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Covid-19 Recovery Brief: Thursday, September 10

Covid-19 Recovery Brief: Thursday, September 10

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

The Government has announced a tightening of restrictions as Covid-19 cases begin to rise 

  • Prime Minister, Boris Johnson announced that social gatherings of more than six people will be illegal in England in both indoor and outdoor settings from Monday, with some exemptions.
  • Covid-secure venues will still be able to hold more than six in total, but there must not be individual groups larger than six.
  • The restrictions will not apply to schools, workplaces, places of worship, Covid-secure weddings, funerals and organised team sports.
  • Hospitality venues will now be legally required to collect the contact details of at least one person per group of visitors, hold that information for 21 days, and provide that to NHS Test and Trace when required.
  • Local authorities will be supported to enforce the rules with the creation ‘Covid-secure marshals’. However the marshals will have no formal powers and must be paid for by local authorities.
  • Johnson also warned that some local areas could see hospitality opening times restricted.
  • Johnson also stated that plans to pilot larger audiences to stadiums and conference centres would be delayed, but not scrapped and that more will be outlined by the Culture Secretary “shortly”.
  • It comes as Covid-19 case has risen exponentially in those aged between 17-39 but has remained relatively flat for all other age groups particularly those aged under 16 and over 60.
  • Johnson also announced his intention to increase testing capacity from around 300,000 a day presently to  500,000 tests a day by the end of October.
  • Johnson also announced “Operation Moonshot” which will aim to deploy millions of rapid tests by spring 2021 to help ensure a return to normal life.
  • A pilot scheme of “Operation Moonshot” will be launched next month in Salford, which would allow for people to be tested before going into venues such as theatres. If rolled out across the country the scheme is estimated to cost almost £100 billion.
  • However scientists and health professionals have raised doubts over the plan.
  • Meanwhile the number of people allowed to meet up in Scotland has also been cut to 6, in Northern Ireland the legal limit remains 15 outdoors and 6 indoors and in Wales the legal limit for people allowed to meet indoors or outdoors remains 30.

The Government has announced a change to its airport quarantine policy which means islands will be treated as distinct from the mainland

  • Transport Secretary said that due to increased testing capabilities the Government can now pinpoint risk in some of the most popular islands, providing increased flexibility to add or remove them – distinct from the mainland – as infection rates change.
    • The move was followed by an announcement that people arriving in England from the Greek islands of Crete, Lesvos, Mykonos, Santorini, Serifos, Tinos or Zakynthos from 9 September will need to self-isolate for 2 weeks.
    • The Transport Secretary also said the Government was “working actively on the practicalities” of using Covid-19 testing to cut the 14-day quarantine period for people arriving in the UK from high-risk countries.
    • In comes as the Spanish Foreign Minister has said Spain intends to negotiate with the UK to open up travel corridors to the Spanish Balearic and Canary islands.
    • It comes as the Government is considering removing Portugal from the quarantine exemption list this week. Portugal was already removed from the quarantine list of Scotland and Wales last week.

Other news

  • The Treasury has announced that businesses in England that are required to shut because of local interventions will now be able to claim up to £1,500 per property every three weeks. Smaller businesses will be able to claim £1,000.
  • The Department for International Trade announced  bounce-back plans for the consumer and retail industries. The plans include trade measures targeted at the sectors to help them to export overseas as part of efforts to help recover from Covid-19. The new measures will offer immediate support to businesses by ensuring specialists provide advice on online retail and international market-places as well as launching a Consumer and Retail Export Academy.
  • In Scotland plans to ease restrictions later in September have been put back to October. It means that theatres, live music venues, indoor soft play facilities and indoor contact sports for people aged over 12 will not now open on 14 September.
  • AstraZeneca has paused vaccination across all trials to allow an independent committee to review the safety data of a single event of an unexplained illness that occurred in the UK Phase III trial.  It said this is a routine action and that illnesses will happen by chance in large clinical trials.
  • Extra restrictions have been introduced into Bolton these include: all hospitality being restricted to take-aways only, all venues must close from 10pm to 5am, people are not allowed to socialise outside their household, visitor restrictions have been put in place for areas such as care homes and hospitals.
  • The Northern Ireland Executive has announced a new £1 million digital Selling Capability Grant to help retailers and wholesalers generate businesses online and a £5 million Equity Investment Fund which will be targeted at early stage and seed stage SMEs.
  • In Caerphilly new measures have been introduced which mean: people will not be allowed to enter or leave the Caerphilly County Borough Council area without a reasonable excuse; Everyone over 11 will be required to wear face coverings in shops and that people will only be allowed to meet outdoors.
  • The Welsh Government have announced £100m of new investments in Wales’ rural economy. Those projects supported by the increased investment will include: Woodland creation and restoration, building resilience into Wales’ natural resources and improving biodiversity, helping food businesses to improve their supply chains, business resilience and supporting farm businesses to help ensure their sustainability.
  • The limit on indoor gatherings has been extended to people living in Renfrewshire and East Dunbartonshire, while the current limits on indoor gatherings in Glasgow, East Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire will continue for another week. People in these areas are not permitted to meet people from other households in indoor household settings and indoor visits to hospitals and care homes are limited.
  • On Friday the Government confirmed that further restrictions were to be eased for Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire. As of  8 September, national easements implemented from 25 July were applied to the rest of Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford and Leicester. Meanwhile national easements on additional business reopening’s and leisure activities from 15 August were applied to the majority of Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire on 8 September.
  • The Northern Ireland Executive has announced that employers will be offered £3,700 for every apprentice they bring back from furlough and retain until they have completed their training. Also, £3,000 per apprentice will be available to employers for each new apprenticeship opportunity created between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021.

100 million meals were had during the ‘Eat out to help out’ scheme by the UK population. According to OpenTable, bookings were up 216% in comparison to the same day on the previous year, thus showing great support for the scheme.

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