05.01.2021

England to enter lockdown from 5 January until mid-February

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that from 5 January, all of England will be placed under lockdown restrictions, including the closure of non-essential retail services and a “stay at home” instruction in law.

Leaving home

Government guidance states that you must not leave home unless you have a “reasonable excuse”, which is defined in law. Reasonable excuses for being outside the home include work (where this cannot be done from home), essential activities such as shopping, for exercise, and other permitted reasons set out in the guidance.

Businesses to close

All non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, auction houses (except for auctions of livestock or agricultural equipment) and market stalls selling non-essential goods.

These venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services.

Businesses which can remain open

Businesses which are permitted to remain open (whilst following Covid-secure guidelines) include, but are not limited to:

  • Petrol stations
  • Automatic (but not manual) car washes
  • Vehicle repair and MOT services
  • Taxi and vehicle hire businesses

Travel

Under government guidance, travel is not permitted without a reasonable excuse.

People are permitted to leave home to buy goods and services that they need, but this should be within your local area wherever possible.

Travel for work is permitted, where you cannot reasonably work from home.

Regulations

Members can continue to direct questions about lockdown Regulations to our legal helpline. We will update members with further detail of the Regulations following review by our legal team.

Please consult the attached Government guidance for further information.

See also:

UK Gov Guidance: National Lockdown in England

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Scotland to enter full lockdown

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today confirmed that from midnight (Monday 4 January), people living in mainland Scotland will be legally required to stay at home except for essential purposes until at least 1 February.

Permissible reasons to leave home will include, for example, caring responsibilities, essential shopping, exercise and being part of an extended household.

On travelling to work, the First Minister said that “it will only be a reasonable excuse to leave your home to go to work, if that work cannot be done from home” and asked businesses to “make sure that every single function that can be done by people working at home, is being done in that way.”

Shopping

Only essential retailers will be able to remain open. Guidance for the new “stay at home” regulations states that click and collect and online services can remain open.

Essential Retail

A list of essential retailers can be found in the question and answer section of the retail sector guidance and includes, but is not limited to:

  • Car repair and MOT services
  • Petrol stations
  • Taxi or vehicle hire businesses

Travel

The Scottish Government has advised people to avoid all unnecessary travel, and to stay as local as possible when travelling for essential purposes.

People living in Tier 4 areas must, by law, remain within that area unless they have a reasonable excuse (see exceptions)

Travel to other parts of the UK and Ireland will continue to be prohibited, unless you have a reasonable excuse.

Further information on travel restrictions can be found in the Scottish Government’s guidance on travel and transport here.

Regulations

We will provide further updates on these restrictions as and when more details are made available through the publication of the Regulations. Members can continue to direct their legal queries to our legal helpline.

See also:

Scottish Gov Guidance: Coronavirus (COVID-19) – stay at home guidance (04.01.2021)

Scottish Gov Guidance: Coronavirus (COVID-19) – guidance on travel and transport

Financial Support for businesses following new lockdown measures

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has confirmed that businesses will be able to access one-off “top-up” grants worth up to £9,000 per property, to support businesses through to the Spring. Money has also been made available to Local Authorities and Devolved Governments to deliver business support across the UK.

The one-off top-ups will be granted to closed businesses as follows:

  • £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
  • £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000

Grants are awarded on a per-property basis. Businesses should apply to their Local Authorities to access these grants.

Government Grants for Businesses

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (UK-wide)

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30 April 2021. You can claim 80% of an employee’s usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

Local Restriction Support Grants (for closed businesses) (England)

Funding of up to £1,500 (based on rateable value) for each 14-day period of closure.

Strategic Framework Business Fund (Scotland)

Grants of up to £3,000 (based on rateable value) to be paid every 4 weeks in arrears as long as restrictions last.

ERF Restrictions Business Fund (Wales)

Hospitality and non-essential retail businesses with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £150,000 may be eligible for a £5,000 payment if impacted by restrictions.

Coronavirus: Localised Restrictions Support Scheme (Northern Ireland)

Payments of up to £1,600 (based on Net Annual Valuation) for each week that restrictions apply for.

UK-wide Government Loan Schemes

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

Bounce Back Loan Scheme

Business Support Websites

23.12.2020

More areas in England to move to Tier 4 from Boxing Day

From 00:01 on 26 December, the following areas will enter Tier 4 restrictions:

Colchester, Tendring, Uttlesford, Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Waverley and Hampshire including Portsmouth and Southampton (except the New Forest which will move to Tier 3).

Under Tier 4 restrictions, all non-essential retail must close but can continue to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services. Vehicle repair and MOT services can also continue to operate, as well as vehicle hire businesses.

Other changes

Meanwhile Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset (including the North Somerset council area), Swindon, the Isle of Wight, the New Forest, Northamptonshire, Cheshire and Warrington will enter Tier 3 restrictions.

Cornwall and Herefordshire will enter Tier 2.

To check what restrictions apply in your area, please consult the resources below:

See also:

UK Gov: Full list of local restriction tiers by area (page regularly updated by DHSC)

UK Gov: Find out the coronavirus restrictions in your local area

UK Gov: Tier 4 – Stay at Home

21.12.2020

PM confirmed new Tier 4 restrictions for London, South East England from 20 December

From 20 December, parts of London, east of England and south-east England that were in Tier 3 moved into tougher ‘Tier 4’ restrictions.

Non-essential shops are required to close in Tier 4 areas, as well as indoor gyms, leisure facilities and personal care services.

The PM said: “people must work from home if they can, but may travel to work if this is not possible, for example in the construction and manufacturing sectors. People should not enter or leave tier 4 areas, and tier 4 residents must not stay overnight away from home. Individuals can only meet one person from another household in an outdoor public space.”

BBC News: “Tier-four restrictions apply in all areas in the South East currently in tier three, covering Kent, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey (excluding Waverley), Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings.

It applies in London (all 32 boroughs and the City of London) and the East of England (Bedford, Central Bedford, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough, Hertfordshire, Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).”

Click & collect

Click & Collect is allowed. The Government guidance on click & collect says “non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, auction houses (except for auctions of livestock or agricultural equipment) and market stalls selling non-essential goods - these venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services”

See also:

Prime Minister’s Statement – 19 December

UK GOV: Find out the coronavirus restrictions in your local area

BBC News: Covid-19: Christmas rules tightened for England, Scotland and Wales

Wales enter Level 4 restrictions from 20 December

Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed that all of Wales would enter Level 4 restrictions from midnight on 19 December, rather than over the Christmas period as previously outlined.

Level 4 restrictions in Wales requires the closure of all non-essential retail. Click and collect services are permitted for non-essential retailers under Level 4 restrictions. “Stay at home” restrictions will also come into effect.

Non-essential shops are required to close in Tier 4 areas, as well as indoor gyms, leisure facilities and personal care services. Similar to November’s lockdown, motorcycle dealers in Tier 4 areas will need to revert to Click & Collect. Showrooms and forecourts are to be closed and browsing is not allowed.

Service and repairs are still deemed as essential and can operate as normal.

MOT garages can remain open. To help ensure MOT testing can be conducted safely, you can read DVSA’s guidance for MOT testers about operating safely during coronavirus.

See also:

First Minister statement - 19 December

Guidance - Alert levels in Wales

Mainland Scotland to enter Level Four restrictions from Boxing Day, travel ban on rest of UK

Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed a range of restrictions that will apply across Scotland over the Christmas period, following rising cases across the UK.

Restrictions include:

  • All of mainland Scotland will enter Level Four restrictions from Boxing Day for a period of three weeks, whilst the islands will enter Level 3.
  • All but essential travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK throughout the festive period will not be permitted. Essential travel include: “travel for work or an activity associated with seeking employment, or to provide voluntary or charitable services, but only where that cannot be done from your home” (guidance here)
  • School holiday period extended until 11 January 2021 (key worker children can return from 4 January), with online learning until at least 18 January.

See also:

BBC News: Scotland tightens Covid rules at Christmas

Scottish Gov guidance: local protection levels

5.11.2020

Government extends furlough scheme “until the end of March”

The Chancellor today (05.11.2020) confirmed that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is to be extended “until the end of March” 2021 and will be accessible to all parts of the UK.

The current terms of the scheme include:

  • Eligible employees will receive 80% of their salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month
  • There will be no employer contribution to wages for hours not worked. Employers will only be asked to cover National Insurance and Employer pension contributions for hours not worked.
  • Businesses will be able to claim either shortly before, during, or after running payroll.
  • Claims can be made from 8am Wednesday 11 November.

The Government has also stated that the CJRS extension will be reviewed in January to “examine whether the economic circumstances are improving enough for employers to be asked to increase contributions.”

Eligibility

  • An employer can claim for employees who were employed and on their PAYE payroll on 30 October 2020. (The employer must have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee).
  • Neither the employer nor the employee needs to have previously claimed or have been claimed for under CJRS to make a claim under the extended CJRS (if other eligibility criteria are met)

What about the Job Retention Bonus?

The Treasury has confirmed that the Job Retention Bonus will not be paid in February and that they “will redeploy a retention incentive at the appropriate time.”

Further information and guidance

The Government will publish further information on accessing the extended CJRS shortly. Any amendments or updates will be found through on the following GOV.UK website:

UK Gov guidanceCheck if you can claim for your employees' wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

See also:

Press release Government extends Furlough to March

UK Gov factsheetEconomic support factsheet


15.11.2020

New 3-Tier Lockdown System Announced for England

The PM today (12 October) outlined a new local COVID alert system for England, comprised of three categories – ‘medium’, ‘high’ and ‘very high’, depending on local infection rates.

The PM set out the categories as follows:

Medium

Will cover most of the country and will consist of the current national measures, such as the Rule of Six and closure of hospitality at 10pm.

High

Reflects current interventions in many local areas. The PM explained that “this primarily aims to reduce household to household transmission, by preventing all mixing between different households or support bubbles indoors.”

“In these areas, the Rule of Six will continue to apply outdoors, where it is harder for the virus to spread, in public spaces as well as private gardens.”

Very High

“In these areas the government will set a baseline of prohibiting social mixing indoors and in private gardens… in each area, we will work with local government leaders on the additional measures which should be taken.”

“This could lead to further restrictions on the hospitality, leisure, entertainment or personal care sectors.”

“But retail, schools and universities will remain open.”

Local Checker

The gov.uk website will feature a postcode checker so people can check the regulations in their area, with the information also available via the Covid-19 app.

We will inform members of any developments on this announcement.

24.7.2020

FACEMASKS Guidance Update

With only 12 hours to go before the wearing of face coverings in shops became a legal requirement the Government finally published the regulations governing the requirement to wear face coverings in England as well as their detailed guidance.

The information in this note is based on information released by the Government as at 23 July 2020.

What is the requirement at law?

“No person may, without reasonable excuse, enter or remain within a relevant place without wearing a face covering” (s3(1) The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place) (England) Regulations 2020)

What is a reasonable excuse?

A person has a reasonable excuse include those where—

  • they cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering—

because of any physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability (within the meaning of section 6 of the Equality Act 2010(6)), or

without severe distress;

  • they are accompanying, or providing assistance to, another person who relies on lip reading to communicate
  • they remove their face covering to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to themselves or others;
  • they are entering or within a relevant place to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and do not have a face covering with them;
  • it is reasonably necessary for them to eat or drink, and they remove their face covering to eat or drink;
  • they have to remove their face covering to take medication;
  • they are required by a person responsible for a relevant place or their employee acting in the course of their employment, to remove their face covering in order to verify their identity;
  • they are asked, within a pharmacy to remove their face covering in order to assist in the provision of healthcare or healthcare advice.
  • they are asked by a relevant person to remove their face covering.

What is a relevant place?

The government has chosen a very wide definition of relevant place, preferring instead to exclude premises from the definition. As such face coverings are required to be worn in

  • Any shop,
  • Enclosed shopping centres,
  • Banks, building societies, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and undertakings which by way of business operate a currency exchange office, transmit money
  • Post Office

face coverings are not required to be worn in

  • restaurants with table service, including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members’ clubs,
  • bars, including bars in hotels or members’ clubs,
  • public houses.
  • any area within or adjacent to a shop where seating or tables are made available by that business for the consumption of food and drink on the premises by customers of that business
  • public libraries and public reading rooms.

There are also exceptions to which these regulations do not apply

  • Premises providing professional, legal or financial services.
  • Premises (other than registered pharmacies) providing wholly or mainly medical or dental services, audiology services, chiropody, chiropractic, osteopathic, optometry or other medical services including services relating to mental health.
  • Veterinary services.
  • Cinemas.
  • Theatres.
  • Museums, galleries (other than for the sale or hire of artwork), aquariums, indoor zoos or visitor farms, or other indoor tourist, heritage or cultural sites.
  • Nightclubs.
  • Dance halls.
  • Bingo halls.
  • Concert halls, exhibition halls or other public hall.
  • Conference and exhibition centres.
  • Indoor fitness studios, gyms, dance studios, leisure centres, indoor swimming pools, water parks, bowling alleys, funfairs, theme parks, amusement arcades, indoor soft play areas, skating rinks or other premises for indoor sports, leisure, adventure or recreation activities.
  • Indoor sports arenas or stadia.
  • Casinos.
  • Hotels and hostels.
  • Spas.
  • Nail, beauty, hair salons and barbers.
  • Tattoo and piercing parlours.
  • Massage parlours.
  • Storage and distribution centres.
  • Funeral directors.
  • Photography studios.
  • Auction houses.

Is there anyone to whom this does not apply?

Yes. There is no requirement to wear a face covering if you are

  • a child who is under the age of 11;
  • a person responsible for a relevant place or an employee of that person acting in the course of their employment;
  • any other person providing services in the relevant place under arrangements made with the person responsible for a relevant place;
  • an employee of an operator of a public transport service acting in the course of their employment;
  • a person who enters or is within a transport hub in a vehicle (other than a vehicle being used for the provision of a public transport service);
  • a constable or police community support officer acting in the course of their duty;
  • an emergency responder (other than a constable) acting in their capacity as an emergency responder;
  • a relevant official acting in the course of their employment or their duties.

Details of the legislation and guidance can be found at

Legislation

Guidance document

In Conclusion

These regulations and guidance provide the legal basis for the current rules in England. With the exception of auction houses and some areas of petrol forecourts where food and drink may be served for consumption on the premises, customers in all other RMI members are required to wear a face covering from 24 July 2020.

Whilst members remain under a duty to take steps to protect the health and safety of their employees, and so face coverings and face shields may be required on this basis, these regulations do not require staff to wear face coverings and so no business or employee should be fined under these Regulations.

What remains unclear is what steps will be taken to enforce these regulations. Enforcement remains the responsibility of the police. Different forces have indicated that they would take different approaches. What is clear is that there is no requirement for RMI members to act in the stead of the police. Some consideration should therefore be given as to how any one business will react to inform members of the public of the requirement to wear face coverings, encourage the wearing of face coverings and what steps, if any, will be taken where members of the public refuse to comply with their requirements.