Daily Covid-19 Brief: Monday, June 22
Each day, our Public Policy team will be reporting on the latest news in the evolving situation. To view the previous day’s summary, please click here.
Government to make an announcement on the two metre rule tomorrow
- The Government has confirmed that the review into the two-metre rule has been concluded and that the recommendations will be announced tomorrow.
- According to some reports the review will recommend a new “one-metre-plus” plan, in which the Prime Minister will emphasise that people must remain apart at the present 2 metre distance unless they are wearing masks or there are other “mitigating measures” in place.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to announce tomorrow if the hospitality sector can reopen in England on 4 July
- According to reports, most pubs, bars and restaurants will be able to reopen from next month as long as they have implemented new Covid-secure guidelines being drawn up with industry bodies.
- Hairdressers, hotels and other parts of the leisure sector will also be included in the relaxation.
- In an attempt to prevent the move from pushing up the transmission rate, ministers are drawing up measures to ensure that venues minimise risks and allow health officials to rapidly trace new clusters of infections.
- Health Secretary Matt Hancock has suggested that this is likely to include a new “guest book” requirement to register when you go to a bar or restaurant and provide contact details for every member of the group. These details would be held for several weeks and if someone at a venue later tested positive for Covid-19 everyone else who might have had contact with them at the venue could be told to isolate.
- Guidance will be published for sectors allowed to reopen. This could include installing perspex screens between tables.
- At this stage it is also expected that people will not be able to have a meal at the same table as those outside their own household unless they can maintain distancing.
Government to unveil a new Covid bill this week to help businesses adjust to new social distancing requirements
- The bill will officially be called the business and planning bill, and it will aim to enable businesses to adjust to new ways of working and to help businesses capitalise on the summer months.
- The bill will also look to support businesses to implement safer ways of working to manage the ongoing risks from Covid-19.
- It has been reported that one of the features of the bill will be a change to licensing laws to allow all pubs, restaurants and cafés in England to serve alcohol to customers outside.
- However there have been reports that plans to relax Sunday trading laws have been dropped after 50 Tory MPs have said they would vote against it.
- A Government spokesperson has said the Sunday trading laws were being kept under review but with a new Covid bill set to be introduced this week, there is not enough time for the result of any review to be incorporated into a new law.
Northern Ireland Executive have announced further easing of restrictions
- Groups of up to six people will be allowed to meet indoors from 23 June.
- It means Northern Ireland will become the first part of the UK to permit limited indoor gatherings.
- People will still be required to maintain social distancing when meeting indoors.
- The executive said people were “strongly advised” to wear face coverings during indoor gatherings, and the regulations did not extend to overnight visits.
- Until now, people in Northern Ireland have only been allowed to gather outside in groups of 10 or fewer.
- In the Republic of Ireland people are already permitted to meet indoors, in groups of up to six.
The Scottish Government has published new workplace guidance for the tourism and hospitality sector.
- It sets out the key publish health measures that will need to be taken, including:
- Establishing physical distancing taking account of organisational capacity, queue management, signage and markings;
- Enhanced hand hygiene measures and cleaning practice;
- Advice on workforce planning, including training and equality issues; and
- Guidance for customers to ensure they know how to plan ahead and engage safely with the tourism and hospitality sector.
Other UK COVID 19 news
- From 6 July, those shielding in England and Northern Ireland will be able to gather outdoors in a group of up to six people and from 1 August, the shielding guidance is to be relaxed, meaning they will be able to visit shops, places of worship and return to their workplaces if it is safe to do so.
- Business Secretary, Alok Sharma has outlined new and further protections for UK businesses to allow further scrutiny over certain foreign takeovers The protections seek to improve national security and ensure foreign takeovers do not threaten the UK’s ability to combat a public health emergency, like COVID-19.
- The Department for Rural Affairs have announced a “bounce back” plan of trade measures for the agriculture, food and drink industry. The measures include help for SMEs and to allow them to capitalise on trade agreements being negotiated with Japan, US, Australia and New Zealand.
- A new “no swab” saliva Covid-19 test that lets people collect their own sample at home by spitting into a pot is being trialled in the UK. More than 14,000 GP staff and other key workers, along with the people they live with, will take part.
- The Welsh government has announced a £15m package for councils to make their towns “Covid-proof” for travel. The money is to be used to allow for social distancing around towns, for example by widening pavements, creating more space for cyclists, and promoting public transport by improving bus routes.
- Pub and restaurant customers in Scotland could be required to give their contact details as part of post-lockdown safety measures, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.
- Energy companies have been given the go-ahead to chase unpaid energy bills again – although they have been warned not to be aggressive in their pursuit. Many households are benefitting from Covid-19 related payment holidays. But bailiffs have been banned from knocking on doors for another two months to collect other unpaid debts such as parking fines or council tax. The current restrictions on civil enforcement officers will continue until 24 August.
World COVID 19 news
- In France, going to school is now compulsory from Monday for everyone up to the age of 15.
- Dubai will from July 7 open up to tourists as the emirate lifts Covid-19 travel restrictions to revive its economy.
- Delhi to transform luxury hotels into Covid-19 care centres. Amid growing concerns that there are not enough hospital beds to cope with the rising number of cases. Starting this week, 25 establishments will be repurposed as emergency Covid-19 care centres for patients with mild to moderate symptoms.
- The Republic of Ireland plans to press ahead with the launch of a Covid-19 contact-tracing app based on Apple and Google’s technology, despite concerns raised about the tech’s accuracy in its current state.
Private sector updates
- Tui will resume operations on 11 July – so long as the government relaxes its warning against all but essential travel abroad and eases the quarantine rules for returning holidaymakers. But just 8,300 customers will travel with the company in the three weeks to the end of July. This represents only 4 per cent of the original planned capacity.
- Saga, the specialist in insurance and travel for the over 50s, plans to include treatment abroad for Covid-19 and repatriation to the UK as part of its travel insurance policies for all trips from 1 July.
- John Menzies, the global aviation services business, said that trading in the second quarter was “ahead of management expectations”, anticipating a recovery in flight activity from early next month. Revenues in April and into May are about 64 per cent below budgeted levels.
- Tripadvisor signalled improving travel demand as the company said monthly unique visitors to its site increased and estimated revenues would further recover in June. The travel booking and review website said it expects revenues in June to be about 20% of last year’s comparable period, compared with April and May, when consolidated revenues were about 10 per cent of the same period the previous year.
- Netflix is to resume filming in the UK on 17 August. Netflix, which plans to spend in excess of £400m this year making more than 50 TV shows and films in the UK, shut down all filming in March as the Covid-19 pandemic struck.