Lockdown restrictions across England will come to an end at 12:01am on 2 December, with a ‘tiered’ system resuming the same day. A review of the tier allocations will be undertaken every 14 days, with the first review to be completed by the end of 16 December.
Changes to restrictions
The Government has published a COVID Winter Plan, setting out the details of changes to rules under the tiering system. In all tiers, the requirement to stay at home will end, with domestic and international travel permitted subject to guidance in each tier. Shops, personal care, gyms and the wider leisure sector can reopen, and the rule of six will now apply to outdoor public spaces across all tiers.
Work and travel
As with all tiers, the Government is advising that those who can work from home should still do so under tier 2. It also advises that the number of journeys taken should be reduced where possible, and that travel into areas in tier 3 should be avoided, unless for work, education, or other responsibilities.
For international travel, a new ‘Test to Release’ system will come into effect from 15 December. Passengers arriving in England from countries not included
on its travel corridor list will have the option to take a test after 5 days of self-isolation. Anyone who tests negative will not need to continue to self-isolate.
Retail, personal care and entertainment businesses can now open. Accommodation can also open. Gyms and other indoor leisure can open, with classes and organised sport allowed outdoors only, unless for those under the age of 18, elite athletes or disabled people.
For food and drinks hospitality businesses:
- Unless operating as restaurants, pubs and bars must close.
- Venues can only serve alcohol with a “substantial meal”.
- Venues must close by 11pm, with last orders at 10pm.
- No household mixing is allowed indoors, unless done so within a support bubble.
- The rule of six now applies outdoors.
- The Government has extended temporary freedom for venues to provide takeaways.
Further education providers, universities and early years settings can continue to operate.
Updated guidance on eligibility and claiming for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is available here. For furlough periods ending 31 October, employers can submit or change claims by 30 November. Claims for furlough in November must be submitted by 14 December.
The furlough scheme will remain open until the end of March, providing 80% of employees’ current salaries for hours not worked up to a maximum of £2,500.
Businesses can bring furloughed employees back to work on a part time basis or furlough them full-time, and will only be required to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions. This will be reviewed by the Government in January.
Support for the self-employed
Self-employed workers can claim for 80% of trading profits through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme covering November to January.
Information on eligibility and how to claim is available here.
Additional grants and funding
A full list of the support available has been compiled by the British Chambers of Commerce here.
If LCCI Members would like further information, or to speak to our Policy team about the impacts of these restrictions, please email us.