IGD - Economics bulletin 13 October

Date : 13 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.

COVID-19 – Local COVID Alert Levels

The government has announced new three-tier Local COVID alert levels for England to suppress rising COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions. The three tiers, which will apply from 00.01 on Wednesday 14 October, are as follows:

  • 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

There is a baseline range of measures for the very high alert level, from which further restrictions may be placed on areas, based on discussions between central and local government. The Liverpool City region will become the first area to enter 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 UK government is expected to review the Local COVID alert levels each week, with any changes in the alert level for individual regions coming into law within a few days.

The Chancellor has also announced further financial support to industries impacted by local restrictions.

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.

Outbreaks in food production facilities

A set of principles developed by the cross-government taskforce to support the management of outbreaks and to avoid closures of food production facilities where possible has now been signed-off and is expected to be published very soon.

There continue to be a relatively low number of COVID-19 outbreaks in food settings.

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

Informal talks are continuing between the UK and EU with a particular focus on key “red-line” issues - fisheries, governance, market regulation and state aid. This comes ahead of a special EU Council meeting on 15 October where EU exit will be discussed.

IGD continues to urge members to prepare for “no-deal”.

EU Exit food labelling

New guidance has been published covering food labelling changes for the end of the transition period.

UK Unemployment

Data for July 2020 shows that 1,522,000 people were unemployed, giving an unemployment rate of 4.5% - the highest since March 2017. The unemployment rate for 18-24-year-olds has risen from 10.7% in February (just before Coronavirus took hold) to 13.1% in July, more than twice the overall rate.

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