As infection rates of the Omicron COVID-19 variant rise across the UK, the Government has decided to implement its Plan B measures to restrict the spread of the virus.
Although this announcement was not totally unexpected, and details of it widely publicised beforehand, here is what you need to know:
- The return of work from home guidance – The Government advised office workers to work from home where possible, from Monday 13 December, in order to reduce the number of people they come into contact with. Anyone who cannot work from home, due to the nature of their employment, should continue to go into work.
- Mandatory Covid-status certificates in certain settings – Effective Wednesday 15 December, ‘Covid passports’ demonstrating that a person has been vaccinated and taken a negative lateral flow test, are now required to enter some indoor and larger outdoor venues, including:
- unseated indoor events with more than 500 attendees
- unseated outdoor events with more than 4,000 guests
- large outdoor events with crowds of more than 10,000 people.
A full list of conditions for this requirement can be found here.
- Mandatory face coverings in more locations – As of 9 December, the rules on face coverings now also apply to hospitality venues, such as cinemas, theatres and places of worship. However, they won’t be needed in places “where it is not practical to wear one”, like when eating, drinking or exercising.
At present, the Government hasn’t given any indication of additional financial support to help businesses with these rules. However, these new measures for England are much less stringent than those announced last Winter, and many similar rules are already in place throughout Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Rishi Sunak has announced a £1bn package of support to aid those businesses most impacted by the latest restrictions, to include:
- Grants for hospitality and leisure business, worth up to £6,000 per premises, to be administered by local authorities
- Grants to be distributed amongst businesses which are most in need, throughout England
- Support for employers, with the return of the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme
- Financial support for theatres, museums and other arts organisations
We will monitor further developments with interest, and report on these as appropriate.
While certain industries may be impacted more than others, early indications are that the wider economy should fare better than before since so many businesses already know what to expect as a result of the restrictions.
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It is understandable, given the events of the past couple of years, that you may have concerns about the latest restrictions. We hope that you can be somewhat reassured with the knowledge that, whatever happens, we are here and ready to support you.
If you feel that now is the right time to engage the support of a trusted firm of chartered accountants and business advisers, please give us a call today.