Prime Minister’s announcement on Phase 2 of Roadmap from 12 April
key update from John Bridge OBE DL

Roadmap

The PM’s announcement yesterday evening that Phase 2 is going ahead as planned from 12 April is positive news as many firms will be breathing a huge sigh of relief that they will soon be able to reopen their doors to customers. The last year has taken a heavy toll on firms across our area and they will be counting down the hours until they can begin trading and rebuilding their businesses.

However, the route back to a full reopening of the economy is still a long way off, with continued uncertainty for some sectors about whether, and when, the next roadmap steps will be met, and many more firms asking questions, yet to be answered, about when they can open at full capacity or with fewer restrictions.

The latest Chambers Quarterly Economic Survey has shown that businesses are becoming more optimistic about the future. But that confidence is fragile and absolute clarity and honesty will be needed every step of the way over the weeks ahead, so that companies have a fighting chance to rebuild.
  
To translate hope of renewal into reality there must be a coherent strategy for growth which empowers and enables businesses to lead the economic recovery from Covid-19. Firms will need time to get back on their feet, with the security of knowing Government will support them should the roadmap falter.

International Travel


It is clear that the travel industry was disappointed with the lack of clarity on whether holidays will be allowed from 17 May, the date by which the government said it was aiming to restart international travel.

The government has indicated it will bring in a “traffic light” system to allow travel to some lower-risk countries. Travel to and from “green” countries will be allowed with no quarantine requirement, although coronavirus tests will still be mandatory before and after travel. The PM did not provide any details on which countries would probably be “green” or whether any holidays would be allowed from 17 May.

The sectors which rely on international travel and their supply chains have been hit extremely hard over the last year and have faced one of the longest periods of uncertainty about when they would be able to resume normal operations.

It is absolutely vital that the Global Travel Taskforce provides certainty as soon as possible about what level of restrictions will apply on travel to, and from, specific countries in advance of the proposed resumption of international travel on May 17 and we look forward to this clarity when the Global Travel Taskforce reports on 12 April.

Covid status certification

The government should waste no time in setting out concrete proposals for how Covid certification could work and the rationale behind the inclusion of some sectors and not others. With businesses already investing significant time and money into their reopening plans, they have considerable questions around the implications of such a scheme, including the practical implementation for firms and issues of employment law and liability. The Government must be crystal clear on these issues and consult with business on how any system might function.

Access to twice weekly lateral flow tests

It is good news regarding the plan to make lateral flow testing available to every adult in England twice a week. Alongside the workplace testing strategy, this will buoy business confidence as companies start to plan for reopening and rebuilding the economy. But it is also crucial that Government makes sure that people who need to self-isolate are fully supported.

More detailed information

The roadmap review announced by the government yesterday can be found here.  

The details of how the rules will change on 12 April and what you can and cannot do are as follows.

Workplace testing update

The workplace testing programme has expanded to offer free rapid home testing: From 6 April, the workplace testing programme will supply home test kits to companies with over 10 workers where it is not possible to set up testing on-site, due to a lack of space or because companies operate across multiple sites. Businesses must register interest  by 12 April to access free tests. Find out more here.  

Employer testing duty: If you are an employer that requires staff to travel regularly across UK borders you must take reasonable steps to facilitate your employees to take tests. Find out more here.  

Bespoke testing for eligible international arrivals travelling to England from outside the Common Travel Area. Some people do not have to quarantine if they are travelling for work, because of the jobs they do. Check this list of jobs  to find out whether you qualify for an exemption from quarantine and whether you must follow a bespoke testing regime or day 2 and day 8 testing for international arrivals. Find more information here.  

Seasonal workers to receive free Covid-19 tests on farms: Employers of seasonal agricultural workers in the edible horticulture sector are urged to register  for free workplace testing.

Job Retention Scheme update
  • Guidance  has been updated with dates for when your employer can claim for you if you were employed on or before 30 October 2020, and details of when the employers claim will be publicly available. For periods from 1 November 2020 to 30 April 2021, your employer can claim for you if you were employed on or before 30 October 2020, as long as they have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020. This may differ if you were made redundant, or you stopped working for them on or after 23 September 2020 and they then re-employed you.

  • Claim for some of your employee’s wages if you have put them on furlough or flexible furlough because of coronavirus: Guidance  has been updated to explain that earliest you can make a claim for May 2021 is 19 April 2021.

  • Find out if you are eligible and how much you can claim to cover wages for employees on temporary leave (‘furlough’): Guidance  has been updated with sections about the periods for when you can make a claim, if your employee does training and details of when the claim will be publicly available.

  • Steps to take before calculating your claim: Guidance  updated to reflect dates for when employers can make a claim.

Contact the Chamber

01223 237414 •  chamber@cambscci.co.uk
Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce
Clifford House, 2 Station Yard, Oakington, Cambridge, CB24 3AH
www.cambridgeshirechamber.co.uk