Covid-19 government updates – what you need to know

There have been a number of announcements from the government in the last week. Here is a summary of the key changes that may affect your charity or community group. The situation continues to evolve so please continue to check for updates or contact RVA’s Advice Service for specific advice if you are unsure.

New legal duty to self-isolate now in force

This new legal duty to self-isolate came into force from Monday 28 September 2020. People in England are required by law to self-isolate if they test positive or are contacted by NHS Test and Trace service. There is support for those on low incomes, but also fines for those breaking the rules. Charities should update their sickness procedures and ensure all volunteers and staff are aware. Employers (or volunteer managers) must be careful to in no circumstances encourage or require someone who is self-isolating to come into work or volunteer. Read more here.

Other updated guidance including support groups restricted to 15 people

The government introduced further restrictions on 22 September. You can read a short summary of the changes here. This includes:

-Updated advice on face coverings, extending this to private hire vehicles and hospitality venues, as well as making it law to wear these in close contact services. People who are exempt from having to wear a mask, remain so.

-Office workers who can effectively work from home should do so over the winter.

-Further restrictions on businesses, including social clubs and cafes, including the 10pm curfew and fines for non-compliance, and the mandatory requirement to display the official NHS QR code posters.

-Covid-19 secure requirements are now law and organisations could face up to a £10,000 fine for lack of compliance.

-Support groups are limited to a maximum of 15 people. You can also read more in this guidance on meeting others safely.

-Indoor organised sports are no longer exempt from the rule of six (except in some cases for disabled people’s sport).

-Rules for other venues, such as places of worship, leisure venues etc can continue to host more people but not in groups greater than six and they must be Covid-19 secure.

-A reminder that the rule of six is now law and carries a fine for non-compliance.

The Chancellor’s winter economy plan

On 24 September the Chancellor outlined his plan for the economy this winter, which includes:

-A new Job Support Scheme to be introduced from 1 November and will run for six months. Employers will continue to pay wages for hours employees have worked, but where there is decreased demand, employers can apply for a contributions from the government. Full guidance is awaited from HMRC.

Extension of the Self Employment Income Support Scheme. The extension will provide two grants and will last for six months from November 2020 to April 2021. Grants will be paid in two lump sum instalments each covering a three-month period.

NHS Covid-19 app launched

-NHS COVID-19 app launches nationwide to help control Covid-19 transmission alongside national and local contact tracing.

-Features of the app include contact tracing using Bluetooth, risk alerts based on postcode district, QR check-in at venues, symptom checker and test booking – with user privacy and data security at its heart.

-Businesses and organisations are now required by law to display the official NHS QR code posters so people can check-in at different premises with the app.

-Read the full announcement from 24 September here.

If your charity or group needs assistance with understanding these new restrictions and how they affect your services, please contact Herjeet at herjeet.randhawa@rva.org.uk for advice.

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