Political Update

  • Further restrictions come into effect in parts of the North East from midnight on 30 September, making it illegal for people from one household to meet with people from another in indoors settings, including pubs, restaurants and visitor attractions. The measures apply to Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North & South Tyeside, Northumberland and Sunderland. Full details are available here.
  • Discussions are ongoing with local leaders in Merseyside about similar extension there
  • Blackpool has been added to the North West Lockdown Zone. There is no legal restriction on household mixing in the NW zone, instead it is just recommended advice that people should not socialise with people they do not live with but the list of public venues includes leisure and entertainment venues, visitor attractions and parks as well as pubs and restaurants
  • 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.

Hospitality Restrictions Update

  • The Cabinet Office has confirmed that visors do not qualify as face coverings for the purposes of legal requirements for front of house staff in hospitality. However, staff working behind Perspex screens need not wear a face covering. Update Government guidance is available here for Hotels and other guest accommodation and The visitor economy
  • DEFRA has confirmed that venues or rooms within venues may voluntarily choose to restrict sales of alcohol to allow them to comply with the exemption extended to unlicensed premises for counter ordering. This may provide for some limited counter service.
  • We are still seeking clarification on whether the exemption for business meetings will allow food and drink to be served for up to 30 in socially distanced private dining – the current guidance is ambiguous but suggests that while food may be provided where it ancillary private dining is not permitted. We are also seeking clarification on whether the exemption for work related education and training allows for more than 30 to be catered for DCMS and Cabinet Office are exploring whether it would be permissible for event venues to operate as restaurants in the run up to Christmas. We will provide further updates in due course.

Northern Ireland Update

  • The First Minister has just made a statement to the NI Assembly announcing that a closing time of 11pm will be implemented in Northern Ireland from Wednesday 30th September for establishments serving alcohol and food. This means that last orders for food and drink will be 10.30pm, allowing people 30mins to finish-up. There will be no late licences. This contrasts to a 10pm closure in England and Scotland and a 10pm last order and 10.20 departure in Wales.  Read the First Minister’s statement here.

Welsh Update

  • The Chancellor has confirmed that the business support measures announced last week – time to pay for VAT and loan extensions, extension of VAT cut and new Job Support Scheme will apply in Wales as well.
  • An additional £140 million available to businesses to support Welsh businesses adapt to COVID and Brexit has been confirmed. £80m will be made available in grants under the ERF with co-funding required from the businesses themselves – of this £20m will support tourism and hospitality. Micro businesses (1 to 9 people) will be able to apply for up to £10k with matched investment of 10%, SMEs (10-249 employees) can apply for up to £150k with 10-20% investment and large businesses will be able to apply for up to £250k with 50% matched investment. We are seeking urgent clarification on some of the eligbility criteria around job security and creation as well as trade union involvement to ensure that the scheme works for hospitality. Another £60 million will be made available to support businesses impacted by local lockdown restrictions.
  • New local restrictions were introduced today for Neath Port Talbot, Vale of Glamorgan and Torfaen preventing people from entering or leaving the area without a reasonable excuse, such as travel for work or education and prevent people from socialising with people they do not live with in indoor venues, including pubs and restaurants. Extended households will be able to continue to meet outdoors.
  • Review guidance for all areas in Wales affected by local lockdown restrictions, including FAQs broken down by region and sector to help clarify requirements for impacted people and businesses.

Situation update 29 September 2020

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