COVID-19 Advice for Members
HAE EHA produces regular Covid-19 updates, helping members stay up-to-date with coronavirus during these challenging times. The updates contain information on COVID-19, its impact on the plant, tool and event equipment hire sectors, and links to useful and important resources; which can be useful to both businesses and individuals employed in the industry.
The Latest Advice and Information
Please review the latest Covid-19 Advice Update and consider the implications for your employees, customers and business continuity. HAE EHA has provided useful links to related articles which will provide further guidance.
We will continue to keep members updated on all issues relating to Covid-19 here so please review frequently:
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has called an emergency meeting over the rapid spread of the Indian variant of COVID. This new 'variant of concern’' which has spread three times faster than other strains, could delay the final easing of restrictions currently planned for Monday 21st June.
England Will Proceed to Step 3 as Planned
The government has confirmed that from Monday 17th May restrictions in England will ease, consistent with the timing set out in the Roadmap.
- up to six people and two households may meet indoors and overnight stays allowed
- up to 30 people may meet outdoors
- pubs, bars and restaurants can open indoors
- indoor entertainment (such as museums and cinemas) can resume
- outdoor events allowed up to the lower of 4,000 attendees or 50% capacity
- social distancing and close physical contact with friends and family a matter of personal judgment
- no limit to attendees at funerals
- up to 30 people can attend weddings and other life events
- care home residents are allowed up to five named visitors
- hotels, B&Bs, sport and gym classes may reopen
- overseas holidays permitted to ‘green list’ countries
- no face coverings required in secondary school classrooms
- in-person teaching permitted at universities
Public Enquiry to be Held
In addition, the Prime Minister has confirmed that the Government will set up an independent public inquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 crisis. The best time for that inquiry to start would be spring 2022.
Coronavirus Financial Support Continues
Companies are reminded that business support continues to be available. To check if you are eligible to apply click here.
Lockdown Easing Set to Continue for Most of Scotland
The First Minister has announced that a falling number of Covid-19 cases will allow the majority of Scotland to continue with lockdown easing, moving to Level 2 restrictions from Monday 17th May. The Moray region will remain in Level 3 due to a localised outbreak of the virus.
Under Level 2 restrictions:
- up to six people from three households will be able to meet in each other’s homes or gardens without physical distancing**
- social distancing and close physical contact with friends and family a matter of personal judgment
- up to six people from three households will be able to meet indoors in places such as pubs, cafes and restaurants
- up to eight people from eight households will be able to meet outdoors
- pubs and restaurants will be able to serve alcohol indoors until 10:30pm in two-hour booked slots
- venues including cinemas, theatres, concert halls, music venues, comedy clubs, amusement arcades, casinos, snooker halls and bingo halls will be able to reopen
- events will resume with a maximum capacity of 100 people indoors, 250 outdoors where there is unrestricted standing and 500 for events with seating
- organisers will be allowed to apply to hold bigger events
- outdoor contact sports and indoor group exercise classes will be able to restart
- more than one person will be able to sing during religious services
- amateur performing arts groups will be able to perform outdoors
- colleges and universities will have more flexibility to resume in-person learning
For more information on protection levels for Scotland click here.
Restrictions in Wales will Ease as Planned
The First Minister has confirmed that from Monday 17th May, restrictions will ease:
- all indoor hospitality will open
- up to six people from different households will be able to meet indoors at pubs, cafes and restaurants
Executive Restrictions Review This Week
The Northern Ireland Executive is set to meet today (Thursday 13th May) to review the current coronavirus restrictions. Outgoing First Minister Arlene Foster said ministers have observed developments in the rest of the UK after various announcements about the easing of measures in England, Scotland and Wales.
Although 'hire' is not specifically mentioned, plant, tool and equipment hire falls under 'homeware and hardware shops'. The link below is updated government guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments:
Updated government guidance
HAE EHA Social Distancing Practical Guidance Documents
Click here to view and download
CBILS Loans Portal from HAE EHA Commercial Finance
Click here to access the portal
Bounce Back Loans Schemes Provider List
BBLS providers and links to application forms
Updated Job Retention Scheme Guidance
Click here to view
Local Covid-19 Lockdown Updates
Updates on where restrictions are in place in England
Guidance on what you can and cannot do
Test and Trace Guidance
Click here to view
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Working Safely Guidance
Click here to view
CITB Covid-19 Communication Updates
Click here to view
Key National Covid-19 Links
Previous Covid-19 Updates
The COVID-19 emergency is rapidly changing and HAE EHA relies on government and other authoritative sources for information. We can take no responsibility for any out-of-date or inaccurate information and we ask members to check sources and take further advice as required.
Click below to expand each previous Covid-19 Member Update.
HAE EHA would like to hear from any members who have been refused grants and business rate relief by local councils. There has been some inconsistency in how government funding is being applied nationally, and we want to inform MPs where and when this is happening. Please contact Public Affairs Manager Mark Bradshaw on 0121 380 4621 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ministers have confirmed that the NHS app will be modified and used to confirm vaccination status for the purposes of international travel, and possibly travel within the UK. Those with the app can already see their vaccination details. These changes will be made ahead of the next step in the Roadmap on Monday 17th May, when travel restrictions are expected to ease. Read the news story here.
As a reminder the Covid Response Roadmap can be found here, Step 3 is outlined from page 40.
From Monday 26th April Level 3 lockdown restrictions were implemented in Scotland. Click here to find out more.
Restrictions will be further eased on hospitality and indoor events in Wales from Monday 3rd May, two weeks sooner than originally planned. Read the announcement here.
The Executive has announced an easing of measures from Friday 30th April with a further review on 13th May. Read the update here.
A scientist from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has warned of a potential rise in cases over the summer as lockdown rules are eased. Prof. Adam Flinn has said: "The UK is likely to see a 'summer surge' in COVID cases as lockdown is relaxed and because there are still many people in the adult population who've not been immunised". Scientists are 'firmly of the view' that a third wave of infections will occur at some point in 2021. Read the news item here.
No Need to Deviate from Lockdown Roadmap
The PM said in his press conference earlier this week that there was "nothing" in the data so far that suggests that England will need to deviate from its lockdown easing roadmap. The next stage in this will be on May 17th. This week's press conference dated 20th April can be found here.
Additional Surge Testing in the Midlands
A case of a Covid-19 variant of concern has been confirmed in Birmingham. Additional surge testing is being rolled out in the area, the details can be found here.
Scotland to Ease Restrictions and Enter Level 3
The Scottish Government has announced that from Monday 26th April, Scotland will enter level 3. The following key points are the most relevant to hire:
- Certain business will be able to open including:
- Hospitality venues such as cafés, pubs and restaurants
- Tourist accommodation
- Non-essential retail outlets and close contact services such as beauty salons
- Adults on the shielding list can return to the workplace, if they cannot work from home, while children who have been shielding can return to school
- Non-essential work inside people’s homes,such as painting, decorating or repairs, will be permitted, subject to mitigations
- The attendance limit for funerals and weddings and subsequent receptions and wakes will increase to 50
Wales to Relax Outdoor Hospitality Rules
The Welsh Government has announced that current rules around outdoor mixing and hospitality will be relaxed, starting at the weekend:
- From Saturday 24th April, the limit on two households will be lifted and six people will be able to meet outdoors. This won’t include children under 11 or carers
- From Monday 26th April, outdoor hospitality will be allowed to reopen.
Further Easing of Restrictions from Friday 23rd April
A number of restrictions will be eased in Northern Ireland, which include:
- Re-opening of close contact services including training
- Re-opening of outdoor visitor attractions including outdoor activity centres
- Static band practice/rehearsal will be permitted in agreed outdoor locations
Anyone who receives a positive result from a lateral flow test, taken either at home or at a test site, must now get a confirmatory PCR test. Find out more here.
SOUTH AFRICAN COVID VARIANT PROMPTS LOCAL SURGE TESTS IN LONDON
Covid surge testing is being deployed in Finchley and Barnet in North London (N3 area) in response to the South African variant. This follows surge testing deployment in Southwark and a cluster of cases identified in Lambeth and Wandsworth which led to surge testing being rolled out. Read the report here.
VACCINATION PROGRAMME PHASE TWO
Scientific advice has been accepted by the health ministers in all four UK nations and this confirms age will remain as the main determinant of vaccine priority. The UK remains on course to meet the target to offer a vaccine to all those in the phase 1 priority groups by mid-April, and all adults by the end of July. The Health Minister's statement can be read here.
HOME CHECKS ON QUARANTINED INDIVIDUALS
Those quarantining at home following international travel may now be visited by staff employed on behalf of the NHS Test and Trace service. Read the news story here.
First Minister Announces Accelerated Easing of Restrictions
The easing of lockdown restrictions has been brought forward as the data shows continued progress on vaccination against COVID. Key points are:
- Travel within Scotland for outdoor socialising, recreation and exercise allowed from Friday 16th April
- Six people from six households able to meet from Friday 16th April although socialising in private homes is not permitted
- Should the data permit, the whole of Scotland will be in Level 3 from Monday 26th April
Further Easing of Measures to be Announced
The Executive is meeting on Thursday 15th April and may announce dates for the easing of measures to allow non-essential retail to reopen. For the latest updates from the Northern Ireland Executive click here.
Step 2 on the Recovery Roadmap Nears
Under the Roadmap the next stage of relaxation takes effect from 12th April when non-essential retail, personal care premises, outdoor attractions and settings, indoor leisure facilities and hospitality venues (outdoors) can reopen. The Restart Grant scheme supports businesses operating in those sectors by providing a one-off grant, to reopen safely as restrictions are lifted. The scheme came into effect from 1st April, check if you are eligible to apply.
NHS Test and Trace in the Workplace
There has been some updated guidance for reopened businesses, click here to find out more.
The roadmap for relaxing lockdown measures is in place, click here to view the timetable.
The Covid Control Plan is being implemented, click here to view the updates.
First Minister, Arlene Foster said she hopes to be able to give dates for the further easing of restrictions on hairdressers, other close contact services and non-essential retailers. Announcements will come after the next meeting of the Northern Ireland Executive on the 15th April, during which proposals set out by the Northern Ireland Economy Minister will be reviewed.
The Recovery Loan Scheme was launched on 6th April by the UK Treasury. Loans will include 80% government guarantee and interest rate cap and eligible businesses across the UK can apply. Find out more here.
Working in partnership with the local authority, additional surge testing and genomic sequencing is being deployed in an area of Wingates Industrial Estate within the BL5 postcode in Bolton, where one case of the COVID-19 variant first identified in South Africa has been found. Click here for details.
Workplace Covid Testing
Businesses are encouraged to register before 12th April for free rapid home testing kits in order to access free tests until the end of June, even if they’re not yet open or are not able to start using the tests straight away. More details available here.
Business Rates Relief Boost
New funding to help with rate liabilities for businesses who have been unable to benefit from the existing £16 billion business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses. This may be of use to event supply businesses. For details click here.
Useful Summary of the England Roadmap
For the plan on easing restrictions in England click here.
‘Stay Local’ rules from 2nd April
To view the plan in Scotland for the cautious easing of lockdown click here.
The Welsh Government has announced further relaxation to Covid restrictions moving to Level 3 later this month. Changes include lifting travel restrictions into and out of Wales from the rest of the UK and Eire. The details can be found here.
For the event sector, further measures have been announced to help restore live events in Wales:
- from 12th April, viewings at wedding venues can resume by appointment
- from 3rd May, wedding receptions can take place outdoors, but will be limited to 30 people
- small numbers of outdoor pilot events of between 200 and 1,000 people are being planned, including cultural and sports events across Wales, potentially with a stadia event
- the Welsh Government is working with the Muslim Council to consider how they can also incorporate events to help people celebrate Eid at the end of Ramadan
- all events would be subject to Local Authority and public health agreement
MPs have voted in support of renewing of the Coronavirus Act for a further six months, meaning it will finish on 25th September. Much public debate is focusing on certification or proof of vaccination which is already the subject of consultation.
A £5,000 fine has been announced for anyone in England trying to travel without good reason. Reasonable excuses include work or education.
While the measures are being applied until the 30th June, this does not pre-empt the review of international travel in April/May. The Prime Minister says that the Government would get the findings of the global travel taskforce on the 5th April and would set out what may be possible from the 17th May. The Prime Minister also confirmed the Government was considering imposing tougher restrictions on travel from France amid concerns about the spread of new variants.
The next stage of the Roadmap is on the 29th March when outdoor gatherings of 6 people or 2 households will be allowed and the Stay at Home order will end.
The First Ministers of the remaining UK nations have outlined changes to their coronavirus regulations, links provided below:
SUPPORTING EHA MEMBERS AND PILOT EVENTS
EHA has written to the Culture Secretary, Rt. Hon Oliver Dowden, about the ongoing plight of the event supply sector and how event hirers should be part of the forthcoming Roadmap pilot events. The letter can be read here.
HSE CARRIES OUT SPOT CHECKS TO ENSURE WORKSPACES ARE COVID-SECURE
HSE continues to spot check and inspect workplaces to minimise the risk of infection. Officers that visit premises will be carrying identification from their business and a letter of authorisation from HSE. Calls currently come up as an unknown number. If you wish to verify an officer that calls or visits your organisation, please call 0300 790 6896. Click here for details.
There has been some disruption to the supply of covid vaccine, however, ministers have said that this will not affect the timing of the Roadmap stages in England. The story is covered in this report and you can read an explanatory letter from NHS England here.
FURTHER INFORMATION ON EVENT PILOTS
Details have been received after discussion between the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and The Events Industry Forum. Here’s a summary of the key discussion points:
- The World Snooker Championships at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, running from 17th April to 3rd May, and the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium on 15th May will be pilot events
- The pilots will go on to include other types of event covering a range of settings, not just sports
- Over the coming weeks scientific research will continue to assess which types of events and settings are most suitable for gathering evidence on safety
- The pilot events will include but not be limited to indoor and outdoor settings, small and large venues, seated and standing events, different forms of audience participation, transport to events, duration, and ventilation
NORTHERN IRELAND RELAXES MEASURES
A relaxation of the current lockdown measures was agreed by Stormont Ministers this week. You can read about the changes here.
UK Weddings Taskforce Update
The UK Weddings Taskforce has received confirmation from senior Government sources that step 2 weddings cannot take place, in all but a small number of venues, between the 12th April and 17th May with 15 guests. This contradicts what was stated in the Prime Minister’s roadmap announced on 22nd February.
Reminder for Businesses to Book Free Rapid Tests
Free, regular workplace testing is available and all businesses are encouraged to register interest by the 31st March. Click here to learn more and register.
Government Reviewing Options to Reopen Economy
The Government is reviewing, and has launched a call for evidence, about whether Covid-status certification could play a role in reopening the economy, reducing restrictions on social contact and improving safety. Find out more here.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon updated the Scottish Parliament on further easing of the lockdown restrictions today (Tuesday 16th March). This included a timetable for proposed relaxation of the rules.
Key dates are outlined below:
- From 22nd March: restrictions on the sale of non-essential items will be lifted for shops that are currently open and garden centres can reopen
- From 27th March: ‘stay local’ restrictions are to be lifted
- From 12th April: remaining shops and close contact services will be able to reopen
Stormont ministers are set to hold their first formal review of coronavirus restrictions today (Tuesday 16th March).