New local lockdown and test and trace rules

Businesses in the North East will from Friday be subject to new lockdown measures, the Government has this morning announced.

The decision to impose new measures on the area was made in response to the recent rise in coronavirus cases in the UK to a daily high not seen since the beginning of May. Some 3,991 new cases were reported in the 24 hours to 16th September, with the steepest rise reported in the North East.

Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham are all affected by the restrictions, which includes curfews for bars. Hospitality for food and drink will be restricted to table service only and late night restrictions of operating hours will be introduced, so leisure and entertainment venues will be required to close between 10pm and 5am.

Commenting on the new measures, chief policy director the CBI, Matthew Fell, said: “Businesses in the North East know public health must come first and have been doing all they can to keep staff and customers safe, whether it’s pubs, shops, factories or offices.

“This news will come as a bitter disappointment for many businesses across the North East, but the Government cannot stand by as infection rates rise in the region.

“Taking action now can help to maintain confidence and avoid further restrictions on businesses and households in the months ahead.

Residents in the North East are also advised not to socialise with other people outside of their own households in all public venue; only to use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work; and to take holidays only within your own household or support bubble.

The new rules are imposed in addition to the 'rule of six' announced Monday.

Other new rules and guidance

From tomorrow, it will be mandatory for the following types of business to have a system to collect Test and Trace data, and to keep it for 21 days:

-hospitality, including pubs, bars, restaurants and cafés
-tourism and leisure, including hotels, museums, cinemas, zoos and theme parks
-close contact services, including hairdressers, barbershops and tailors
-facilities provided by local authorities, including town halls and civic centres for events, community centres, libraries and children’s centres
-places of worship, including use for events and other community activities

Simplified COVID-19 Secure guidance has also been produced. The 14 guides cover a range of different types of work. As many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles, multiple guides will be applicable to them:

There are still plans in place to review larger audience pilots in venues later this month. Planned sports pilot events will be limited to smaller, safer numbers, with strict conditions to ensure social distancing, and will not take place in areas where incidence is high. A review of plans for larger audiences in stadia and conference centres is planned for early October.

Nation's office-based staff return to work

Separately, the proportion of adults travelling to work rose above 60% for the first time since the nationwide lockdown began in March, according to data released today by the Office for National Statistics.

The ONS also reported that every region and country of the UK except Yorkshire and The Humber saw an increase in the volume of online job advertisements in the last week.

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