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Coronavirus Update

Volume 683: debated on Monday 2 November 2020

The Prime Minister has announced tougher national restrictions in England from Thursday. These restrictions will apply nationally for four weeks up to Wednesday 2 December. At the end of the period, we will look to return to a local and regional approach, based on the latest data.

The regulations will be debated in Parliament on Wednesday.

Subject to approval, from Thursday 5 November, everyone must stay at home, and may leave only for a limited set of reasons. These include:

For education;

For work, if you cannot work from home;

For exercise and recreation in an outdoor public place, with your household, support bubble or on your own with one person from another household (children under school age, as well as those dependent on round-the-clock care, such as those with severe disabilities, who are with their parents will not count towards the limit on two people meeting outside);

For all medical reasons, appointments and to escape injury or harm;

To shop for food and essentials;

To visit members of your support bubble;

And to provide care for vulnerable people, or as a volunteer.

In support of the regulations being laid in Parliament, we will be expanding our existing guidance to ensure the rules are clear for individuals and businesses. Single-adult households will still be able to form an exclusive support bubble with one other household, and children can move between homes if their parents are separated.

Non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues will be closed. Click and collect services can continue and essential shops, including supermarkets, will remain open.

People should work from home wherever possible. Workplaces should stay open where people cannot work from home—for example, in the construction or manufacturing sectors.

Shielding as practised in the spring will not currently be reintroduced. Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should not only minimise their contacts with others, but also not go to work if they are unable to work from home.

The clinically vulnerable and those over the age of 60, should be especially careful to follow the rules and minimise contacts with others.

Overnight stays away from primary residences will not be allowed, except for specific exceptions including for work. This means people cannot travel internationally or within the UK, unless for work, education or other legally permitted exemptions.

Inbound international travel will continue to be governed by the travel corridor approach, and those currently on a domestic holiday will be allowed to finish their holidays, but are still subject to the requirements in England not to go out without a reasonable excuse.

Public services, such as job centres, courts, and civil registration offices will remain open.

Elite sport will be allowed to continue behind closed doors as currently.

The coronavirus job retention scheme, known as the furlough scheme, will remain open until December, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500. The cost for employers of retaining workers will be reduced compared to the current scheme, which ends today.

To reflect the recent changes to the furlough scheme, the UK-wide self-employment income support scheme (SEISS) will be made more generous—with self-employed individuals receiving 80% of their average trading profits for November.

As the Prime Minister and Education Secretary have said, keeping young people in education is a national priority so early years settings, schools, colleges and universities will all remain open. Parents and carers should make sure their children keep attending school. However, universities and adult learning providers should consider increasing online provision where possible.

Parents will still be able to access registered childcare and other childcare activities where reasonably necessary to enable parents to work or access education and training. Parents are also able to form a childcare bubble with one other household for the purposes of informal childcare, for children who are 13 or under.

Ministers are also clear that it is vital to keep the provision for non-covid healthcare needs going. Unless clinicians tell patients otherwise, they should continue to use the NHS, get scans and other tests, turn up for all appointments and collect medicines and treatments.

We are also planning a programme of mass testing which will help us get on top of this virus. We now have the immediate prospect of using many millions of cheap, reliable and rapid turnaround tests.

As a result of partnerships with NHS and university labs, new cutting-edge testing innovations and a recruitment drive boosting the UK’s coronavirus diagnostic industry, NHS test and trace has rapidly expanded testing capability ahead of winter. The target of 500,000 testing capacity per day was reached on Saturday 31 October.

Introducing these restrictions is a difficult decision. But the public have the power to deal with this pandemic, working together with the Government and following the rules and guidance.

Update on recent changes to the local alert level

In order to reduce the transmission of covid-19, the following areas moved into local covid alert level high on 31 October: Carlisle, East Riding of Yorkshire, Kingston-Upon-Hull, North East Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, Dudley, Staffordshire, Telford and Wrekin, Amber Valley, Bolsover, Derbyshire Dales, Derby City, South Derbyshire, the whole of High Peak, Charnwood, Luton, and Oxford City.

This means that for these areas, the following measures apply:

People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place;

People must not meet in a group of more than six outside, including in a garden or other space;

People should aim to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible. If they need to travel, they should walk or cycle where possible, or plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport.

These restrictions remain in place until 5 November, when they will then be superseded by the new national restrictions.

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