Coronavirus National Lockdown Three

Stay At Home

The Coronavirus National Lockdown Three was announced by the Prime Minister on 4 January 2021, he encouraged people to follow the rules immediately but they become law at 00:01 on 6 January 2021. On 4 January 2021 there were 26,626 hospital beds occupied by confirmed Coronavirus patients and 2,310 of those were occupying ventilator beds (at the start of Lockdown Two there were 11,037 people in hospital with Coronavirus and 997 of those occupied ventilator beds). For the latest statistics scroll down to the table at the end of this post.

Coronavirus National Lockdown Three in England

UPDATES

Updated guidance is released regularly and I will update this page as more details are announced.

This page was firstly published on 5 January 2021 and the last update was 20 February 2021.

The restrictions imposed during National Lockdown Three will take effect in England from 00.01am on Wednesday 6 January 2021 and are expected to last until the middle of February if the situation in hospitals has improved sufficiently. By mid February, the NHS hopes to have vaccinated everyone in the top four priority groups identified by the JCVI, including older care home residents and staff, everyone over 70, all frontline NHS and care staff and all those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

The restrictions will be similar to those introduced at the start of the first lockdown in March 2020.

Summary: National Lockdown Three

Everyone is advised to stay at home, the following are the very limited circumstances which allow anyone to be outside their home:

  • shop for basic necessities, for themselves or a vulnerable person
  • go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if they cannot reasonably do so from home
  • exercise with members of their household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and people should not travel outside the local area.
  • meet their support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if they are legally permitted to form one
  • seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
  • attend education or childcare – for those eligible

Colleges, primary and secondary schools will remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term. Early Years settings remain open. Higher Education provision will remain online until mid February for all except future critical worker courses. This will mean you have some employees who are unable to attend work until the schools reopen, read more about Managing Employees Who Are Unable To Work During National Lockdown Three.

Anyone who leaves home for a permitted reason, should always stay local in the village, town, or part of the city where they live. People are only permitted to leave their local area for a legally permitted reason, such as for work.

Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential and should not attend work.

Support and Childcare Bubbles During National Lockdown Three

Anyone who meets the eligibility rules can form a support or childcare bubble.

A support bubble is a support network which links two households so they act as if they are in one household. A support bubble can be formed with another household of any size, on condition that the eligibility rules are met, forming a support bubble that does not meet the eligibility rules is against the law. Members of a support bubble can meet up in each others houses and can stay overnight. Support bubbles should, wherever possible be formed between households who live locally and must be exclusive meaning a person can only be in one support bubble. This will help prevent the virus spreading from an area where more people are infected.

Anyone who lives in a household with anyone aged under 14 can form a childcare bubble. This allows friends or family from one other household to provide informal childcare. Childcare bubbles are not allowed to meet socially.

Guidance

Going To Work During National Lockdown Three

People who can work from home should do so. Every possible step should be taken to enable the employee to work from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.

The Guidance makes it very clear that those who cannot work from home should continue to travel to their workplace. It gives the non-exhaustive examples of people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing. It states explicitly that those employees who work in other people’s homes, such as nannies, cleaners, social care workers and tradespeople, may continue to attend their place of work, provided there is nobody self-isolating at the home in question.

Public sector employees working in essential services, including childcare or education, should continue to go into work.

What about those employees who can work from home, but either they or their employer prefer them to attend their normal workplace?

The Guidance confirms that individuals “must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’”. A “reasonable excuse” includes attending the normal place of work but only “where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home”. Elsewhere in the Guidance, it states that you can attend your workplace “if you cannot reasonably work from home”. The Guidance does not expand on what is meant by “unreasonable” or “reasonably” in these circumstances, which may leave employers questioning whether the Guidance permits employees to attend their workplace where they cannot work as effectively from home. This may be particularly relevant to employees who now find themselves distracted by children being at home during the working day.

However this latest Guidance omits the word “effectively”, where previous government guidance expressly stated that those “who can work effectively from home should do so”. The government’s COVID-19 Winter Plan, presented to Parliament on 23 November 2020, recognised that there may be “specific reasons why attendance in the workplace may be needed” including mental health issues or concerns. The Winter Plan was, however, drafted before the emergence of the new variant of Coronavirus and, in view of the increased risk of transmission, it seems such reasons may no longer justify attendance at the workplace for those who can work from home albeit not as effectively as they would in the workplace.

Given the greater risk posed by the new variant of the virus, it is likely that the reasons justifying attending the workplace, where it is possible for the employee to perform their role from home, will be more limited. We expect the relevant legislative provision to largely replicate the legal requirement to work from home under the previous Tier 4 restrictions. The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers and Obligations of Undertakings) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 provided that working outside the home was only permitted under Tier 4, “where it [was] not reasonably possible for [the person] to work… from home”. The wording, “not reasonably possible”, suggests that the circumstances where working from home will be justified are even more limited.

Top Tip

You must have a Working From Home agreement with all employees who are working from home on either a temporary or permanent basis.

Travel During National Lockdown Three

All non-work related travel within the UK is discouraged during the lockdown unless it’s for one of the few limited exceptions described above.

People will be expected not to go on holidays, either domestically in the UK or abroad. This includes staying in a second home or staying with anyone from a different household unless the two households have formed a support bubble.

Travel for work, including abroad, will still be allowed.

The existing system of travel corridors remains in place.

Compulsory Business Closures During National Lockdown Three

To reduce social contact, the Government has ordered certain businesses and venues to close or restrict how they provide goods and services during the lockdown. The list of closures will be almost identical to the first lockdown. Closures are listed on the Government website and include:

  • Non Essential Shops including, but not limited to clothing and electronics stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, auction houses (except for auction of livestock or agricultural equipment) and market stalls selling non-essential items. These venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services.
  • Hospitality Venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs; with the exception of providing food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect and drive-through. All food and drink (including alcohol) can continue to be provided by delivery.
  • Indoor and Outdoor Leisure Facilities such as bowling alleys, leisure centres and gyms, sports facilities including swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, dance studios, stables, riding arenas and riding centres, climbing walls and climbing centres, archery and shooting ranges, water and theme parks.
  • Entertainment Venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, adult gaming centres and amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, soft play centres and areas (including inflatable parks and trampolining centres), concert halls, circuses, funfairs and fairgrounds, water parks and theme parks.
  • Animal Attractions including zoos safari parks, aquariums and wildlife reserves.
  • Indoor Attractions including botanical gardens, heritage homes and landmarks must close but outdoor grounds of these premises can stay open for outdoor exercise.
  • Personal Care Facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons, tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services and non-medical acupuncture. It is also prohibited to provide these services in other peoples’ homes.
  • Accommodation such as hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites will only open for those who have to travel for work purposes and for a limited number of other exemptions such as where these act as someone’s main residence, where they cannot return home or for homeless people.
  • Community Centres and Halls must close except for a limited number of exempt activities such as education, childcare, blood donation sessions and food banks. Libraries can also remain open to provide access to IT and digital services – for example for people who do not have it at home – and for click-and-collect.

Businesses Who Can Remain Open During National Lockdown Three

Businesses in this list are instructed to remain open during the lockdown:

  • Food retailers, including food shops, supermarkets, convenience stores, corner shops and newsagents.
  • Off licenses and licensed shops selling alcohol (including those within breweries).
  • Pharmacies (including non-dispensing pharmacies) and chemists.
  • Newsagents.
  • Homeware, building supplies and hardware stores, including where those stores supply equipment for hire.
  • Garden centres, building merchants and suppliers of building products.
  • Market stalls selling essential retail may also stay open.
  • Businesses providing repair services may also stay open, where they primarily offer repair services.
  • Petrol stations, automatic (but not manual) car washes, vehicle repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses.
  • Banks, building societies, credit unions, short term loan providers and cash points.
  • Post offices.
  • Funeral directors.
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners.
  • Dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health services, including services relating to mental health.
  • Veterinary surgeons and retailers of products and food for the upkeep and welfare of animals.
  • Animal rescue centres, boarding facilities and animal groomers (may continue to be used for animal welfare, rather than aesthetic purposes).
  • Agricultural supplies shops.
  • Storage and distribution facilities, including delivery drop off or collection points, where the facilities are on the premises of any of the above businesses.
  • Car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas.
  • Mobility and disability support shops
  • Outdoor playgrounds
  • Outdoor parts of botanical gardens and heritage sites for exercise
  • Places of worship
  • Crematoriums and burial grounds

Public Services

The majority of public services will continue and you will be able to leave home to visit them. These include:

  • The NHS and medical services like GPs and dentists. We are supporting the NHS to carry out urgent and non-urgent services safely, and it is vital anyone who thinks they need any kind of medical care comes forward and seeks help
  • Jobcentre Plus sites
  • Courts and probation services
  • Civil registrations offices
  • Passport and visa services
  • Services provided to victims
  • Waste or recycling centres
  • Getting an MOT, if you need to drive when lawfully leaving home

Hybrid Businesses

Where a business provides services or sells products that fall into the restricted and non restricted lists the person responsible will comply with the regulations by closing down the restricted business or by ceasing to provide the restricted service.

Compliance and Enforcement

An owner, proprietor or manager carrying out a business (or a person responsible for other premises) who fails to fulfill the obligations placed on them in law, without reasonable excuse, commits an offence.

Businesses can be fined as follows if they remain open when they have been required by law to close:

  • £1,000 for the first offence;
  • £2,000 for the second offence;
  • £4,000 for the third offence; and then
  • £10,000 for the fourth and all subsequent offences

Individuals can also be issued with a fixed penalty notice, starting at £200 for those who participate in illegal gatherings, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.

The police also have the power to take action against those holding or being involved in the holding of an illegal gathering of more than 30 people. This includes issuing a fixed penalty notice of £10,000.

Extended Furlough Scheme

If your business is forced to close, or closure of your clients has resulted in a reduced workload you will need to furlough some or all of your employees. Follow the link to read detailed information about the Extended Furlough Scheme.

Review Process During National Lockdown Three

The Government have announced that they will give schools 2 weeks notice of there opening date. They also announced that they intend to announce a roadmap to easing National Lockdown Three on or around 22 February 2021, it’s anticipated therefore that schools might reopen on 8 March 2021.

Whilst the Tier system was live the Government considered Five Tests to decide whether an area can move up or down the Tiers. These same Five Tests are likely to feature in the review of the National Lockdown Three:

  1. Number of cases
  2. Rate of cases
  3. Rate of cases in the over 60’s
  4. Overall how much cases are increasing or decreasing
  5. How much pressure there is on the NHS i.e. bed occupancy by Coronavirus patients.

The Government have indicated that when National Lockdown Three ends the Country will not return to the Tier system, instead there will be a range of country wide restrictions. The new roadmap will no doubt be similar in structure to the one announced back in May 2020, although that time hospitality opened first and schools opened last – we know shcools will be the first priority and there have been suggestions that that hospitality sector will be in the final stage of the roadmap which could mean they stay closed through to May or even June 2021.

Coronavirus Hospital Activity Week by Week in England

24 February 2021
Following the Prime Ministers announcement on 22 February 2021 regarding the Road Map to Easing Lockdow Restrictions, the data relating to hospital activity has moved to that page and can be found under the heading: Hospital Activity Week by Week in England.

If you have any questions please call me on 0114 360 0626 or simply email me at enquiries@kea-hr.co.uk.

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Coronavirus National Lockdown Three