36.Three instruments relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Education (Coronavirus) (School Teachers’ Qualifications, Induction, Inspection Arrangements, Etc) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/385), the (Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) (Amendment) (No. 11) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/442) and the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development etc.) (England) (Amendment) Order 2021 (SI 2021/428) are drawn to the special attention of the House in this report (see paragraphs 1 to 13, 14 to 23 and 24 to 35 above).
37.In line with the roadmap out of lockdown, this instrument amends the Steps Regulations to move all of England into Step 2 with effect from 12 April. It also makes a few minor clarifications to the Steps Regulations: for example, to allow businesses or services otherwise permitted to open at Step 2 to also open at self-contained accommodation, caravan parks and campsites. Additionally, it clarifies that Coronavirus Improvement Notices and Coronavirus Restrictions Notices which require businesses to remedy unsafe practices within a set period or before reopening, may be issued in relation to the accommodation venues in Step 2.
38.The Secretary of State is required to review the measures imposed by the Steps Regulations every 35 days; the next review will therefore be due by Friday 14 May.
39.These Regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Public Health Information for International Passengers) (England) Regulations 2020. They reflect the first stage of the roadmap out of lockdown, which removes the ‘Stay at Home’ requirement and allows more internal travel from 29 April. These Regulations amend travel provisions so that a person without a reasonable excuse for travelling outside the UK may no longer be directed to return to the place where they are living, though they may still be directed to leave an embarkation point.
40.These Regulations also amend the International Travel Regulations 2020 to update the list of specified competitions in Schedule 3 which is used to identify sportspersons exempt from self-isolation.
41.This Order implements the proposals of the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) for the levy that is to be imposed on employers in the sector to fund the CITB’s services and activities in relation to industry training. The last such Order was made in 2018. The Department for Education says that plans for another three-year Order covering the years 2021, 2022 and 2023 have not been taken forward because of the continuing uncertainty caused by the pandemic and the potential for a significant recession. Instead, this Order implements proposals for only one year. The instrument sets the levy rates for different categories of employers, based on the annual emolumentsthey pay to their workers. In response to the pandemic, the Order also allows employers to pay 50% of the 2020 levy in 2021–22, while the levy to be paid in 2021 is reduced by 50% compared to 2020. The Small Business Levy Exemption Threshold, which exempts small employers from the levy, is increased from £79,999 to £119,999.
42.This instrument postpones the date from which prior notification requirements will apply to the import of products of animal origin and prescribed types of plant and plant products from the EU into Great Britain (GB), from 1 April to 31 July 2021. The instrument also extends a transitional period, so that phytosanitary certificates will not be required for the import of plants and plant products from the EU into GB until 31 December 2021. Without this extension this transitional period would have expired on 31 March. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says that the Government’s EU Exit Operations Cabinet Committee (XO Committee) has agreed these extensions to give businesses which will be affected by the new sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) requirements more time to familiarise themselves with the new rules and IT systems and enable workable migration from current systems at a time when they have to deal with the ongoing impacts of the pandemic. Defra says that the extensions will also ensure that necessary infrastructure and processes are in place at Border Control Posts (BCP), further minimising the risk of any disruption.
43.We asked Defra for further information about the new IT systems and when they were expected to be ready. The Department told us that:
“Since 1 January 2021, the Import of products, animals, food and feed system (IPAFFS) has been successfully introduced for imports of live animals, animal products and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin into GB. Defra is now extending IPAFFS functionality to include imports of plants and plant products from EU and non-EU third countries. Likewise, Defra continues the development of the new exports IT system (formal name to be confirmed in due course). Over the past few months, the team have been working closely with a small group of Used Agricultural Farm Machinery exporters, to further develop, test and refine the live system. Following the success of this private beta, there will be a phased transition period to the new live systems, starting throughout Summer 2021. This will allow time for business to familiarise themselves with the new services and to new commodity groups to be onboarded, recognising that full functionality will be an ongoing process.”
44.We also asked Defra when it expected the BCP infrastructure to be ready for the new SPS checks. The Department told us that it expects this “infrastructure to be ready as required to deliver each of the revised phases of increased SPS checks in October 2021, January 2022 and March 2022, as confirmed by the XO Committee decision of 10 March 2021”.
16 Cabinet Office, ‘COVID-19 Response — Spring 2021 (Summary)’ (22 February 2021): [accessed 15 April 2021].
17 Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021 ().
18 , as amended.
19 , as amended.
20 Industrial Training Levy (Construction Industry Training Board) Order 2018 ().
21 Emoluments are defined in the instrument but broadly include salaries, fees and wages. The use of emoluments, rather than number of employees, reflects the nature of the industry in which employers make extensive use of subcontractors and may directly employ few people.