Restrictions in Leeds, Blackpool, Wigan and Stockport

New restrictions have come into force in Leeds, Blackpool, Wigan and Stockport. People who live in these areas are not allowed to gather in a private dwelling or garden with any other household unless in a support bubble. Also residents and visitors in these areas are advised not to meet people outside their household or bubble in any setting, whether a bar, shop or leisure facility – indoors or outdoors.

Indoor inter-household mixing restrictions in parts of the North East of England

From midnight on 30 September, measures will be brought into law restricting inter-household mixing in indoor settings, including pubs and restaurants, in Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Northumberland and Sunderland.

COVID-secure schools and workplaces are not affected by this update. As announced last week, childcare bubbles will be able to form in areas of intervention to allow families to share caring responsibilities with another household, as long as they are consistent. This includes formal and informal childcare arrangements. People in support bubbles in these areas can also continue to meet in any setting.

Other local restrictions

Last week the Government reviewed the position in Leicester, the Borough of Oadby and Wigston, Birmingham, Solihull, Sandwell, Wolverhampton, Bolton, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale and the remaining local authorities in Greater Manchester and decided to maintain their position on the watchlist as areas of intervention, as well as the current restrictions in these areas.

Local Restrictions Support Grant for businesses

Businesses can now check if they are eligible for the Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG). The grant is for businesses that were open as usual, providing services in person to customers from their business premises, but which were then required to close for at least 3 weeks due to local lockdown restrictions imposed by government. The grant is for businesses that pay business rates on their premises. Local councils may at their discretion also provide funding for businesses that don’t pay business rates.

Guidance clarifications from DCMS

We have received several queries from industry around details in the guidance, please see below some clarifications DCMS has shared with us you may find useful.

•             Wearing face coverings behind perspex screens: Face coverings must be worn by retail, leisure and hospitality staff working in areas which are open to the public and where they come or are likely to come within close contact of a member of the public. If businesses have taken steps in line with HSE guidance for COVID Secure workplaces to create a physical barrier (e.g. perspex) between workers and members of the public, then staff behind the barrier will not be required to wear a face covering. This position has been cleared by DHSC legal in conjunction with HSE.

•             Event venues and hotel function spaces: DCMS has confirmed with BEIS that if venues comply with the COVID Secure guidance and all the relevant planning and alcohol licencing requirements they can operate in the same way as restaurants with tables of six in a function room.

Working safely during coronavirus guidance updates

Guidance on working safely during COVID-19 in England has been updated following the national measures announced last week:

•             Heritage locations

•             Hotels and other guest accommodation

•             Performing arts

•             Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services

The visitor economy guidance has also been updated. We specifically wanted to highlight:

•             Coach Tours: If it is possible to ensure that groups of more than six (or larger if they are from one household) do not mingle on a tour, it can go ahead. People must stay in their own group on all parts of the tour – for example whilst in hospitality settings and when visiting attractions as well as whilst on the coach. Legislation does not place any capacity constraints on public transport services, private hire vehicles or leisure tours. Operators should continue to provide COVID Secure transport services which can accommodate multiple groups of six people. DfT will update the transport guidance shortly to clarify and assist passengers and operators.

•             Guided tours: If it is possible to ensure that groups of more than six (or larger if they are from one household) do not mingle on a guided tour, it can go ahead. People must stay in their own group at all times throughout the tour. Tours may take place indoors or outdoors provided businesses undertake risk assessments in line with this guidance document and put any necessary mitigations in place.

Other guidance updates

•             Guidance for businesses selling food in local lockdown-affected areas of the North East of England, West Yorkshire, the North West of England, the West Midlands and Greater Manchester has been updated in line with the pan-England guidance for working safely during COVID-19 noted above.

•             The deferral of VAT payments guidance has been updated. Businesses who deferred VAT due from 20 March to 30 June 2020 will now have the option to pay in smaller payments over a longer period. Instead of paying the full amount by the end of March 2021, businesses can make smaller payments up to the end of March 2022, interest free.

•             The list of jobs that qualify for travel exemptions now apply to National Lottery and advertising productions, and guidance has been updated for elite sportspersons.

•             The safer travel guidance for passengers reflects latest rules on social contact and face coverings.

•             The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme video guidance has been updated with information on how to claim the second grant.

•             Updates have been made to the guidance on how to self-isolate when arriving in the UK, including exemptions for people arriving from countries on the travel corridors list and clarifying that the self-isolation period begins on the day the person leaves the non-exempt country or territory.