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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Business briefing – 1 May 2020

Test, Track and Trace is the key to unlocking COVID-19 lockdown
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced that a mix of COVID-19 testing, tracking the virus through an app, and contact tracing would form a critical element of the government’s plan to ease lockdown restrictions.

Speaking at today’s Downing Street Press Conference, Matt Hancock said the test, track and trace approach would help target lockdown measures to where they are needed “with much more precision”.

He added that by mid-May 18,000 contract tracers would be in place and the numbers would be scaled up if required. They would be supported by new tech through the COVID-19 app which would inform where the virus was infecting the population and control lockdown measures.

“Our goal must be freedom, not just freedom from the virus, but social and economic freedom so every citizen has the right to do as he pleases,” said the Health Secretary.

“We understand that we have infringed the liberty of all for the safety of all. Test, trace and track will allow us all to participate in the restoration of liberty for us all.”

£6.1 million funding boost to support BIDs and help high streets and town centres through pandemic
Hundreds of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) across England will share £6.1m of funding to spend on projects that will help their local economies through the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, High Streets Minister Simon Clarke MP confirmed today (May 1).

Many BIDs are now playing a crucial role during these challenging economic times, offering hands-on support to those businesses affected, including advice services, increased security to protect businesses that have closed, and providing key intelligence to local and central government on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on their local economies.

High Streets Minister Simon Clarke MP said: “BIDs are uniquely placed and have a proven track record of success in supporting local businesses, empowering communities, championing our town centres and driving forward the renewal of our high streets.

“It’s only right that during these unprecedented times we give them all the necessary support they need to continue operating, so that they can carry on their vital work now and crucially when we move into the recovery phase from the current crisis.”

Testing available for council workers
On the day the government announced it had beaten its 100,000 a day testing target, the Local Government Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP has written to all councils in England thanking them for their efforts in the battle against coronavirus and reminding them of their eligibility for testing.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced during today’s press conference that 122,347 tests were carried out yesterday, the last day of April.

With substantially increased testing capacity, the government has extended testing to a wider group of essential workers and members of their households.

This means that council workers with symptoms of coronavirus are now able to be tested for the virus, and can return to work if the results are negative.

Those eligible in the local government sector include:

  • Social care staff such as social and care workers – with social care workers in care homes able to get tested with or without symptoms
  • Those delivering essential public services, such as benefits payments
  • Those working with vulnerable children and adults, victims of domestic abuse, homeless people and rough sleepers

Local Government Secretary, Robert Jenrick MP said: “The unsung heroes in local government are supporting communities across the country during the pandemic, from helping vulnerable people to ensuring our bins are collected. We’ve expanded the national testing programme to prioritise essential workers such as council staff who are keeping the country going.”

Booking the test has been made easier through a new online system, which can be found here.

Latest information and updates

Ask a question at a coronavirus press conference
Find out how you can ask the government a question at the daily coronavirus press conference here.

Seasonal work on farms: guidance for workers
The type of seasonal work you can do on farms, who can apply, and where you can find work. For more information, click here.

Changes to identity verification and signing deeds
The government is making it easier to verify a person’s identity and sign deeds for land registration purposes. For more information, click here

Guidance on access to green spaces
Updated guidance on using green spaces and protecting yourself and others can be found here.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): letter to the energy sector
A letter from the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma, to the UK’s energy sector can be found here.

Destroying spoilt beer, cider, wine or made-wine during coronavirus (COVID-19)
There are temporary changes to the destruction of spoilt beer, cider, wine or made-wine if you’re a brewer, cider producer, wine maker or publican. Amended temporary measures to include cider, wine or made-wine in addition to beer. This includes advice to cider producers and wine and made-wine makers in addition to brewers and publicans. More details can be found here.

Testing for all workers

Managing your business during coronavirus: reporting, regulations and tax
Register to join this online webinar at 11am on Thursday 7 May to find out more about managing your business during coronavirus with guidance on reporting, regulations and tax. The webinar will cover:

  • Right to work checks 
  • Filing reports and accounts
  • Tax – Time to Pay scheme

You will have the opportunity to ask questions during the webinar. Click here to register.

Additional webinars to support your business
Government departments are hosting a series of free webinars to help businesses understand the support available including:

  • Tuesday 5 May – Financial support for small businesses during coronavirus (COVID-19). Click here to register. 
  • Wednesday 6 May – COVID-19: Impacts and changes to International Trade. Click here to register. 
  • Thursday 7 May – Managing your business during coronavirus: reporting, regulations and tax. Click here to register. 
  • Multiple dates – Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – How to make a claim. Click here to register. 
  • Multiple dates – Coronavirus COVID-19 Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme. Click here to register. 

Keep up to date with all the latest available webinars here.