include ‘Food and drink venues for consumption on-site, such as restaurants and cafes.’)

Should my shop / eatery operate a one in / one out policy?
Official social distancing guidance is to stay at least two metres away from other people. 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?
Exceptions to the general closure of businesses listed in the government guidance 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?
See:

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 we wear masks?
Bakery owners should wear them as they would normally, eg to minimise flour dust inhalation, as per HSE advice.

24JUN20: 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.

What extra precautions should we ask (and help) customers to make?
The 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. 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?
No. As of 23 March, people can only leave their homes for a limited number of reasons and learning to bake aint one of 'em. Baking schools that are cancelling their classes mostly seem to be either giving full refunds or offering vouchers / free rebooking once classes are back up and running 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 to support cashflow 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:

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?
In his speech of 23 March, the Prime Minister urger people to "use food delivery services where you can." Check the Real Bread Map to find an outlet and read their details to see if they offer deliveries.

We suggest you phone / check the 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.

Campaign ambassadors with YouTube channels stuffed with bread making videos include:

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.

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?
The PDF version of Knead to Know, our guide to starting a microbakery from home, is free (doughnations encouraged) to download.

Should I go out to buy bread and other food?
Be sure to follow UK government guidance self-isolation, social distancing and health precautions in general - frequent handwashing for 20 seconds etc.

In his address of 23 March, the Prime Minister announced that the only four 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 now 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 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.

Should I take hand sanitiser when food shopping?
The COVID-19 virus can remain viable for up to days on surfaces and hours in the air. Some sources suggest sanitiser / anti-viral wipes to clean door handles, food packaging, change / payment card, phone and other surfaces before and after you touch them but we are seeking an official answer to this from the UK government.

Do I need to wash/sanitise food and packaging when I get it home?
We are seeking an answer to this from the UK government.

More information

Official UK sources

UK Government
NHS
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

Unofficial sources

In March, The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union and the Craft Bakers' Association both told us that they are prioritising supporting their paying members.

Media outlets

Those running news specifically about/for the bakery sector include:


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