COVID-19 Advice for Members
HAE EHA produces regular Covid-19 updates, helping members stay up-to-date with coronavirus during these challenging times. The updates contain information on COVID-19, its impact on the plant, tool and event equipment hire sectors, and links to useful and important resources; which can be useful to both businesses and individuals employed in the industry.
The Latest Advice and Information
Please review the latest Covid-19 Advice Update and consider the implications for your employees, customers and business continuity. HAE EHA has provided useful links to related articles which will provide further guidance.
We will continue to keep members updated on all issues relating to Covid-19 here so please review frequently:
Non-infected People Forced to Isolate by NHS App
The government approach to fully vaccinated people having to self-isolate due to contact with infected people has been changing over the past few days. The NHS Covid app has been alerting growing numbers of people and press reports state around 600,000 are believed to be self-isolating after being ‘pinged’. This is impacting retail, transport, fuel distribution and other key sectors. Read the full report here.
Businesses Seeking Exemption from Isolation for Employees
Ministers will publish a list of sectors where businesses are required to seek exemptions for named employees. The rules will change on Monday 16th August when fully vaccinated (non-positive) people will not be required to self-isolate. Further information will follow soon.
Government Statement on Vaccine Effectiveness and NHS COVID Pass
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi MP made an update statement to Parliament covering vaccinations but also Covid-19 status. Important highlights from Mr Zahawi’s speech are:
- NHS COVID Pass is rolled out after successful trials
- People are able to prove vaccination status, test results, natural immunity
- The Pass is accessible using the NHS app, their website or by calling 119 and requesting a letter
- Organisations in England can adopt the Pass as a means of entry where it’s suitable for their venue or premises, to keep customers safe
- For venues and events where large numbers will gather and mix with people outside their households the Pass will be essential
- From October onwards full vaccination will be a condition of entry to high risk settings where large crowds gather, proof of a negative test will not be sufficient
The Northern Ireland Executive met today and has decided that from 26th July at outdoor domestic settings:
- A maximum of 15 people from an unlimited number of households will be permitted
- Children aged 12 and under are not counted
And at close contact services:
- The requirement for an appointment will be removed
- Overlapping appointments will be allowed
The remaining issues still awaiting ratification will be discussed further at Executive meetings scheduled for Monday 26th and Thursday 29th July.
Previous Covid-19 Updates
The COVID-19 emergency is rapidly changing and HAE EHA relies on government and other authoritative sources for information. We can take no responsibility for any out-of-date or inaccurate information and we ask members to check sources and take further advice as required.
Click below to expand each previous Covid-19 Member Update.
England has eased restrictions but some of the adaptations made to cope with Covid-19 are likely to remain part of every day life. Find out how to stay safe and help prevent the spread of Coronavirus, links to information for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are also included. Click here for details.
Construction Leadership Council Updates Guidance on Face Coverings
The Construction Leadership Council is calling on contractors to adopt a consistent approach across the industry in the relaxation of social distancing and wearing face masks. For further information click here.
The Culture Secretary has issued a series of Ministerial Directions concerning a number of sporting, and other events, taking place as part of The Event Research Programme. Details and further information relating to pilot events, for gathering information on Covid transmission, can be found on the government website.
Wales moves fully into Alert Level 1 from Saturday 17th July. The changes previously paused for four weeks because of the emergence and spread of the Delta variant across the UK and to enable more people to be vaccinated in Wales. This means organised indoor events can take place from 17th July for up to 1,000 seated and up to 200 standing.
There is a requirement for employers to provide comprehensive information on the risks and mitigations identified in the Covid-19 risk assessment with their employees. The First Minister released the next steps towards a future with fewer covid rules.
The Prime Minister and Health Secretary have confirmed that almost all legal restrictions will be removed from 19th July, in line with Step 4 of the Roadmap. The full news report can be viewed here. The guidance will be reviewed in September but in the meantime, there is encouragement to wear face coverings in crowded public spaces and for a gradual return to the workplace. The requirement to self-isolate, if required, remains in place.
From 16th August, If you are fully vaccinated or under 18, you will no longer need to self-isolate following contact with someone who has Covid-19. But you will need to take a PCR test and self-isolate if it is positive. Ministers also say that “organisations and large events will be supported and encouraged to use the NHS Covid Pass in high-risk settings to help limit the risk of infection in their venues.” To view the fully updated guidance click here.
To read Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s full statement click here.
UK Health Secretary Confirms Move to Step 4
The Rt. Hon Sajid Javid confirms the move to the next step on the roadmap for Monday 19th July and that vaccines are on track. Read his speech in full here.
Further Support for Brighton and Hove
The rise in infection rates in these areas have prompted additional support. Click here to read the report.
The First Minister has announced that most restrictions will be lifted from 19th July by moving all Scotland to Level 0, but added that certain mitigations, like face coverings, will remain in place "for some time to come."
Rules at Level 0 Stipulate:
- up to 200 people can attend weddings and funerals
- hospitality customers will no longer need to pre-book
- facemasks will have to be worn in hospitality venues, except when seated
A formal announcement from the Welsh First Minister is due on Wednesday 14th July as part of the 21-day review period. Some of the requirements to wear face coverings are likely to remain in force. More information can be found here.
Further relaxations to Covid measures are pencilled in for 26th July. More information is available here.
FURTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS ON RELAXATION OF MEASURES
HAE EHA will include any additional announcements and useful links regarding Covid-19 in the next edition of Interface This Week, to be issued on Thursday 15th July.
International Travel Rules Update
The Transport Secretary has announced revised measures for England which will ease the cost and barriers to double vaccinated adults travelling. Click here for details.
The guidance on travel to amber-list countries has also changed. Click here to view the statement.
Infection Rates Three Times Lower for Double Vaccinated People
The latest Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT-1) study has published its findings. Click here for the full report.
Asymptomatic Testing Backed by New Research Studies
Research published today demonstrates how effective widespread testing (including using lateral flow tests) has been against emerging variants of concern. Click here to view the article.
New Variant Cases Declining
Additional Covid testing and support for North Tyneside and Leicester has been scaled back as cases of the new variant recede.
The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gave an update to Parliament today stating: "We said that 19th July was the indicative date for Scotland's move to level 0. Next Tuesday, ahead of that date, I will set out to Parliament the final decision that the Cabinet will reach on whether and to what extent that move is able to proceed." Click here to read the speech in full.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, have set out current government thinking for England in advance of a formal decision on scrapping remaining lockdown measures effective on 19th July. Their decision to be made on 12th July will take into account latest infection and hospitalisation rates, as well as progress in double vaccinating the adult population.
Step 4 will be a profound shift from legally enforceable measures to greater personal decision making around face-covering, social distancing and other Covid-related behaviours. Restrictions on business and the advice to work-from-home if possible will be removed if Step 4 measures are confirmed for 19th July.
Proposals for 'Covid Passport' Dropped
Plans for a Covid Certification programme, intended for people to provide proof of vaccination or negative test when entering events or hospitality venues, have been scrapped. There is a NHS Covid Pass available on the NHS mobile app, which can be used to view and share as proof of your Covid-19 status for events and travel.
Greater Freedoms for 'Double-Jabbed' Individuals
The Health Secretary confirmed today (Tuesday 6th July 2021) that people in England who have received both doses of immunisation will not have to self-isolate from Monday 16th August. Businesses will want to review their remote-working practices and assess what, if any, advice and procedures are required in the workplace for public health and liability reasons.
Read the full statement made by Sajid Javid MP, to Parliament, on Monday 5th July.
Read a statement made by the Prime Minister at a press conference on Monday 5th July.
UPDATES FOR REMAINING UK NATIONS
The governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are due to make separate announcements about the easing of restrictions. These will feature in forthcoming HAE EHA Covid-19 updates soon.
Over the next three months, UK businesses will have to pay more of the costs of the furlough scheme as the government starts to wind down its support.
From 1st July 2021, the government will pay 70% of wages up to a maximum cap of £2,187.50 for the hours the employee is on furlough. Employers will top-up employees’ wages to make sure they receive 80% of wages (up to £2,500) in total for the hours the employee is on furlough. The caps are proportional to the hours not worked. To find out more about how the scheme is changing visit the UK Gov website.
Claims for furlough days in June 2021 must be made by 14th July 2021.
For a summary of current conditions, recent and upcoming changes in restrictions across the UK visit this web-page.
Speech by Minister for Covid Vaccine Deployment
The spread of the Delta Variant, the speed and number of vaccinations and numbers of hospital admissions will inform decisions about the planned final stage of Covid restrictions on the 19th July. This statement by the Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi gives a full update on the position.
Workplace Testing and Free Test Kits
If already registered by the 12th April, employers can obtain free lateral flow testing kits until 19th July. Those employers not registered will have to purchase tests. The updated guidance can be viewed here.
The Scottish Government has released an updated timetable for changes to restrictions. Click here to view.
The Government has delayed the removal of all Covid-19 restrictions until Monday 19th July due to the rise in numbers of people infected by the Delta variant, and the need to make further progress in vaccinating the adult population.
All changes for England are now covered in The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps and Other Provisions) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2021, viewable here.
Updates to Guidance for Weddings and Civil Partnerships
Updates have been made to the guidance for couples planning to get married or form a civil partnership, including information for venues and hosts. Click here for details.
Statement by Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
The Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP outlines in a speech how coronavirus restrictions will be eased and the plan for vaccinations in the remaining age groups. Click here to read in full.
Vaccination Programme Accelerated
With Step 4 paused and the Delta variant spreading all efforts are being made to roll out vaccinations as quickly as possible.
Important updates include:
- 30-person limit for weddings and wakes lifted but venues must adhere to Covid-19 guidance, maintain social distancing and provide table service
- Weddings in private outdoor settings must have a risk assessment to determine the maximum number of guests
- Event pilots will continue, these include sports events (Euro 2020, Wimbledon) and theatre performances. Attendees will be asked to provide evidence of vaccination or a negative lateral flow test
UK Locations to Receive Further Support in Tackling Delta Variant
Locations include Birmingham, Blackpool, Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Liverpool City region and Warrington. Click here for more details.
All areas of Scotland were due to move to Level Zero Covid restrictions on Monday 28th June. This will mean larger groups can gather in cafes, pubs and restaurants, although social distancing will still have to be maintained. However, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced the country is unlikely to move to Level Zero as expected.
While not ruling out the further easing of restrictions she said the Scottish Government needed to buy itself ‘sufficient time’ to allow the vaccination programme to continue its work. She went on to say: “Given the current situation, and the need to get more people fully vaccinated before we ease up further, it is reasonable to indicate now that I think it unlikely that any part of the country will move down a level from June 28th.”
Click here to view the current levels of restriction in different areas.
The Government of Wales will review it’s Covid-19 protection rules on Friday 25th June.
Further Funding for Welsh Businesses Confirmed
The Welsh Government Economy Minister has confirmed further funding support for businesses impacted by phased move to Alert Level 1. Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, has announced that businesses in Wales materially affected, such as indoor attractions and wedding venues, will receive £2.5 million in further support. Read the full coverage here.
Limits on indoor gatherings in Northern Ireland are scheduled to be relaxed as originally planned on Monday 21st June. Click here for information on current restriction levels.
France has restricted travel from the UK requiring passengers to provide "compelling reasons" for entering the country to combat the spread of the Indian variant of COVID-19. The new rules apply to all air, car, ferry and train passengers.
Employer Vaccination Toolkit Launched
Enable your staff the flexibility they need to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Read the article here, and click here for the Employer Toolkit.
Speculation continues about the impact of Covid variants and how this may affect the final stage in removing lockdown restrictions on 21st June. The Government is expected to make an announcement soon, a senior minister hinted that a delay to the planned easing of lockdown could not be ruled out.
Further Surge Testing Announced
Confirmed cases of the Indian variant have been found in Derbyshire leading to the deployment of surge testing. Read more here.
Questions Over 'Vaccine Passports'
There is uncertainty about whether domestic 'vaccine passports' will be required. Press reports suggest the proposals to make COVID documents an entry requirement to mass events could be dropped, and the documentation is likely only to be used for international travel. A Government spokesperson has stated that the review is ongoing and "no final decisions have been taken yet". MP Michael Gove MP will update Parliament soon, however, it will be challenging to get any system in place for 21st June.
Weekly Watchlists for Local Authorities
For reports and data on cases of coronavirus for lower-tier local authorities in England click here.
Glasgow to Move to Level 2 Restrictions
The Scottish Government has announced that Glasgow will move to coronavirus restriction Level 2 from Saturday 5th June, so long as key indicators remain stable or fall. For the full report click here.
Review of Social Distancing Rules Delayed
Ministers need to review more data on the Indian variant of COVID before the social distancing rules can be properly reviewed. It was anticipated that the review would be published this week but has been delayed due to the variant.
Grant Claim Deadline for Self Employed
The deadline for claiming the fourth grant under the Self Employment Income Support Scheme for the period 1st February to 30th April 2021, is Tuesday 1st June. Details of the fifth and final grant covering May to September 2021 will be published later. For information on eligibility and how to claim click here.
HSE Spot Checks and Inspections
If you receive a call or visit from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), you should participate in the spot check as failure to do so could lead to enforcement action. Click here for more details.
Government Clarifies Advice for Areas with Latest Variant Hotspots
Areas with significant outbreaks of the Indian variant of COVID have had their guidance clarified, following much confusion earlier this week. Guidance for Kirklees, Bedford, Burnley, Leicester, Hounslow, North Tyneside, Bolton, Blackburn and Darwen says that people should avoid meeting indoors and that people should avoid travelling to those regions other than for essential reasons.
The confusion resulted from some initial guidance which asked people to avoid non-essential travel altogether, but this is not the case.
The guidance advises people in those areas of England to:
- Meet outside rather than inside where possible
- Keep two metres apart from people who you do not live with (unless you have formed a support bubble with them), this includes friends and family you don't live with
- Avoid travelling in and out of affected areas unless it is essential, for example for work (if you cannot work from home) or education