New national lockdown restrictions
Since the end of September, the numbers of people catching coronavirus has increased rapidly and we are sadly now seeing more hospitalisations and deaths across the country.
To help slow the spread of the virus, the Government have announced that new COVID lockdown restrictions will come into force from Thursday 5 November. Under the restrictions, many businesses will have to close.
The Government have said these new national restrictions will be in place until Wednesday 2 December at the very earliest, after which they will be under review.
Businesses and venues required to close
To reduce social contact and help slow the spread of the virus, the Government has ordered certain businesses to close. These include:
- All non-essential retail, such as clothes shops, electronics stores, travel agents, betting shops and vape shops.
- Hospitality venues, such as cafes, bars and restaurants.
- In and outdoor leisure, such as gyms, swimming pools, climbing walls and soft play.
- Entertainment venues, such as cinemas, museums, galleries and theatres.
- Personal care facilities, such as hair salons, nail bars and tanning salons.
Food shops, supermarkets, petrol stations, banks, post offices and other retailers providing essential goods and services can remain open. Any business that remains open has a legal requirement to follow the COVID secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and staff.
The Government have released simplified guidance to help you understand what steps are required to become COVID-secure at gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19
Non-essential retail can remain open for delivery and click-and-collect services only. You can find a full list of non-essential retail businesses and venues required to close at gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november#businesses-and-venues
Restrictions on hospitality services
Under these new national restrictions, hospitality venues such as restaurants, pubs and bars must close. Takeaway and click-and-collect services can continue, including the takeaway of alcohol. However, customers for click and collect services cannot enter the premises for their goods. Instead, they must be either handed directly to the customer in their car or via a table in the doorway.
Hotels, hostels and other accommodation can remain open only for those who need to travel for work and a limited number of other exemptions set out in law.
For full details of available new business grants, the extension of the Government's furlough scheme and self-employment grants, visit camden.gov.uk/financial-support-for-businesses-and-employers1
Self-isolating and supporting your staff
If you or a member of your staff develop symptoms of COVID-19, you must self-isolate and get tested via nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. This can help prevent the spread of the virus, keeping Camden safe and open for business. If a member of your staff does test positive or is told to self-isolate by NHS Test & Trace, we ask that you do all that you can to support them to stay at home.
We also ask that, should a member of your staff be defined as clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19, you do all that you can support them to stay home. You can read more about who is high risk at nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/people-at-higher-risk/whos-at-higher-risk-from-coronavirus
Self-isolating staff may also be able access the Test and Trace Support Payment – a one-off payment of £500 to support people on low incomes to self-isolate. More information is on our website camden.gov.uk/apply-for-test-and-trace-support-payment
10pm curfews and a ban on household mixing
From Saturday 17 October, the Government's COVID alert level in Camden and the rest of London will rise from medium to high. This means that there will be a small number of additional restrictions in place, on top of those already announced by the Government in September. You can find out more about the COVID alert levels at gov.uk/guidance/local-covid-alert-levels-what-you-need-to-know
The most significant change following the increased COVID alert level is a ban on household mixing in indoor settings, including pubs, cafes and restaurants. As the owner of a business, it is your responsibility to ensure:
- No bookings are accepted for a group of more than one household or support bubble
- No visitors are admitted to your premises in a group of more than one household or support bubble
- People from different households and support bubbles do not mix
In addition, there must be an appropriate distance of two metres maintained between tables, or one metre if you have screens in place between tables. It remains a requirement that all sit down pubs, bars and restaurants close at 10pm. If your business offers takeaway food, you can continue to serve after the 10pm curfew but only as a click and collect service.
Failure to follow these rules may result in a fixed penalty notice of £1,000. Government legislation allows this to be doubled to £4,000 for subsequent offences.
NHS COVID-19 app
On Thursday 24 September, the Government launched its NHS COVID-19 app to support NHS Test and Trace. The app will help to prevent the spread of coronavirus by:
- Helping to identify people who’ve been in recent close contact with someone who’s tested positive for coronavirus – including people they may not personally know.
- Enabling people to scan a unique QR code to ‘check-in’ to a venue – e.g. a shop, restaurant or close contact services such as hair salons.
All local businesses and venues – including shops, voluntary organisations and places of worship - are asked to download and display their own unique QR posters.
If someone tests positive for COVID-19, the app will use QR ‘check-in’ data to automatically alert people they’ve been in recent close contact with by sending a notification straight to their mobile phone asking them to self-isolate.
Notifications to NHS COVID-19 app users will not mention the name of your venue, just that the app user has recently been to a venue where they may have come into contact with the coronavirus.
Legal requirements and enforcement
The Government have announced that it will be a legal requirement for all businesses and venues in the following sectors to display a QR poster from Thursday 24 September:
- Hospitality, such as restaurants, hotels and bars
- Leisure and tourism, such as gyms, museums and cinemas
- Close contact services, such as hairdressers and beauty salons
- Local authority venues, such as libraries and children’s centres
If you are unsure whether your businesses falls into any of these categories, you can find a complete list of affected venues at gov.uk/guidance/maintaining-records-of-staff-customers-and-visitors-to-support-nhs-test-and-trace
Failure to display a poster and offer a manual option to record customer details could result in fixed penalty notice of £500 within the first 14 days and £1000 thereafter, doubling for a second offence and prosecutable after 28 days for non-payment.
How to create a free QR poster for your business or venue
- Go to: gov.uk/create-coronavirus-qr-poster and register your details including your name and email address.
- Enter the verification code sent to your email address into the web form and follow the instructions adding contact details for the person responsible for the venue.
- Once you have confirmed your details are correct you can download your venue’s QR poster. You will need to print copies for every entrance of your venue. If you have more than one venue, you will need a separate QR poster for each.
If your customers or visitors check-in using your NHS QR poster then they do not need to provide any further test and trace details to your staff. However, it is important that you continue to offer a manual option for recording visitor’s contact details for those without a smartphone or the app.
The NHS have released a set of Frequently Asked Questions to support both businesses and residents ahead of the launch of the NHS COVID-19 app. You can find these online at faq.covid19.nhs.uk. You can also find further information about the NHS COVID-19 app at camden.gov.uk/nhs-test-and-trace.