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COVID-19 Update: England Returns to Plan A

Posted on: 21/01/2022

The Government has announced that England will fully return to Plan A on Thursday 27th January after the success of the booster programme. On 8th December 2021, the country moved to Plan B following the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. The measures introduced late last year helped to control the spread of COVID-19 and strengthened defences.

The move to Plan A means that the Government is no longer asking people to work from home, employees should follow the Working Safely guidance. Face coverings are now no longer advised in educational settings since 20th January 2022 and from the 27th, will no longer be required by law in any setting. Public health advice still remains, suggesting individuals continue to wear a face-covering in crowded and enclosed spaces.

Although the Government has announced the ease of these restrictions, COVID-19 infection rates are still high, so individuals and employers are urged to act cautiously. Government guidance has been updated accordingly and vital support for businesses is still in place.

On 21st December 2021, additional support was announced for businesses that have been impacted by the Omicron variant.

  • Businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England are eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises, plus more than £100 million discretionary funding is available for local authorities to support other businesses.
  • Government also announced that they will cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for COVID-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK.
  • £30 million further funding is available through the Culture Recovery Fund, enabling more cultural organisations in England to apply for further support during the winter.

At the Autumn Budget 2021, the Chancellor announced that the Recovery Loan Scheme would be extended until the 30th June 2022. From the 1st January 2022 changes were made meaning that the scheme is only open to SMEs, with the maximum finance per business £2 million and the guaranteed coverage that Government will provide to lenders has been reduced to 70%.

From mid-January 2022, employers will be able to claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees who took time off sick due to COVID-19 from the re-introduced Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme.

Guidance has been released on how businesses can begin to pay back some of their loans and overpaid grants. Pay As You Grow will enable businesses to have started paying back their Bounce Back Loans to request an extension to their loan term or take a repayment holiday of up to six months.

The Government will set out a long-term strategy for living with COVID-19 in due course.

As the UK enters the next phase of recovery, Exemplas continues to support SMEs through our contracts. We’ve been providing access to funding, aiding navigation through to new supply chains, highlighting market opportunities as well as dealing with the growing pains of rapidly expanding innovative businesses.

Find out more about our public service contracts here.

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