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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Business briefing – 9 June 2020

Shoppers to bring High Streets back to life from Monday
Shoppers will be able to return to the High Street from Monday, June 15th, Business Secretary Alok Sharma has confirmed.

Speaking at today’s Downing Street press conference, the Business Secretary emphasised that in order to make sure staff and visitors felt safe, all re-opening businesses need to complete a risk assessment and display the government’s ‘blue sign’ which confirmed they were COVID-secure.

The Business Secretary added that if a shop re-opened without putting safety measures in place for staff and visitors, it would risk enforcement notices from either local authorities or the Health and Safety executive both of which regularly carry out checks.

“This is the first careful step in restarting the economy and enabling high streets up and down the country to spring back to life,” said the Business Secretary, adding that pubs, restaurants, bars, hairdressers and other shops which are not covered by the current release guidance,  would remain closed until July 4 at the earliest.

He thanked workers at supermarkets, pharmacies, post offices and other essential retailers which had remained open during lockdown, and enabled people to get used to shopping at social distance in the ‘new normal’.

“We will work shoulder to shoulder with our businesses as we get ready for our economic fightback,” said the Business Secretary. “It will be a greener, fairer, more dynamic economy which attracts investment from all over the world.”

Beginning this week, Mr Sharma will also chair the first meetings of new ‘recovery roundtables’ as part of the government’s plans to help the economy bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic.

The roundtables will bring together businesses, business representative groups and leading academics to consider measures to support economic recovery. They will also explore key domestic and global challenges to support a green and resilient recovery and ensure the UK is at the forefront of new and emerging industries.

The Business Secretary’s recovery roundtables are focused on five key themes; each group will explore how business can work with government to deliver economic growth and jobs:

  • The future of industry: How to accelerate business innovation and leverage private sector investment in research and development
  • Green recovery: How to capture economic growth opportunities from the shift to net zero carbon emissions
  • Backing new businesses: How to make the UK the best place in the world to start and scale a business
  • Increasing opportunity: How to level up economic performance across the UK, including through skills and apprenticeships

Additional updates and guidance

Suspension of evictions from social or private rented accommodation extended by 2 months
The government has extended the suspension of new evictions until 23 August. More information is available here.

Higher education: reopening buildings and campuses
New guidance has been published to help providers of higher education in England to understand how to minimise risk during the coronavirus outbreak and provide services to students. You can find the guidance here.

Introduction of the domestic reverse charge for construction services delayed until 1 March 2021
The introduction of the domestic reverse charge for construction services will be delayed for a period of 5 months from 1 October 2020 until 1 March 2021 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the construction sector. You can find more information here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: guidance for research organisations
To support final decisions on furloughing staff before the 10 June deadline for notifications, supplementary guidance for the research sector has been published here. It applies to those involved in research, including research organisations in receipt of public funding.

Guidance and advice for those providing hotel and other accommodation in England
Guidance and advice for those providing hotel and other accommodation in the UK has been updated here.

Reminder: Check which employees you can put on furlough to use the coronavirus job retention scheme
The scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June. From this point onwards, employers will only be able to furlough employees they have furloughed for a three week period prior to 30 June. This means that the final date by which an employers needs to agree with their employee and ensure they place them on furlough is 10 June. Employers will have until 31 July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30 June. Find out more here.

Help the government increase coronavirus testing capacity
The government wants help from businesses to increase testing capacity in the UK as part of its strategy to protect the NHS and save lives. It wants to hear specifically from companies who can manufacture and supply:

  • consumables and equipment for coronavirus testing, in particular test kits (such as nose and throat swabs, transport media and vials) and RNA extraction lab consumables (such as reagents, plates and pipette tips)
  • new or existing types of coronavirus tests for antigens or antibodies.
  • public or private sector organisations that can offer laboratory capacity.

Find out more here.