COVID-19 Updates – week commencing 25/05/20
More updates of developments from the government and various links to interpretation and guidance.
Go to date:
26 May 2020 …
CPT Operational update:
COVID-19 STATUTORY SICK PAY REBATE SCHEME – LIVE FOR APPLICATIONS TODAY
Employers with fewer than 250 employees can now claim for coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
Employers are eligible to use the scheme if you meet all of the following criteria:
- claiming for an employee who’s eligible for sick pay due to coronavirus
- had a PAYE payroll scheme in operation before 28 February 2020
- had fewer than 250 employees across all PAYE schemes on 28 February 2020
Employers must also be eligible to receive state aid under the EU Commission Temporary Framework*
*The maximum level of state aid that a business may receive is €800,000 (£720,000 approx)
The repayment will cover up to two weeks of the applicable rate of SSP, and is payable if a current or former employee was unable to work on or after 13 March 2020 and entitled to SSP, because they either:
- had or have coronavirus
- could not or cannot work because they were/are self-isolating at home
- were/are shielding in line with public health guidance
Employers must keep records of SSP that was paid and claimed back from HMRC.
The following records must be retained for for 3 years:
- the dates the employee was off sick
- which of those dates were qualifying days
- the reason they said they were off work – if they had symptoms, someone they lived with had symptoms or they were shielding
- the employee’s National Insurance number
Full details of how to make a claim can be found on the link below
Tourism Alliance updates:
Revised Discretionary Fund Guidance
The guidance to Local Authorities on the £617m Discretionary Fund has been amended to that businesses that are eligible for SEISS are still eligible for support through this fund (copy of the new guidance is attached). This is a considerable step forward as it means that B&Bs, self-catering operators and other small tourism businesses operated under sole trader arrangements are now eligible to apply for grants from this fund.
Letter on Quarantining
Over the weekend we supported a Airlines UK letter to the prime Minister (attached) pointing out the serious damage that Quarantining will have on tourism and asking the Government to immediately look towards a more targeted, risk-based approach to screening of passengers such as “air bridges”, which would see the controlled reestablishment of air routes and overseas travel, where it is safe to do so, and as soon as possible to any low-risk country.
Timetable for Retail to Reopen in June
Slightly lost among the attention on Dominic Cummings yesterday was the announcement of the timetable to reopen non-essential retail businesses by which outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June and the all other businesses are able to open from 15th June. What is not immediately apparent in this announcement is that gift shops and retail spaces in theatres, museums, libraries, heritage sites and tourism sites, as well as to betting and amusement arcades are deemed to be retail premises.
Updated guidance has been issued reflect industry feedback and to expand coverage of non-essential retail categories ahead of the planned opening.
The timetable and rational for opening non-essential retail businesses does again raise questions as to why tourism businesses such as caravan parks, camping grounds and self-catering properties have to remain closed until 4th July and why it is safer to enter a shop than walk around the grounds of outdoor attractions such as stately homes, botanical gardens or drive through a safari park.
Re-opening High Streets Safely Fund Guidance
The Government has announced that English councils will share £50m of additional funding to support the safe reopening of high streets and other commercial areas. The money will allow local authorities in England to put in place additional measures to establish a safe trading environment for businesses and customers, particularly in high streets. This funding looks to be of particular significance for tourism destinations as it can be used for:
- Communications and public information activity
- Business-facing awareness raising activities
- Temporary public realm changes
However, it cannot be used for capital expenditure or grants to businesses.
Detailed guidance has been produced as to who is exempt from the proposed 14 day quarantining on arrival into the UK, Of interest to the tourism industry are exemptions for:
- Road passenger transport workers
- Transit passengers
- The crew of ships, trains and aircraft
- A person who resides in the UK and who pursues an activity as an employed or self-employed person in another country to which they usually go at least once a week
New chairs for VisitBritain and Visit England advisory boards
Not quite Coronavirus related, but the Government has announced that Rt Hon Sir Patrick McLoughlin and Nick de Bois have respectively been appointed as the Chair of VisitBritain and the Visit England Advisory Board. They replace Steve Ridgeway and Denis Wormwell in these positions. A brief bio on both appointments is available on the following links.
Further Transport Funding
As part of reopening the economy and getting people back to work, the Government has announced additional funding of £254 million for buses and £29 million for trams and light rail to maintain and increase the frequency of services while helping ensure there is enough space between passengers to allow them to observe social distancing guidelines. The funding will be kept under review.
Up to £15 million to support the Citizens Advice
Due to the increased demand for information and advice related to Coronavirus, the Government is allocating up to £15m in additional funding to support the work of Citizen’s advice
27 May 2020 …
Tourism Alliance update:
One announcement over the weekend that is causing some confusion is an amendment to the Government’s guidance on access to Green Spaces. This states that the public is now allowed to:
- visit gardens and land maintained for public use as an alternative open space to spend time outdoors, although buildings and amenities such as cafes will remain closed and access may be limited to members or those with tickets to ensure social distancing. You should check ahead and follow social distancing guidelines
The Tourism Alliance is trying to get clarity as to the extent that this new advice applies to outdoor attractions from DCMS, but at the moment it seems that operators of private gardens and grounds are now allowed to open to the public provided that indoor facilities remain closed.
28 May 2020 …
CPT Operational update:
RISK MANAGEMENT – FOR HOME TO SCHOOL SERVICES
CPT has issued a number of risk assessments relating to on and of road operations together with associated guidance.
With the upcoming return of schools in England and the potential resumption of home to school transport, CPT has produced a further set that refer to the use of coaches, both smaller and full size vehicles, on home to school journeys
The Government guidance makes clear that a risk assessment should be undertaken to identify potential associated risks as services are resumed alongside the need for continued social distancing
Please take the time to study the documents and, as required in the guidance, implement your own risk assessments
We understand that many local authorities and schools will be making their own arrangements and judgements for how school services should be operated, and we would encourage you to share your risk assessments and other guidance with them so that they can make informed decisions
Tourism Alliance updates:
Here is a link to this week’s BVA-BDRC report which has large sections on public sentiment towards Tourism and Hospitality.
Key findings are:
- The intention to plan, book and take a UK holiday have both increased significantly this week
- Intention to visit attractions is at its highest since tracking began
- UK holiday providers will need enhanced cleaning regimes and flexibility on bookings
- Around 7 in 10 will not consider flying with a Quarantine policy in place.
- People are looking at booking winter sun holidays overseas rather than summer sun holidays
- People feel safer in a restaurant if there is an outdoor space or social distancing rules are in place
- 63% of people say that they are planning to book accommodation in the UK within the next year
ANNUAL TESTING – DVSA UPDATE
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has today announced that they intend to resume annual testing of heavy vehicles in June
Further information about the plans and the actual date that testing will resume will be provided in due course
DVSA has also announced that vehicles with an annual test that expires in June, will be granted an automatic 3 month extension to the expiry date
This exemption also includes vehicles that were originally made exempt in March 2020
Operators do not have to do anything to obtain an extension. It will be applied automatically, and the electronic record for the vehicle amended accordingly
DVSA remain in discussions with trade organisations about how the resumption of annual testing will take place, and we will update members with further details when they finalised