Political Update

  • The Government has today published its new Obesity Strategy. This includes the new Better Health Campaign, providing: a range of public education tools to support weight loss, aiming to encourage all of us to lose 5lbs to help the NHS; expanded weight management services; information and public education through a ban on promotions and advertising of foods high in fat, salt and sugar; the introduction of a new front-of-pack nutritional label; and mandatory calorie labelling for all out-of-home businesses employing more than 250 employees. The Government will move to set out steps for new legislation and guidance to business to progress rapidly on implementation by the end of 2022. The Government will also launch a new consultation on calorie labelling of pre-packaged alcohol. Our detailed briefing note on the new proposals is available here.
  • The Government has re-introduced new quarantine restrictions for passengers returning from Spain, requiring all those returning from Sunday 26 July to self-isolate for 14 days. The quarantine restriction has been imposed following a significant jump in new COVID cases in mainland Spain over the last week. The rate of infection in Spain is 35 cases per 100,000 people, while the UK is just over 14 cases per 100,000 people. In light of the fact that there are lower rates of infection in the Balearic and Canary Islands, the UK Government is in talks with Spain about introducing air bridges for the islands later this week.
  • Questions have been raised about employees who are required to quarantine upon their return. ACAS has suggested that these employees will not automatically be entitled to statutory sick pay unless they are showing COVID symptoms or are required to self-isolate because they have come into close contact with someone who has COVID (reclaim £95.85 per week), but may be eligible for extended annual leave (taking account of leave which will have accrued during furlough, you could ask people to take extended leave) and could be placed back on flexible furlough during August. Downing Street has also highlighted that they may be entitled to enhanced universal credit.

Other Government Updates

  • The Government has published details on those who are exempt from the mandatory requirement to wear a face covering in public transport and in retail and takeaway settings. Face coverings are not mandatory for anyone under the age of 11 or those with disabilities or certain health conditions.
  • The Government has produced new guidance for businesses on the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which provides further details on how businesses can make a claim from 7 August, and the records required to be kept. Under the scheme, businesses can make up to 5 claims before 30 September but is important to note that VAT needs to be paid on the full amount of the customer’s bill before the discount is applied – this can be reconciled at a later date. Customers can now find participating restaurants online.
  • The Government announced that £2.25m from £1.57 billion Cultural Recovery Package would be allocated to grassroots music venues as emergency funding to help prevent them becoming insolvent. This funding will be administered by the Arts Council and will be used to provide grants of up to £80,000 to help an estimated 150 venues.
  • Draft legislation options have been published to show how government could respond to a local or regional coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak without returning to a national lockdown.
  • The first weekly COVID local stats have been published, identifying areas of significant concern. National measures have been imposed in Blackburn, Darwen and Luton, with Government maintaining the lockdown restrictions on gyms, leisure, and pools in those areas, together with additional controls and testing in community settings. The latest data shows the incidence of COVID-19 in Blackburn with Darwen and Luton. Areas of heightened concern where additional local lockdown powers could be used are close by Blackburn and include Pendle, Rochdale, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, and Wakefield, as well as Rotherham, Peterborough and Northampton
  • National Food Strategy: Henry Dimbleby – who was appointed by Michael Gove MP to lead an Independent Review of the food system – will launch Part One of the National Food Strategy, virtually, on Wednesday 29 July, 1.30 – 2.45pm. There will be an opportunity to ask Mr Dimbleby questions about the findings and his recommendations to government. Click here to register: https://nfs-launch.eventbrite.co.uk.

Devolved Administration

  • The UK Government has announced that the devolved administrations Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland will receive a minimum of £3.7 billion in additional funding this year.
  • The Northern Ireland Executive have made a number of announcements regarding relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, allowing people to come together from four different households and to reopen swimming pools, spas, and leisure facilities (including bowling alleys) from 24 July. Wet-led indoor pubs will reopen from 10 August. 
  • The visitor economy in Wales continued reopening over the weekend. From 25 July, tourist accommodation with shared facilities, such as camping sites and all hotels, museums, galleries, amusement arcades, and underground attractions may start re-opening. From today, face coverings are compulsory on public transport in Wales, including taxis.

Tourism Update

  • Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia and St Vincent and the Grenadines have been added to the list of travel corridors coming into effect from Tuesday 28 July in England.
  • The FCO has updated its global advisory against ‘all but essential’ travel, exempting destinations that no longer pose an unacceptably high risk for British travellers. The travel exemption list has been updated with an additional 19 countries, including Laos, Cambodia, Fiji, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Cuba, Guadeloupe, St Barthelemy, St Martin, St Maarten, Aruba, New Caledonia, Curacao, Cook Islands, British Indian Ocean Territory, Falkland Islands, St Helena, Ascension Island, and Tristan da Cuna
  • The travel advice for outbound travel has been revised and now states: ‘You should carefully consider your holiday and travel options in light of the continuing COVID-19 threat. A “staycation” is one way of mitigating the risks, while also supporting the local economy. If you’re holidaying abroad, you may have to self-isolate for a period of 14 days on your return home – depending on which country you have visited.’

Situation update 27 July 2020