At a press conference televised live on the BBC on Saturday night (31 October), the Prime Minister Boris Johnson shared details of a new plan to fight coronavirus in England. With the number of COVID infections rising rapidly across much of the country, he outlined a month-long lockdown to start from this Thursday (5 November).
The Prime Minister stressed that those who can work effectively from home must do so and where people cannot do so – for instance people who work in critical national infrastructure or construction – they should continue to travel to work and attend their workplace.
It will supersede all local lockdowns currently in place in England, but unlike the measures introduced in the Spring, schools and universities will remain open.
The Chancellor confirmed on Thursday (5 November) that the furlough scheme –where employees can receive 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 – will be extended until March 2021. ACE members will be interested to note that businesses can participate in the scheme even if they haven’t previously, and that employers will have flexibility to bring furloughed employees back to work on a part time basis, or furlough them full-time.
As always throughout the pandemic, ACE has updated its COVID-19 Hub with the latest relevant advice and guidance, so please do check for further details.
Commenting on the new lockdown, Hannah Vickers, chief executive of ACE said: “No one wants to go through a second lockdown. However, we need to recognise that a stop/start approach to wider economic activity is currently the only effective tool we have for managing infection rates.”
“Bearing all of this in mind, we are pleased to see the continuation of the furlough scheme, and I will be stressing the importance of ongoing support in my regular meetings with Government and the civil service. Lockdown brings a period of stability – for both our members and local authorities – and an opportunity to plan ahead, build confidence in the forward pipeline and lay the foundations for economic recovery.”
ACE members in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland should note that local restrictions vary in their countries and that they should follow the advice of their devolved administrations. Find out more at ACE’s COVID-19 Hub.