New rules and guidance around COVID-19 were announced on Tuesday by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, together with new financial support by Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Thursday.

Safety regulations

The most important regulations, for individuals, and the voluntary sector, are:

  • work from home wherever possible
  • fines for not wearing masks £200 for first offence (see here for who is exempted from wearing a mask)
  • weddings restricted to 15 people (from 30), funerals still restricted to 30

For a good summary of the new regulations, see the BBC’s website. They have also published a helpful guide to how the regulations affect couples who do not live together, and casual sex. Those who work with university students, and young people, might need to refer to this!

Rule of 6 guidance – from 14 September

For those organising groups or community activities, the following information might be helpful.

Financial support package

This is the Government’s new financial support package, from November:

Job support scheme, from 1 Nov, for 33% of work, employer pays 55% of pay, Gov't pays 22%.

Similar terms will be extended to self employed people as well.

Measures around the coronavirus loans, tax, and VAT for the most at-risk sectors, are designed to help reduce job-losses, but the Chancellor has said that the priority will be to ‘save viable jobs’.

You can download the Government’s Winter Economy Plan here.

Nothing was said in the Chancellor’s statement about supporting those who have been made redundant, or are experiencing financial hardship, and no confirmation was given about continuing the uplift for Universal Credit.

Contact tracing app

The Government is encouraging everyone to download the new contact-tracing app, which will alert users to self-isolate if they are contact with anyone who has the virus, and if a place they have visited becomes an outbreak hotspot. This will tie in with the new QR codes that venues are being asked to display.

Anyone over 16 is being asked to install the app, if they have a smartphone.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the app “helps us to find more people who are at risk of having the virus” that human contact tracers are unable to find.

Users must self-isolate, if they receive the advisory notification. There are fines of £1,000 or more, if people do not self-isolate.

To download the app, go to Android’s Google Play or Apple’s App Store and search for “NHS Covid-19”.

To encourage adoption in England and Wales, the the major mobile networks have agreed not to deduct data used by the app from subscribers’ monthly allowances. It is available in several languages, and includes the option to delete individual venues from the app’s ‘digital diary’, as a step to protect victims of domestic abuse.

For more information, see the BBC’s article.

Self-isolation payments

From 28 September, people on lower incomes who are told to self-isolate will be able to receive a £500 payment, of they are unable to work from home.

Just under 4 million people who are in receipt of benefits in England will be eligible for this payment, which will be available to those who are required to self-isolate from 28 September.

Local Authorities will be working quickly to set up these self-isolation support schemes and it is expected that they will be in place by 12 October. Those who start to self-isolate from 28 September will receive backdated payments once the scheme is set up in their Local Authority.

Read the Government’s press statement here.