National COVID-19 update from the Government

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has delivered a Coronavirus Press Conference with the Government’s current response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some key points are as follows:-

  • Professor Chris Whitty provided data which shows that the number of cases is increasing sharply, has been since mid-august, particularly amongst younger people, and that this is across the whole country.  He also made the point that this isn’t simply as a result of more tests being done.
  • The Prime Minister reminded us of the safety precautions of washing hands, wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces, keeping a distance from people outside your household, (“hands, face space”) and getting a test if you have Coronavirus symptoms.
  • He said the government is simplifying and strengthening the current rules as follows:
    • At all times people should minimise social contact with people outside their household
    • From Monday the ‘Rule of 6’ will be introduced, meaning that people must not meet socially in any more than a group of 6.  This replaces the existing guidancearound 2 households and maximum gatherings of 30.  It will be a legal requirement from next week.
    • Single households of, or larger than 6 can still gather, but must not meet with other households if that will make their gathering greater than 6 people.
    • Here’s a link to the Health Secretary’s Oral statement to the House today: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/update-on-new-social-distancing-rules
    • Whilst this supersedes the previous national rules around 2 households and a maximum of 30 people gathering, local restrictions still apply to residents in affected areas of Blackburn (Audley & Queen’s Park; Bastwell & Daisyfield; Billinge & Beardwood; Blackburn Central; Little Harwood & Whitebirk; Roe Lee; Shear Brow & Corporation Park; Wensley Fold) that they must not socialise with people they do not live with, unless they’re in their support bubble, at public venues including pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops, places of worship, community centres, leisure and entertainment venues, or visitor attractions and parks.
    • This is the refreshed guidance on meeting with others safely: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing and here is the guidance on local restrictions in place: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/blackburn-with-darwen-oldham-pendle-local-restrictions
    • Covid-secure venues such as gyms, places of worship and hospitality venues can still hold more than 6 in total, but there must not be individual groups larger than 6 in the venue and groups must not mix in the venue
    • Workplaces and schools are unaffected
    • Organised sport, covid-safe weddings and funerals can still go ahead
    • Covid-secure marshalls will be introduced to support social distancing and safety measures in town and city centres
    • They will restrict opening hours in certain places (no further details given at the conference).  The guidance says this will be initially in local lockdown areas (as in Bolton), with the option of national action in the future.
    • From 18 September, it will be mandatory for certain businesses such as hospitality venues to have a system to collect NHS Test and Trace data, and keep this for 21 days. 
    • Core COVID-19 Secure requirements will be mandated for hospitality businesses, and ‘egregious breaches’ enforced.  
    • The government will revise plans to pilot larger audiences and review stadium plans.
    • The government has introduced simpler general covid-secure workplace guidance https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/5-steps-to-working-safely to support the guidance for specific sectors

As previously if you operate a business or organise events within the affected areas you should take steps to ensure people do not socialise with people they do not live with, in line with COVID-19 Secure guidance, (signage, configuration of seating, floor markers, taking bookings where possible etc…)  The updated guidance for different sectors can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/updates

You can find the full details of the announcement here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-what-has-changed-9-september

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