COVID – GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENT 31st July 2020

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Announcement

The government has announced some adjustments to the roadmap to recovery set out on 17 July. This is because we are starting to see warning signs that the virus may be growing again. We have always been clear that any planned changes are conditional and reviewed based on infection rates. We will continue to review these measures and set out further details of any changes.

Greater Manchester, East Lancashire, parts of West Yorkshire

We are restricting social contact in Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire. In these areas, we will be prohibiting in law any gatherings with people from other households in private homes or in their gardens. We will be strongly advising against household mixing in public venues, such as bars and restaurants.

People in these areas can still go to work, visit shops and carry out other activities as before. In addition, regulations will be passed to close gyms, pools and sports venues in Bradford, at the request of the local council.

Luton, Leicester

We are easing restrictions in other regions where the prevalence of the virus has decreased sufficiently. This includes Luton (from 1 August), and the Oadby and Wigston suburbs of Leicester (3 August). Some other premises in Leicester – in line with the national 4 July changes – will also be able to reopen from 3 August.

Face coverings and quarantine

We are extending the list of areas where face coverings are mandatory from 8 August. Face coverings will be made mandatory in a greater number of public indoor settings, such as museums, galleries, cinemas and public libraries. The full list is set out below, and will be reflected in updated guidance on face coverings. This is in addition to shops, supermarkets and public transport, as is currently the case.

We will enhance our approach to enforcing existing laws on face coverings and quarantine for people who have just arrived in the UK. If premises or event organisers are not complying with COVID-19 Secure guidance, local authorities will act to close them down or cancel events.

Pilot testing crowds at events

We are stopping the pilots testing the return of crowds to sporting and performing arts events. This means planned pilots at venues such as the Sheffield Crucible, Goodwood, county cricket, and concerts and business events will not go ahead.

Shielding paused

We are pausing national shielding guidance from 1 August as average incidence rates across the country remain sufficiently low. This will continue to be kept under close review. In areas where incidence and transmission rates are increasing, we will take a more targeted approach to shielding advice at local authority level. Specific areas where local measures are in place are currently Leicester, Luton and Blackburn with Darwen.

Working safely

We are giving employers more discretion on how they ensure employees can work safely, as set out in the roadmap published on 17 July, and in line with updated guidance on gov.uk. Working from home is one way to do this, but workplaces can also be made safe by following COVID-19 Secure guidelines.

Delaying proposed changes

We are not changing the list of premises allowed to open, aside from in places such as Leicester, Luton and others outlined above, where restrictions are being lifted. We are delaying the changes that had been proposed in the roadmap for 1 August until at least 15 August.

We set out in the roadmap that these changes would only take place if prevalence had not risen. Specifically, this means:

  • remaining leisure settings, such as bowling, skating rinks and casinos, will remain closed
  • indoor performances will not be permitted
  • restrictions will remain on the highest risk close contact services, such as treatments on the face including eyebrow threading or make-up application

Guidance on weddings and civil partnerships will be unchanged. Ceremonies can be attended by up to 30 people, but larger receptions (that is, those that exceed the guidance on gatherings in your local area) including sit-down meals, should not take place.

Guidance on visiting care homes is unchanged. In the event of an outbreak in a care home or evidence of community hotspots or outbreaks leading to a local lockdown, care homes should restrict visits to exceptional circumstances only.

Q&A

1. Working from home

Who should go to work?

Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should carry on working from home wherever possible, but can go to work if the workplace is COVID-19 Secure.

From 1 August, employers should consult with their employees to determine how to work safely.

What’s changing from 1 August?

From 1 August, employers should consult with their employees to determine how to work safely. Working from home is one way to do this, but workplaces can also be made safe by following COVID-19 Secure guidelines.

These are tailored guidelines for employers, developed in consultation with businesses and trade unions, to help protect their workforce and customers from coronavirus while still continuing to trade or getting their business back up and running.

Where it is decided that workers should come into their place of work, this will need to be reflected in the risk assessment and other actions taken to manage the risks of transmission in line with COVID-19 Secure guidelines.

Your employer should consult with you on how you can work safely, and ensure workplaces are COVID-19 Secure if they are asking you to return.

Is it safe for me to go into work?

Your employer should consult with you on how you can work safely. Working from home is one way to do this, but workplaces can also be made safe by following COVID-19 Secure guidelines.

If employers decide that workers should come into their place of work, they need to make sure workplaces are safe by following the COVID-19 Secure guidelines, which have been developed in consultation with businesses and trade unions.

What are the ‘COVID-19 Secure’ safety guidelines workplaces have to put in place?

We have set out clear, practical steps that businesses should take to ensure their workplaces are COVID-19 Secure and give their staff the confidence to return to work.

These are tailored guidelines for employers to help protect their workforce and customers from coronavirus while still continuing to trade or getting their business back up and running.

The guidelines include how to keep as many people as possible safely apart from those they do not live within various workplace settings.

How will health and safety regulations be enforced?

If an enforcing authority, such as the Health and Safety Executive or your local authority, identifies employers who are not taking action to comply with the relevant public health legislation and guidance to control public health risks they will consider a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks.

Examples of not complying could be not completing a new risk assessment taking account of the risk of COVID-19, or taking insufficient measures in response.

The action an enforcing authority might consider includes giving specific advice to a business, or issuing an improvement notice, which a business must respond to in a fixed time, or a prohibition notice.

Failure to comply is a criminal offence, which can lead to fines or imprisonment for up to 2 years.

Local authorities also have new powers to close any premises if they believe it necessary to help prevent transmission of COVID-19.

My employer is asking me to come to work but I’m scared – what should I do?

Your employer should consult with you on how you can work safely, and ensure workplaces are safe if they are asking you to return.

If you remain concerned that your employer is not taking all practical steps to promote social distancing then you can report this to your local authority or the Health and Safety Executive who can take a range of action, including where appropriate requiring your employer to take additional steps.

What if they try to fire me because I won’t go to work but cannot work at home?

We urge employers to take socially responsible decisions and listen to the concerns of their staff. Employers and employees should come to a practical agreement about their working arrangements.

If individuals need advice, they should approach ACAS where they can get impartial advice about work disputes.

2. Close contact beauty services, leisure and sport

Will any financial support be offered to businesses who can’t open now?

As part of the government’s response to the pandemic, the Chancellor has announced a host of measures to help businesses, including loans, tax deferrals and cash grants.

There is particular support for smaller businesses and the self-employed, to help bolster the existing package of support available. For example, the Bounce Back Loan Scheme enables small businesses quicker access to finance, where they can borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 with no repayments due for a year, and no interest charged during that time either.

Can salons continue offering other beauty services?

Yes, salons can continue to offer other services which are not around the face, provided they are done in a COVID-19 Secure way in line with guidance.

What beauty treatments are still not allowed?

Services in the highest risk zone – the area around the face – which require staff and customers to be face-to-face and in very close proximity, are not permitted at this time. Examples include, but are not limited to, facial hair removal services, facial treatments, make-up applications and eyebrow treatments.

The highest risk of transmission is through aerosols and droplets when people are in prolonged close, face-to-face contact within 2 metres. Considering the balance of risks, we are postponing the resumption of these highest risk services.

Can I still do the other things you previously announced such as going to a restaurant?

Yes, you can still go to a restaurant provided you are with up to one other household or bubble inside, or with up to one other household or bubble or up to 6 people from different households outside.

When will casinos, bowling alleys and ice skating rinks be allowed to open?

The reopening of these venues has been postponed until 15 August at the earliest.

Does this mean indoor performances of any kind must be cancelled?

Indoor performances are not permitted at this time. We have been and will continue to work with the sector to determine how and when indoor performances can restart in a safe way.

Will there be any compensation for cancelled performances?

As part of the government’s response to the pandemic, the Chancellor has announced a host of measures to help businesses, including loans, tax deferrals and cash grants.

Particular support for the sector has included the Culture Recovery Fund, where £500 million of grants and £270 million in long-term loans are being made available to organisations, and the Emergency Grassroots Music Venues Fund, where £2.5 million has been available for venues at risk of imminent closure.

Will performance trials continue during this pause?

We have been and will continue to work with these sectors to determine how and when they can safely open. This includes considering how to adapt our plans for pilot events, if and when it is safe to do so.

Will trials of sporting events with fans continue?

No – all pilots will be put on hold from today until such time that the balance of risk allows us to progress with plans. We will look to resume pilot events if and when it is safe to do so.

3. Weddings

What is changing to guidance on weddings?

Wedding and civil partnership ceremonies can still go ahead, but people should not be holding large wedding receptions and celebrations at this time. Any celebrations after a wedding need to follow the guidance, which allows up to 6 people from multiple households outdoors or 2 households indoors.

Some areas now have added restrictions in place on visiting people in their homes. In these areas you should not, and it will be illegal to, visit or host people in private homes or gardens. You should follow the specific rules in your local area.

Why do I have to cancel my wedding reception?

By their very nature wedding receptions and celebrations bring families and friends together from a variety of different locations. Unfortunately, we do not believe it is safe to hold such gatherings at this time.

What if I booked and paid for something already, can I get my money back?

We appreciate this is disappointing news for many couples. You should consult with your venue on what policy they have in place for cancellations.

Can I still have the ceremony?

Yes, wedding ceremonies up to 30 people can still go ahead. These are subject to COVID-19 Secure guidance and venue capacity.

How many people can I have at my home to celebrate my wedding?

Any celebrations after a wedding need to follow the guidance which allows up to 6 people from multiple households outdoors or 2 households indoors.

Some areas now have added restrictions in place on visiting people in their homes. In these areas you should not, and it will be illegal to, visit or host people in private homes or gardens. You should follow the specific rules in your local area.

If I have a reception in my garden, is that illegal or just advised against?

People should not be holding wedding receptions at this time. It is not safe to do so.

Our guidance states that up to 6 people from multiple households can meet outdoors and 2 households indoors.

Will I need to wear a mask at the wedding ceremony? Will the bride or groom?

Face coverings will be required in places of worship, including guests at wedding ceremonies, which have the potential to lead to the spread of coronavirus. Face coverings will, of course, not have to be worn by the bride or groom, and can be removed where required for the wedding ceremony.

4. Eid

Can I celebrate Eid this weekend?

People may attend a mosque, or other place or worship, subject to COVID-19 Secure guidance and venue capacity.

We also recommend at this time that, if possible, prayer and religious services take place outdoors.

We understand these measures are difficult, especially during Eid, but it is critical that we take all the precautions that are necessary to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

How many people can be in a mosque to worship?

There are no set limits on places of worship, but all places should follow COVID-19 Secure guidance to ensure they only host numbers they can do so safely, with social distancing in place.

How many people can I have in my house to celebrate? Are outdoor celebrations for Eid still allowed? For how many people?

You can meet in groups of no more than 2 households indoors, or of up to 6 people from multiple households outdoors. When you do so you should socially distance from those you don’t live with and avoid physical contact.

Some areas now have added restrictions in place on visiting people in their homes. In these areas you should not, and it will be illegal to, visit or host people in private homes or gardens. You should follow the specific rules in your local area.

We understand these measures are difficult, especially during Eid, but it is critical that we take all the precautions that are necessary to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

5. Care Homes

Are care home visits allowed?

We appreciate the challenges which care homes face in safeguarding their residents, and difficulties that residents and their families have faced as a result of lockdown.

The decision on whether or not to allow visitors, and in what circumstances, is for each individual care home provider or manager of each home to make, based on assessment and advice from local directors of public health. In the event of an outbreak in a care home or evidence of community hotspots or outbreaks leading to a local lockdown, care homes should restrict visits to exceptional circumstances only to protect residents and staff.

What are the current rules for care homes?

Care homes can develop a policy for limited visits, following the advice set out in the guidance published on 22 July.

The decision on whether or not to allow visitors, and in what circumstances, is an operational decision and therefore ultimately for the provider and managers of each individual setting to make.

Any decisions on visits should be based on the advice from the Director of Public Health, as well as any additional advice or guidance from the local infection control lead from the clinical commissioning group and the local PHE Health Protection Team.

How will visits work if they are permitted?

Care home providers should encourage all visitors to wear a face covering and to wash their hands thoroughly before and after putting it on and taking it off.

Visitors should wear appropriate further PPE depending on the need of their visit, including gloves and aprons.

Providers should also consider whether visits, if they are permitted, could take place in a communal garden or outdoor area, which can be accessed without anyone going through a shared building.

To limit risk where visits do go ahead, this should be limited to a single constant visitor, per resident, wherever possible. This is to limit the overall number of visitors to the care home and the consequent risk of infection. A constant visitor is a nominated person, a son, or wife for example, who can visit the resident.

Will the rules for care homes be different in areas with stricter lockdown measures?

Yes, they could be.

In the event of an outbreak in a care home or if there is evidence of outbreaks in the community, care homes should rapidly impose visiting restrictions to protect vulnerable residents, staff and visitors.

6. Shielding

What is the advice from 1 August?

Based on the latest clinical advice, shielding for the clinically extremely vulnerable will be paused from 1 August.

Do elderly people and care home residents need to shield from 1 August?

From 1 August, clinically extremely vulnerable people are no longer advised to shield.

However those in the clinically extremely vulnerable category should continue to follow the updated guidance.

In areas where incidence and transmission rates are increasing, a more targeted approach to shielding advice at local authority level will be taken. Specific areas where local measures are in place are currently Leicester, Luton and Blackburn with Darwen.

What can those no longer shielding now do?

From 1 August:

  • you do not need to follow previous shielding advice
  • you should carry on working from home if you can, but you can go to work as long as the workplace is COVID-19 Secure
  • clinically extremely vulnerable children should attend education settings in line with the wider guidance on reopening of schools and guidance on full opening of special schools and other specialist settings
  • you can go outside as much as you like but you should still try to keep your overall social interactions low
  • you can visit businesses, such as supermarkets, pubs and shops, while keeping 2 metres away from others wherever possible or 1 metre plus other precautions
  • you should continue to wash your hands carefully and more frequently than usual and that you maintain thorough cleaning of frequently touched areas in your home and/or workspace
  • you will no longer receive free food parcels, medicine deliveries and basic care from the National Shielding Service

Should those in Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire continue to shield?

Based on the latest clinical advice, shielding for the clinically extremely vulnerable will be paused from 1 August across most of England.

However in areas where incidence and transmission rates are increasing, we will take a more targeted approach to shielding advice at local authority level.

Currently specific areas where local measures are in place are Leicester, Luton and Blackburn with Darwen.

Will you bring back shielding if infections rise?

Clinically extremely vulnerable people could be advised to shield again if the situation changes and there is an increase in the transmission of COVID-19 in the community. NHS Digital will maintain the shielded patient list securely, and individuals will be contacted quickly if the advice changes.

Any future changes will be reflected in the clinically extremely vulnerable guidance.

7. Face coverings

Where will people need to wear face coverings?

We are now recommending that face coverings are worn in additional indoor settings and this will be enforceable in law.

Currently you are required to wear face coverings in shops, supermarkets, indoor shopping centres, indoor transport hubs and public transport.

For members of the public, from 8 August this will be expanded to include:

  • funeral directors
  • premises providing professional, legal or financial services
  • cinemas
  • theatres
  • bingo halls
  • concert halls
  • museums, galleries, aquariums, indoor zoos or visitor farms, or other indoor tourist, heritage or cultural sites
  • nail, beauty, hair salons and barbers – other than where necessary to remove for treatments
  • massage parlours.
  • public areas in hotels and hostels
  • places of worship
  • libraries and public reading rooms
  • community centres
  • social clubs
  • tattoo and piercing parlours
  • indoor entertainment venues (amusement arcades, funfairs, adventure activities such as laser quest, go-karting, escape rooms, heritage sites)
  • storage and distribution facilities
  • veterinary services
  • auction houses

We recommend face coverings are worn in these settings now, but this will not be mandatory until 8 August.

Why do I now have to wear a face covering in more enclosed spaces?

In recent weeks, we have reopened more retail, leisure and other facilities, where you will come into contact with people you would not ordinarily. We want to give more confidence to people to use these facilities, and increase protection for those who work in them, minimising risk wherever possible.

Do I need to wear a face covering in school?

Public Health England does not recommend the use of face coverings in schools. This evidence will be kept under review. Face coverings are not required in schools because pupils and staff are mixing in consistent groups, and because misuse may inadvertently increase the risk of transmission. There may also be negative effects on communication and thus education.

Do I need to wear a face covering at work?

There is no universal face coverings guidance for workplaces because of the variety of work environments in different industries. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has provided detailed guidance for specific workplace settings. Employers must make sure that the risk assessment for their business addresses the risks of COVID-19 using BEIS guidance to inform decisions and control measures including close proximity working.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) needs to be managed through a hierarchy or system of control including social distancing, high standards of hand hygiene, increased surface cleaning, fixed teams or partnering, and other measures such as using screens or barriers to separate people from each other.

These measures remain the best ways of managing risk in the workplace, but there are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial and a precautionary measure. This will largely be to protect others and not the wearer.

If employees choose to wear a face covering, normal policies relating to occupational workwear and PPE will continue to apply.

Published 31 July 2020

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