Care bubbles, penalties, and isolation payments explained

Updates to the impact and response to Coronavirus:

‘Care Bubbles’ Introduced in areas with restrictions on household mixing

From today informal carers will be able to provide care for children and vulnerable adults in parts of the country with restrictions on interhousehold mixing. 

Children under 14 will be able to be cared for by individuals outside of their immediate household as part of a care bubble.  Interhousehold mixing is currently banned in some areas under local restrictions, including parts of the North West (including Blackburn with Darwen), North East, and Bolton and Leicester.

From Tuesday 22 September ‘care bubbles’ will be able to form in these areas of intervention, to allow families to share caring responsibilities with another household.

The new exemption means that a relative or friend can now care for a child or vulnerable adult from a different household, as well as the formal childcare provided by registered childcare professionals.  

Arrangements must be part of a consistent childcare relationship.  Exemptions for registered childcare already exists.

Guidance for pubs bars and takeaways updated to include penalties for breaching the rules

Where the enforcing authority, such as the HSE or your local authority, identifies employers who are not taking action to comply with the relevant public health legislation and guidance to control public health risks, they are empowered to take a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks.

These actions include closure of venues under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations 2020. For example, this would cover employers not taking appropriate action to ensure social distancing, where possible. 

Failure to complete a risk assessment which takes account of COVID-19, or completing a risk assessment but failing to put in place sufficient measures to manage the risk of COVID-19, could constitute a breach of health and safety law.

The actions the enforcing authority can take include the provision of specific advice to employers to support them to achieve the required standard, through to issuing enforcement notices to help secure improvements. Serious breaches and failure to comply with enforcement notices can constitute a criminal offence, with serious fines and even imprisonment for up to 2 years.

There is also a wider system of enforcement, which includes specific obligations and conditions for licensed premises.

Isolation Support payments introduced

A new £500 Isolation Support Payment for people on low incomes (in receipt of benefits) who can’t work because they’ve tested positive or are asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace is being introduced and will start next Monday.

Duty to self-isolate

As part of a ‘carrot and stick’ approach, the government is also introducing a new legal duty to self isolate – again for people who test positive or who are asked to do so by NHS Test and Trace. 

This is backed by fines starting at £1,000 going up to £10,000 for repeat offences and serious breaches.  NHS Test and Trace will make regular checks on those who are self-isolating.

UK Alert level raised to level 4

The Joint Biosecurity Centre has recommended that the COVID-19 alert level should move from level 3 (COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation) to level 4 (COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation, transmission is high or rising exponentially). 

The Chief Medical Officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have reviewed the evidence and recommend all 4 nations of the UK should move to level 4.

Coronavirus Briefing 21/9/20

A transcript of the briefing given by Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty yesterday is available here:–2

Find a Kickstart Gateway Organisation

If you’re creating fewer than 30 job placements, a Kickstart gateway can act on your behalf and apply for a Kickstart Scheme grant for you.  You can find details of the gateway organisations here:

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