COVID-19 – Information 23rd March 2020

PM STATEMENT – 22nd MARCH 2020

The text of the statement made by the Prime Minister yesterday can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-statement-on-coronavirus-22-march-2020?utm_source=4

RAIL SERVICES

The government is providing train operators on franchises let by central government the opportunity to temporarily transition onto Emergency Measures Agreements. These agreements will suspend the normal financial mechanisms of franchise agreements, transferring all revenue and cost risk to the government. Operators will continue to run day-to-day services for a small, pre-determined management fee. Companies entering into these agreements will see a temporary suspension of their existing franchise agreement’s financial mechanisms for an initial period of 6 months, with options for further extension or earlier cancellation as agreed. These measures will provide greater flexibility and ensure services continue for key workers.  The offer also includes measures to provide fee-free refund of all advance tickets as passengers follow government advice and work from home.

BUSINESS AND VENUE CLOSURES

The government has confirmed that businesses who do not follow COVID-19 restrictions will be issued with prohibition notices and that businesses who fail to comply will receive fines and could also face the loss of their alcohol license. There will be no upper limit to the fines of businesses who continue to ignore restrictions. Local government will be responsible for enforcing regulations requiring those businesses asked to close on 20 March 2020, in new guidance issued yesterday, 22 March 2020. Businesses including pubs, cinemas, theatres and casinos were told to close from 21 March, as part of government drive to reduce the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives. Government confirmed today that Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers, with police support if appropriate, will work together to issue prohibition notices challenging unsafe behaviours where businesses do not follow these restrictions. Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers will monitor compliance, and businesses who fail to comply can also receive fines. Continued non-compliance could then lead to the loss of alcohol licenses. Under the Business Closure regulations introduced on March 21, officers will have powers to prosecute for breach of regulations.

The following businesses are now required not to sell food or drink for consuming on the premises:

Restaurants, including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members clubs.

Bars, including bars in hotels or members’ clubs.

Cafes, including workplace canteens, but not including—

  • cafes or canteens at a hospital, care home or school;
  • prison and military canteens;
  • services providing food or drink to the homeless.

The following businesses must remain closed:

Public houses.

Cinemas.

Theatres.

Nightclubs.

Bingo halls.

Concert halls.

Museums and galleries.

Casinos.

Betting shops.

Spas.

Massage parlours.

Indoor skating rinks.

Indoor fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools or other indoor leisure centres.

These measures will be reviewed every 28 days to consider their necessity and effectiveness, in light of changing circumstances. The government will look for opportunities to phase out their application as the situation improves.

Takeaway and delivery facilities should remain open and operational. This means people can continue to enter premises to access takeaway services, including delivery drivers. Planning regulation will be changed to enable restaurants, cafes and pubs which do not currently offer delivery and hot food takeaway to do so. This will be clearly communicated by the government when in effect. Those venues offering takeaway or delivery services must not include alcoholic beverages in this list if their license does not already permit. Any forthcoming changes to licensing for delivery and takeaway will be clearly communicated by the government.

TRAVEL GUIDANCE

Following on from the government’s guidance on social distancing in relation to COVID-19, people should avoid travelling unless it is essential. This guidance is for people planning to visit second homes or holiday premises during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Essential travel does not include visits to second homes, camp sites, caravan parks or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holidays. People should remain in their primary residence. Not taking these steps puts additional pressure on communities and services that are already at risk.

SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION

Latest guidance on school closures and provision of education for key workers and vulnerable children can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings?utm_source=8eded47e-b590-4422-9b63-565cdb187119&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate