Live Better Blog: June Round-Up
We’re happy you’re here – a lot has happened in the last month, and the country is beginning to re-open. But what does this look like, and how does it impact you?
Let’s find out…
Multiple lockdown restrictions were lifted across the country in June, and the social distancing rule was reduced to 1+ metres – but what else can we expect to change?
From 4th July, restaurants, pubs and hairdressers were allowed to re-open in England, along with cinemas, museums and other attractions. However, close proximity venues (such as indoor gyms) will remain closed.
Restrictions on holidays will also be relaxed from 6th July, which means that you can travel to certain countries without having to spend 14 days in quarantine – known as ‘air bridges’ or ‘travel corridors’.
These will allow smoother travel between two countries with relatively low levels of coronavirus, and they work in both directions, so people can travel between them without having to quarantine on arrival.
A list of countries have been approved for air bridges with the UK, and you can find them here.
The public were also introduced to a new measure aimed at tackling loneliness amongst the population during the pandemic, ’social bubbles’, allowing those who live alone to stay at the houses of loved ones.
Top government medical and science advisers have stressed that, whilst these changes are reasonable, they come with risk and may be reversed if necessary.
Returning to work – your rights.
The ease in lockdown restrictions has seen many people return to work – but should you be, and what are your rights?
The government announced in June that those who can work from home are advised to continue to do so, and for those who do return, full government guidance on working safely in newly opened sectors is available.
Businesses should be prepared to move quickly if the rules change, which means employees might have little notice if their company wants them to get back to work.
This may become an issue for public-facing jobs, such as bars and restaurants, which potentially carry a higher risk of catching the virus.
Under employment law, workers have the right to walk off the job to protect themselves from serious and imminent danger, and although businesses may think they are enforcing social distancing rules, it’s almost impossible for an employer to police a workplace properly.
Businesses have also been warned that they must be especially careful to protect high-risk and vulnerable workers (there are currently 2.2 million people classified as high-risk in England), which could mean varying their responsibilities or keeping them on furlough until it is safer to return.
However, from 1st August, those who are high-risk will no longer need to shield, and may return to work as long as their workplace meets the proper government guidelines.
If you don’t think your workplace is safe, you can check with your employer to see which measures have been put in place, and which are stipulated by government guidelines. Businesses must follow a strict code of measures, which can include:
- Observing the 1m rule of social distancing
- Introducing one-way systems to minimise contact
- Frequent cleaning of objects and communal areas
- Storing returned items for 72 hours before returning them to the shop floor
- Table service only in indoor pubs and restaurants
- Venues expected to collect contact details of customers for the NHS Test and Trace system
If you are unhappy with the measures put in place, and your employer has not addressed your concerns, you should contact your local authority or the Health and Safety Executive, who can force firms to take action.
Millions of credit and loan customers will be able to defer their repayments for a further three months, to help those struggling with debt due to the coronavirus. However, anyone taking advantage of the freeze must still pay back the debt at the end of the deferral period.
The FCA said that borrowers should resume their repayments if they can, to avoid getting into more serious difficulty in the future. Banks may also be stricter in who qualifies for the payment deferral, and might only agree to a reduction in minimum repayments.
To find out if you qualify, contact your bank or building society.
A new announcement from the Housing Secretary means that new evictions in England and Wales of tenants in both social and privately-rented accommodation will be suspended for an additional 2 months, until 23 August.
The extension began on 25th June, the end of the three-month period originally announced as part of emergency coronavirus legislation in March, with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) saying it would benefit “millions of renters”.
Free school meals extension.
It was announced in June that the government would be extending the voucher scheme for free school meals over the summer holidays, meaning an estimated 1.3 million children will receive food throughout the summer.
The extension, which was spurred by footballer Marcus Rashford’s social media campaign, is open to children of all ages living in households on income-related benefits, from government-maintained nurseries through to sixth forms.
Free Energy for a Year!
Back in April and May, we gave away FREE ENERGY for a YEAR to two NHS workers, to say thank you for all their hard work during the pandemic. We’re happy to announce that we’ve extended the draw until the end of 2020, and we’ve opened it up to ALL ESSENTIAL WORKERS!
Our June draw has now closed, but we’ll be opening July’s draw soon, so stay tuned to our Facebook page to see how you can nominate!
A little extra help.
We know that times can get tough, and we’re here to support you.
We’ve put together some information on what to do if you find yourself financially affected by the current coronavirus disruption, and how we may be able to help.
Click here to read our Coronavirus and Debt guide, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need extra financial support.
Just call 0161 837 4000 between 9am-5pm Monday to Friday, or email firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our friendly team members will get back to you as soon as possible.