More venues are now open
The Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has announced that more close contact services can begin to re-open in the coming weeks:
From 11th July:
Outdoor pools can re-open, and performing arts can take place outdoors with a socially distant audience.
From Monday 13th July:
Beauty salons, nail bars, tattoo and massage studios, physical therapy businesses and spas can re-open.
From 25th July:
Indoor gyms, indoor swimming pools and sports facilities can re-open.
Chancellor announces A Plan for Jobs
The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak has presented A Plan for Jobs to the House of Commons. Thanks, to the progress made in suppressing the virus the Government is now slowly allowing people to go back to work in accordance with COVID-secure workplace guidance. That is why it was right for the Chancellor to announce the second phase of economic interventions by the Government to help the economy deal with the negative economic impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic. The Government has already supported workers through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the self-employed with the Self - Employed Income Support Scheme and businesses with grants and loans being made available.
The new announcements include:
Jobs Retention Bonus - Employers who bring people back from furlough and keep them on until January will receive £1,000 for each staff member.
Kickstart Scheme - The Kickstart scheme will directly pay employers to create new jobs for any 16-24 year old at risk of long - term unemployment. The scheme will pay wages for 6 months, plus an amount to cover overheads. That means, for a 24 year-old, the grant will be around £6,500.
Traineeships - The Government will pay employers £1000 to take on trainees, which triples the number of paces. This is a proven scheme to get young people ready for the work place. Traineeships consist of work experience placements, training and work preparation for 16-24 year olds. They last from 6 weeks to 6 months depending on need and can lead to apprenticeships, further education and other employment.
Work coaches - The Government is doubling the amount of work coaches at a cost of nearly £900 million. Work coaches are people's first point of contact for someone who loses their job. They provide invaluable personalised support to help people get back to work.
Apprentices - For the next six months the Government will pay businesses to hire young apprentices, with payment of £2,000. A new bonus has also been announced for hiring apprentices aged 25 and over, with a payment of £1,500.
Stamp Duty - The Stamp Duty threshold will be raised to 500,000 until 31 March 2021 to take effect immediately. Before, there was no stamp duty on transactions below £125,000 or £300,000 for first-time buyers. Everyone buying a main home under £500,000 will pay no stamp duty at all which means 9/10 of main home buyers will pay no stamp duty at all.
Green Home Grants - The Government is funding £2bn of Green Home Grants helping to unlock work for thousands of plumbers, builders and tradespeople. Homeowners will receive vouchers to pay for at least two - thirds of green improvements such as loft, wall and floor insulation. Low - income households will be eligible for up to 100% government funding up to £10,000 which could make over 650,000 homes more energy efficient. It could also save households save up to £300 a year on their bills.
Cut in VAT for hospitality and tourism sectors - VAT will be reduced from 20% to 5% to take effect from Wednesday 15th July 2020. This is a £4bn catalyst benefitting over 150,000 businesses, and consumers everywhere - helping to protect around 2.4 million jobs.
Eat Out to Help Out - For the month of August, the Government will give a 50% reduction, up to £10 per head, on sit down meals and non alcoholic drinks Monday - Wednesday. This scheme will support around 130,000 businesses and help protect the jobs of their 1.8 million employees.
The Chancellor also announced a full Spending Review and Budget will come in the Autumn. You can read the full 'A Plan for Jobs' by clicking here.
Enjoy Summer Safely!
More than three months ago, Britain went into lockdown. It has undoubtedly been a long and difficult three months, but people have supported these rules overwhelmingly, and we are now past the peak, reporting regularly fewer than 1,000 new cases each day. Sage also assesses that the R rate (the average number of people each infected person passes the virus onto) - remains below 1. That means the virus is decreasing every day.
Thanks to this progress, the government has been able to slowly ease the national lockdown. Since the start of June, you have been able to meet up with up to 6 others outdoors, and non-essential shops began to re-open throughout June. More businesses can now re-open. This includes:
- Pubs and restaurants.
- Hotels, and other accommodation sites - such as camp sites.
- Some of the arts and cultural sector, as well as some leisure facilities and tourist attractions can also re-open, provided they can do so safely. This includes outdoor gyms, playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades, as well as libraries, social clubs, places of worship and community centres.
All of these businesses will need to comply with the COVID-Secure guidelines, as set out by the government. This includes taking customer contact details, which can be passed to NHS Test and Trace in the event of an outbreak.
You can also meet up with one other household indoors, provided you maintain social distancing with those from outside your household.
This is the biggest step yet on the road to recovery from coronavirus. But it is more important than ever that we do so safely. Where possible, you should continue to remain 2 meters apart from others outside your household. However, where it is not possible to stay two meters apart, the guidance now allows people to keep 'one metre plus' distance. That means staying one metre apart, plus mitigations to reduce the risk of transmissions - such as face masks on public transport, or perspex screens in bars and restaurants.
We also need to continue to remember the basics, such as washing your hands with soap and water more often and for at least 20 seconds, and if you have any symptoms of coronavirus (a new and continuous cough, a temperature, a loss of taste or smell), you should immediately self-isolate and get a test. You can apply for a test by clicking here.
Whilst these relaxations will allow us to enjoy a much more normal way of life, it is vital that we all safely by following the guidelines and keeping your distance from others so we can keep the coronavirus under control.
Since the start of June, the government has been asking new arrivals into the country to self-isolate for 14 days to prevent coronavirus being imported into the country.
However, from 10th July 2020 you will not have to self-isolate when you arrive in England, if you are travelling from a 'travel corridor country', or have not been to or stopped in a country that is not on the travel corridor list in the last 14 days.
Changes to advice for the 'shielded'
The lockdown has been particularly challenging for those who have been shielding, but as virus infection rates begin to fall, advisory guidance can be eased.
- Since Monday 6 July, those shielding from coronavirus can gather in groups of up to 6 people outdoors and form a ‘support bubble’ with another household.
From Saturday 1 August, the guidance will be relaxed so clinically extremely vulnerable people will no longer be advised to shield, but support will remain available from NHS volunteers and local councils. People will retain their priority for supermarket delivery slots, and still be able to access help with shopping, medication, phone calls and transport to medical appointments.
The government has announced further measures to lift the lockdown in England. That means:
- Households containing one adult (including those with children under 18) can join another household to form a 'bubble' to act as if they live within the same household. This means they can spend time together inside, and do not need to stay 2m apart. These bubbles must be exclusive, meaning you cannot switch the bubble you are within, or mix with multiple households. If any member of the support bubble develops symptoms, all members of the bubble will need to follow the normal advice and self-isolate. This does not apply to those who are shielding, however, more details will be unveiled next week about the arrangements in place for those shielding beyond the end of June.
- Zoos, safari parks, and outdoor attractions such as drive-in cinemas can open with social distancing in place.
- Places of worship can open for individual prayer, with social distancing in place.
Stay safe from coronavirus scams
There have been concerning reports of NHS contact tracing scams by those trying to take advantage of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Contract tracers will NEVER:
❌ ask you to make payment.
❌ ask any details about your bank account.
❌ ask you for any passwords or PINs.
❌ ask you to download anything.
Face coverings are now mandatory on public transport
The government has asked transport operators in England to make the wearing of face coverings a requirement of using public transport from. This is now mandatory.
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