Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Face coverings to become mandatory in shops and supermarkets

The Government has announced today that face coverings in shops and supermarkets will become mandatory in England from Friday 24th July.

This announcement comes as growing evidence from Public Heath England and the World Health Organisation suggests that wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces helps protect individuals and those around them from coronavirus.

The new rule will be enforced by the police and those who fail to comply will face a fine of up to £100. 

Shop workers will be encouraged to prompt customers to comply with the new rule. However, they will not have to enforce the rule. 

Children under 11 and people with certain disabilities will be exempt from this new rule. Restaurants, pubs and cafes are also not included in this announcement. 

As with other public heath measures during the pandemic I have every confidence residents will comply with this new rule to help suppressing the spread of the virus, whilst allowing the restarting of the economy and saving lives. 

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Chancellor announces A Plan for Jobs

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak has presented A Plan for Jobs to the House of Commons. Thanks, to the progress made in suppressing the virus the Government is now slowly allowing people to go back to work in accordance with COVID-secure workplace guidance. That is why it was right for the Chancellor to announce the second phase of economic interventions by the Government to help the economy deal with the negative economic impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic. The Government has already supported workers through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the self-employed with the Self - Employed Income Support Scheme and businesses with grants and loans being made available. 

The new announcements include:

Jobs Retention Bonus - Employers who bring people back from furlough and keep them on until January will receive £1,000 for each staff member. 

Kickstart Scheme - The Kickstart scheme will directly pay employers to create new jobs for any 16-24 year old at risk of long - term unemployment. The scheme will pay wages for 6 months, plus an amount to cover overheads. That means, for a 24 year-old, the grant will be around £6,500.

Traineeships - The Government will pay employers £1000 to take on trainees, which triples the number of paces. This is a proven scheme to get young people ready for the work place. Traineeships consist of work experience placements, training and work preparation for 16-24 year olds. They last from 6 weeks to 6 months depending on need and can lead to apprenticeships, further education and other employment. 

Work coaches - The Government is doubling the amount of work coaches at a cost of nearly £900 million. Work coaches are people's first point of contact for someone who loses their job. They provide invaluable personalised support to help people get back to work.  

Apprentices - For the next six months the Government will pay businesses to hire young apprentices, with payment of £2,000. A new bonus has also been announced for hiring apprentices aged 25 and over, with a payment of £1,500.

Stamp Duty - The Stamp Duty threshold will be raised to 500,000 until 31 March 2021 to take effect immediately. Before, there was no stamp duty on transactions below £125,000 or £300,000 for first-time buyers. Everyone buying a main home under £500,000 will pay no stamp duty at all which means 9/10 of main home buyers will pay no stamp duty at all. 

Green Home Grants - The Government is funding £2bn of Green Home Grants helping to unlock work for thousands of plumbers, builders and tradespeople. Homeowners will receive vouchers to pay for at least two - thirds of green improvements such as loft, wall and floor insulation. Low - income households will be eligible for up to 100% government funding up to £10,000 which could make over 650,000 homes more energy efficient. It could also save households save up to £300 a year on their bills. 

Cut in VAT for hospitality and tourism sectors - VAT will be reduced from 20% to 5% to take effect from Wednesday 15th July 2020. This is a £4bn catalyst benefitting over 150,000 businesses, and consumers everywhere - helping to protect around 2.4 million jobs.

Eat Out to Help Out - For the month of August, the Government will give a 50% reduction, up to £10 per head, on sit down meals and non alcoholic drinks Monday - Wednesday. This scheme will support around 130,000 businesses and help protect the jobs of their 1.8 million employees.

The Chancellor also announced a full Spending Review and Budget will come in the Autumn. You can read the full 'A Plan for Jobs' by clicking here. 

Friday, 3 July 2020

Let's enjoy summer safely - new guidance comes into force tomorrow

More than three months ago, Britain went into lockdown. It has undoubtedly been a long and difficult three months, but people have supported these rules overwhelmingly, and we are now past the peak, reporting regularly fewer than 1,000 new cases each day. Sage also assesses that the R rate (the average number of people each infected person passes the virus onto) - remains below 1. That means the virus is decreasing every day.

Thanks to this progress, the government has been able to slowly ease the national lockdown. Since the start of June, you have been able to meet up with up to 6 others outdoors, and non-essential shops began to re-open throughout June. From tomorrow - July 4th - a number of restrictions that are currently in place will be lifted, meaning more shops and businesses can re-open. This includes:
  • Pubs and restaurants. 
  • Hairdressers. 
  • Hotels, and other accommodation sites - such as camp sites.
  • Some of the arts and cultural sector, as well as some leisure facilities and tourist attractions can also re-open, provided they can do so safely. This includes outdoor gyms, playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades, as well as libraries, social clubs, places of worship and community centres.
Unfortunately, there are still some businesses which are unable to re-open. Indoor gyms, nail bars, and swimming pools, and many other businesses, are still closed. However, next week the government will set out a timetable to re-open these businesses safely. 

All of these businesses will need to comply with the COVID-Secure guidelines, as set out by the government. This includes taking customer contact details, which can be passed to NHS Test and Trace in the event of an outbreak.

From tomorrow, you can also meet up with one other household indoors, provided you maintain social distancing with those from outside your household.

This is the biggest step yet on the road to recovery from coronavirus. But it is more important than ever that we do so safely. Where possible, you should continue to remain 2 meters apart from others outside your household. However, where it is not possible to stay two meters apart, guidance now allows people to keep 'one metre plus' distance. That means staying one metre apart, plus mitigations to reduce the risk of transmissions - such as face masks on public transport, or perspex screens in bars and restaurants. 

We also need to continue to remember the basics, such as washing your hands with soap and water more often and for at least 20 seconds, and if you have any symptoms of coronavirus (a new and continuous cough, a temperature, a loss of taste or smell), you should immediately self-isolate and get a test. You can apply for a test by clicking here. 

Whilst these relaxations will allow us to enjoy a much more normal way of life, it is vital that we all safely by following the guidelines and keeping your distance from others so we can keep the coronavirus under control.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Sadly, just over a week ago we lost our twin boys.
Teddy came and went from this world quickly and quietly. He passed peacefully. Our younger twin, Rafe, was not born until Tuesday 23, but died later that day in NeoNatal ICU. Baby loss, and coping with grief, is very hard. Nothing we could do. Just a horrible tragedy. We emerged from hospital a week ago shell shocked. We have taken some time out to recover. I am back at work part time, but bear with me. We will come through this, but will always miss our boys. Cards are fine, but pls no flowers.
The loss of our younger twin Rafe was particularly acute. He lived and died within a long day. But we treasure our time with him in Neonatal ICU. We were able to tell him of all our hopes and dreams for him, and our family; but he could not make it and died in Flora’s arms. 
We are grateful to the NHS doctors + nurses who tried to save our boys. We are engaging with Sands, who help families coping with the grief of baby loss. We will try and establish a small fund to support research that will prevent other families experiencing the same pain.

The Wave quote is a good description of this awful process, and an acceptance of life passing. You never regret trying to have children. Sometimes baby loss happens. We will never forget our boys. They will be with us always. Just sadly only in their spirit and their memory. 

Flora and I have now set up a donation fund for research that will hopefully assist the prevention of other families experiencing the same pain from #pprom and #babyloss that we went through with Teddy & Rafe. You can make a donation by clicking here.