Forty First Report Contents

Instruments relating to COVID-19

Local Restrictions and movement between Tiers

Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 3) And (All Tiers) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/8)

11.On 4 January 2021 the Chief Medical Officers raised the Covid-19 Alert Level to level 5. This instrument achieves a national lockdown by making all areas of England subject to Tier 4 from 6 January. It also extends the expiry date of the All Tiers Regulations2 to 31 March 2021 and amends the Tier 4 provisions to:

12.In addition, this instrument also extends the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No.3) Regulations 20205 by six months so that they expire on 17 July 2021. These Regulations give enforcement powers in relation to premises, events and public outdoor places. It also removes from them the ability for a police community support officer to use ‘reasonable force’ in enforcing them.

Changes to business practice and regulation

Competition Act 1998 (Groceries) (Public Policy Exclusion) Order 2020 (SI 2020/1568)

13.This Order suspends temporarily prohibitions of certain types of anti-competitive activity, as set out in Chapter 1 of the Competition Act 1998 (“the 1998 Act”), in the UK groceries sector. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) says that the Order is a contingency measure that aims to protect the security of supply of groceries to consumers in the UK in the event that there is disruption to the supply chain caused by the continuing effects of the pandemic and the end of the Transition Period.

14.The Order specifies the types of activities and agreements between suppliers that are excluded temporarily from anti-competitive behaviour provisions under the 1998 Act, such as sharing information about stock levels and shortages; coordinating the limiting of purchases by consumers of particular groceries; coordinating support for particular groups of consumers, such as critical workers or vulnerable consumers, or particularly vulnerable areas of the UK; sharing information on the passage of groceries through UK ports; and sharing staff or facilities. The exemptions apply retrospectively from 17 December 2020 and will expire at the end of 31 March 2021 or earlier, if the Order is revoked.

15.Agreements between businesses in these areas will have to be notified to the Secretary of State. The Order mirrors a similar instrument6 that was made in the early stages of the pandemic. BEIS told us that, under the earlier Order, the Secretary of State received 18 notifications from industry of agreements made between industry parties. All notifications were published.7

Travel

Operation of Air Services (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1632)

16.EU Regulation 2020/696 made temporary provision to help the aviation industry deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. In November these provisions were further extended. Although these changes would have been incorporated into retained EU law at the end of the Transition Period, the current Regulations make the necessary adjustments to ensure that they will continue to operate appropriately until they expire. The EU provisions allow airlines in temporary financial difficulty to retain their operating licences for another year, allow airports to replace a bankrupt ground handling service provider without tender until the end of 2021, and inserted provisions allowing ground handlers, whose contracts expire before the end of 2021, to keep them until 2022.

Changes to benefits

Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 7) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1638)

17.From 14 December 2020 in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and from 10 December in Wales, the self-isolation period for contacts of someone who has tested positive for coronavirus was reduced from 14 days to 10 days. The point at which the 10-day self-isolation period begins also changed, with day 1 being the day after either the first day of symptoms, the day of the test or, if a contact, the day of the most recent contact with the confirmed case.

18.These Regulations reflect these changes to ensure that, subject to the usual qualifying conditions, individuals remain eligible for Statutory Sick Pay for the full period of self-isolation.

19.Individuals may be notified that they have been in contact with someone with coronavirus in writing or orally (in person or by telephone). Regulation 2(7) provides for relevant notifications to be given orally and expands the list of people who can issue relevant notifications to include the Scottish and Welsh Ministers.


2 Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1374).

3 Cabinet Office and DfE, ‘Children of critical workers and vulnerable children who can access schools or educational settings’ (as updated 8 January 2021): https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision [accessed 12 January 2021].

4 BBC, ‘Surge in pupils at school in lockdown sparks call for limit’ (9 January 2021): https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-55579711.

5 Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/750).

6 Competition Act 1998 (Groceries) (Coronavirus) (Public Policy Exclusion) Order 2020 (SI 2020/369).

7 See: BEIS, ‘Competition law exclusion orders relating to coronavirus (COVID-19)’ (21 May 2020): https://www.gov.uk/guidance/competition-law-exclusion-orders-relating-to-coronavirus-covid-19 [accessed 7 January 2021].




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