Public Policy

October 15, 2020

Covid-19 Impact Brief: Thursday, October 15

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Each week, our Public Policy team will be reporting on the latest weekly news in the evolving situation. To view the previous week’s summary, please click here.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced new restrictions for large parts of England

  • The Health Secretary said that London, Essex, Elmbridge in Surrey, Barrow-in-Furness, York, North East Derbyshire, Erewash and Chesterfield would all move to the high local alert level.
  • The additional restrictions, which ban people meeting others outside their household or support bubble in indoor settings (except in workplaces), will come into force from 00:01 on 17 October.
  • The new measures mean that over half of England’s population will be living under additional restrictions.
  • Hancock also said that discussions were ongoing with local leaders to move more areas like Greater Manchester to Tier 3.
  • However it has been reported that a virtual meeting between the Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and the Government ended without agreement because a financial package hasn’t been finalised and local government leaders still have concerns that the hospitality industry would suffer disproportionate harm.
  • Separately Liverpool Metro mayor Joe Anderson has said schools  in Liverpool could  shut for two weeks over half-term to help reduce the spread of Covid-19. Anderson said teachers were under “huge pressure” as more than 20,000 pupils and 1,300 teachers were isolating. The plan, which is backed by the NASUWT teaching union, would mean pupils being taught remotely at home in the second week.

Northern Ireland has become the first UK nation to have  announced a second national lockdown

  • The measures will come into effect on 16 October and last for four weeks, they include:
    • Bubbling limited to 10 people maximum from 2 households.
    • No overnight stays in a private home (unless in a bubble).
    • Closure of the hospitality sector apart from deliveries and takeaways, with the existing closing time of 11pm remaining.
    • Off-licences and supermarkets will not be allowed to sell alcohol after 20:00
    • No indoor sport or organised contact sport involving mixing of households, other than at elite level.
    • No mass events involving more than 15 people (except for allowed outdoor sporting events where the relevant number for that will continue to apply)
    • Close-contact services such as hairdressers and beauticians to close – apart from those relating to the continuation of essential health interventions and therapeutics.
    • Mobile hairdressers and make-up artists – also classed as close contact services – prohibited from working in homes.
    • No unnecessary travel.
    • Gyms are to remain open for individual training but no classes will be permitted.
    • Places of worship to remain open but face coverings mandatory when entering and exiting.
    • The half term holiday break for schools and colleges is to be extended to a two-week break, to run from 19-30th October.
  • Meanwhile in Scotland mandatory rules requiring people to wear face masks in shops and cafes have been extended to workplace canteens and communal areas.
  • However couples getting married or entering civil partnerships would be exempted from the face coverings rules during the ceremony.
  • Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, also confirmed that she was considering travel restrictions to bar people from Covid hotspots from entering Scotland. It comes after the Welsh Government announced its intention to bar travellers from English, Scottish and Northern Irish hotspots from entering Wales from 16 October.

Other news

  • The Labour Party has come out in support of a 2-3 week national lockdown for England know as a circuit breaker after a new report from the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) recommended the measure.
  • The House of Commons Commission has urged MPs’ staff to work remotely to limit the number of people in Parliament. They said MPs should limit the number of their staff who work on the parliamentary estate to two per day.
  • The Government has updated the guidance for shielding and protecting those who are clinically extremely vulnerable from Covid-19. The guidance said the Government will only reintroduce formal shielding advice in the very worst affected local areas and for a limited period. The Government will write to an individual if they are required to shield.
  • Applications for the Self-Isolation Support Grant have opened for low income workers in Scotland who are asked to self-isolate and would lose income while isolating. The £500 grant will be targeted at those in receipt of Universal Credit or legacy benefits who are employed or self-employed. The Local Self-Isolation Assistance Service is also being introduced to support people needing to isolate by offering help, advice or assistance, including help to access essential food and medication.
  • Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced a new package to protect rough sleepers from cold weather it includes: A new £10 million Cold Weather Fund to support councils get rough sleepers off the streets during the winter by helping them to provide more self-contained accommodation. An additional £2 million for faith and community groups to help them provide secure accommodation for rough sleepers.
  • The Scottish Government has outlined details of a £40 million Covid-19 Restrictions Fund to help businesses affected by temporary Covid-19 restrictions. The  fund will provide one-off grants of up to £3,000, depending on the rateable value, to bars, restaurants and other businesses required to close. A hardship fund with grants of up to £1,500 will support some businesses that remain open but are directly impacted by restrictions. In addition, up to £9 million of funding will help with the costs of re-furloughing staff and a discretionary fund of up to £11 million will help businesses that need support but do not fall into the above categories.
  • Scientists at Oxford University say they have developed a Covid-19 test that can identify the virus in under five minutes. Oxford University hopes to start making the devices in early 2021 and then have it approved six months after that. It’s hoped that it could be used at businesses and airports.

Private sector update

  • Ryanair is cutting its winter capacity by more than a third due to travel restrictions. The low-cost airline said it expected to fly 40% of the capacity it flew last year. The airline said bases would be closed in Cork and Shannon in Ireland with cuts in Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Vienna. It warned that there would be some redundancies at cabin crew bases where pay cuts have been rejected.
  • Pub chain Marston’s has said it will make 2,150 furloughed workers redundant.
  • Homewares group Dunelm have said sales rose 37% in the last three months and that it  will hand back £14.5m claimed in furlough payments.
  • Domino’s Pizza has reported a 19% climb in third quarter sales.
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