How to Prepare for a Local Lockdown

Andrew Willis

Andrew Willis

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07 Aug 2020

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From 18th July, Local Authorities in England have had the authority to implement localised lockdown measures. This includes closing specific premises and restricting travel.

Local lockdowns

What we’ve learned so far…

Since then, we’ve seen Leicester, Blackburn with Darwen and Luton face local lockdown rules. Business in these areas had to remain closed even when other parts of the country came out of national lockdown restrictions.

Other regions, in Northern England, have had stricter measures imposed on them. These were enacted after spikes in cases of coronavirus. However, businesses in these regions have been allowed to remain open for now. This remains the case so as long as the number of cases begin to drop significantly in the next couple of weeks, or day. In Aberdeen, Scotland, the measures in place aren’t as strict as those in Leicester. However, pubs have been asked to shut after an increase in coronavirus cases as a result of visitors failing to socially distance.

These measures may continue for months to come. They may cease when numbers drop below that which is concerning, or a suitable vaccine is developed. You must be prepared for this sudden change. Local restrictions could impact you in future, if cases continue to rise.

There are two main areas to consider if your region gets put into local lockdown. These are:

  • How you can help reduce the rising number of coronavirus cases
  • What your response will be if you are asked to close

Helping to reduce cases

The Government announced in May that England’s test and trace system was live. With this system, the government also released guidance on how employers in England can help slow, and eventually stop, the spread of the virus. The two main roles you have as an employer are:

  • To make workspaces as safe as possible. Fix barriers between staff and customers (for those who work on stalls/counters). Enforcing social distancing of at least one-metre-plus, depending on workforce size. Change shift patterns to reduce the amount of staff in the workplace at any given time
  • To support staff who are notified by the system and encourage them to self-isolate. If an employee is contacted, employers can offer support by not requiring them to show up at work. Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) would be payable from day one if the employee meets the criteria for it. This can be claimed back under the Coronavirus SSP Rebate Scheme (to a maximum of 14 days) eligible for employers with fewer than 250 employees

If organisations are asked to close…

You might have to close to help reduce the number of cases on the rise in specific regions. This was the case in Leicester and Aberdeen. You should consider the following:

  • A period of homeworking where possible. Since 1 August, organisations in England have been granted more discretion to return staff to work safely. However, organisations may find remote working the best way to deal with a short-term coronavirus lockdown
  • Continued periods of full furlough. the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends on 31 October 2020. Until then, you can access a grant to help you retain staff during the pandemic. 80% of wages can be claimed even though staff will not be carrying out any work
  • Permit the use of accrued annual leave, or unpaid leave

Takeaway

The Government has said that it will likely not be introducing another national lockdown. However, localised lockdown measures or restrictions are a very real possibility. You need to be prepared for them, as lockdowns can be announced within only a day’s notice. Preparing will ensure that you aren’t caught unaware as we all were at the start of the pandemic.

Prepare for a local lockdown…

It’s not a simple task. Luckily, Croner are here to help. Our advisers are available 24/7, which means we’re on hand to help you when you need it most. Begin planning today. Give a us a call on 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Andrew Willis

Andrew Willis is the senior manager of the Litigation and Employment Department and assumes additional responsibility for managing Croner’s office based telephone HR advisory teams, who specialise in employment law, HR and commercial legal advice for small & large organisations across the United Kingdom.

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