COVID 19: The latest
In a briefing today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave employers the discretion to decide whether it’s safe to bring employees back to work. People are also allowed to use public transport for non-essential journeys, but alternative methods of travel should be considered first.
And from 24 July, wearing a face covering in shops and supermarkets is to become mandatory. Those who fail to comply with the new rules face fines of up to £100. Find out what this means for your business. When announcing the news in Parliament this week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock quoted FSB National Chair Mike Cherry, saying “small firms know mandatory face coverings have a part to play in the nation’s recovery.”
Other notable developments include:
- Indoor pools and gyms can reopen from 25 July
- Bowling rinks, skating parks, casinos and beauticians can resume work from August 1
- Indoor arts performances can happen form August 1 and gatherings at sports venues will be trialled
- Nightclubs and soft play centres must still stay shut
- Conferences and business events will be allowed to resume in October
- Local authorities have been additional powers to manage local lockdowns
The Government lifted local restrictions for some parts of Leicestershire on July 16, but other parts still remain under lockdown after a peak in Covid-19 cases. The Government has issued guidance on what this means and who is affected.
Beauticians, nail salons, tailors and bridal shops will reopen from 22 July. Non-essential call centres, live indoor and outdoor events, gyms, pools and indoor entertainment venues such as theatres won't reopen until at least 31 July, but this date is under review.
The Scottish government has set out a roadmap for businesses to reopen as they enter the next phase of recovery. All dates are indicative and subject to following physical distancing rules and public health advice.
Self-contained holiday accommodation, including holiday cottages, caravans, motorhomes, boats, glamping sites with their own kitchens and bathrooms reopened on 11 July. However, those with shared facilities must remain closed.
Pubs, bars and restaurants with outside seating only reopened from 13 July.
Indoor facilities, including gyms, swimming pools and theatres have not yet been given a date as to when they can reopen.
The Welsh Government has created a checklist to help businesses work within the public health regulations and guidelines.
Cinemas, theatres, nightclubs, bingo halls, concert halls and arcades will reopen on 29 July, while 7 August will see indoor sports courts, skating rinks, leisure centres and soft play areas reopen.
FSB’s latest report, published on Thursday, is on ethnic minority entrepreneurship. Produced alongside the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority and ERC UK, it finds that ethnic minority businesses contribute a staggering £25billion to the UK economy each year but face various barriers. The launch was covered by the Financial Times and Telegraph.
LATEST ADVICE AND OPPORTUNITIES
New immigration system
Further guidance has been published on the points-based immigration system that will be put in place form 2021. It includes information about the visa process for businesses, the global talent scheme and how to recruit skilled workers.
Eat Out to Help Out
Registration for the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme is now live. Businesses that register for the scheme will be able to offer a 50 per cent discount to customers from Mondays to Wednesdays, of up to £10, and reclaim the money.
The Recovery Advice for Business scheme, supported by government, gives small firms access to free, one-to-one advice with experts to help guide them through the coronavirus pandemic. Small and medium sized businesses can sign up for help until 31 December and advice will focus on areas including accounting, finance, marketing, planning and technology.
Digital Leaders Week
People who run workshops, webinars and other online events can register for Digital Leaders Week 2020, which will run from 12 to 16 October. It will help business owners discover what works, how to run a project and where to get advice.
Apprenticeship funding rules
The Department for Education has published fresh guidance on apprenticeship funding. New incentives - £2,000 for apprentices aged 16 to 24 and £1,500 for those over 25 – will be paid in two instalments after the 90th and 365th days from apprenticeship start dates and can be claimed from 1 September.
Counter terrorism information
The Home Office and Counter Terrorism Police are designing a free online platform to increase access to information for businesses on how to prepare for, and protect against, the impacts of terrorist attacks. They are keen to ensure the platform is a success amongst small firms, particularly those in public locations such as high streets. Virtual workshops will take place on Thursday July 23 and Friday July 24 – booking is essential.
NEWS AND HIGHLIGHTS
FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry met with US Ambassador Woody Johnson to discuss how a potential UK-US free trade agreement could help small firms.
In The Times, Mike stressed that a “joined-up approach” to the new kickstart initiative “is critical”, ensuring cohesion between small firms, apprentices, training providers, government and the Job Centre.
Writing for the New Statesman, Mike stressed that support for small businesses will be crucial to the economy’s recovery. Assessing the Governments latest round of interventions he said: “It’s never been a more pressing time to offer help. But one thing is clear: these schemes must work for all”.
POLITICS, PARLIAMENT AND FSB
- We’re continuing to liaise with Government ministers, advisers and officials in the wake of last week’s summer statement having welcomed a number of measures including the Kickstart Scheme, the Job Retention Bonus and a cut in VAT for the hospitality sector, as a good start.
- But a number of negative impacts are happening now and we’ll be pressing on these issues, particularly on how reopening is going, the safety of employers and customers; and which sectors remain disproportionately affected in the next week or so.
- Following on from our Unlocking Opportunity report, which looks at the barriers faced by ethnic minority businesses, we hope MPs and Peers will be able to raise some of our key recommendations next week.
- FSB’s Policy and Advocacy Chair, Martin McTague, took part in a Business Organisation Meeting with the Liberal Democrats on Friday to discuss policy priorities in areas of leaving the EU, trade and immigration
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