BCC Director General Adam Marshall comments on the Chancellor’s announcement of further support for businesses and jobs as Coronavirus restrictions increase.
As of 18 July, local authorities will have new powers to close specific premises, close public outdoor spaces, and cancel events. These powers will enable local authorities to act more quickly in response to local outbreaks, where speed is paramount to prevent them from spreading more widely. Local lockdown will remain a last resort when other actions have been insufficient. More information is available here.
Local lockdown guidance for social distancing
Local lockdowns: guidance for education and childcare settings
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made a statement on new measures to suppress the virus and keep the number of infections down. Review what has changed for businesses in England below:
These measures apply to England – but there may be different rules if you operate in an area under local lockdown and you should check those rules. For businesses in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, different rules may apply.
Guidance for employers and third-party healthcare providers on the regulations and legal obligations of running testing programmes.
Premises and venues across England must have a system in place to record contact details of their customers, visitors and staff in the latest move to break the chains of transmission of Coronavirus.
UK Chambers should review and share the new guidance for businesses and organisations on how to recognise, contain and report incidents of Coronavirus. The COVID-19 early outbreak management information has been created to make sure that people who run businesses or organisations:
|•||know how to recognise and report an incident of Coronavirus; and|
|•||are aware of measures local health protection teams may advise in order to contain it.|
Print and download the new action cards developed to provide specific advice on the issues each type of organisation may face now lockdown restrictions have been eased.
On 17 July, the Prime Minister set out the plans for moving to the next phase of the UK government’s response to the virus. The strategy sets out a cautious roadmap to easing existing measures in a safe and measured way, subject to successfully controlling the virus and being able to monitor and react to its spread. The roadmap will be kept constantly under review as the epidemic, and the world’s understanding of it, develops.
Lifting restrictions from businesses in England
In England, from 1 August, if prevalence remains around or below current levels, and COVID-19 Secure guidelines are followed, the UK government will:
All businesses and venues which are listed to reopen on 25 July or 1 August must remain closed until those dates.
People are advised that they may now use public transport but are encouraged to consider alternative means of transport where possible.
More information is available here.
On 8 July, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak MP presented a Summer Statement titled A plan for jobs. The Chancellor made a number of policy announcements including:
On 9 July, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden MP announced three phases of reopening for some, but not all, English businesses.
Phase one – 11 July
Phase one of the reopening relates to a relatively small section of the leisure sector: open air swimming pools. Review the guidance for operators, including:
A number of other leisure facilities may be reopened from the 25 July (see below).
In addition, from the 11 July some open air cultural performances can take place, including gigs, festivals and concerts, but only where they have a ‘limited and socially distanced audience’.
Phase two – 13 July
Phase two of the reopening relates to some, but not all, of the remaining ‘close contact’ facilities – including beauty services, (clothes) tailoring and sports and massage therapists.
This is different to other sectors, as the requirement for reopening is based on the type of service rather than the type of business. For example, a salon that offers one permitted and one forbidden service can open, but only deliver the permitted service. Forbidden services are those which require close proximity to the face. There is no exhaustive list, but some of the forbidden services include:
Review the guidance on close contact working. This is similar to guidance issued for those close contact services already reopened eg. hair salons using face shields, social distancing etc.
Phase three – 25 July
Phase three will see many indoor fitness facilities reopen, including indoor pools, gyms and fitness and dance studios. Review the guidance here.
There are a number of sectors which have not been given a date to open (in addition to the beauty services above) including:
Please note that, whilst theatres can technically open, indoor plays, concert gigs etc. cannot be held until further notice – although there are some pilots going ahead to test how this might work.
The government has updated the guidance for businesses on working safely during Coronavirus. In consultation with industry, this guidance has been produced to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible. There are 8 guides which cover a range of different types of work. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe.
Further guidance for employers and businesses including:
A full range of business support measures are available to UK businesses and employees. This page helps businesses find out how to access support schemes, who is eligible and how to apply.
The UK government's Coronavirus business support hub brings together key information for business.
The UK government has published a code of practice to encourage commercial tenants and landlords to work together to protect viable businesses.
The Chancellor announced on 26 March that millions of self-employed individuals will receive direct cash grants though the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, a ground-breaking UK-wide scheme for those whose income has been impacted by the Coronavirus.
The NHS Test and Trace service launched across England on 28 May. Those who have been in close contact with someone who tests positive must isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms. Take a look at the NHS test and trace workplace guidance and the Q&A for external stakeholders.
See further guidance for organisations in certain sectors on how to collect details and maintain records of staff, customers and visitors on their premises to support NHS Test and Trace.
The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act has received royal assent and has come into force. The Act introduces temporary easements for AGMs and filing requirements for PLCs, new corporate restructuring tools to the insolvency regime to give companies the time they need to maximise their chance of survival and temporarily suspends parts of insolvency law to support directors.Detailed government guidance on the changes can be found here.
Help primary school children continue their education during Coronavirus
Opening of schools
Further and Higher Education
Actions and information for Further and higher education: Coronavirus.
Higher education restructuring regime
Information for schools, students and parents on how:
will be graded and awarded in summer 2020.
T Level industry placements
The Skills Toolkit
The Skills Toolkit is a free online learning platform to boost workplace skills during the Coronavirus outbreak and beyond.
ESFA post-16 provider relief scheme (July to October 2020)
Tier 4 sponsors, migrants and short-term students
Advice for visa customers who need to apply for a passport
On 23 June, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out further changes to lockdown measures in England to enable people to see more of their friends and family, help businesses get back on their feet and get people back in their jobs. From Saturday 4 July, pubs, restaurants and hairdressers will be able to reopen, providing they adhere to COVID Secure guidelines.
Eat Out to Help Out
From 3 to 31 August, get a 50% discount when you eat-in at restaurants that are registered.
New plans to ensure pubs, restaurants and cafes offer both smoking and non-smoking outdoor options
People using pubs, restaurants and cafes will soon have greater freedom to choose non-smoking outdoor areas following an amendment tabled on 19 July to legislation in Parliament.
Travel corridors update
From today, Tuesday 28 July 2020, passengers will not need to self-isolate when arriving in England from:
|•||St Vincent and the Grenadines.|
Spain removed from travel corridors exemption list
If you arrive in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland from Spain on or after 26 July 2020 you will need to self-isolate. Travel corridor countries continue to be reviewed and will be removed immediately should the public health situation change for the worse. Take a look at BCC's response to the announcement that UK arrivals from Spain will have to self-isolate for 14 days.
Face coverings mandatory on public transport and indoor transport hub
Face coverings must be worn in additional enclosed public spaces from 24 July in England. In England you must wear a face covering by law in the following settings:
|•||indoor transport hubs|
|•||shops and supermarkets|
|•||indoor shopping centres|
|•||banks, building societies, and post offices.|
Transport operators can deny access to their public transport services if a passenger is not wearing a face covering, or direct them to wear one or leave a service if they are not wearing a face covering.
Face coverings are not mandatory for anyone under the age of 11 or those with disabilities or certain health conditions. Review the list of face covering exemptions and share with your members. See further guidance and details of the legislation from the College of Policing.
From 15 June, passengers using public transport are required to wear a face covering across all public transport. This applies to trains, buses, trams, ferries and planes.
Safer air travel guidance for passengers
This guidance sets out how to travel safely in airports and on aircraft during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Self-isolation lifted for lower risk countries
From 10 July 2020 you will not have to self-isolate when you arrive in England, if you:
This applies to all travel to England, by train, ferry, coach, air or any other route.
If you have been to or stopped in a country that’s not on the travel corridors exemption list you will have to self-isolate until 14 days have passed since you left that country.
When planning holidays or overseas travel, people should check the latest FCO travel advice on GOV.UK, including whether there are any self-isolation measures in place for their outbound or return journey.
If the country or territory they are visiting is exempt, they will not have to self-isolate on their return to England. Passengers should also stay alert to any changes to local public health measures while they are travelling, including by subscribing to FCO travel advice updates.
Travel corridors: countries and territories exemption list
From 10 July 2020, unless they have visited or stopped in any other country or territory in the preceding 14 days, passengers arriving from the following countries and territories will not be required to self-isolate on arrival into England:
Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are exempt as they are part of the common travel area. The 14 British Overseas Territories are also exempt. This list may be added to over the coming days following further discussions between the UK and international partners.
Information for travel into Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be published by the Devolved Administrations.
Your stay abroad
You will have to comply with Coronavirus requirements in the country you travel to. This may include self-isolating or providing your details to local authorities.
Check Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) coronavirus advice for the country you are travelling to.
Make sure you have appropriate travel insurance in case you have unexpected costs.
Guidance for aviation operators and safer air travel guidance for passengers.
Advice for employers
Transport and travel guidance
Guidance and information for people using transport or working in the transport sector during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Driver and Vehicle Agency queries - Northern Ireland
‘Bounce back’ plan for agriculture, food and drink industry launched
Trade Credit Insurance backed by £10 billion guarantee
Force Majeure Certificates
These are certificates attesting the existence of force majeure circumstances i.e. circumstances beyond the control of the applicant such as fire, flood, industrial disputes, or in present circumstances, a pandemic. Please note that we can only certify factual details that can be evidenced. We cannot comment as to whether or not Force Majeure applies or argue such claims on behalf of the applicant. It is the responsibility of the applicant to claim Force Majeure and the issuing body’s role is to provide a certificate in support of such claim.
Delaying import duty payments as a result of Coronavirus
HMRC has released guidance on how to request an extension to the payment period for import duty/import VAT payments. Deferment is not automatic and requires immediate action.
Duty deferment account holders - Duty deferment account holders who are experiencing severe financial difficulty as a result of Coronavirus and who are unable to make payment of deferred customs duties and import VAT due on 15 April 2020 can contact HMRC for approval to enter into an extended period to make full or partial payment, without having their guarantee called upon or their deferment account suspended. The account holder should contact the Duty Deferment Office 03000 594243 or by email [email protected] or the Coronavirus helpline on 0800 024 1222. Account holders will be asked to provide an explanation of how Coronavirus has impacted their business finances and cash flow.
Duty Deferment account holders will be able to use their accounts during the extended payment period agreed unless they default on a subsequent payment in that period, in which case HMRC may consider suspending their account. The outstanding payment will not affect their duty deferment limit so they will not need to increase their guarantee to cover the outstanding payment. Where HMRC agree to an extended payment period, interest will not be charged on the outstanding payments provided they are paid in full by the agreed date.
Duty/import VAT payments not covered by a duty deferment account - Registered Importers who pay cash or an equivalent and are facing severe financial difficulties as a direct result of Coronavirus can contact HMRC to request an extension to the payment deadline at the time the payment is due. They will be asked to provide an explanation of how Coronavirus has impacted on their business finances. HMRC will consider this request and decide whether or not to agree an additional time to pay. The decision will be taken on a case-by-case basis and could be refused.
If the request is approved the conditions, including the length of time offered, will depend upon the importer’s individual circumstances and may require the holding of a guarantee for the period of the time extension. We cannot offer this facility to non-registered importers. For further information, please contact the Customs Debt Policy inbox.
Maintaining the flow of trade at the Border
In order to maintain the flow of trade at the border during the current COVID-19 outbreak, Border Control Posts (BCP) may temporarily accept scanned or electronic copies of health certification from competent authorities or operators in some specific scenarios/circumstances in relation to:
Any measures taken are only for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak. Please refer to gov.uk for wider COVID-19 guidance or speak directly to the relevant BCP for further clarification and if you have questions about a particular import.
Coronavirus: Export Controls and Licences
In this 1-hour webinar, representatives from the Institute of Export & International Trade’s Export Control Profession and the Department for International Trade’s Export Control Joint Unit cover:
In response to recent scams offering spurious financial support or tax refunds, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has published information and guidance including:
In response to the increased threat from mandate fraud during the Coronavirus outbreak, the UK government Counter Fraud Function has issued a mandate fraud guidance document.
BCC Director General Adam Marshall comments on the Chancellor’s announcement of further support for businesses and jobs as Coronavirus restrictions increase.
BCC Director General Adam Marshall responds to the launch of the government’s ‘time is running out’ campaign, urging businesses to prepare for the end of the transition period.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, BCC Director General Adam Marshall, President Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith and Chamber CEOs from across the United Kingdom set five business tests that must be met to limit the impact of new restrictions on businesses and jobs and take a long-term approach to tackling the pandemic.
As part of the Race to Zero, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), in collaboration with energy company Drax Group, is calling on the government to use the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement to work in partnership with businesses to achieve the UK’s climate goals, as many firms continue to manage the impact of Coronavirus.