Political Update

  • Further guidance has been published by the Government in respect of the introduction of new COVID restrictions, following a small increase in incidence of the disease across the UK. You can find the link to the PM’s statement here.
  • Government has confirmed that consideration will be given to reopening of bowling alleys, casinos, spas & beauty salons, and wedding receptions from 15 August – this will be subject to a review of the health statistics, but a further delay is unlikely.
  • Government has postponed the pilots of live performances, large gatherings, and conferences, with no date as yet for their resumption. This may call into question the reopening of business events and conferences from 1 October, and an update will be given in two weeks’ time. Meetings of up to 30 people are unaffected and may continue.
  • New regulations will be introduced making face coverings mandatory for guests and visitors in: corridors and public lobby areas of hotels (this was previously recommended under voluntary guidance and is now mandatory); indoor tourist attractions (such as aquariums, zoos, farms, museums and cultural sites, theatres, and cinemas); beauty and hair salons; social clubs; indoor entertainment venues (such as amusement arcades, funfairs, adventure activities, and escape rooms); bingo and concert halls. Although mandatory from 8 August, face coverings are recommended with immediate effect.
  • An overview of the North West England lockdown has also been published. It emphasises that businesses should continue to work and operate as before, but restrictions mean that people will not be able to see friends and family from outside their immediate household in any indoor settings. The Government asked pubs and restaurants to take reasonable steps to avoid multi-household bookings indoors. The guidance also confirms that households from within affected areas will be able to continue to travel freely and to take holidays, but should do so with their own family group
  • Scottish Ministers have, however, advised its residents not to undertake unnecessary travel to the affected area and asked those living there to cancel planned travel to Scotland.

Health Update

  • Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Friday suggest infection rates in England are rising, with around 4,200 new infections a day – compared with 3,200 a week ago. The level of infection is still significantly lower than it was during the pandemic peak.
  • PHE publishes a weekly COVID-19 epidemiology surveillance summary available here. Today a further 74 deaths were reported in the UK, taking the total number of people who have died after testing positive for the virus to 46,193. 
  • The self-isolation period has been extended to 10 days for those in the community who have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or a positive test result. This would also apply to those contacted through track and trace who have come into prolonged and sustained contact (more than 15 mins face to face) with someone who has tested positive
  • The CMO, Chris Whitty, suggested the nation had “probably reached near the limit or the limits” of what can be done to reopen society. This has led to two scientists advising the government to suggest that further trade-offs (including closing pubs or other activities) may be needed to allow pupils to return to classrooms next month as planned. Mr Johnson has previously pledged that both primary and secondary schools in England will return in September “with full attendance”. A trade-off of this nature is not currently being considered by Government, and other public health experts have suggested that a trade-off was not the right approach and would lead to a diversion of efforts away from track-and-trace and control of the virus through testing and isolation.

Wales Update

  • The Welsh Parliament confirmed that, from 3rd August, the restrictions preventing more than two households meeting outdoors will be changed to allow up to 30 people to meet outdoors, and pubs, bars, restaurants, and cafes will be able to re-open indoors. As will indoor bowling alleys, auction houses, and bingo halls. Licenced wedding venues will be able to re-open to provide wedding ceremonies. However, indoor receptions will not be able to take place for the time being; they will be considered as part of the changes for August 15.
  • They have also announced that if conditions remain favourable, from 10 August swimming pools, indoor fitness studios, gyms, spas, indoor leisure centres, and children’s indoor play areas will be able to re-open. Social distancing will be removed for children under 11.
  • Ahead of Monday’s reopening, all hospitality venues are being reminded that they need to capture customer data as part of track and trace. This will be mandatory in Wales for a wider range of venues, including take away, and the regulations will be enforced, so national chains are advised to make themselves aware of differences in the approaches across the UK

Other Government Updates

  • The Government has confirmed that dance music and nightclubs will be eligible to apply to the Cultural Renewal Fund for support during closure.
  • A new £20m funding is to be made available to Local Economic Partnerships to allow them to provide discretionary help to hospitality and other businesses in their area and to support COVID recovery measures. This is in addition to the £10m previously announced for tourism SMEs. The grants are up to £5k to provide access to specialist advice or to purchase new technology to help manage Covid-19 threat.
  • Further details of how jobs will be protected through the government’s new Job Retention Bonus were unveiled by HMRC, confirming workers who have been successfully TUPE’d will be eligible for the bonus to be paid in February.
  • A new law has been passed, clarifying that furlough may be used for payment of statutory redundancy pay and notice, but that workers must receive 100% of their normal pay – not the 80% furlough amount actually paid during the reference period. The new law took effect from 31 July.
  • ONS have produced their latest Social Impacts research update, which has some relevant findings for tourism businesses. It finds that 34% of people say they are comfortable eating inside at a restaurant. Just 19% are comfortable using an outside pool, with 12% comfortable using an indoor gym or indoor swimming pool.
  • The Met Police have reported being called to 80 Unlicensed Music Events, with police action necessary in 20 cases.