COVID-19: Prime Minister Announces New National Lockdown for England

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced this evening a second national lockdown for England as the UK passes one million Covid-19 cases.

COVID-19: Prime Minister Announces New National Lockdown for England

In a press conference from Downing Street this evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that with effect from Thursday 5 November 2020, there will be a National Lockdown across England until at least 2 December 2020, subject to the new measures being approved in Parliament early next week.

Key Lockdown Measures

  • Lockdown will come into force on 5 November and last until 2 December 2020.
  • The CJRS (Furlough Scheme) will not end today but will now be extended until 2 December*
  • Non-essential retail and hospitality will close.
  • Pubs, bars and restaurants to close, except for takeaways.
  • Schools, colleges and universities will remain open.
  • Households will not be allowed to mix indoors or outdoors.
  • Shielding measures will not be re-introduced, but vulnerable people or those aged over 70 are told to be especially careful.

* During his press conference, the Prime Minister failed to clarify whether the extension of the Furlough Scheme until 2 December 2020 was limited to England, or if it would be extended to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  

The Furlough scheme was due to end at midnight tonight and thousands of Employers throughout the UK will have already taken steps to have staff return to work next week, potentially on a short time working basis, expecting to take advantage of the new Job Support Scheme.  

The lack of clarity around the extension of the Furlough Scheme and whether this includes Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will have left thousands of Employers wondering what the status of their staff will be when they return to work next week; will they be flexibly furloughed or will they be on short-time working and which grant scheme will Employers need to use to reclaim wage costs?

It seems unlikely that the extension of the Furlough Scheme would be limited to England, but until Downing Street clarify the position Employers outside of England will be wondering what the status of their staff will be when they return to work next week. 

Death by a Thousand Cuts for Thousands of UK Employers

Employers have already had to endure 7 months of COVID-19 restrictions with thousands of businesses having been forced to remain closed since March and thousands more, who were eventually able to re-open as restrictions were eased, forced to close again when the localised tiered system of COVID-19 restrictions was introduced.  

These latest restrictions announced by the Prime Minister will see England returning to a national lockdown reminiscent of the restrictions imposed across the whole of the UK back in March, the main difference being schools and colleges will be allowed to remain open.

In Scotland, the new 5-tier restrictions come into force on Monday 2 November 2020 and in advance of this, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has issued new advice that people should not travel to or from England, except for essential purposes.

In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford said that his cabinet will meet on Sunday to “discuss any potential border issues for Wales in light of any announcement by No 10” but confirmed that the 17-day “firebreak” there will end as planned on 9 November.

We will continue to monitor developments and provide an update once the position becomes clearer.

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