Firstly – Happy New Year to everyone. I hope you managed to get into a…
- Reopening High Streets Safely Fund
MHCLG has produced a new version the Guidance and FAQ associated with this £50m fund to councils. This latest version is aimed at the reopening under the Government’s Roadmap and as such, the end date for the RHSSF project is now 30 June 2021 so all expenditure needs to be defrayed and delivery completed by this date.
Another change is that, after a review, the cost of High Street Ambassadors and Wardens can now be paid for through this funding which will help with the management of town centres as businesses reopen and help encourage people to visit knowing that it is a safe environment.
- Answers to Queries
Here’s some answers to the questions that have been sent to DCMS
Is the roadmap/steps set in stone and is the roadmap guidance or law?
The timings outlined in the roadmap are indicative, and the Government will be led by data, rather than fixed dates. Before taking each step, the Government will review the latest data and will only ease restrictions further if it is safe to do so. The indicative, ‘no earlier than’ dates in the roadmap are all contingent on the data and subject to change. The roadmap will be underpinned by regulations, though these are yet to be made. As set out in the roadmap, we hope to ease restrictions, incrementally, over a period of time. Until those points people must continue to follow the rules set out in law.
Q: Why is the rule now either 6 people or 2 households?
A: We will re-introduce the ‘Rule of Six’ outdoors from 29 March, as well as enabling larger groups to meet if they are from two households. A ‘household’ can include a support bubble where eligible. This rule allows either 6 people from different households or 2 households to gather. Applying either limit provides greater flexibility, recognising the different situations faced by families and individuals; two households will be more helpful for families, while the Rule of 6 is likely to help people in different households to reunite outdoors, including those living alone or in shared accommodation. Those eligible to form a support bubble will still be able to do so, enabling close contact for many of those in most need of support, and will continue to be counted as part of the same household.
When can indoor elements of outdoor attractions such as botanical gardens, heritage homes, zoos and other animal attractions and landmarks open?
Before Step 3, indoor attractions at venues such as botanical gardens, heritage homes, zoos and other animal attractions and landmarks must close, though the outdoor attractions of these premises can open from Step 1 or 2 (depending on the attraction). Indoor toilet facilities can open at outdoor attractions at Step 2.
When can funfairs and circuses be permitted to open?
Outdoor funfairs and fairgrounds can reopen in Step 2 – no earlier than 12 April. These events will be subject to local authority approval. Groups must be limited to up to 6 people or 2 households.
Outdoor circuses can reopen in Step 3 – no earlier than 17 May – with other outdoor performance events. Outdoor circus events will be subject to local authority approval.
Funfairs, fairgrounds and circuses will also need to be organised by a business, charity or similar organisation; comply with COVID-Secure guidance with reasonable steps to limit the risk of transmission and the completion of a risk assessment; and ensure that those attending do not mix beyond what is permitted by the social contact limits (unless another exemption exists, such as for work purposes, or supervised activities for children).
When can active outdoor leisure activity such as ziplining restart?
Ziplining and other active outdoor leisure activities can restart in Step 2 – no earlier than 12 April, with outdoor attractions such as adventure parks in line with social contact rules – in a group of 6 people or 2 households outdoors.
When can tenpin bowling centres, trampolining and climbing reopen?
Outdoor climbing walls can open from 29 March. People can use these in a group of six people, or with members of up to two households. Indoor facilities, such as changing rooms, should not be used at this time, although toilet facilities can be accessed.
Indoor climbing walls can open from Step 2 – no earlier than 12 April. Unless a specific exemption exists, these must only be attended/used in line with the wider social contact limits at this stage – as a single household or bubble indoors.
Outdoor trampolining parks can open in Step 2 – no earlier than 12 April. Unless a specific exemption exists, these must only be attended/used in line with the wider social contact limits at this stage – in a group of 6 people or 2 households outdoors.
Indoor trampolining parks can open in Step 3 – no earlier than 17 May these must only be attended/used in line with the wider social contact limits at this stage – in a group of 6 people or 2 households indoors.
Indoor bowling can open in Step 3 – no earlier than 17 May. Unless a specific exemption exists, it must only be attended/used in line with the wider social contact limits at this stage – in a group of 6 people or 2 households indoors.
When can outdoor and indoor swimming pools reopen?
From 29 March outdoor sports facilities such as swimming pools and gyms will be open. People can use outdoor pools and gyms in a group of six people, or with members of up to two households. Indoor facilities, such as changing rooms, should not be used at this time, although toilet facilities can be accessed. At this stage, these gatherings must only include participants – not spectators.
Indoor swimming pools can open in Step 2 – no earlier than 12 April. This is in line with indoor gyms, leisure centres and sports courts. Unless a specific exemption exists, these must only be attended/used in line with the wider social contact limits at this stage – as a single household or bubble indoors
When can recreational boating take place?
From the 8th March self drive day hire of boats is permitted for the purpose of open air recreation in a public outdoor place (the vessel must be open air) for single household/bubble only.
From the 29th March self drive day hire of boats is permitted for 6 people / 2 households per boat if the vessel is open air and for a single household if the vessel is enclosed.
From 12 April self drive holiday hire boats are permitted for single household/bubble only.
From 17 May self drive holiday hire boats are permitted for 6 people / 2 households per boat.
Clarification on skippered boats will be sought and provided as soon as possible.
Private boating is permitted for recreation on waterways accessible to the public from 8 March for single household/bubble only. People should stay local, no overnight stays. From 29 March private boating is allowed for a single household/bubble in an indoor boat and 6 people / 2 households in an outdoor boat. People should minimise travel, no overnight stays. From 12 April overnight stays are permitted for a single household/bubble. From 17 May overnight stays are permitted for 6 people / 2 households.
Can work meetings currently take place?
In-person meetings for work, training or education purposes can still take place but only where it is not possible to carry out the activity from home, and if social distancing can be maintained and the venue can demonstrate it has followed COVID-19 guidance. People should only attend a business meeting in person if it is necessary for them to be there – social meetings with work colleagues should not happen. Permitted venues, including exhibition and conference centres, can hire out function and event spaces for essential work, education and training purposes, where these events cannot reasonably be conducted remotely in Step 1 and 2.
I know that there are a lot of outstanding questions regarding the Roadmap and I’ve been following these up with DCMS today and they themselves are awaiting responses for many of these from the Cabinet Office. The delay is due to the Cabinet Office concentrating on clarifying issues related to the schools reopening on 8th March at the moment so there may be a bit of a delay before all the tourism-related issues rise to the top. However, I will keep chasing to get answers for you as soon as possible.
- Visa Application Update
The Home Office has updated the guidance for people in the UK by updating the guidance on the exceptional assurance visa. This is help people who intend to leave the UK but have not been able to do so and have a visa or leave that expires between 1 March 2021 and 31 March 2021 by allowing them to request additional time to stay, known as ‘exceptional assurance’.
Requests for an exceptional assurance can be applied for by emailing email@example.com with evidence as to why the person cannot leave the UK.
Exceptional assurance will act as a short-term protection against any adverse action or consequences after leave has expired. If conditions of the person’s original visa allowed them to work, study or rent accommodation, they may continue to do so during the period of their exceptional assurance.