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Covid-19 Impact Brief: Thursday, March 25

Covid-19 Impact Brief: Thursday, March 25

Each week, our Public Policy team will be reporting on the latest weekly news in the evolving situation.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced measures to support the reopening of high streets and seaside resorts ahead of summer

  • A new £56 million Welcome Back Fund will help councils boost tourism, improve green spaces and provide more outdoor seating areas, markets and food stall pop-ups.
    • Part of this funding will be allocated specifically to support coastal areas, with funding going to all coastal resorts across England to safely welcome holiday makers in the coming months.
    • Jenrick also announced the first 70 councils who will benefit from targeted, hands-on support from the Government’s High Streets Task Force, a team who will advise them on how to adapt to meet changing consumer demands.
    • Separately the Sports Minister, Nigel Huddleston, has announced that elite, national and regional ice hockey will receive £2.7m of Government funding in the latest round of the Sport Winter Survival Package.
    • The support will be formed of £2.3m in loans and grants for four English clubs in the Elite Ice Hockey League and £400,000 in grants for English Ice Hockey Association and English clubs in the National Ice Hockey League.

The Government has announced a new agency aimed at responding to future health threats

  • The new UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) will be responsible for planning and responding to future pandemics and health emergencies.
    • It replaces the recently announced National Institute for Health Protection, which had been slated to replace Public Health England.
    • The UKHSA is aimed at bringing together “key elements” of PHE with the JBC and NHS Test and Trace.
    • It will be headed by Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Dr Jenny Harries as Chief Executive and Ian Peters as Chair.
    • Dr Harries will replace Baroness Dido Harding after a handover period in April.
    • It will not replace health agencies in the other 3 UK countries, but will build a close relationship with them.

Other news

  • A Government report on whether the UK could adopt “vaccine passports” to allow foreign travel or entry to pubs will be released in early April. The Prime Minister has said would only be possible to implement “vaccine passports” when everyone has been offered a vaccine and it will not be needed when venues are due to reopen on 12 April.
  • Provisional Government figures have revealed that overall greenhouse gases fell 8.9% in 2020 compared to 2019 and carbon dioxide, which makes up the lion’s share of emissions, was down 10.7 per cent year-on-year. The large fall was primarily down to a major reduction in the use of road transport and falls in business activity during the nationwide lockdowns.
  • The Government has announced that £100 million has been allocated to 266 local authorities across England, to support the recovery of publicly-owned leisure centres and gyms as they reopen.
  • The Welsh Government has announced that town centres across Wales will receive over £24m in support.
  • The Welsh Government has announced the extension of the Cultural Recovery Fund. An additional £30m will support the sector through the ongoing pandemic. New funds will open for applications from 6 April. Delivered by Government, Arts Council of Wales, and local authorities.
  • The Government has provided £33 million of emergency Covid-19 funding to support light rail and tram operators during the pandemic. It will ensure these services remain viable for the future, as the country prepares to ease lockdown. Funding will be provided for the next 11 weeks, with a review of the need for further funding for these systems taking place before the end of that period.

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