IGD - Economics bulletin 16 October

Date : 16 October 2020

Your overview of political and economic news with a focus on the food and consumer goods industry, featuring the latest guidance on COVID-19 and planning for the end of the transition period with the EU.

Outbreaks in food production facilities

A set of principles developed by the cross-government task force to support the management of outbreaks has now been published. The document includes:

  • Clarity that the aim is to keep workplaces open wherever possible
  • A set of principles covering 12 areas including general hygiene measures, staff anxiety, workplace risk controls and transmission risk outside work
  • A risk matrix where an Incident Management Team can rate the risk as low, medium or high against each of these principles
  • A separate annex that covers food settings – the important difference here is that food production sites are considered critical national infrastructure. Decisions to close can only be taken by the Secretary of State

There continue to be a relatively low number of COVID-19 outbreaks in food settings. However, Public Health England (PHE) is investigating some reports of delays in being to able to get a timely response from health officials where there are outbreaks in food settings.

Local COVID Alert Levels in England

The new three-tier Local COVID alert levels for England has now come into effect.

  • Medium – Rule of six if meeting indoors or outdoors, hospitality to shut at 10 p.m.
  • High – No household mixing indoors whether at home or in a public place, Rule of six will apply outdoors
  • Very high – No household mixing indoors or outdoors, Pubs and bars not serving meals to close (They can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant, which means serving substantial meals), Guidance against travelling in and out of the area, Rule of six applies to outdoor places

From this weekend, more than half of England's population will be living under high or very high-alert restrictions.

The following areas will go into high alert restrictions from this weekend:

  • London
  • Essex
  • Elmbridge in Surrey
  • Barrow in Furness, Cumbria
  • York
  • North East Derbyshire
  • Chesterfield
  • Erewash, Derbyshire

The Liverpool City Region and Lancashire have been placed in the very high alert level. Other areas in the north of England are expected to be moved into this tier following discussions between central and local government.

The government is aware of concerns from the UK hospitality sector about the potential negative impact of these further restrictions on the sector.

Restrictions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Separate local restrictions are in place in each of the devolved administrations. The First Minister in Scotland has announced that a similar three-tier model could be implemented in Scotland to coincide with the end of the current restrictions on 25 October.

From 16 October, the wearing of face coverings is now mandatory in Scotland in communal workplace areas, such as corridors, canteens and social spaces.

Further restrictions have been announced in Northern Ireland to take effect from 16 October. This includes:

  • The closure of the hospitality sector apart from deliveries and takeaways for food, with the existing closing time of 11.00pm remaining
  • Work from home unless unable to do so
  • No unnecessary travel should be undertaken
  • The half term holiday break for schools and colleges will be extended to a two-week break to run from 19th to 30th October

The First Minister in Wales has announced that people living in areas with a high prevalence of coronavirus in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland would not be able to travel to Wales for the time being.

Defra has confirmed that critical workers in the food industry (e.g. engineers, delivery drivers) travelling from very high alert level areas into Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will not be affected by these restrictions.

Travel corridor changes

The government has announced further changes to the list of “safer” travel destinations. Latest changes take effect from 18 October 2020.

Italy, San Marino and Vatican City State have been removed, meaning that they are now considered more dangerous, requiring travellers to isolate for 2 weeks. Crete will be added to the exempt list.

Workplace canteens

Defra continues to seek a relaxation of current rules that require the contact details of work colleagues to be logged every time they enter a workplace canteen.

EU exit negotiations

In a conclusions document issued during the European Council summit, EU leaders have stated that progress so far is not sufficient to conclude a trade deal. They have instructed the EU negotiating team to continue talks “in the coming weeks.” The EU also called on the UK to “make the necessary moves" towards a deal.

The Prime Minister has responded by stating that the EU should develop solutions to the impasse, whilst urging businesses to prepare for “no-deal”. He has not turned down the option of further talks.

IGD continues to urge members to prepare for “no-deal”. See our EU Exit Checklist. Register for the next IGD EU Exit Webinar update.

Border Operating Model testing

Testing of the updated version of the Border Operating Model (BOM) will take place in November. Defra will assess and share reports on a rolling basis. Defra encourages firms to take part, particularly where this involves the export of composite products and where there are mixed loads.

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