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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Businesses and Employers Bulletin - 24 November 2020

This bulletin is issued by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and provides the latest information for employers and businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19). All coronavirus business support information can be found at gov.uk/business-support


PM's statement on the Government's winter Covid-19 Plan

The Prime Minister, The Rt Hon Boris Johnson gave a statement to the House of Commons on Monday 23 November 2020 outlining the Government’s winter Covid-19 plan. The COVID-19 Winter Plan sets out how national restrictions will be lifted in England on 2 December, with England moving back into a regional, tiered approach.  

On 2 December, across all of England, regardless of tier: 

  • the stay-at-home requirement will end, with travel being permitted again subject to guidance in each tier 
  • shops, personal care, gyms and the wider leisure sector will reopen 
  • collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume 
  • people will no longer be limited to seeing only one other person in outdoor public spaces - the rule of 6 will now apply outdoors as it did in the previous set of tiers. 

Everyone who can work from home should do so. Where people cannot do so – including, but not limited to, people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction, or manufacturing – they should continue to travel to their workplace. 

A summary of local restrictions, including what you can and cannot do in each tier, is available here, including information for businesses and venues.  

On Thursday 26 November the government will announce which areas are in which tier. The new rules will come into effect from the beginning of Wednesday 2 December. 

The PM's statement can be found here. Winter Plan summary is here.  

Tier Posters- Medium, High and very High: For a series of posters displaying information about the various tiers of restrictions in England from 2 December 2020 click posters 

New Guidance

Local restriction tiers: What you need to know: Guidance that sets out the local restriction tier system that will be in place from Wednesday 2 December, including what you can and cannot do in each tier is available here

Homecare workers to be tested weekly: Care workers looking after people in their own homes will be offered weekly coronavirus tests. Care providers will be able to book tests for their staff online from Monday 23 November. Agency managers should order tests every 28 days for their homecare workers; 4 tests are delivered for each homecare worker to the agency, for a 28-day testing cycle. More information on the testing service, click here

Pay VAT deferred: You can pay now or get ready to opt in to the VAT deferral new payment scheme. If you deferred VAT between 20 March and 30 June 2020 and still have payments to make, you can: 

  • pay the deferred VAT in full on or before 31 March 2021; 
  • opt in to the VAT deferral new payment scheme when it launches in 2021; 
  • contact HMRC if you need more help to pay. 

Check how you can pay your deferred VAT

If you want to opt in to the new payment scheme: You cannot opt in yet. The online opt in process will be available in early 2021. You must opt in yourself; your agent cannot do this for you. 

Instead of paying the full amount by the end of March 2021, you can make up to 11 smaller monthly instalments, interest free. All instalments must be paid by the end of March 2022. For more on the opt in paying system check here 

Consensus statement emphasises importance of covid-19-secure workplace: Public Health England (PHE), Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM) have issued a consensus statement on the best approach to reduce occupational risk for workers including those of ethnic minority groups. Further details here

The UK Transition: Time is Running Out

With just 38 days to go until the UK’s new start, attend one of our webinars to help prepare your business.

  • Business travel and investing or establishing in the EU - 11am, Wednesday 25 November, and then on demand - register here.

Watch other sector specific webinars on demand here and register for all transition webinars here.

For the latest transition information direct to your inbox, sign up to the Transition Readiness Business Bulletin here.

Updated Guidance

Adult social care Guidance: Sets out how homecare agencies in England can order regular tests for their homecare (domiciliary care) staff. All registered homecare agencies will be contacted with details of how to apply for test kits for their carers. More information is available here. Quick summary of the guidance is here 

Open consultation: Stopping movement of staff between care settings: Easy-read version of consultation is now made available here. If you are using the easy-read version, the deadline for responding is now midday on Wednesday 25 November 2020. 

MHRA Advice for developers of Covid-19 Vaccines: MHRA have added link to guidance on ‘Advice for developers of Covid-19 vaccines’ in the ‘vaccines and vaccine safety’ section. See the updated guidance here 

Travel

Countries, territories or regions added to the travel corridor list 

  • If you arrive in England from Bonaire / St Eustatius / Saba, Israel, Jerusalem, Namibia, Northern Mariana Islands, Rwanda, Sri Lanka and Uruguay and the US Virgin Islands after 4am Saturday 21 November, you may not need to self-isolate read the rules about when you need to self-isolate and for how long 
  • If you arrived in England from Bonaire / St Eustatius / Saba, Israel, Jerusalem, Namibia, Northern Mariana Islands, Rwanda, Sri Lanka and Uruguay and the US Virgin Islands before 4am Saturday 21 November, you will need to self-isolate. Read how to self-isolate when you travel to the UK.  

Test to Release: England introduces testing strategy for international arrivals: Testing strategy for passengers arriving into England will be introduced from 15 December 2020. 

  • Tests will be at the cost of the traveller to protect the capacity of NHS Test and Trace. 
  • 14-day self-isolation period reduced by up to two thirds on receipt of a negative COVID-19 test from a private provider after 5 days of isolation 

For more information on the strategy click here 

Other useful links

Some aspects of business support are devolved. Specific information for businesses and employers in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales is available. In England, Growth Hubs can advise on local and UK Government business support. You can also find helpful business case studies and other useful information on the Coronavirus Business Support Blog.