Covid-19 Update November 2020

National Restrictions from 5 November


On 31 October, the Prime Minister announced tougher national restrictions in England from Thursday.

From 5 November until Wednesday 2 December, the Government is taking the following action:

  • requiring people to stay at home, except for specific purposes
  • preventing gathering with people you do not live with, except for specific purposes
  • closing certain businesses and venues.

Under the restrictions, from Thursday 5 November, everyone must stay at home, and may leave only for a limited set of reasons. These include:

  • for education 
  • for work, if you cannot work from home 
  • for exercise and recreation outdoors, with your household, support bubble or on your own with one person from another household 
  • for all medical reasons, appointments and to escape injury or harm 
  • to shop for food and essentials 
  • to provide care for vulnerable people, or as a volunteer
  • to attend a place of worship for individual prayer, a funeral or a related event for someone who has died, to visit a burial ground or a remembrance garden, or to attend a deathbed wedding.

People should work from home wherever possible. Where people cannot do so (for instance people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing) they should continue to travel to work/attend their workplace (this includes if a job involves working in other people’s homes). Public sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, should continue to go into work.

Those working in other people’s homes – for example, nannies, cleaners or tradespeople – can do so. Otherwise, the guidance is to avoid meeting for work in a private home or garden, where COVID-19 Secure measures may not be in place.

The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-secure guidelines are followed closely.

Those defined as clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus – that is, people with specific serious health conditions are advised to to work from home. If this is not possible, the advice is not to go to work and look into eligibility for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit. Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable are advised to stay at home as much as possible, except to go outdoors for exercise or to attend essential health appointments.

The guidance reiterates the message: ‘Hands. Face. Space.’:

  • Hands – Wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds.
  • Face – Wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
  • Space – Stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors).

The government information on the restrictions can be found here.

Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
October 2020

Education and Childcare Settings: New National Restrictions from 5 November 2020

This document explains how the new national restrictions to control the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) impact education, childcare and children’s social care settings.

The restrictions, applicable to England, came into effect on 5 November. The government stress the importance for children and young people to attend, to support their wellbeing and education and help working parents and guardians. Senior clinicians still advise that school is the best place for children to be, and so they should continue to go to school. Schools have implemented a range of protective measures to make them safe.

Childcare or education is one of the exceptions that children, young people and parents and carers can leave their home for.

Education settings and childcare settings must continue to take swift action when they become aware of a confirmed case of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in their setting. Early years settings, schools, colleges and out of schools settings are advised that they can contact the dedicated advice service introduced by Public Health England (PHE) and delivered by the NHS Business Services Authority for support on the action they should take to respond to a positive case (DfE Helpline: 0800 046 8687; select option 1 for advice on the action to take in response to a positive case.)

The following settings are covered by this guidance:

  • early years and childcare
  • out-of-school activities and wraparound childcare
  • schools
  • children’s social care, vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people
  • further education and apprenticeships
  • higher education.

The document is available here.

Department for Education
November 2020

Higher Education: New National Restrictions Guidance

This document explains how the new national restrictions affect the Higher Education (HE) sector.

Under the new national restrictions from 5 November, the government will be requiring everyone to stay at their current home, except for specific purposes. This means students should not leave their term-time address to return home between 5 November and 2 December.

As is the case for the rest of the population, students may only leave home for specific reasons, including:

  • for education
  • for work, for example if you cannot work from home
  • for exercise and recreation outdoors, with your household, or on your own with one person from another household
  • for medical reasons or appointments
  • to escape injury or harm (including mental health crises)
  • to shop for food and essentials
  • to provide care for vulnerable people, or as a volunteer.

This guidance covers the following:

  • student and staff safety
  • face coverings
  • online and in person tuition
  • socialising
  • catered halls
  • financial hardship
  • wellbeing support for students and staff
  • clinically extremely vulnerable people
  • support for students with symptoms or self-isolating
  • libraries and study spaces
  • research
  • tuition fee refunds
  • international students
  • sports facilities
  • performing arts.

It is available here.

Department for Education
November 2020

Clinically extremely vulnerable receive updated guidance in line with new national restrictions

New guidance has been published for the clinically extremely vulnerable on keeping safe under the new national restrictions which came into force last Thursday.

The group are strongly advised to stay at home at all times, unless for exercise or doctors’ appointments.

Clinically extremely vulnerable people in England have today received further guidance on keeping safe as the country introduces new national restrictions from Thursday, the government has announced.

The new advice details further precautions those in this group can take on top of the tougher national measures being introduced, as cases continue to rise across the country. Everyone not considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable will be expected to follow the new restrictions, such as staying at home unless shopping for food or exercising and not meeting up with people outside of the household.

The updated guidance, which clinically extremely vulnerable individuals are strongly urged to follow, includes:

  • Socialising: Stay at home as much as possible, except to go outdoors to exercise or attend health appointments. People can exercise with those they live with or in their support bubble.
  • Work: If people cannot work from home, they should not attend work. They may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit or the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme during this period of national measures. People in the same household who are not clinically extremely vulnerable can still attend work, in line with the new national restrictions.
  • School: As evidence has shown there is a very low risk of children becoming very unwell from COVID-19, most children originally on the shielded patient list no longer need to be and therefore can still attend school. If they are unsure, parents should contact their child’s usual GP or hospital clinician to check whether they should still be considered clinically extremely vulnerable. If a GP or clinician has advised that a child should remain on the shielded patient list, they are advised not to attend school. Children who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but aren’t themselves, should still attend school.
  • Going outside: Avoid all non-essential travel – they should continue to travel to hospital and GP appointments unless told otherwise by their doctor. They are strongly advised not to go to any shops or to pharmacies.

The government will also be providing over £32 million to upper tier councils in England to support the clinically extremely vulnerable over the next month. It will be used to provide support, such as access to food deliveries and signposting to local support of befriending services, to the most at risk and enable them to stay at home as much as possible over this short period.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, Dr Jenny Harries said: “We have previously said that where the conditions of transmission of the infection alters significantly we would alert patients in relative regions.

“With the prevalence of the virus continuing to increase across England and in places across the world, it’s right that we adjust our advice for the clinically extremely vulnerable accordingly so they can feel as safe as possible over the coming few weeks.

“Our guidance for this group of individuals has always been advisory, but I would strongly urge all those who are clinically extremely vulnerable to take these extra precautions to keep themselves as safe as possible.”

Individuals in this group will also be able to use an online service which will help people to request priority access to supermarket delivery slots and to inform their council they need help. NHS Volunteer Responders can also help with a regular, friendly phone call, and transport to and from medical appointments.

The clinically extremely vulnerable group includes those with reduced immune systems, for example due to organ transplants, or those with specific cancers or severe respiratory conditions, such as cystic fibrosis. The group list is updated regularly as patients’ conditions or the scientific evidence changes, so the majority will have received a letter previously from the NHS or their GP advising them of their inclusion.

Due to new evidence about groups more likely to be at risk of serious illness from COVID-19, those with chronic kidney disease (stage 5) and those undergoing dialysis, as well as adults with Down’s Syndrome, are also being added to the shielding patient list by the NHS.

Those with more general underlying health conditions or who are 70 or over may still be more vulnerable to COVID-19 than the general population, so are also advised to stay at home as much as possible, to carefully follow the rules and minimise contact with others.

The updated guidance is available here

Department of Health and Social Care
November 2020

Working Safely During Coronavirus (COVID-19) – updated guidance

Following the announcements made by the government on 31 October regarding national restrictions in England from 5 November, the Working safely during Coronavirus guidance has been updated, as follows:

Close Contact Services 

Updated guidance during national restrictions from 5 November: 

  • Most close contact services must close. Anyone who can work from home, should (section 1.1) and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals not attending work for this period of restrictions (section 2.1). 

Personal care facilities such as hair, beauty and nail salons, tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services, non-medical acupuncture, and tanning salons must close.

The guidance covering:

Construction and Other Outdoor Work 
Factories, Plants and Warehouses 
Labs and Research Facilities 
Offices and Contact Centres 

have all be updated in the same way to reflect the following from 5 November: 

  • Anyone who can work from home, should (section 1.1) and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals not attending work for this period of restrictions (section 2.1). 

Employers should ensure workplaces are safe for anyone who cannot work from home.

Other People’s Homes 

Those who need to visit other people’s homes for their work can continue to do so. Otherwise the guidance is updated to reflect the same as above, namely:

From 5 November: 

  • Anyone who can work from home, should (section 1.1) and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals not attending work for this period of restrictions (section 2.1). 

Shops and Branches 

Food shops, supermarkets, garden centres and certain other retailers providing essential goods and services can remain open.

All non-essential retail, including, but not limited to clothing and electronics stores, vehicle showrooms, travel agents, betting shops, auction houses, tailors, car washes, tobacco and vape shops, must close.

Non-essential retail can remain open for delivery to customers and click-and-collect.

Heritage Locations

Some heritage locations can still be visited because they are outside, as long as the current social distancing rules are observed. These include historic parks, gardens, landscapes, and ruins and monuments open to the elements, even where these are paid-for attractions. You should only visit them with:

  • the people you live with
  • your support bubble
  • or, when on your own, 1 person from another household.

Children under 5, as well as disabled people dependent on round-the-clock care are not counted towards the limit on 2 people meeting outside.

Roofed historic buildings and fully-enclosed spaces will be closed, although their attached grounds, including car parks, toilets and outdoor play areas, can remain open.

Hotels and Other Guest Accommodation

It is stressed that, from Thursday 5 November, national restrictions supersede the contents of this guidance document, in particular where the document refers to Local COVID Alert Levels. This guidance document can still be used by those businesses which are permitted to operate under the national restrictions, to support those businesses to operate safely.

In summary, for hotels and other guest accommodation, the new national restrictions mean:

People should stay at home, except for specific purposes.

  • People should avoid all non-essential travel by private or public transport. Essential travel includes, but is not limited to travelling to work where your workplace is open or you cannot work from home; and travelling to education or for caring responsibilities. Where any staff can work from home, they must do so.
  • Overnight stays and holidays away from primary residences will not be allowed – including holidays in the UK and abroad. This includes staying in a second home or caravan, or people staying with anyone they do not live with or are not in a support bubble with. There are specific exceptions, for example if people need to stay away from home (including in a second home) for work or education purposes.
  • When travel is necessary and staying in hotels and other guest accommodation required, we expect people to act responsibly, in line with government regulations and guidance.
  • At the time that restrictions are brought in, if people are currently on holiday and it is not reasonable for them to curtail their stay, they may finish their holiday as planned; the duration of stay should only be as long as reasonably necessary and they should return home as soon as practical. People must comply with the ‘stay at home’ requirements and make every effort to reduce socialising indoors outside of their household whilst in holiday accommodation in the meantime.
  • People who need to travel abroad before 2 December (and are legally permitted to do so, for example, because it is for work), should look at the rules in place at their destination, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice and the current travel corridor list.
  • International visitors may continue to enter the country, subject to the existing Travel Corridor rules. Whilst here, international visitors should adhere to all regulations and guidance.

Certain businesses and venues will be ordered to close. The guidance sets out further advice in this area.

Performing Arts
From 5 November national restrictions will be in force in England to control the spread of Coronavirus. During this period, performing arts venues can continue to operate under Stages 1 and 2 of the performing arts roadmap. This means that:

  • Performing arts professionals may continue to rehearse and train, and perform for broadcast or recording purposes.
  • Other than for this purpose, theatres, concert halls and entertainment venues must close.
  • Professional dancers may continue to use dance studios.
  • Non-professional activity, such as amateur choirs and orchestra, cannot take place.
  • Where any staff in performing arts organisations can work from home, they must do so. 

The Visitor Economy 
For the visitor economy, the new national restrictions mean:
Certain businesses and venues will be ordered to close.
These include:

  • Indoor and outdoor leisure, games and recreation facilities such as bowling alleys, skating rinks, leisure centres and gyms, sports facilities including swimming pools, soft play facilities, funfairs and fairgrounds, zoos and other animal attractions, and water, aqua and theme parks.
  • Indoor areas of botanical gardens and heritage sites should close, although outdoor areas of those venues can remain open and can offer food and drink as a takeaway service. Alcohol may only be sold as delivery or click and collect.
  • Entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, arcades and bingo halls.
  • Personal care facilities such as hair, beauty and nail salons, spas, and massage parlours, all non-essential retail, including vehicle showrooms, hospitality venues like cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs must close; with the exception of providing food and drink for takeaway (before 10pm; and not including alcohol), click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery.

Business meetings and events are advised against, but may take place with up to a total of 30 people if reasonably necessary – for example for the purposes of work that cannot be done at home – if social distancing can be maintained and the venue can demonstrate it has followed the COVID-19 guidance.
Hotels and other guest accommodation should only open for those who have to travel for work purposes and for a limited number of other exemptions set out in law. Restaurants and bars within guest accommodation should remain closed although food and/or drink including alcohol can be provided through room service as long as it is ordered by phone or online.
Event spaces, including in conference centres and exhibition halls, can be used for reasons permitted by law, including for business events of up to 30 where reasonably necessary, for education and training purposes where reasonably necessary, or to provide socially beneficial public services such as Nightingale hospitals or food banks. Conference centres and exhibition halls should remain closed for conferences, exhibitions, trade shows, private dining or banqueting events.

Providers of Grassroots Sport and Gym/leisure Facilities

This guidance is for people who work in grassroots sport and gym/leisure facilities. During the period of national restrictions, the following applies to this sector:

  • Individual exercise is permitted – alone, with 1 other person, or within your household or bubble.
  • Sport facilities will close, but you can exercise in public outdoor spaces.
  • This guidance applies to children and adults.
  • Sport facilities must close.

From 5 November, national restrictions supersede the contents of this guidance document, in particular where the document refers to Local COVID Alert Levels.

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
November 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Updated Safer Transport Guidance


This guide will help transport organisations in England understand how to provide safer workplaces and services for themselves, their workers and passengers. It outlines measures to assess and address the risks of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Information on the national restrictions – in place from 5 November – has been added to the guidance.

National restrictions apply in England. These have replaced local COVID alert levels.

The public must avoid travelling within the UK and internationally, and stay at home, unless they are travelling for work, education or for other legally permitted reasons.

The police will be able to take action against those that break these rules, including asking people to disperse and return home, and issuing fixed penalty notices starting at £200 for those who participate in illegal gatherings.

People aged 18 or over can be issued with a fixed penalty notice of:

  • £200 for the first offence, lowered to £100 if paid within 14 days
  • £400 for the second offence, then doubling for each further offence up to a maximum of £6,400.

Transport operators providing services through or within these areas should continue operating services as normal for those who have a legally permitted reason to travel. Operators are asked to review risk assessments regularly to ensure they remain relevant and appropriate.


This guidance has also been updated to reflect the national restrictions in place from 5 November.

Aimed at passengers, this guidance sets out information on how to travel safely during the Coronavirus outbreak. It has also been updated to reflect new legislation on social contact and the requirement for passengers to wear face coverings in taxis and private hire vehicles.

National restrictions apply in England. These have replaced local COVID alert levels (tiers).

International travel or travel within the UK must be avoided, unless you are travelling for work, education or for other legally permitted reasons, including:

  • travelling to work where this cannot be done from home
  • travelling to education and for caring responsibilities
  • hospital, GP and other medical appointments or visits where you have had an accident or are concerned about your health
  • visiting venues that are open, including essential retail
  • exercise, if you need to make a short journey to do so.

Department for Transport
November 2020

Actions for schools during the Coronavirus outbreak

This guidance has been updated in line with the National Restrictions that came into force on 5 November.

The following areas of advice are affected:

  • use of face coverings
  • transport
  • attendance – self-isolation and shielding
  • school workforce
  • clinically extremely vulnerable staff
  • wraparound provision and extra-curricular activity
  • physical activity in schools
  • residential settings.

The guidance applies to all schools in England, including:

  • local-authority-maintained schools
  • academies
  • free schools
  • alternative provision schools
  • pupil referral units
  • independent schools
  • boarding schools.

The guidance can be found here.

Department for Education
November 2020

More than one-in-three workers are worried about catching COVID-19 at work

More than one-in-three (35%) workers have an active concern about the transmission of COVID-19 in their workplace – with low-paid workers most likely to be worried, but least likely to raise concerns or see their complaints resolved, according to recent research from the think tank, Resolution Foundation.

Failed Safe? – a report supported by Unbound Philanthropy and the Health Foundation, and drawing on an online YouGov survey of 6,061 adults across the UK – examines the extent of workers’ COVID concerns, what steps employers are taking to make workplaces COVID-secure, and how unsafe practices are dealt with.

The report finds that nearly half (47%) of workers that spend time in the workplace rate the risk of COVID-19 transmission at work as fairly or very high. And despite 90% of employers taking multiple steps to mitigate risks – such as providing hand sanitiser or enforcing social distancing – over one-in-three (35%) workers are still worried about catching COVID on the job.

Failed Safe? notes that COVID concerns are driven by both workers’ personal characteristics and where they work. COVID concerns are most common among black, Asian and minority ethnic workers (47%), those living in a household where someone’s shielding (45%), and among workers in caring (44%) and customer-facing (41%) roles, such as shops and restaurants.

However, the report shows that workers who are most worried about COVID in the workplace are often the least likely to raise concerns about it.  For example, the workers in the lowest weekly pay quintile are far less likely to raise COVID-related safety complaints as those in the highest pay quintile (52%, compared to 72%).

Similarly, 18-24-year-old workers are almost half as likely to raise a COVID-related complaint as 55-64-year-old workers (36%, compared to 67%) despite a higher share of young workers expressing concerns about catching the virus at work (a finding driven by them being more likely to work in higher-risk customer-facing roles).

The Foundation says these findings suggest that workers’ worries about COVID aren’t just about the kind of jobs they do and their personal characteristics, but also their ability to ensure their employer makes their workplace more ‘COVID-secure’. For example, the lowest paid workers are around half as likely to report their COVID complaint was fully resolved as the highest paid workers (15%, compared to 29%).

The Foundation says that given workers’ limited ability to force their employer to resolve COVID safety concerns, the UK’s health and safety regime needs to step up its role in tackling the risk of catching – or spreading – the virus at work.

However, the report notes that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has entered the pandemic severely under-resourced, with its budget per premise under its inspection remit more than halving over the past decade, from £224 in 2010-11 to just £100 in 2020-21.

This lack of resources, coupled with HSE’s risk-based approach to enforcement, meant that HSE were slow to respond to the pandemic. The number of workplace inspections was well below average during lockdown (though inspections have picked up since), and just 221 COVID-related enforcement notices issued from April to September – a number wildly out of step with the extent of employees’ worries about the virus in the workplace. In part this reflects that COVID is not deemed a serious enough risk to grant inspectors stronger enforcement powers.

The Foundation says policy makers should overturn the current view that health and safety is a ‘brake on business’ and take a more proactive approach to enforcement in the face of the pandemic. After all, it says, ‘COVID-secure’ workplaces aren’t just important for workers: they’re vital if firms are going to bounce back from the pandemic with busy, fully-staffed premises, factories and offices.

Lindsay Judge, Research Director at the Resolution Foundation, said: “More than one-in-three workers are worried are catching Coronavirus on the job, despite the extensive steps employers have taken to make workplaces COVID-secure.

“Worryingly, those who are most worried about catching COVID, such as low-paid workers in customer-facing roles, are also the least likely to raise a complaint about it, or to have their complaints resolved.

“Given many workers’ limited ability to get employers to address COVID concerns, the UK needs a strong enforcement regime to ensure that workplaces are as safe as can be. But instead health and safety resources have been cut, inspections have been slow, and COVID-related enforcement notices are few and far between.”

The report can be found here.

Resolution Foundation
November 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Guidance on Working from Home


This guidance is intended to support employers and the self-employed to continue to facilitate working from home in line with the Coronavirus (COVID-19): Scotland’s Strategic Framework.

The guidance can be applied across any sector where homeworking is a feasible option for both workers and businesses. 

Organisations should make every reasonable effort to make working from home the default position. Where a worker can perform their work from home, they should continue to do so.

Homeworking as a public health measure in response to the pandemic has been a crucial factor in mitigating the transmission of the virus amongst the general population. As such, remote working should remain the default position for those who can do so. Where that is not possible businesses and organisations are encouraged to manage travel demand through staggered start times and flexible working patterns.

As set out in this guidance, all employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.

The full guidance can be found here.


This checklist is designed to be used in conjunction with the guidance on working from home. 

Scottish Government
November 2020

Coronavirus resurgence: European Commission steps up action


The European Commission has launched an additional set of actions to help limit the spread of the Coronavirus, save lives and strengthen the internal market’s resilience. The measures aim to better understand the virus’ spread and the effectiveness of the response, ramp up well-targeted testing, bolster contact tracing, improve preparations for vaccination campaigns, and maintain access to essential supplies such as vaccination equipment, while keeping all goods moving in the single market and facilitating safe travel. 

The Commission’s Communication on additional COVID-19 response measures sets out next steps in key areas to reinforce the EU’s response to the resurgence in COVID-19 cases:  

Improving the flow of information to allow informed decision-making
Ensuring accurate, comprehensive, comparable and timely information on epidemiological data, as well as on testing, contact tracing and public health surveillance, is essential to track how the Coronavirus spreads at regional and national level. To improve the sharing of data at EU level, the Commission calls on Member States to provide all relevant data to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the Commission.

Establishing more effective and rapid testing
Testing is a decisive tool to slow down the spread of the Coronavirus. To promote a common approach and effective testing, the Commission is today adopting a Recommendation on COVID-19 testing strategies, including the use of rapid antigen tests. It sets out key elements to be considered for national, regional or local testing strategies, such as their scope, priority groups, and key points linked to testing capacities and resources, and indications as to when rapid antigen testing may be appropriate. It also calls on Member States to submit national strategies on testing by mid-November. To directly purchase rapid antigen tests and deliver them to Member States, the Commission is mobilising €100 million under the Emergency Support Instrument. In parallel, the Commission is launching a joint procurement to ensure a second stream of access. Where Member States are applying prior testing requirements to incoming travellers and where no testing capacities are available for asymptomatic travellers in the country of origin, travellers should be offered the possibility to undergo a test after arrival. If negative COVID-19 tests are to be required or recommended for any activity, mutual recognition of tests is essential, in particular in the context of travel.

Making full use of contact tracing and warning apps across borders
Contact tracing and warning apps help to break transmission chains. So far, Member States have developed 19 national contact tracing and warning apps, downloaded more than 52 million times. The Commission recently launched a solution for linking national apps across the EU through a ‘European Federation Gateway Service’. Three national apps (Germany, Ireland, and Italy) were first linked on 19 October when the system came online. Many more will follow in the coming weeks. In total, 17 national apps are currently based on decentralised systems and can become interoperable through the service in the coming rounds; others are in the pipeline. All Member States should set up effective and compatible apps and reinforce their communication efforts to promote their uptake.

Effective vaccination
The development and uptake of safe and effective vaccines is a priority effort to quickly end the crisis. Under the EU Strategy on COVID-19 vaccines, the Commission is negotiating agreements with vaccine producers to make vaccines available to Europeans and the world as soon as soon as they are proven safe and effective. Once available, vaccines need to be quickly distributed and deployed to maximum effect. On 15 October, the Commission set out the key steps that Member States need to take to be fully prepared, which includes the development of national vaccination strategies. The Commission will put in place a common reporting framework and a platform to monitor the effectiveness of national vaccine strategies. To share the best practices, the conclusions of the first review on national vaccination plans will be presented in November 2020.

Effective communication to citizens
Clear communication is essential for the public health response to be successful since this largely depends on the public adherence to health recommendations. All Member States should relaunch communication campaigns to counter false, misleading and dangerous information that continues to circulate, and to address the risk of “pandemic fatigue”. Vaccination is a specific area where public authorities need to step up their actions to tackle misinformation and secure public trust, as there will be no compromise on safety or effectiveness under Europe’s robust vaccine authorisation system. Vaccines do not save lives – vaccination does.

Securing essential supplies
Since the beginning of the outbreak, the EU has supported manufacturers to ensure the availability of essential medicines and medical equipment. The Commission has launched a new joint procurement for medical equipment for vaccination. In order to give Member States better and cheaper access to the tools needed to prevent, detect and treat COVID-19, the Commission is today also extending the temporary suspension of customs duties and VAT on the import of medical equipment from non-EU countries. The Commission is also proposing that hospitals and medical practitioners should not have to pay VAT on vaccines and testing kits used in the fight against the Coronavirus.

Facilitating safe travel
Free movement within the EU and the border-free Schengen area are prized achievements of European integration – the Commission is working to ensure that travel within Europe is safe both for travellers and for their fellow citizens:

  • The Commission calls on Member States to fully implement the Recommendation adopted by the Council for a common and coordinated approach to restrictions to free movement. Citizens and businesses want clarity and predictability. Any remaining COVID-19 related internal border control measures should be lifted.
  • The European Union Aviation Safety Agency and the ECDC are working on a testing protocol for travellers, to be used by public health authorities, airlines and airports to help the safe arrival of passengers. The Commission will also work with Member States and agencies on a common approach to quarantine practices, with inputs from ECDC to be presented in November.
  • Passenger Locator Forms help Member States undertake risk assessments of arrivals and enable contact tracing. A pilot next month will allow Member States to prepare for the launch and use of a common EU digital Passenger Locator Form, while fully respecting data protection.
  • Re-open EU provides timely and accurate information on health measures and travel restrictions in all Member States and some partner countries. The Commission calls on Member States to provide accurate and up-to-date information to turn Re-open EU into the one-stop-shop for information about health measures and travel possibilities across the EU. A mobile Re-open EU app is being developed and will launch in the coming weeks.

COVID-19: Guidance for the Public on Mental Health and Wellbeing

Published by Public Health England, this advice and information covers how to look after your mental health and wellbeing during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

It has been updated to reflect the national restrictions in place in England from 5 November. 

Topics covered include:

  • what can help your mental health and wellbeing
  • challenges you may be facing
  • advice for groups with additional mental health needs or facing specific issues
  • people with a learning disability
  • people with autism
  • older people
  • people with dementia.

The document can be found here.

Public Health England
November 2020

HSE: Protect Vulnerable Workers During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

This guidance from the HSE addresses:

  • supporting workers in higher-risk groups
  • accessing COVID-secure precautions
  • clinically extremely vulnerable workers
  • supporting clinically extremely vulnerable workers returning to work
  • pregnant workers.

It points out that employers have a legal duty to protect workers from harm and must consider the risk to workers who are particularly vulnerable to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and put controls in place to reduce that risk.

The higher-risk groups include those who:

  • are older males
  • have a high body mass index (BMI)
  • have health conditions such as diabetes
  • are from some Black, Asian or minority ethnicity (BAME) backgrounds.

While there are currently no expectations of additional controls specifically for these groups, employers must ensure that existing controls (social distancing, good hygiene and cleaning, ventilation, supervision etc) are applied strictly. Employers are advised to:

  • emphasise the importance of individual and wider workforce engagement, buy-in and cooperation to ensure controls are applied stringently
  • have individual discussions with their managers around their particular concerns
  • discuss the risk management measures put in place to minimise transmission to keep them, and others, safe
  • explain the controls that will be put/are already in place to protect them and other workers.

The guidance is available in full here.

November 2020

Working Safely During Coronavirus

This ACAS guidance highlights the latest and current government Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice, which is that anyone who can work effectively from home should do so. 

For workplaces that are open, everyone should:

  • follow government guidance on making the workplace safe
  • avoid busy commuting times on public transport where travel is essential, and wear a face covering
  • wash their hands regularly.

You must not go to work if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.

It sets out advice on areas including:

  • making a workplace safe
  • social distancing at work
  • the workplaces that can open
  • if the workplace is closed
  • working from home.

Find the guidance here.

November 2020

Face Coverings in Education

This is new guidance from the Department for Education. From 5 November, pupils and teachers in all of England’s secondary schools and colleges will be required to wear face masks in communal areas and corridors.

Examples of where education leaders might decide to recommend the wearing of face coverings – for pupils, staff and visitors – in communal areas of the education setting include:

  • Where the layout of the school or college estate makes it particularly difficult to maintain social distancing when staff and pupils are moving around the premises.
  • Where on top of hygiene measures and the system of controls recommended in the full opening guidance to schools and FE colleges and providers, permitting the use of face coverings for staff, pupils or other visitors would provide additional confidence to parents to support a full return of children to school or college

In primary schools where social distancing is not possible in indoor areas outside of classrooms between members of staff or visitors (for example, in staffrooms), head teachers will have the discretion to decide whether to ask staff or visitors to wear, or agree to them wearing face coverings in these circumstances. But children in primary school do not need to wear a face covering.

The full guidance can be found here.

Department for Education
November 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Action Plan


Scotland’s COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Plan aims to help ensure that the right PPE of the right quality gets to the people who need it at the right time. The Plan’s scope includes health, social care and other workplaces and settings where COVID-19 could put people at risk.

Employers across the public, private and voluntary sectors also need to make sure their staff have the right PPE, says the Scottish Government. To do that, they need to be aware of, and properly implement, relevant clinical and sector-specific guidance. Unions and individuals also have a key role to play in raising awareness and ensuring issues arising are flagged and properly responded to.

The PPE Action Plan outlines:

  • Modelling work, which allows Scottish Government and NSS to understand how PPE supply and demand is changing.
  • Scottish Government work with the manufacturing sector, to help develop sustainable domestic manufacture.
  • How Scottish public procurement policy is helping us ensure our supply is resilient and best value for the taxpayer.
  • Work to support innovation, considering the environmental impact of PPE and promoting reusability, and how the needs of users are at the foreground of our thinking.

The Plan is available here; an FAQ document on PPE can be found here.

Scottish Government
October 2020

Working Safely During Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Forestry

This FISA document sets out guidance on how to work safely. It gives practical considerations of how this can be applied in forestry operations.

V1.6 released on 30 October 2020 was updated to take into account the regional differences in COVID-19 protection measures across the UK.

It points out that most forestry work takes place outdoors, over large areas with limited interaction with other people. Physical (social) distancing measures can be readily implemented in the majority of work operations taking place. In addition, recent improvements in the provision of personal hygiene and hand washing facilities on forestry sites will make it easier for workers to follow good practice. 

Specific activities within forestry operations will require additional control measures to enable physical (social) distancing and enhanced hygiene regimes. These include safe travel to and from the (often remote) work sites, and the use and cleaning of shared equipment and welfare facilities on-site. Both of these activities will require adjustment to current working practices to ensure compliance with new public health advice.

If an activity cannot be undertaken safely, for example due to a lack of suitably qualified personnel being available or physical (social) distancing or other suitable controls being implemented, it should not take place says the document.

It is also essential that any worker who may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or is concerned that they may have symptoms themselves, does not come to work and follows public health guidance on self-isolation. Managers and supervisors should remind the workforce at every opportunity of the site safety rules which are aimed at protecting them, their colleagues, their families and the UK general population. 

The document gives practical considerations of how this can be applied in forestry operations. The information and advice contained in this guidance can also be used to protect workers carrying out other outdoor work such as peatland restoration, wildlife and nature reserve management, and ecological surveys and research. These are included in this document under the broad heading of environmental management. 

It is available in full here.

October 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Safer Public Places – Urban Centres and Green Spaces

This guidance provides the owners and operators of public spaces with information and examples of measures that may be undertaken to adapt and manage public spaces in order to help social distancing.

It has been updated to reflect the national restrictions in force from 5 November 2020.

From this date, the government announced restrictions for England that:

  • require people to stay at home, except for specific purposes
  • prevent people gathering with people they do not live with, except for specific purposes
  • close certain businesses and venues.

The guidance is primarily for owners and operators of public places including but not limited to:

  • local councils and town/city centre managers
  • landowners
  • commercial landlords responsible for public places
  • management companies.

It is available here.

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
November 2020

COVID-19: Guidance for Managing Beaches, the Countryside and Coastal Areas

From 5 November national COVID-19 restrictions apply to England, this includes actions that:

  • require people to stay at home, except for specific purposes
  • prevent people gathering with people they do not live with, except for specific purposes 
  • close certain businesses and venues.

The national restrictions replace the local COVID alert level measures. The new national restrictions apply across England for four weeks up to Wednesday 2 December. 

Click here for the updated guidance.

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
November 2020

COVID-19: Guidance for Managing Playgrounds and Outdoor Gyms – updated

This guidance is for owners and operators of playgrounds and outdoor gyms to enable their use while minimising the transmission risk of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

It has been updated to reflect new national restrictions in England from 5 November.

The national COVID-19 restrictions from this date includes actions that:

  • require people to stay at home, except for specific purposes
  • prevent people gathering with people they do not live with, except for specific purposes
  • close certain businesses and venues.

Under the restrictions in force from 5 November:

  • outdoor gyms must be closed
  • outdoor playgrounds can remain open.

The guidance is available here.

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
November 2020

COVID-19: Guidance for the Safe Use of Council Buildings

This information is for those managing council buildings. It signposts to relevant guidance on a range of different activities that can take place in these spaces, in line with measures to tackle COVID-19.

It has been updated to reflect the national COVID-19 restrictions applicable to England from 5 November. This includes actions that:

  • require people to stay at home, except for specific purposes
  • prevent people gathering with people they do not live with, except for specific purposes
  • close certain businesses and venues.

It acknowledges that many council buildings are also workplaces and so councils must therefore be aware of their responsibilities as employers. To help contain the virus, everyone who can work effectively from home must do so. Where people cannot do so (for instance people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing) they should continue to travel to work/attend their workplace. 

Public sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, should continue to go into work. The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-secure guidelines are followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk. 

The guidance is available here.

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
November 2020