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COVID-19 Update 21st August 2020

  • From 4am on Saturday, people entering the UK from Croatia, Austria and Trinidad & Tobago will need to quarantine for 14 days
  • Portugal has been added to the list of Air Corridor countries, meaning that people entering the UK from Portugal will be exempt from the requirement to quarantine
  • Keeping Track of Local Spikes in Coronavirus

You may have noticed on the news today that Birmingham may be added to the Government’s Coronavirus watchlist as an “Area of Concern”. If you are unsure what this means, here’s a quick explainer:

Public Health England publish a weekly National Surveillance Report which pulls together all the information on Coronavirus cases across the country. From this they develop a Watchlist by considering the local authorities with the highest weekly incidence rate, the trend in this rate, and a range of other indicators including the test positivity rate, an assessment of the local response and plans, and healthcare activity.

There is a three stage classification given to areas added to the watchlist:

  1. Areas of concern

This is where cases are increasing and local targeted actions are needed to reduce prevalence e.g. additional testing in care homes and increased community engagement with high risk groups

  1. Areas for enhanced support

If local targeted actions don’t succeed, areas move on to Enhanced Support where a more detailed plan agreed with the national team is implemented, with additional resources being provided to support the local team (e.g. epidemiological expertise, additional mobile testing capacity)

  1. Areas of intervention

If the enhanced support fails to bring the outbreak under control, a further detailed action plan is implemented which includes changes to the rules on social distancing and business operations.

So by keeping an eye on the weekly National Surveillance Reports, you can see the trends in watchlist areas and let members know where they might expect restrictions to occur or be removed. Here’s a link to last the latest Report:

  • Further ONS Data

ONs has produced another report on economic and social trends which has some interesting data including

  • Footfall across all retail locations is rose 68% of what it was last year, despite the need to wear face masks in most shops
  • 95% of businesses in the UK are now open
  • Only 12% of the workforce is now on furlough
  • 57% of businesses reported that their turnover had decreased below what is normally expected for this time of year
  • Only 11% of businesses said that they faced a moderate or severe risk of insolvency

  • HMRC CJRS Repayment Phoneline and Videos

HMRC have implemented a new phone service for businesses that want to make a voluntary repayment of any money that has been overpaid through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and where the company is not submitting anther claim. The number is  0300 322 9430

HMRC have also updated their Self-Employment Income Support Scheme videos for claiming the second grant and for Universal Credit and Child Benefit.

  • Duty Free Shopping Campaign

The Tourism Alliance is supporting New West End Company’s campaign to extend tax-free shopping to visitors from EU member states at the end of the Transition Period on December 31st 2020 as one of a package of measures needed to support the recovery of international tourism. Two thirds of visitors to the UK are from the EU and VB research shows that around a quarter of all overseas visitor expenditure in the UK is on shopping – which means that offering tax free shopping would be a big incentive for Europeans to visit the UK.

The New West End Company has calculated that moving to duty free shopping for EU members could add over £2.3 billion to retail and tourism sales annually and it is kicking-off the campaign  with a letter from New West End Company Chairman, Sir Peter Rogers, to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury.

Tourism Alliance members are urged to add their name to this letter to reflect the benefits that allowing duty free shopping would bring to the recovery of the UK tourism industry

You can read the letter here:

and add your company’s details to be a cosignatory by clicking here:

  • English Language School Position Paper

One of the sectors that has been particularly impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak is the EFL. In additional to not being eligible for business rates support and being impacted by the decline in inbound travel, the sector is also being significantly impacted by uncertainly surrounding Brexit and the Government’s policy of phasing out the ability of EU nationals to use  national ID cards to travel to the UK, which will have a significant impact on youth and family travel.

They have produced an excellent position paper laying out the value of the sector to the UK and local economies and the measures that need to be undertaken to support this sector. This includes:

  • Extend visa validity periods for those unable to travel during the pandemic and if up-to-date information is required for such students, the original fee to cover the application.
  • Keep ID-card travel for under-18 EU/ EEA/ Swiss group travel.
  • Enable students already studying to apply for a new visa for further study (e.g. at an HEI) without leaving the country

  • Points-Based Immigration System: Employer Information

The Home Office has just updated it’s guidance on the Points based Immigration System to provide employees an overview of the new system and explains how employers are affected. The updated guidance and two new video explainers are available on the following link

From 1 January 2021, if businesses want to recruit anyone from outside the UK you must be a Home Office licensed sponsor. If any of your members are thinking of recruiting from overseas next year, they should apply to be a sponsor now. Details on how to do this are on the following link Finally, if any of your members would like to be kept updated on the new immigration system they can sign up to receive email updates on the new immigration system here.
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