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Government Winter Plan for COVID-19

View profile for James Hodgson
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Earlier this week the Government announced plans for managing the coronavirus pandemic through winter.

The 64-page document contains important information on how businesses and individuals will emerge from the current national lock down on 2 December 2020. Further details are expected later this week.

Overview of the COVID-19 Winter Plan

  • England will return to a regional three-tier system from 2 December, with restrictions within each tier being tougher than those used previously.
  • Tier allocation is expected to be announced later this week.
  • Regardless of tier, shops, personal care, gyms and the wider leisure sector can reopen on 2 December.
  • Schools, colleges, universities, and early years settings will open. Registered childcare, other supervised activities for children and childcare bubbles permitted.
  • Everyone who can work from home should continue to do so.
  • The clinically extremely vulnerable will be provided with specific advice on how to protect themselves in each tier. This will replace the current “stay at home” advice.
  • Legislation will be introduced which requires care home providers to restrict all but essential movement of staff.
  • The Government has committed to providing better data, clearer guidance, and a toolkit to help businesses protect individuals at higher risk, in part due to their occupation, when they are in the workplace.

Restrictions by local tier

Tier 1 – Medium alert

  • Bars, pubs and restaurants can operate table service only (takeaway is still permitted). Last orders at 10pm, close by 11pm.
  • Large events (including business events) can go ahead at 50% of normal capacity (or, if lower, 4000 outdoors, 1000 indoors).

Tier 2 – High alert

  • Pubs and bars must close unless operating as restaurants.
  • Hospitality venues may only serve alcohol with substantial meals.
  • Last orders at 10pm, close by 11pm.
  • Large events (including business events) can go ahead at 50% capacity (or, if lower, 2000 outdoors, 1000 indoors).

Tier 3 – Very high alert

  • All hospitality operations must close, except sales by takeaway, drive-through or delivery
  • Indoor venues must close
  • Travel should be avoided outside of the area unless necessary, for example for work, medical, caring.
  • Accommodation providers must close unless for limited purposes, for example stays for work or for people who cannot return home.
  • Events (other than drive-in) are not permitted.

Home working

People should continue to work from home where possible. Specific reasons why attendance in the workplace might be necessary include

  • mental health issues/ concerns
  • a need to work on-site physically in industries and sectors where working from home is not possible (for example construction and manufacturing)

Businesses must have taken clear steps to protect the health and safety of staff and customers through following Government guidance, making their workplaces COVID-secure.

Employer responsibilities: the new rules

It is important that employers understand the new three-tier system as there may be consequences for non-compliance.

Read the COVID-19 Winter Plan in full

For expert advice on all aspects of employment law, please contact James Hodgson or Maureen Cawthorn at our Halifax office on 01422 339600.