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Daily Government press briefing
The briefing was led by Business Secretary Alok Sharma and Sarah Albon, Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Sharma confirmed that retail outlets that have previously been closed will be permitted to open from next Monday 15 June. Businesses will need to complete a Covid-secure risk assessment and are asked to display publicly a sign confirming that they are compliant with health and safety guidance. Further guidance for hospitality businesses such as restaurants and pubs will be published as soon as possible, and the Government continues working towards 4 July 2020 as a target date to reopen the hospitality and service sectors.
This week, Sharma will lead five roundtable sessions with representatives from the five business-focused working groups to engage with the business community and discuss plans for economic recovery.
- The first question was about when people can book domestic holidays, including camping and self-catering. Sharma said that the economy would be reopening in a phased, careful manner and reiterated the date of 4 July at the earliest.
- Sharma said that the further guidance would be published in advance of 4 July in order to give businesses time to prepare.
- Sharma was asked about possibly changing from 2m to 1m social distancing in order to help hospitality businesses. He said that the 2m had been recommended by SAGE, and would be kept under review. He recognised that some countries had reduced to 1m but said they were further along in their reopening.
- Responding to a question on levelling up, the Business Secretary said he did not want to pre-empt any future announcements but that the Government was still committed to the levelling up agenda.
You can watch the full briefing here.
UK Visa and Immigration services enter second phase of reopening on 22 June
UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) began a phased reopening of a limited number of visa application centres (VACs) and immigration services on 1 June. An additional number of VACs will open on 22 June, where local conditions allow. Ongoing global restrictions mean some UKVI services will remain closed. Services will reopen in phases. Where services are resuming, existing customers will be contacted.
Visa customers and British nationals overseas who want to apply for a passport can find a VAC in their country, or check the status of VACs outside of the UK here:
- TLS contact if you’re in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East
- VFS global for all other countries
The Home Office have announced a number of temporary concessions for people who are unable to meet the requirements of the Family Immigration Rules to enter or remain in the UK due to coronavirus. These concessions relate to:
- People whose wedding or civil ceremony has been delayed due to coronavirus
- People who have experienced a loss of income due to coronavirus
- People who are unable to provide specified documents
- People who are unable to take a language test
Self-isolation rules specific to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
Guidance on the new border rules has been updated to reflect that travellers are subject to different self-isolation rules and penalties depending on whether they are travelling to:
Fáilte Ireland publishes sector-specific guidelines for reopening tourism on 29 June
Fáilte Ireland has published operational guidelines for the tourism industry to ensure the safe reopening of tourism businesses on 29 June. Sector-specific guidelines are available for:
- Hotels & Guesthouses
- Self-Catering businesses
- Caravan & Camping businesses
- Visitor Attractions
- Activity Providers
- B&Bs & Historic Houses
- Restaurants & Cafes
Digital Boost platform launch
Supported by DCMS, a new platform called Digital Boost launches today. The Covid-19 crisis has presented many challenges for small businesses, particularly in building digital capability. The platform will host a community of digital experts, who will offer one-to-one digital support to small businesses free of charge.
- Vacation Rentals, the parent company of brands including Hoseasons and Cottages.com, is now offering refunds for cancelled bookings following an announcement from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that it would start investigating cancellations and refunds in the holiday accommodation sector.
- Ryanair is waving change fees for all flights booked in July or August this year. Customers will be able to exchange for flights departing through 31 December 2020.
- Cunard has cancelled all sailings for the ships Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria through 1 November, and for the ship Queen Elizabeth through 23 November.
- Austrian Airlines has secured a €600 million rescue package from the Austrian national government and the Lufthansa Group.
Sending Forms to Companies House
Companies House has introduced a temporary service that allows businesses to upload documents that previously had to be sent in. This includes documents such as
- Applying for a rectification by the registrar of companies
- Correcting a director’s date of birth which was incorrectly stated on incorporation
- Applying for rectification of a change of registered address
- Objecting to a request to rectify the register
- Applying to remove material about a director
- Applying to change a company’s disputed registered office address
To keep on top of local outbreaks, the government is establishing the Joint Biosecurity Centre which will sit alongside SAGE and monitor the spread of coronavirus across the country. The idea is that it will operate a local alert system that warns the CMO and Government of regional spikes in infection and implements local lockdowns to bring the infection rate back under control. So with the possibility of local lockdowns occurring at some stage, it is important for businesses to consider how to handle this in their booking terms and conditions and to convey this to customers when they book so that both parties are agreed as to what happens if the customer cannot get to the business or if a lockdown occurs while the customer is staying at the destination.
WTM are holding a webinar tomorrow at 2pm ‘Technology opportunities for Travel and Tourism in a Post Viral World’. You can find out more information and register
Inbound Tourism Campaign
For your information, the association is currently planning to launch a campaign to try and secure more financial help for the inbound industry in the next couple of weeks. We will be in touch in due course about how you can get involved.
In the meantime, if you would like to submit questions directly to the Chancellor – you can do so on the following link: https://action.conservatives.com/ask/rishi-sunak/
Situation update 9 June 2020