19th October, 2020
Coronavirus ‘Circuit Break’ announced in Wales – Impact on Workers and Employers
First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced today that from 6pm on Friday 23 October, Wales will be subject to new lockdown restrictions, which will be in place until Monday 9 November.
The restrictions, termed a ‘circuit break’ are designed to reduce the spike in cases of Coronavirus within Wales and prevent additional strain on the NHS.
Several counties in Wales are already subject to local restrictions. The new measures will apply to all areas of Wales, regardless of the number of cases in any given area. The key features of the lockdown include:
- Residents must remain at home, except for limited purposes, for example to exercise;
- Residents must continue to work from home, if possible;
- Non-food retail, hospitality businesses (including pubs and restaurants who do not offer a takeaway service) and close contact services (including hairdressers and beauticians) must close;
- Events and tourism businesses, such as hotels, must close.
Breach of the new restrictions could see people being issued with fines, starting with a fixed penalty notice of £60.00.
The guidance on working remains for people to work from home, where possible. Travel is permitted for work, voluntary or charitable purposes but only where it is not reasonably practicable to carry out those duties at home. Welsh Government guidance suggests employers should assess whether there is a business need to have employees attend the workplace, or whether alternative arrangements can be made.
A £300million package of support for businesses impacted by the lockdown has been announced, with details to be confirmed later this week. The fund will open from 26 October onwards and will provide:
- A £1,000 payment to all businesses eligible to receive the small business rates relief;
- A one-off payment of up to £5,000 for small and medium-sized retail, leisure and hospitality businesses;
- Discretionary grants and support for smaller businesses;
- A £100million development fund for businesses in the longer term, with £20million ring-fenced for tourism and hospitality.
With the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (‘Furlough’) due to come to an end on 31 October, staff wages for businesses forced to close by the new measures can be claimed through the new extended Job Support Scheme. Further details of the scheme can be found through our previous articles published on 24 September and 9 October.
We are anticipating further guidance will be published on both the financial support on offer during the lockdown in Wales, as well as information on the full list of businesses who will be required to close temporarily. An updated article will be published as soon as those details have been released.
For further advice on the Job Support Scheme, the impact of business closures, or any other Employment-related issue then please contact Debbie Coyne. We also offer fixed-price packages on agreements relating to the Job Support Scheme.
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