New lockdown: what are the rules for small businesses?
The latest COVID-19 updates
Following the recent spike in cases across the UK and throughout Europe, the government, as expected, has introduced a number of new restrictions on businesses and their customers.
Here are some of the most significant for small businesses...
Pubs and restaurants to close early
From Thursday 24th September, pubs and restaurants throughout England will have to close by 10pm. All pubs and restaurants will also be restricted to table service. No further restrictions are predicted currently, with the government determined to allow hospitality businesses to continue to trade.
If the curfew is breached, the government now has the power to fine businesses £10,000.
A return to home working
Having recently encouraged people to return to offices, the government is now advising businesses and their staff to operate from home where possible.
Face masks enforced
Staff in retail and all taxi users must now wear face masks at all times. Meanwhile, workers and customers in hospitality settings must wear face masks except when seated to eat or drink. These will become legally enforced and fines will be introduced for breaches.
How long could these restrictions last?
Some sources have suggested these new restrictions could last six months. Boris Johnson suggested this was unlikely. But other, more severe restrictions could be on the way too - perhaps even including a 'circuit breaker'.
This would see a full lockdown to all non-essential sectors, similar to what was introduced in the Spring. It would be introduced for two weeks in an attempt to not disrupt schools.
So the short answer is, there is no clear sign of when these new restrictions will end. All eyes are now on the R rate, which will need to start to drop for restrictions to be lifted again.