The rate of coronavirus infection is now increasing again at the start of its predicted ‘second wave’. Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday announced in Parliament a series of restrictions designed, he said, to avoid another national lockdown and the sterner measures that would become necessary later on if these are not enough to bring infection rates under control. Already, Scotland is imposing greater restrictions.
He warned that these measures might have to be in place for six months.
Generally, businesses, as with schools and colleges, are to remain open. But the tighter measures that directly affect employing businesses in England are:
• Staff should work from home ‘when they can’, reinstating the rule that applied earlier this year and which had been recently relaxed. The Prime Minister noted that, for some sectors like retail and construction, physically attending work was necessary
• In the retail and tourism sectors, government guidance on making workplaces Covid-safe would gain the force of law. Johnson warned that there would be fines and the threat of closure for businesses that do not comply, including a penalty for employers who punish those told to self-isolate
• From Thursday, bars and restaurants must close at 10pm and must offer only table-service
• Staff will have to wear face-coverings in shops.
In addition, rules relating to gatherings for weddings and indoor team sports were tightened. And fines for a failure to self-isolate for individuals would be up to £10,000 and, for a first-time failure to wear a face-covering, £200.
There was no announcement of any extension of the furlough scheme: it is still terminating completely on 31 October. Pressure is growing on the government to extend it, particularly for the hard-hit hospitality sector, and it remains to be seen whether the government will do that.
3CS continues to assist our clients from many parts of the economy on all aspects of the law and government guidance relating to the pandemic. If you require any advice about how the rules have been affected by this announcement, or about pandemic-related law and guidance generally, please contact us.