Meeting People Safely
When seeing friends and family you do not live with you should:
- meet in groups of 6 or less
- follow social distancing rules when you meet up
- limit how many different people you see socially over a short period of time
- meet people outdoors where practical.
Support groups must be limited to a maximum of 15 people (from 24 September).
Indoor organised sport for over 18s will no longer be exempt from the rule of six. There is an exemption for indoor organised team sports for disabled people.
There will be a new exemption in those areas of local intervention where household mixing is not allowed to permit friends and family to provide informal childcare for children under 14.
Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions will be restricted to a maximum of 15 people (down from 30). Other significant standalone life events will be subject to the ‘rule of six’ limits, except funerals (from 28 September).
Government has announced an initial £60 million to support additional enforcement activity by local authorities and the police, in addition to funding that has already been awarded.
The spread of the virus is also affecting our ability to reopen business conferences, exhibition halls and large sporting events, so we will not be able to do this from 1 October.
The government’s expectation is the measures described above will need to remain in place until March.
- Customers in private hire vehicles and taxis must wear face coverings.
- Customers in hospitality venues must wear face coverings, except when seated at a table to eat or drink. Staff in hospitality and retail will now also be required to wear face coverings.
- People who are already exempt from the existing face covering obligations, such as because of an underlying health condition, will continue to be exempt from these new obligations.
- Guidance stating that face coverings and visors should be worn in close contact services will now become law.
- Staff working on public transport and taxi drivers will continue to be advised to wear face coverings.
Working From Home
Office workers who can work effectively from home should do so over the winter. Where an employer, in consultation with their employee, judges an employee can carry out their normal duties from home they should do so. Public sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, should continue to go into work where necessary. Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.
Businesses selling food or drink (including cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants), social clubs, casinos, bowling alleys, amusement arcades (and other indoor leisure centres or facilities), funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls, must be closed between 10pm and 5am. This will include takeaways but delivery services can continue after 10pm.
In licensed premises, food and drink must be ordered from, and served at, a table.
Customers must eat and drink at a table in any premises selling food and drink to consume indoors, on site (from 24 September).
Businesses will need to display the official NHS QR code posters so that customers can ‘check-in’ at different premises using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details once the app is rolled out nationally.
Businesses and organisations will face stricter rules to make their premises COVID Secure (from 28 September):
A wider range of leisure and entertainment venues, services provided in community centres, and close contact services will be subject to the COVID-19 Secure requirements in law and fines of up to £10,000 for repeated breaches.
Employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.
Businesses must remind people to wear face coverings where mandated.
NHS Covid-19 App
The NHS COVID-19 app has been launched today, to help control the spread of coronavirus.
It is available to those aged 16 and over in multiple languages. It forms a central part of the NHS Test and Trace service, by identifying contacts of those who have tested positive for coronavirus.
The contact tracing element of the app works by using low-energy Bluetooth to log the amount of time you spend near other app users, and the distance between you, so it can alert you if someone you have been close to later tests positive for COVID-19 – even if you don’t know each other.
The app will advise you to self-isolate if you have been in close contact with a confirmed case. It will also enable you to check symptoms, book a free test if needed and get your test results.
You can download the app here:
Apple App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/id1520427663…
Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=uk.nhs.covid19.production
This year the Government will be offering a record number of people the flu vaccine. This is more important than ever this year.
30 million people will be offered a free flu vaccine, the highest number ever – and some people will be offered it for the first time ever through the widened eligibility criteria.
Eligible people will also receive direct reminders prompting them to book their appointment, helping to drive uptake among their registered eligible patients.
If you are eligible for a free flu vaccine I would urge you to book an appointment. Even if you are not eligible for a free vaccine, I would urge you to look into getting a vaccine through a local pharmacist.
Support for workers
A new Job Support Scheme will be introduced from 1 November to protect viable jobs in businesses who are facing lower demand over the winter months due to coronavirus.
Under the scheme, which will run for six months and help keep employees attached to the workforce, the government will contribute towards the wages of employees who are working fewer than normal hours due to decreased demand.
Employers will continue to pay the wages of staff for the hours they work - but for the hours not worked, the government and the employer will each pay one third of their equivalent salary.
This means employees who can only go back to work on shorter time will still be paid two thirds of the hours for those hours they can’t work.
In addition, the Government is continuing its support for millions of self-employed individuals by extending the Self Employment Income Support Scheme Grant (SEISS). An initial taxable grant will be provided to those who are currently eligible for SEISS and are continuing to actively trade but face reduced demand due to coronavirus. The initial lump sum will cover three months’ worth of profits for the period from November to the end of January next year. This is worth 20% of average monthly profits, up to a total of £1,875.
An additional second grant, which may be adjusted to respond to changing circumstances, will be available for self-employed individuals to cover the period from February 2021 to the end of April - ensuring our support continues right through to next year.
Tax cuts and deferrals
As part of the package, the government also announced it will extend the temporary 15% VAT cut for the tourism and hospitality sectors to the end of March next year. This will give businesses in the sector - which has been severely impacted by the pandemic - the confidence to maintain staff as they adapt to a new trading environment.
In addition, up to half a million businesses who deferred their VAT bills will be given more breathing space through the New Payment Scheme, which gives them the option to pay back in smaller instalments. Rather than paying a lump sum in full at the end of March next year, they will be able to make 11 smaller interest-free payments during the 2021-22 financial year.
On top of this, around 11 million self-assessment taxpayers will be able to benefit from a separate additional 12-month extension from HMRC on the “Time to Pay” self-service facility, meaning payments deferred from July 2020, and those due in January 2021, will now not need to be paid until January 2022.
Giving businesses flexibility to pay back loans
The burden will be lifted on more than a million businesses who took out a Bounce Back Loan through a new Pay as You Grow flexible repayment system. This will provide flexibility for firms repaying a Bounce Back Loan.
This includes extending the length of the loan from six years to ten, which will cut monthly repayments by nearly half. Interest-only periods of up to six months and payment holidays will also be available to businesses. These measures will further protect jobs by helping businesses recover from the pandemic.
We also intend to give Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders the ability to extend the length of loans from a maximum of six years to ten years if it will help businesses to repay the loan.