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Government updates including which businesses must close during Lockdown


Posted – 25 Mar 2020

The Government has updated its latest news bulletin to clarify the text on the closure of all retailers that sell non-essential goods and other non-essential premises, as part of further lockdown and social distancing measures.

All guidance, information and announcements can be found at GOV.UK. Organisations should pay particular attention to the guidance for employees, employers and businesses which is being updated regularly with the latest advice.

The following advice is also being continually updated:

New rules on staying at home and away from others

The single most important action we can all take in fighting the coronavirus, is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives. The government has introduced three new measures:
– Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes
– Closing non-essential shops and community spaces
– Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public
Gatherings of more than two people in public are permitted where the gathering is essential for work purposes – but workers should be trying to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace. Travelling to and from work is permitted, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home. Every citizen must comply with these new measures. They will initially last for the three weeks from 23 March, at which point the Government will look at them again and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible.

AMENDED – Further businesses and premises to close

Guidance has been issued on the closure of all retailers that sell non-essential goods and other non-essential premises, as part of further social distancing measures. 
A full list of the businesses and premises that must remain closed is available. Takeaway and delivery services may remain open and operational. Online retail is still open and encouraged and postal and delivery service will run as normal.
Retail and public premises which expect to remain open must:
– Ensure a distance of two meters between customers and shop assistants;
– Let people enter the shop only in small groups, to ensure that spaces are not crowded.
– Queue control is required outside of shops and other essential premises that remain open.

The Government will look again at these measures in three weeks and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible. Everyone is instructed to comply with the rules issued by the government in relation to coronavirus, in order to protect both themselves and others.

New Updates and Guidance

Extra protection for businesses with ban on evictions for commercial tenants
Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction. More information is available here.

COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility – Now open for applications: Under the new COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility, the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies.
All non-financial companies that meet the criteria set out on the Bank of England’s website are eligible. The scheme is now available for applications. More information is available from the Bank of England.

Business grant funding and business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses
Additional information on business grant funding guidance, and on the expanded retail discount guidance for local authorities is now available. Businesses do not need to take action. Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for grant funding.
Business rate holiday changes will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020.

Apprenticeship programme response
The Education and Skills Funding Agency is taking steps to ensure that, wherever possible, apprentices can continue and complete their apprenticeship and to support providers during this challenging time. 
New guidance has been published for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations.

Foreign Secretary advises all British travellers to return to the UK now All British tourists and short-stay travellers currently abroad should return to the UK where commercial flight options are still available. Further instructions for British travellers to return home can be found on the coronavirus travel advice page

Financial assistance for employers unable to pay statutory redundancy payments
This page has been updated with information about the financial assistance scheme for employers unable to pay statutory redundancy payments.

Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) guidance
The MHRA have produced guidance for industry covering the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

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