Since the government announced the new tiered system for regional restrictions, the number of localised lockdowns has increased. The tiered system introduces minimum restrictions to be introduced and enforced depending on a region’s coronavirus risk level, however more stringent measures may be agreed with local authorities.
While this system provides flexibility it also causes uncertainty for businesses as the full extent of restrictions may not be clear until the lockdown takes effect. On 14 October, tier 2 restrictions came into force within the city of Nottingham and the surrounding Nottinghamshire area. Only a week later and the government announced the possibility of increasing the city’s risk level to ‘very high’ meaning a tier 3 lockdown. We now know that this will take effect from midnight tomorrow.
The minimum requirements under a tier 3 lockdown that businesses should be aware of are as follows:
1. Pubs and bars must close unless they operate as a restaurant. This means that they serve substantial meals.
2. Alcohol may only be served as part of a meal.
3. Hospitality venues must close at 10pm, with the exception of those offering take-away, delivery, or drive-through services which may continue after this time.
4. Businesses must be aware of the rule of 6 and are expected to ensure that people don’t use their premises to meet with those outside their household or bubble.
5. If staff members are required to self-isolate employers must ensure that they do not attend the workplace.
6. Businesses may be required to collect customer data for NHS test and trace.
7. Employees should work from home wherever possible and minimise travel into a very high-risk area if they are commuting from elsewhere.
8. Businesses can be fined up to £10,000 for failure to comply with local restrictions.
If you’re forced to close
If you are forced to close your business as a result of a local lockdown, there are schemes in place to help support you and your workforce. Please refer to our further update, open or closed, for more detail in relation to this.
Under the CJRS, employees could still use annual leave entitlement, we expect this will be the same under the JSS. If your annual leave year is coming to an end you should assess how much annual leave entitlement your employees are yet to take and seek to make arrangements for this to be taken where possible.
If your employees been unable to take leave because you’ve required them to work to ensure you aren’t short staffed, then they will be able to carry over 4 weeks of this leave into the next 2 annual leave years. If they’ve failed to take their leave entitlement for some other reason you should encourage them to try to take annual leave over the coming months. Whether you allow them to carry any leave over is at your discretion, however you should be prepared to explain why you don’t consider them to be automatically entitled to carry leave over.
If you have any questions relating to how the pandemic or tier 3 impacts you and your business please contact us.