Prime Minster Boris Johnson has announced new national restrictions that come into force from Thursday 05 November until Wednesday 02 December.
What do the new national restrictions mean for businesses in the North East?
To reduce social contact, the Government has ordered certain businesses and venues to close. They include:
- all non-essential retail, including, but not limited to clothing and electronics stores, vehicle showrooms, travel agents, betting shops, auction houses, tailors, car washes, tobacco and vape shops.
Non-essential retail can remain open for delivery to customers and click-and-collect.
- indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, leisure centres and gyms, sports facilities including swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, dance studios, stables and riding centres, soft play facilities, climbing walls and climbing centres, archery and shooting ranges, water and theme parks
- entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, adult gaming centres and arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, concert halls, zoos and other animal attractions, botanical gardens;
- personal care facilities such as hair, beauty and nail salons, tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services, non-medical acupuncture, and tanning salons.
What do the new national restrictions mean for hospitality businesses and venues?
Hospitality venues like restaurants, bars and pubs must close, but can still provide takeaway and delivery services. However, takeaway of alcohol will not be allowed.
Hotels, hostels and other accommodation should only open for those who have to travel for work purposes and for a limited number of other exemptions, which will be set out in law.
What financial support is available to businesses forces to close?
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended further - until the end of March 2021. The scheme will pay 80% of eligible employees’ salary - up to £2500 a month. As part of the revised scheme, anyone made redundant after 23 September can be rehired and put back on furlough.
Employers small or large, charitable or non-profit are eligible and because more businesses will need to close, they will only be asked to pay National Insurance and Pensions contributions for their staff.
The new Job Support Scheme will not be introduced until after the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends.
In addition, business premises forced to close in England - or those that remain open but have been severely impacted by restrictions - can apply for grants worth up to £3,000 per month via the Local Restrictions Support Grant - which will be distributed via Local Authorities. More information is available here.
- For properties with a rateable value of £15k or under, grants to be £1,334 per month, or £667 per two weeks.
- For properties with a rateable value of between £15k-£51k grants to be £2,000 per month, or £1,000 per two weeks.
- For properties with a rateable value of £51k or over grants to be £3,000 per month, or £1,500 per two weeks.
Local authorities will also have the power to award an Additional Restrictions Grant to businesses that don't qualify for the Local Restrictions Support Grant, or have additional needs. More information is available here.
The government has also announced the deadline to apply for all government-backed loan schemes, e.g. the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Future Fund, has been further extended until 31 January 2021. Firms can ‘top up’ existing Bounce Back Loans should they need additional finance.
What about the self-employed?
Government has announced it will increase the support for self-employed workers as part of the UK-wide Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.
It will now pay 80% of average trading profits for November, December 2020 and January 2021. A further grant will follow covering February to April. Grants will also be paid faster than previously planned – with the claims window opening from 30 November.
Those eligible for the first and second Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant will be able to apply. Find more information here.
Which businesses can remain open?
Food shops, supermarkets, garden centres and certain other retailers providing essential goods and services can remain open.
Essential retail should follow COVID-secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers.
How do the new national restrictions impact employees visiting the workplace?
Everyone who can work effectively from home must do so. Where people cannot do so (for instance people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing) they should continue to travel to work/attend their workplace.
Public sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, should continue to go into work. The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-secure guidelines are followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.
What about schools, colleges and universities?
All education establishments will remain open.
Can I use public transport during the national restrictions?
People should avoid all non-essential travel by private or public transport. Where possible, people should walk or cycle, or plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport.