Below is a summary of actions from the past week, along with some important updates and resources.
- The vaccination rollout continues and you can keep track of the progress here
- The Prime Minister said that as soon as possible we will have a 24/7 vaccine rollout. He added that there are 233 active hospitals, 1,000 GP surgeries and 50 vaccination centres. To deliver this 80,000 people have been recruited. The PM added that only the limit is on supply
- The Health Minister has again confirmed that the top 4 priority groups will be vaccinated by 15th February. He went on to say that all adults will be offered their first dose by Autumn. Here is the press release and you can also read the UK’s vaccine delivery policy paper which sets out how they plan to deploy them.
- It was announced that testing will be rolled out across England for those who do not have symptoms. The eligibility of the community testing programme will be expanded to cover all 317 local authorities. Read the press release
- The Government issued a press release linked to a study on past covid infection rates, saying it provides some immunity, but that people may still carry and spread the virus
- Pre Departure Testing (England & Scotland) is now in place. The testing means that passengers will have to take a test 3 days prior to departure. This is in addition to quarantine post arrival and the full guidance is here
- Travel Bans were announced for visitors from South American destinations, Portugal, Panama & Cape Verde to prevent spread of the new variant
- Test and Trace in the Workplace guidance was updated to more clearly reflect the definition of ‘close contact’ and you can read the update here. The Government is also planning to roll out a programme of mass testing for those that have to leave home to go to work, so expect more information on this soon
- Linked to the lockdown the Home Secretary announced tougher action from police for people breaching lockdown rules and linked to that the Government has updated the guidance on accessing green spaces in line with the new lockdown restrictions in England
- Scotland strengthens lockdown restrictions and also announces extended support for hospitality, retail and leisure
- Wales opens applications for its Economic Resilience Fund which aims to provide emergency financial assistance to business and their employees primarily in the tourism, leisure and hospitality sector. A link to the eligibility checker is here
- Northern Ireland announced a £20m support scheme for company directors more details on eligibility here
The last of big news from the weekend was that all UK travel corridors were suspended from 4am today (18th January). These emergency border restrictions were put in place to stop the spread of new variants of Covid-19 into the UK and will be in place until 15th February. It means that all arrivals must complete a period of 5-10 days quarantine upon arrival into the UK (5 days is applicable only where test to release is booked and a negative test is done on day 5). In addition arrivals must have proof of a negative covid test taken 72 hours before departure and a passenger locator form. Enforcement will also be increased with airlines being required to check test and form before departure an on arrival. There are also wider discussions around quarantine hotels being used like the Australian model. So expect more news on this.
FINANCE: Business Support Package
The Government has published the guidance for local authorities on the new Closed Businesses Lockdown Payment announced last week and updated the eligibility for the LRSG.
The payment period is initially extended to 42 days from 5 January 2021 rather than the 14-day payment cycle in tiers. Local Authorities have been asked to provide the funding as soon as they receive it rather than waiting to the end of the 42 day period (i.e. it will not be paid in arrears). After the 42 day period, any future payment period will be reviewed.
- Businesses that are eligible are those that have been mandated to close by the Government and include non-essential retail, leisure, personal care, sports facilities and hospitality businesses. You can reference these in the legislation or the lockdown guidance.
- The Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) (Closed) Addendum: Tier 4 (Open) and (Sector) and (Closed) now cease to apply, although applications can still be made for eligible periods before national restrictions.
- Businesses supported through LRSG (Sector) will be eligible for funding under the LRSG (Closed) Addendum: 5 January onwards during national restrictions, for example nightclubs and sexual entertainment venues.
Closed Businesses Lockdown Payment (CBLP) – Eligibility for the CBLP is the same as the LRSG (Closed) Addendum: 5 January onwards scheme. Businesses that are eligible are those that have been mandated to close by the Government and include non-essential retail, leisure, personal care, sports facilities and hospitality businesses.
- The scheme will close for applications on 31 March 2021, but it is expected Local Authorities will identify and pay all relevant businesses as soon as possible once the funding is received.
- The scheme will close on 30 April 2021, so final payments will need to be made by this date.
- There is no need for Councils to run two separate application processes. For example, a business with a rateable value of exactly £15,000 will receive one payment of £6,001 (£2,001 LRSG (Closed) Addendum and £4,000 CBLP)
- Local Authorities will also receive a £500 million top up to the ARG and this can be used to support businesses that are adversely impacted but not eligible under the LRSG (Closed) Addendum: 5 January onwards or the Closed Businesses Lockdown Payment.
Updated Guidance on Businesses Required to Close
The guidance on businesses required to close has been updated with two tourism related additions to reflect the new legislation:
- Retail travel Agents
- Self-catering properties such as holiday apartments, homes, cottages or bungalows
Linked to this, we continue to support the association wide lobby for inclusion for tour operators, coach operators, language schools. Showing support the Shadow Tourism Minister, Alex Sobel MP, has sent a letter to the Secretary of State seeking reassurance that sectors of the Tourism industry that missed out previously will be eligible for the new grants, LRSG and any future extension to business rate relief.
Insurance – Business Interruption Breakthrough
On Friday the Supreme Court found in favour of small firms receiving pay outs from their business interruption insurance policies. Up to 370,000 small businesses made claims for loss of earnings when they were forced to close during lockdown 1 and were denied support. Read the article here. The FCA will publish a set of Q&A’s for policy holders. If you were affected by this, I strongly suggest you get back in touch with your insurer.
Culture Recovery Fund – Heritage
The National Lottery Heritage Fund has opened the second round of heritage funding for organisations in England. The National Heritage Lottery Fund will be offering grants between £10,000 and £3m to support organisations to make the transition towards full reopening. Applications are open until 2pm on 26 January 2021. More details here
Visas & Immigration
Read all of the latest updates from UKVI which includes the launch of the COVID Visa Concession Scheme (CVCS). This applies only to those who left the UK before 17 March 2020 when FCO travel guidance changed and who had, or are seeking to apply for, leave on an eligible route.
Employment Update – what you need to be aware of
Linked to both Brexit and Covid-19 TravLaw have issued an update for employers to highlight some of the key changes ahead. You can read it here
WTTC release Mental Health Guidelines
The guidelines are focussed on travel and tourism businesses of all sizes to support the mental health of their employees. Read the press release here or view the guidelines here
Cut Tourism VAT Campaign Update
Thank you to those members that contributed to the recent survey by the Cut Tourism VAT team. They have now published the results of the survey which you can read more about here. This will be used to lobby the Chancellor to extend the cut beyond March 2021.
UK launches Global Health Insurance Card
New agreement ensures the rights of UK residents to access emergency and medically necessary care when travelling in the EU will continue. Current European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) are valid as long as they are in date and people can continue to use these when travelling to the EU. Read more here
Latest Clearsight Report
In this latest monthly report, Clearsight provide an update on the key national sentiment and confidence indicators, as well as the extent to which engagement with key travel and leisure sectors recovered in December following the lifting of Lockdown 2.0 restrictions. Read the latest report here
Devolved Administration Updates
Below is a summary of some of the updates from the devolved regions
- Northern Ireland: lockdown for 6 weeks with a review after 4
- Mainland Scotland: level 4 lockdown with a review after 4. Its worth noting also that £104 million was allocated to tourism and hospitality businesses via the Scottish Tourism Recovery Taskforce, read more here
- Wales: alert level 4
NEW Tier Guidance (England)
- Tier 5: National Lockdown: You must stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.
- Tier 4: Stay at Home: For Guidance on what you can and cannot do in areas with a very rapidly rising level of infections, from 20 December.
- Tier 1: Medium alert: This page has been updated to reflect introduction of Tier 4 including updated travel, going to work guidance and what you can and cannot do in an area in Tier 1 of local restrictions.
- Tier 2: High alert: This page has been updated to reflect introduction of Tier 4 including updated travel, going to work guidance and what you can and cannot do in an area in Tier 2 of local restrictions.
- Tier 3: Very High alert: This page has been updated to reflect introduction of Tier 4 including updated travel, going to work guidance and what you can and cannot do in an area in Tier 3 of local restrictions.
Number of cases reported
- To see the number of cases of COVID-19 in England and the UK visit the UK COVID-19 dashboard
- To see the number of cases globally see the World Health Organisation dashboard
Correct as of 18 January 2021