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COVID-19 Updates

The ACT will be providing regular updates on the Coronavirus.

Watch this space for the latest information and advice tailored for retail businesses operating in the cycle sector.

The ACT have been working with partner members of the Independent Retailers Confederation (IRC) to bring you the most up to date retail focussed advice, particular credit is due to the Association of Convenience Stores, our leading IRC political advocacy partner, for their input.

 

Matt Hancock Press Conference

Published 5th March 2021
 
The afternoon the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock delivered a press conference to update the nation on new variant detection, testing, the vaccination programme and the Government's plan to support children's mental health as they return to school next week.

The current data shows that;
  • 20,982,571 people have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
  • There has been 6,573 new cases of Covid-19 have been detected in the past 24 hours.
  • The average case rate across the UK is 84 per 100,000 people.
  • Sadly, there has been 242 new deaths in the past 24 hours.

The current data shows that the link from cases to hospitalisations to deaths that was unbreakable before is now being successfully broken due to the vaccine.

The Health Secretary spoke of the University of Bristol's study that has showed that a single dose of both vaccinations offers around 80% protection against hospitalisation after 2 weeks, this includes those who are most frail and at risk.

Hancock announced that the NHS has now successfully vaccinated 2/5ths of the adult population in the UK, putting us on course to hit the target of vaccinating JCVI groups 5-9 by 15th April and all adults by end of July.

The Health Secretary provided an update on testing, highlighting that we are now testing 2.8 million people a week. He urged that regular testing must continue as things start to open up including schools next week. Hancock asked everyone in households of students returning to school next week to get tested twice per week as part of the Governments' new testing offer. Hancock warned of 1 in 3 people with Covid-19 show no symptoms and yet, still pass the virus on. Therefore we must continue with social distancing and testing to ensure the rate of transmission does not increase. For more information go here.

The Health Secretary announced a further allocation of £79m to boost mental health support for children and young people as they return to school. He noted that almost 3m young people will benefit from this extended mental health support service.

Matt Hancock also updated on the Governments' work to tackle new variants. He announced that the variants identification team have successfully identified the 6th case of brazil variant. He highlighted that the important things is that the person with the variant in question stayed at home and followed the surge testing protocol which is essential when tackling new variants.

Finally, Hancock acknowledged the current restrictions are working and we must continue the hard work being carried out in order to see restrictions eased as set out in the Governments roadmap.

 


Northern Ireland to use phased approach to easing lockdown

Published 4th March 2021
 
Northern Ireland will take a phased approach to relaxing lockdown rules, it has been announced.

The plan will see each sector of the economy move along a five-step scale, after Stormont ministers approved the strategy on Tuesday, March 2, 2021.

It is understood the plan focuses on nine key areas - retail; hospitality; education and young people; work; culture, heritage and entertainment; sports and leisure; travel and tourism; worship and ceremonies; home and community.

Each will emerge from lockdown in stages and no specific dates have yet been set. Northern Ireland's lockdown and accompanying stay-at-home message is currently in place until April 1.

Ministers have already made clear the blueprint will be led by data, not dates, with decisions on when to move between stages based on scientific and medical evidence, not the calendar.

Ministers will review the progress of the pathway at set points, understood to be every four weeks.

 

Wales extends rates relief for another year

Published 4th March 2021
 
The Welsh Government have announced an extention of rates relief for all retailers for another year.

The announcement followed the Budget yesterday when the Chancellor declared businesses in England would have full rrates relilef until June, then pay a reduced amount until next March.

However, the Welsh Government has followed Scottish Parlaiment's decision to give retailers 100% rates relief for a full year to boost recover from the pandemic.

The relief will be applied to any business with an rateable value of up to £500,000, it was said.

Read the full announcement from the Welsh Government here.


 


Reminder: Workplace Testing

Published 2nd March 2021

The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have written to the retail industry on free Covid-19 tests for workplace testing of colleagues who cannot work from home, but this is for businesses with more 50 employees.

The test kits are free of charge until 30 June 2021 for firms that have registered by 31st March, to register go here. The current guidance for businesses with fewer than 50 employees is to access community testing which is now offered by all local authorities. You can identify your closest community testing centre here. The BEIS letter is available here and DEFRA letter here.

 


JCVI Announces Next Phase of Priority for Vaccines

Published 2nd March 2021

The Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) has published its interim report for the next phase of vaccinations.

The report recommends that vaccine roll out should follow an age-based approach in three stages; 40-49 years (JCVI group 10), 30-39 years (JCVI group 11) and 18-29 years (JCVI group 12). The UK Government has confirmed this is how the vaccine will be distributed after the 15th April target for JCVI groups 5-9 is met. The Government aims to vaccinate every adult in the UK by the end of June.

DHSC: Priority groups for phase 2 of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination programme:advice from the JCVI

 


Surge Testing Update

Published 2nd March 2021

Surge testing is now live in HP10 in Buckinghamshire, SW8-9 postcodes in Lambeth and several South Gloucestershire postcodes after variants of Covid-19 have been identified in these areas. Following the identification of the Brazil variant, surge testing is now live in South Gloucestershire postcodes; BS32 0, BS32 8, BS32 9, BS34 5, BS34 6.

Surge testing is increased testing and enhanced contact tracing, deployed to understand Covid-19 variants and their spread. Colleagues are strongly encouraged to take a test in areas subject to surge testing. Those with symptoms should book a test in the usual way while those without symptoms should follow council website advice. As essential workers, colleagues can continue to go to work as normal. Surge testing in Manchester, Middlesbrough, Walsall, Ealing, and Bristol is now complete. The full list of areas subject to  surge testing and further guidance is available via the Department for Health and Social Care guidance.

DHSC: Surge testing to be deployed in targeted areas in Buckinghamshire and Lambeth

 


Testing Offer Extended for Families

Published 2nd March 2021

The Department of Health and Social Care has announced families and households with primary school, secondary school and college age children will be able to test themselves twice every week from home as schools return from 8th March.

This offer includes childcare and support bubbles. The Government's roadmap detailed that secondary school and college students will now be tested twice a week, receiving three initial tests at school or college before transitioning to twice weekly home testing. Primary school children will not be regularly asymptomatically tested due to low levels of transmission between younger aged children but will be offered tests if symptoms are displayed. The expanded regular testing offer can be accessed through workplace testing, local authority test sites, test site collections and a new home ordering service. The home testing can be accessed through the home testing online portal here.

DHSC: All households with children of school age to get 2 rapid COVID-19 tests per person per week 

 


Matt Hancock press conference

Published 1st March 2021
 
Health Secretary Matt Hancock gave press conference this evening alongside Dr Susan Hopkins, of Public Health England, and deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam. The latest information is below:

• There have been 5,455 new cases of Covid-19 reported over the last 24 hours
• In the last 24 hours, 104 people have died within 28 days of a positive Covid test

Matt Hancock announced that over 20 million people in the UK have now received the first dose of the vaccine and over 800,000 have had their second dose and he thanked the British people for sticking to the rules and for their enthusiasm in taking up the jab and confirmed that over 60s are now being invited to have the vaccine.

The Health Secretary says six cases of the Brazil variant have been identified in the UK and surge testing has been set up in South Gloucestershire as a precaution, Dr Susan Hopkins, of Public Health England said that the cases of the Brazil variant are being tracked closely and that the variant has similar features to the South African variant which has some resistance to antibodies.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said that Public Health England, with partners from across the four devolved nations of the UK published a new report summarising vaccine effectiveness to date which shows that both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines are highly effective in reducing COVID-19 infections among older people aged 70 years and over.
 

COVID-19 Updates - February 2021

COVID-19 Updates - January 2021

COVID-19 Updates - December

COVID-19 Updates - November

COVID-19 Updates - October

COVID-19 Updates - September

COVID-19 Updates - August

COVID-19 Updates - July

COVID-19 Updates - June

COVID-19 Updates - May

COVID-19 Updates - April Part 2

COVID-19 Updates - April Part 1

COVID-19 Updates - March