Latest information on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
You will be aware that the Government announced today that there will be extra restrictions introduced to deal with an increase in COVID-19 infections to parts of North East England including County Durham.
Please find set out below, the announcement from Durham County Council’s Chief Executive detailing the restrictions and links to further information.
As additional information affecting businesses emerges, we will share it via our usual communications channels.
Visit County Durham
Announcement from Durham County Council’s Chief Executive
New COVID-19 restrictions across the North East
Following rising cases of COVID-19 across the region, we have worked alongside Newcastle, Northumberland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Sunderland and Gateshead councils to request new stricter COVID-19 prevention measures from Government to stop the spread of coronavirus across the North East.
The Government has today (Thursday 17 September) announced that additional restrictions will come into effect from 00.01 Friday 18 September. The main points are outlined below; however we are still awaiting clarification from Government on the finer details.
Legislation - regulations will lawfully enforce the following:
- Residents must not socialise with other people outside of their own households in private homes and gardens
- All hospitality for food and drink will be restricted to table service only
- Late night restriction of operating hours will be introduced, with venues required to close between 10pm to 5am.
Guidance - Residents are also advised to adhere to the following guidance to further reduce rates of infection:
- Residents should not socialise with other people outside of their own households in all public venues.
- Residents are advised to only use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work (rather than car sharing etc)
- Holidays should be taken within your own household or support bubble
- Residents are advised against attending amateur and semi-professional sporting events as spectators.
Further details are outlined in the FAQs (www.durham.gov.uk/localrestrictions) which we encourage you to read.
Locally, we are also seeing a significant rise in cases and a shift from isolated outbreaks to more general community transmission. Based on the current trend, we forecast that by the end of the month, we could be experiencing daily rates in the region of 60 per 100,000.
The distribution of cases now closely matches the distribution of population across the county.
- We are seeing an increase in cases in more isolated rural areas.
- In addition to areas where we have known outbreaks, we now have other parts of the county with equally high rates, but where we have yet to identify a common source or identifiable link between cases.
A similar picture is emerging in a number of local authority areas across the entire region, and the seven North East local authorities agreed to work to greater regional coordination and an enhanced approach to tackle the pandemic.
With cases significantly rising it is vital that everyone works together to help reduce the spread of the virus and any future lock down. We appreciate that some of the restrictions may be challenging but they are crucial.
Further information for businesses and other stakeholders will be shared as it emerges. Additional information can be found on www.durham.gov.uk/localrestrictions
If you have any further queries after reviewing the website please contact our County Durham Together hub on 03000 260 260 or email@example.com
We would urge you to monitor the Council website for non-business-related information and for any questions you may have.
Latest information and Announcements
We would advise all partners to regularly check the VisitBritain and Government business support web pages, which are being continually updated with the latest advice and information for UK tourism businesses.
As the situation evolves, we recommend all County Durham tourism businesses and stakeholders stay informed by reading the latest health information from the above resources. Please also provide feedback and comments direct to firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Local Restrictions Support Grant supports businesses that have been required to close due to temporary COVID-19 local lockdown restrictions imposed by government. Check to see if you’re eligible for this support grant.
- The government has published updated guidance on working safely during coronavirus.
- Denmark, Iceland, Slovakia and Curacao will be removed from the England Travel Corridor list at 4am Saturday 26th September, meaning that people arriving from these destinations from this time will need to self-isolate for two weeks.
- The Visitor Economy Working Group has shared the following clarifications on government COVID-19 guidance for hospitality and travel sectors:
- Update to coach operators and whether coach tours can go ahead – If it is possible to ensure that groups of more than six do not mingle on a tour, coach tours of over six on the coach can go ahead. People must stay in their groups of up to six (or larger if they are from one household) on all parts of the tour, e.g. whilst in hospitality settings and when visiting attractions as well as whilst on the coach. Legislation does not place any capacity constraints on public transport services, private hire vehicles or leisure tours. Operators should continue to provide COVID-secure transport services which can accommodate multiple groups of six people - the Department of Transport will update the transport guidance shortly to clarify and assist passengers and operators.
- Business meetings of up to 30 permitted – Meetings of up to 30 people indoors are allowed in permitted venues if social distancing can be maintained and the venue can demonstrate it has followed the COVID-19 guidance. If permitted venues have multiple, separate meeting facilities, these can be hired out simultaneously for separate meetings/events if social distancing can be maintained, groups can be kept separate, and the venue can demonstrate it has followed the COVID-19 guidance.
- Face coverings update – Businesses will be asked to promote the wearing of face coverings by staff and customers and compliance through signage and other appropriate means in order to be COVID-secure. There is no obligation on businesses to enforce these new measures. Rather than simply refuse entry to someone not wearing a face covering, a business may instead ask that individual to put one on, bearing in mind that some people are exempt. If an individual is acting anti-socially or against the rules, staff will be able to ask them to leave, or call the police of necessary. This is a matter for the police, who can take measures of people do not comply with this law without a valid exemption – the penalty for failing to wear a mask or breaking the rule of six is now doubled to £200 for a first offence.
- Hotels – Hospitality services within hotels, such as hotel dining rooms and bars will need to follow the new requirement to close to the public between 10pm-5am. Hotels will still be able to provide food and drink through room service as long as it is ordered by phone or online.
- Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, today unveiled the government’s Winter Economy Plan to protect jobs and support businesses including Job Support Scheme, extension to the repayment period for loans and an extension of the VAT cut for hospitality and tourism businesses.
- Today, the NHS COVID-19 app is available to download from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
- Businesses are now required by law to display official NHS QR code posters in all venues. This will make it easier for customers with the NHS COVID-19 app to ‘check-in’ and allow NHS Test and Trace to alert users in the event of a coronavirus outbreak.
- From today the requirement to wear a face mask is extended to include staff in hospitality and retail staff, and customers in indoor hospitality, except when they are seated at a table to eat or drink – a visor does not count as a face mask; a face mask is something which safely covers the nose and mouth and must fit securely round the side of the face. Fines for not wearing masks or following the rules has increased to £200 for a first offence.
- Yesterday the Prime Minister announced England-wide restrictions to address rising cases of coronavirus. Measures that have changed include:
- Office workers who are able to work from home should do so from 23rd September
- Pubs, bars and restaurants to close at 22:00 and restricted to table service only from 24th September
- the requirement to wear face coverings will be extended to include retail staff and staff and customers in indoor hospitality, except when seated at a table to eat or drink from 24th September
- Limit on guests at weddings reduced from 30 to 15 from 28th September
- Plans to allow fans to return to sporting events paused
- ‘Rule of Six’ now applies to indoor team sports
- Fines for not wearing masks or following rules increased to £200 for first offence
- Additional local restrictions in place for County Durham still apply such as not meeting people who do not live with you or are not part of your support bubble, either indoors or outdoors
- From 28th September, people will be legally required to self-isolate when instructed to by NHS Test and Trace. Fines for those breaching self-isolation rules will start at £1,000, in line with the penalty for breaking quarantine after international travel, and can increase to up to £10,000 for repeat offences and for more serious breaches, including for those preventing others from self-isolating. For example, this could include business owners who threaten self-isolating staff with redundancy if they do not come to work. A number of steps will be taken to make sure that people are complying with the rules. A payment of £500 will be available for people in England who are on lower incomes, cannot work from home and have lost income as a result of self-isolating. Local Authorities are setting up these self-isolation support schemes which are expected to be in place by 12 October. Those who start to self-isolate from 28 September will receive backdated payments once the scheme is set up in their Local Authority.
- New restrictions are being introduced across North East England from Friday 18th September to help address the significant rise in Coronavirus in the region over recent weeks. An FAQ document has been produced to provide more information. The new measures will be reviewed on a weekly basis.
- Guidance on NHS Test and Trace has been updated including: employers should not be asking members of staff to get tested before they come into the workplace; and people that do not have coronavirus symptoms and have not been advised to take a test by a doctor or public health professional, should not be booking a test.
- A new example of exceptional circumstance which may permit a person to leave their place of self-isolation has been added - if a person with a health condition or a disability that would be seriously exacerbated if they were not able to leave their accommodation to take exercise.
- From 26 August 2020 employers can claim Statutory Sick Pay for employees who have been notified by the NHS to self-isolate before surgery.
- The Government has announced that it will extend the moratorium on forfeitures until 31 December 2020. This means that landlords of commercial properties will not be able to evict tenants for not paying the rent that was due. The moratorium was previously extended from 30 June until 30 September as it was clear at the time that the protective measures were required for businesses struggling to pay rent. The Government is also extending the Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery provisions, to ensure that these measures extend until 31 December 2020, in line with the moratorium’s new expiry date
- Ruling on a test case presented by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the High Court has ruled that business interruption policies with pandemic or notifiable disease clauses should be read as to cover COVID-19, and that claims should be met “in most cases.” The test case has clarified that the COVID-19 pandemic and the government and public response are considered a single cause of the covered loss, which is a key requirement for claims to be paid. The ruling also notes that each policy needs to be considered against the detailed judgment to work out what it means for that policy.
- The latest UK COVID-19 Consumer Tracker Report for week 14, based on fieldwork from 31 August – 4 September is now available (please note this wave took place before the ‘rule of six’ announcement). The tracker will run fortnightly until February 2021.
Catch up on previous annnouncements on COVID-19