There’s a lot going on at the moment and of course likely to be more announcements today. In the meantime, please find below an update as of yesterday.

  • The Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Officer gave a press conference setting out the rapid and widespread increase in COVID 19 cases throughout the UK and announcing that the country’s risk level would be increased to 4 – meaning the disease is widespread in the population and strict social distancing measures are required to prevent a pandemic. The UK’s risk rating was downgraded from 4 in June ahead of the reopening of hospitality. 
  • The Briefing was a precursor to a statement by the PM today which is expected to announce further legal restrictions on hospitality – including a likely curfew on opening hours and a restriction to table service where consumption takes place on the premises, mirroring restrictions in the North East and North West, The PM will also make a statement to the nation at 8pm which may set out further restrictions on individual activity. 
  • An emergency meeting of COBR will be held tomorrow with the devolved administrations to agree a UK approach. 
  • UKHospitality is actively engaged in discussions with Ministers on the support packages needed to help hospitality withstand an estimated 50% drop in trade, jeopardising the 900,000 jobs still supported by furlough.

Test & Trace Update

  • The Government has published further guidance for hospitality venues in England on the legal obligation to enforce the rule of 6 and make sure there is sufficient space between tables. The regulations will be enforced by Local Authorities, who will have the power to issue fines of up to £1,000 for venues that are failing to comply, or the police as a last resort. Fines will rise to up to £4,000 for repeat offenders. 
  • It will be an offence for a business to fail to adhere to the rule of 6 (respecting all exceptions to this) when taking a booking, allowing entry to a group of more than 6 people. Once groups are within the premises, businesses also risk offending if they fail to advise groups not to merge in ways that breach the rules is also an offence.
  • At the same time, it will be a legal obligation to participate in the NHS test and trace scheme and log details of customers, visitors and staff for test and trace will require a lead booker detail for family and other groups – it does not require all individual contacts to be logged. 
  • From Thursday 24 September businesses will be required to display official NHS QR code posters under law ahead of the NHS COVID-19 app being rolled out nationally on 24 September and encourage the lead booker in a group to check in using the app – this will fulfil the legal obligation on test and trace – but it is likely that businesses will need a due diligence mechanism to allow them to check and confirm a customer has clicked the QR code (customers will receive a confirmation notice which they can show on request). 
  • If customers choose to check in via the NHS App then they do not need to log in via any other route. Businesses will, however, need a separate system to capture those without a smart phone or not wanting to use the QR code. 
  • It is not yet clear whether it will be a legal obligation or just a recommendation that service be refused to customers who refuse to provide details. 
  • The new laws will apply to hospitality, all tourism and leisure businesses, gyms and pools, museums, cinemas, zoos and theme parks as well as close contact services. 
  • Businesses will also need to ensure adequate distance between tables (2m or 1m+) and prevent customers from dancing.

Welsh Update

  • From 6pm on Tuesday 22 September coronavirus laws will be tightened in Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport in South Wales, extending the current area from Rhonda and Caerphilly. Read the full statement here
  • These restrictions prevent people from entering or leaving the areas without a reasonable excuse eg work or education and only allowing people to meet with people they don’t live with outside – they will not be able to form or be in extended households. All licensed premises are required to close at 11pm. 

Northern Ireland Update

  • The Executive has announced that tightened COVID-19 restrictions will take effect across all of Northern Ireland from 6pm on Tuesday 22 September – including a ban on people from multiple households meeting indoors (with the exception of single person household bubbles or required visits for caring or essential maintenance), no more than 6 people from 2 households gathering in private gardens. 
  • The Executive has confirmed that wet pubs will be permitted to reopen in Northern Ireland from Wednesday 23 September. In addition to capacity limits being calculated and displayed, pubs will be required to be table service only, dancing and beer bikes will be banned and face coverings should be work inside apart from when seated.

English Local Lockdowns

  • Further regulations may apply to areas under localised lockdown restrictions. Further information about localised lockdown restrictions and the areas impacted can be found here
  • From Tuesday 22 September, Lancashire, Merseyside, Warrington and Halton have been escalated to areas of intervention and that new restrictions will be introduced in. 
  • In the North West residents must not socialise with other people outside of their own households or support bubble in private homes and gardens; hospitality for food and drink will be restricted to table service only where consumption takes place on the premises and leisure, entertainment and hospitality venues will be required to close between 10pm and 5am. Residents in these areas are also advised to only use public transport for essential purposes (incl travel to work). These changes do not apply to Bolton or Greater Manchester where separate restrictions are already in place. 
  • In the Midlands & West Yorkshire – Wolverhampton, Oadby and Wigston, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale – residents willb e banned from socialising with people outside their own households. 
  • Following the announcement of restrictions in the North East of England on Friday,  further guidance for businesses  and taking a holiday is available. It outlines that hospitality venues must only sell food and drink for consumption on the premises if it is served to customers sitting at a table. They may also sell food and drink for consumption off the premises unrestricted – so the table service only requirement does not prevent takeaway. It details the list of businesses and venues that must close from 22:00 to 05:00 each day. It also says businesses and venues can still sell food and drinks for consumption off the premises between the hours of 22:00 to 05:00 but only for delivery service. See the full guidance for further details
  • Local lockdown measures for the North East of England have been clarified to confirm that up to 30 people are allowed to attend weddings, civil partnerships and funerals in these areas, and that any staff working at these ceremonies or events are not included as part of the 30 person limit. 

Employment Update

  • From 28 September, people will be legally required to self-isolate when instructed to by NHS Test and Trace. Fines for those breaching self-isolation rules will start at £1,000, in line with the penalty for breaking quarantine after international travel, and can increase to up to £10,000 for repeat offences and for more serious breaches, including for those preventing others from self-isolating. For example, employers threatening self-isolating staff with redundancy if they do not come to work. 
  • Police and NHS Test and Trace resources will be directed to ensuring compliance with self isolation and quarantine 
  • A payment of £500 will be available to people on lower incomes who cannot work from home and who would lose income as a result of self isolating. Local Authorities will handle these support schemes which are expected to be in place by 12 October and will make payments backdated to 28 September 
  • Read the full announcement here. You can also read today’s statement about these measures from the Health Secretary 
  • Updated figures for the CJRS have been made available. Please see some of the key points from this release covering the period to 31 July 2020: accommodation and food services and arts & entertainment were the two sectors with the highest proportion of workers furloughed, at 43% and 45% respectively. 58% of employers in these sectors were making use of the scheme.
  • At 29%, the accommodation and food services sector had the highest proportion of employments furloughed flexibly. The South West has the highest proportion of employments on flexible furlough at 25% and London has the highest proportion of employments furloughed on a full-time basis at 82% 
  • New figures available for the number of individuals claiming the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme up to 31 August 2020 by age, gender, industry sector and geography are available. 
  • Kickstart Scheme page updated with information finding someone to apply for a Kickstart Scheme grant on your behalf’ 
  • The coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain survey results covering 9-13 September is available. 
  • Daily visitors to DCMS sponsored museums and galleries statistics updated for the week 7-13 September.

Situation update 21 September 2020