COVID-19 update: Monday 23rd March


The Spanish government is expected to approve proposals to extend its state of emergency, including a requirement for residents to stay indoors apart from for essential trips until 11th April as the number of Covid 19 deaths continues to rise.


‘Essential travel’ guidance

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has updated its guidance for people planning to visit second homes or holiday premises during the coronavirus pandemic.

DCMS has said that during the pandemic, people should now avoid travelling unless it is essential. “Essential travel” does not cover isolation or holidays and the people are advised to remain in their primary residence.

The DCMS update follows a surge of people travelling to rural and remote areas to self-isolate, which has been condemned as it puts extra pressure on essential services.

Other news

At his briefing on Friday, the Prime Minister announced further measures on employer protection:

  • Stepping in to pay peoples wages with a new scheme. A grant will cover 80% of wages up to £2,500 for those employees kept on the payroll. This will be backdated to 1 March, open for three months (may be extended). This will cover businesses of any size. HMRC working to get scheme running within weeks, with first payments made by end of April. In the Q&A the Chancellor stated that the scheme will cover everyone on PAYE (incl zero-hours contracts).
  • Corona Virus Business Interruption Scheme interest free period will be extended to 12 months. Available from today.
  • Cash flow support via the tax system. Deferring next quarter of VAT payments. No business will pay VAT from now until the end of June. The payments will not be due until the end of the financial year.
  • New national advertising campaign to communicate business support. Chancellor calls for people to consider the support carefully before laying people off.
  • Increasing the Universal Credit standard allowance by £1,000 a year. Working tax credit basic element will also increase by £1k.
  • Suspending the minimum income floor for everyone impacted, allowing the self-employed to access Universal Credit up to the level of statutory sick pay.
  • Deferment of next self-assessment payments are deferred until January 2021.

Other useful links

·       Further details about the Small Business Grant Scheme and the Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme have been published on  on the COVID-19 support for businesses page 

·       The ‘Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme’ announced in the 2020 Budget on 11 March has been brought forward, the new scheme is expected to become available in   week commencing 23 March 2020.

·       The online sick note system has launched on  

·       Updated guidance on what to do if you have a suspected case of COVID-19 in your household has been published by the UK Government.

·       The Treasury has published guidance for Local Authorities on the Expanded Retail Discount 2020/21: Coronavirus Response, which sets out in more detail what is meant by ‘leisure, hospitality and retail’ when referring to the business rate holiday and other schemes.

·       The UK Government has published a summary of impacts relating to the Coronavirus Bill.

·       Following the UK Government’s announcement of increased measures to delay transmission, further guidance on social distancing has been published