Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that the UK will be moved into a third national lockdown from midnight on the 4th January 2021 until the 15th of February, in an emergency briefing delivered at 8pm on Monday.
The announcement comes as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. As of 08:00 GMT, figures report that there were a total of 26,626 COVID-19 patients in hospital in England; representing a week-on-week increase of 30% and a distressing new record high for the country.
What does lockdown mean for businesses and workers?
The third iteration of a national lockdown, being dubbed “Tier 5”, sees non-critical businesses considered “non-essential” including leisure, retail, hospitality and entertainment facilities close their doors once more. Pubs and restaurants can continue to serve takeaway food and beverages only during this time.
All employees and workers have been told to work from home, except in exceptional circumstances or where the individual is employed as a key worker. This presents challenges for parents as primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities close to most pupils in favour of remote learning. Vulnerable children and the children of key workers are still able to attend school, but the TUC is calling businesses and employers to offer furlough to all parents affected by school closures.
The lockdown will be reviewed on the 15th of February 2021.
What are the details of the new retail, leisure and hospitality grants?
A third lockdown comes as a huge blow not only to the general public but also to businesses, many of whom have been struggling to remain afloat during the pandemic. Offering their support, the government announced in December that the furlough scheme would be extended by one month until the 30th of April 2021 in a bid to sustain jobs.
Today, on the 5th January 2021, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure will receive a grant to help keep afloat until spring. At a glance, the funding comprises of:
- A total of £4.6billion
- The grant will be worth up to £9,000 per property supporting approximately 600,000 businesses
- The grant will take the form of a one-off top-up granted to closed businesses as follows:
- £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
- £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
- £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000
It is hoped that this new grant, which comes in addition to the existing roster of business support (including grants of up to £3,000 for closed businesses, up to £2,100 per month for impacted businesses when they re-open, the self-employed income support scheme (SEISS), loans and business rate relief) will help to keep businesses afloat during this time.
FULL DETAILS OF THE NEW BUSINESS GRANT, AND OTHER SUPPORT PACKAGES CAN BE FOUND AT HM TREASURY’S MOST RECENT ANNOUNCEMENT HERE.
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What can you do in lockdown: a recap
At-a-glance, here’s the latest government guidance on what you can and can’t do in a national lockdown in England. Please note that this is a summary; you should familiarise yourself with the full details of the UK Government’s Lockdown Guidance rules and regulations here.
1. Stay at home
The law has now been updated to reflect the new rules for individuals in England to stay at home. You must not leave, or be outside of your home, except where necessary. You may break this rule to do the following:
- Shopping for basic necessities for yourself, your pet, or for a vulnerable person
- Care duties for the disabled or vulnerable, or to attend a support group
- Health requirements including attending GP appointments, seeking medical assistance, avoiding injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
- Daily exercise once per day in your local area
- Visiting someone who is; giving birth, some who is dying, in a care home or hospital, who needs accompanying to an appointment
- Going to work, or providing voluntary or charitable services if you cannot reasonably do so from home
2. Who can I see in lockdown?
During lockdown you can see the following people:
- Your household; the people who live in your home
- Your support bubble; a fixed, linked, household of which there is very specific criteria for
- Your childcare bubble; this is solely for childcare purposes and not for socialising
- One other person; you may meet one other person in a public outdoor space whilst exercising
Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable are, once again, being asked to shield and will be contacted by letter informing them of their status.
The government will review the lockdown on the 15th February 2021.