On the 31st of October, just two weeks after the last update on COVID restrictions, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced another change to England’s Coronavirus precautionary restrictions. These restrictions only apply to England, while the other members of the United Kingdom remain under different restrictions, enforced by their own local governance.
The Prime Minister has stated that the new restrictions will commence on the 5th of November and will conclude on the 2nd of December – where the government will then seek to ease restrictions and return to a tiered system as before, according to the latest data available at this time.
The new lockdown restrictions will bear a resemblance to the local national lockdown that we as a country faced within the earlier months of this year, however, there will be some differences. In this Insight, we will be exploring the key topical areas that you should be aware of during this new COVID lockdown.
The extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
During his announcement on Saturday, Boris Johnson announced that people and businesses across the UK will be provided with additional financial support as part of the next phase of the governments plan to address the Coronavirus Outbreak. The Prime Minister announced that the Governments Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – commonly referred to as the Furlough Scheme, will now remain open until December, and the new Job Support Scheme, which was due to begin at the beginning of this month, will be delayed until the end of this lockdown. Employees will be able to receive 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, with up to a maximum of £2,500. Under the extended scheme, the cost for employers to retain workers will be reduced compared to the current measures, meaning that this time, the Furlough scheme is more generous for employers.
Other financial support
In addition to the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme, businesses who will be forced to close in England will be able to receive business grants worth up to £3,000 per month under the Local Restrictions Support Grant. A total of £1.1bn will also be distributed amongst Local Authorities, for one-off payments to enable them to support businesses on a broader basis.
To ensure homeowners maintain peace of mind as well during these trying times, the government have extended mortgage holidays so that borrowers who have been impacted by Coronavirus and have not yet had a mortgage payment holiday will be entitled to a six month holiday, and those that have already started a mortgage payment holiday will be able to top up to six months without this being recorded on their credit file. Further guidance by the FCA for those affected will be announced soon.
Staying at home
The Prime Minister stated during his announcement that residents of England must stay at home from the 5th of November, with only a few exceptions to this;
- Where it is not possible to work from home, individuals are permitted to travel to their workplace
- To shop for necessities, e.g. food and medicine, however leaving your personal premises to do so should be done as infrequently as possible
- For medical concerns, such as appointments or emergencies
- For childcare or education – one of the biggest differences to this lockdown compared to the last. All schools and educational facilities will remain open, to prevent the virus from further effecting the future of those in full-time or part-time education. There are further restrictions in place, such as – if you are living at University you must not travel back and forth between your permanent and student home. Students will be able to return home for Christmas, following further guidance which will be released at the end of term.
- To exercise outdoors or visit an outdoor public place – this must be with the people you live with, your support bubble or, if you are by yourself, you will be able to be joined by one person from another household – again another key difference to the guidance compared to the restrictions we faced in March/April.
- To visit members of your support bubble or to provide care for vulnerable people
There will be additional circumstances that will permit individuals to leave their households and further detailed guidance will be released shortly.
The closure of certain businesses and venues
To reduce social contact, the Government has ordered for certain businesses and venues to close. These will include;
- all non-essential retail, including, but not limited to clothing and electronics stores, vehicle showrooms, travel agents, betting shops, auction houses, tailors, car washes, tobacco and vape shops.
- indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, leisure centres and gyms, sports facilities including swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, dance studios, stables and riding centres, soft play facilities, climbing walls and climbing centres, archery and shooting ranges, water and theme parks,
- entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, adult gaming centres and arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, concert halls, zoos and other animal attractions, botanical gardens;
- personal care facilities such as hair, beauty and nail salons, tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services, non-medical acupuncture, and tanning salons.
Non-essential retail will be able to remain open for delivery and ‘click-and-collect’ services.
Some venues will be allowed to remain open for specific exempt activities, such as childcare and support groups. Support groups that are essential to delivering in person can continue with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support. This includes support to victims of crime, people in drug and alcohol recovery, new parents and guardians, people with long-term illnesses, people facing issues relating to their sexuality or gender, and those who have suffered a bereavement.
A number of public services will also remain open and individuals will be able to leave home to visit them. These include;
- the NHS and medical services like GPs. We are supporting the NHS to safely carry out urgent and non-urgent services and it is vital anyone who thinks they need any kind of medical care comes forward and seeks help.
- Jobcentre Plus sites
- Civil Registration Offices
Additionally, Places of Worship will be closed, unless they are being used for:
- Funerals – which can be attended by a maximum of 30 people, where social distancing guidelines are followed
- To broadcast acts of worship
- Individual prayer
- Formal childcare or where part of a school
- Essential voluntary and public services, such as blood donation or food banks
- Other exempted activities such as some support groups
The government has now advised against travel in and out of your local area, and for individuals to consider reducing the number of journeys that they make. There are of course a few exemptions to the restrictions;
- Travelling to work, where it is not possible to work from home
- Travelling to and from educational facilities
- Medical appointments and visits
- Visiting essential retail stores
For those who are planning to travel into England, and are legally permitted to do so, the governments advise would be to check the current travel corridor list, to see whether you will need to isolate for 14 days. British Nationals who are currently residing abroad do not need to rush to return home but will need to check with their airline or travel operators on arrangements for returning.
To read further details visit the GOV.UK website. If you have any queries or worries about the new Lockdown and the effect it may have on your business, get in contact with a member of our team today, by filling out a contact form below, calling us on +44 (0) 207 060 0835 or emailing us at email@example.com where one of our trusted consultants will be more than happy to advise on best practice for your business moving forward.