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Covid-19 Impact Brief: Monday, November 23

Covid-19 Impact Brief: Monday, November 23

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

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has outlined a Covid Winter Plan

  • Johnson confirmed that England’s lockdown will end on 2 December and replaced by a three tier system with people allowed to meet outdoors subject to the rule of six.
    • Across England non-essential shops, gyms, leisure facilities and hairdressers will reopen across the country when the lockdown ends – weddings will also be allowed. Outdoor sports can resume and collective worship will be allowed
    • However, Johnson said the tier system will be strengthened and more areas will move into higher tiers than before.
    • Johnson said this time around the tier system will be uniform; the rules will be the same for all places in one tier. (Previously the Government treated tier 3 as a baseline, with slightly different rules for the different tier 3 areas.) And he said he expects to announce which regions will be in which tier on Thursday.
    • Tier one will now mean that people should continue to work from home where possible. Tier two will now mean only pubs serving meals can open. Tier three will now mean all hospitality will close except for delivery and takeaway and indoor entertainment venues must also close.
    • A limited number of fans can return to outdoor and indoor sports stadiums in Tier 1 and Tier 2.
    • The 10pm curfew for pubs and bars will end. In Tiers 1 and 2, last orders will be at 10pm and places should close at 11pm.
    • Johnson added that there will be a ‘six-week surge of testing’ in Tier 3 areas.
    • The Government will also seek to ‘end automatic isolation’ for contacts of Covid-19 patients by piloting testing programme. The testing scheme will be piloted in Liverpool where people who have come into contact with Covid-19 patients will be tested every day for a week. They will only need to self-isolate if they themselves test positive for the virus.
    • Johnson added that he was working with the devolved governments on a four nation approach to relaxing rules around Christmas.
    • Earlier in the day Scottish First Minister  Nicola Sturgeon said the rules for Christmas will involve “a small number of households” being able to mix for “a small number of days”. But she said the idea of allowing four households to mix has not been discussed. She also pointed out that the different nations of the UK use different definitions of households.

The Northern Ireland Executive has announced a £300m support package for businesses and groups affected by Covid-19 restrictions

  • The announcement came in advance of fresh restrictions on 27 November, when non-essential businesses and shops must close for two weeks.
    • The Northern Ireland executive said about £200m of the support will go to businesses, including a £95m voucher scheme to encourage shoppers to buy locally, £20m to extend a rates holiday for manufacturers and £10.6m for drink-only pubs that have been shut since 16 October.
    • Another £98m is to be given to vulnerable groups.

Other news

  • Oxford University/AstraZeneca have announced that their vaccine can be up to 90% effective. The Government has pre-ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine.
  • The Government has announced that care workers looking after people in their own homes will be offered weekly Covid-19 tests from today.
  • The Home Office has announced a 12-month visa extension for healthcare workers whose visas expire before the end of March 2021. Six thousand foreign healthcare workers will have their UK visas extended for a year. The extension will apply to nurses, doctors, midwives, emergency medical personnel and children up to the age of 18.
  • Israel, Sri Lanka, Namibia, Rwanda, Uruguay, Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands have been added to the UK’s travel corridor list, meaning that people can travel to them without quarantining on return.
  • Nearly two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines will be shipped and flown to developing countries next year in a “mammoth operation”, the UN children’s agency UNICEF has said. UNICEF said it was working with over 350 airlines and freight companies to deliver vaccines and one billion syringes to countries such as Burundi, Afghanistan and Yemen as part of Covax, a global Covid-19 vaccine allocation plan with the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • The Welsh government has announced that staff and students in secondary schools and colleges must wear face coverings in all areas outside the classroom and on school transport. Visitors to all schools and colleges, including parents and carers dropping and picking up children, should also wear face coverings. Previously, schools and local authorities were responsible for deciding where and when face coverings should be worn in educational settings.

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