Keep up to date with the latest Coronavirus (COVID-19) information.
The first update to the government’s traffic light list for international travel has taken place today, with Portugal moved to the amber list to safeguard public health against variants of concern and protect our vaccine rollout. Seven countries – including Sri Lanka and Egypt – have also been added to the red list. All changes to the lists will come into effect at 4am on Tuesday 8 June.
The Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has today announced that international travel can begin to safely reopen from 17 May, allowing people to go on foreign holidays to green list countries. The ‘Stay in the UK’ regulation will lift on 17 May, meaning leisure travel from England will no longer be illegal.
From today additional premises will be able to reopen – with the rules on social contact applying. Indoor settings must only be visited alone or with household groups, with outdoor settings limited to either six people or two households.
This includes non-essential retail; personal care premises such as hairdressers, beauty and nail salons; and indoor leisure facilities such as gyms and spas (but not including saunas and steam rooms, which are due to open at Step 3).
Overnight stays away from home in England will be permitted and self-contained accommodation can also reopen, though must only be used by members of the same household or support bubble.
Public buildings such as libraries and community centres will also reopen. The majority of outdoor settings and attractions can also reopen, including outdoor hospitality, zoos, theme parks, drive-in cinemas and drive-in performances events.
Hospitality venues will be able to open for outdoor service, with no requirement for a substantial meal to be served alongside alcohol, and no curfew.
From today, groups of 6 people, or 2 households, are allowed to meet outside. The public are being reminded they must stay outside when meeting others as part of the next step of easing Covid restrictions.
Step one of the Government's road map out of lockdown has started, with pupils across England returning to school and college from today.
The Prime Minister has announced the government’s roadmap to cautiously ease lockdown restrictions in England. The roadmap, which you can view in full here, outlines four steps for easing restrictions. Step 1 is prioritising getting children back to school, steps 2-4 can be found below.
Step 2, no earlier than 12 April:
- Non-essential retail, personal care premises, such as hairdressers and nail salons, and public buildings, such as libraries and community centres, will reopen.
- Most outdoor attractions and settings, including zoos, and theme parks, will also reopen although wider social contact rules will apply in these settings to prevent indoor mixing between different households. Drive-in cinemas and drive-in performances will also be permitted.
- Indoor leisure facilities, such as gyms and swimming pools, will also reopen - but only for use by people on their own or with their household.
- Hospitality venues can serve people outdoors only. There will be no need for customers to order a substantial meal with alcohol, and no curfew - although customers must order, eat and drink while seated.
- Self-contained accommodation, such as holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, can also reopen.
- Funerals can continue with up to 30 people, and the numbers able to attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes will rise to 15 (from 6).
Step 3, no earlier than 17 May:
- Outdoors, most social contact rules will be lifted - although gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal.
- Outdoor performances such as outdoor cinemas, outdoor theatres and outdoor cinemas can reopen.. Indoors, the rule of 6 or 2 households will apply - although we will keep under review whether it is safe to increase this.
- Indoor hospitality, entertainment venues such as cinemas and soft play areas, the rest of the accommodation sector, and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes will also reopen.
- Larger performances and sporting events in indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or half-full (whichever is lower) will also be allowed, as will those in outdoor venues with a capacity of 4000 people or half-full (whichever is lower).
- In the largest outdoor seated venues where crowds can spread out, up to 10,000 people will be able to attend (or a quarter-full, whichever is lower).
- Up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions and wakes, as well as funerals. Other life events that will be permitted include bar mitzvahs and christenings.
Step 4, no earlier than 21 June:
- It is hoped all legal limits on social contact can be removed.
- We hope to reopen nightclubs, and lift restrictions on large events and performances that apply in Step 3.
- This will also guide decisions on whether all limits can be removed on weddings and other life events.
You can find out official UK Government data for COVID-19 by clicking here. The COVID-19 dashboard will show you how many people have been vaccinated, the amount of positive cases and the estimated R number throughout the UK. There is also the option to check the COVID-19 situation in your local area with the postcode checker.
The Prime Minister has announced a national lockdown following a rapid rise in infections. From tomorrow, people will only be allowed to leave their homes for the following reasons:
- shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person.
- go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home.
- exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
- meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one.
- seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse).
- attend education or childcare - for those eligible.
You can find further guidance here.
Attached below is a letter from the Secretary of State for the Department of Health & Social Care providing an update on the latest important developments about the UK’s COVID-19 vaccines deployment programme and to provide you with the latest list of local vaccine sites.
Today the Government has announced that Hertfordshire will be moving into Tier 4. That means:
- Residents in tier 4 areas must stay at home, apart from limited exemptions set out in law.
- Non-essential retail, indoor gyms and leisure facilities, and personal care services must close.
- People must work from home if they can, but may travel to work if this is not possible, for example in the construction and manufacturing sectors.
- People should not enter or leave tier 4 areas, and tier 4 residents must not stay overnight away from home.
- Individuals can only meet one person from another household in an outdoor public space.
To find out more details about the tier 4 restrictions, please visit here.
North East Herts MP Oliver Heald and Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland have sent the attached joint letter to Matt Hancock at the Department of Health & Social Care requesting consideration for North Herts and Stevenage to be moved to Tier 1 in the forthcoming review.
I would like to share a letter from the Prime Minister setting out the Government's COVID-19 Winter Plan. National restrictions in England will end on the 2nd December and a three tier system will be implemented across England. Attached below, alongside the letter from the Prime Minister, are graphics which detail the restrictions in each tier.
I would like to share a letter from the Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy updating colleagues on the progress being made in securing a vaccine for COVID-19. You will find this letter attached below under the heading 'Progress in securing a COVID-19 Vaccine'.
From Thursday 5 November, everyone must stay at home, and may leave only for a limited set of reasons. These include:
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;
And to provide care for vulnerable people, or as a volunteer.
To find out more information about the new restrictions for England, click here, or see the attached letter below from the Prime Minister to all Parliamentarians.
This new interactive Map allows you to browse case data for specific areas within the UK. The map displays weekly data, which is updated everyday. This new tool demonstrates how there is still cases of Coronavirus, even in the smaller villages. This re-enforces the necessity to remain vigilant and follow the Government guidance on how to control the virus.
Both London and Essex have entered tier 2 'High' restrictions. Part of Essex is in the SG8 postcode, however Hertfordshire SG8 residents are still in tier 1 'medium' restrictions. I have asked that the Track and Trace App make this as clear as possible.
Today the Prime Minister announced a new three tier Covid alert system. The three tiers are Medium, High and Very High. Each tier has different restrictions.
Medium tier will have existing national measures such as the Rule of Six and the closure of hospitality at 10pm.
High tier will include extra measures in addition to those in the medium tier, such as a ban on indoor social mixing between households or support bubbles.
And the Very High tier, for places where, without further action, the NHS will swiftly be under intolerable pressure, the exact restrictions will be worked out with local leaders, along with tailored packages of support.
You can check what Covid tier your postcode is in by clicking here.
The NHS COVID-19 app launches today with features such as contact tracing using Bluetooth, risk alerts based on postcode district, QR check-in at venues, symptom checker and test booking. Downloading this app is a positive step towards helping control COVID-19 transmission.
From Monday 14th September 'the rule of Six' will be introduced, limiting social meetings to groups of no more than six.
The new 'Hands. Face. Space.' public information campaign urges the public to continue to wash their hands, cover their face and make space to control infection rates and avoid a second peak.
The government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme officially opens for business today with diners enjoying up to 50% off throughout August Monday - Wednesday.
The Health and Social Care Secretary outlined in a speech today that face coverings will be mandatory in shops and supermarkets from the 24th July.
The Government has outlined the measures that will allow outdoor pools to reopen from 11 July and indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities to reopen from 25 July. You can read more about this update here.
From Saturday 4th July, the Prime Minister has announced that pubs, restaurants and hairdressers will be able to reopen, providing they adhere to COVID Secure guidelines. From the same date, he has set out that two households will be able to meet up in any setting with social distancing measures, and that people can now enjoy staycations in England with the reopening of accommodation sites.
In order to begin restoring the arts and cultural sector, some leisure facilities and tourist attractions may also reopen, if they can do so safely – this includes outdoor gyms and playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades, as well as libraries, social clubs, places of worship and community centres.
Face coverings will become mandatory on public transport from the 15th June, the Government announced today.
The Government has outlined their next steps in response to the Public Health England review into disparities in the risks and outcomes of COVID-19. The work will be lead by the minister for Equality, Kemi Badenoch.
The guidance for NHS test and trace service for employers, businesses and workers can be found by clicking here.
Healthwatch Hertfordshire have created 3 quick patient experience surveys to better understand peoples experiences with COVID-19 across Hertfordshire. They can be accessed below:
Mental Health: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/RJDLQ23
Health & Social Care: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/RC62QGV
£200m has been made available for small and medium charities and community organisations to apply for. These grants will be distributed through The National Lottery Community Fund. Priority will be given to the following types of applications:
- Organisations supporting people and communities who experience disproportionate challenge and difficulty as a result of the COVID-19 crisis
- Organisations providing services and support for vulnerable people, for which there will be increased demand as a result of the COVID-19 crisis
- Organisations which connect communities and support communities to work together to respond to COVID-19.
Government funding will be used to fund organisations in the first two categories, National Lottery funding will be used to fund organisations in the last category.
It doesn’t matter if you are applying for Government funding or funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, applications are to be made through the same entry point on their website https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/
The Government has announced that the Job Retention Scheme will be extended for four months until the end of October. Until the end of July, there will be no changes to the scheme whatsoever.
From August to October the scheme will continue, for all sectors and all regions of the UK, but with greater flexibility to support the transition back to work. Employers currently using the scheme will be able to bring back furloughed employees part time. The Government will ask employers to start sharing, with the Government, the costs of paying people’s salaries.
Workers will, through the combined efforts of Government and employers, continue to receive the same level of support as they do now, at 80% of their salary, up to £2,500.
Read more here:
The government, in consultation with industry, has produced guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible.
These 8 guides cover a range of different types of work and can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19
The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy' from the Prime Minister can be found by clicking here.
The Government have launched two new websites for jobseekers and employers. For those willing and able to take up a new role, visit -www.jobhelp.dwp.go.uk. And for employers looking to fill up vacancies, visit - www.employerhelp.dwp.gov.uk.
The new dedicated website for jobseekers has articles, tips and guides to help identify good sectors to look for jobs right now. Visitwww.jobhelp.dwp.go.uk if you are willing an and able to take a new role.
For employers, the new website provides support for employers to aid their rapid expansion. Vacancies are made as accessible and visible as possible. There is also support for employees if employers are having to consider making redundancies. www.employerhelp.dwp.gov.uk.
Sky media have launched the SME100. A £1 million fund that will provide small and medium sized businesses with TV advertising campaigns. Find out more here - https://adsmartfromsky.co.uk/sme100/. This is a great initiative for small and medium size businesses struggling in the current circumstances.
Hertfordshire Constabulary have an 'Echo' service for reporting general concerns to the police during the Coronavirus crisis. You can access information about the Echo system here: https://www.herts.police.uk/Information-and-services/Get-involved/echo.
Or alternatively you can phone 101, the non-emergency police number, if you wish to talk to local police officers and report a crime that does not need an emergency response. In an emergency however, still dial 999.
The Government has announced that anyone in England with coronavirus symptoms who either must go to work or is over 65 can now be tested.
Further information on accessing the service is available here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
You can apply for a test here: https://self-referral.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/test-type
I would like to say a huge thank you to our key workers for all they are doing to help and support us as a nation throughout these troubling times. I have made a short video message to thank them.
Please see below the link to the Hertfordshire Constabulary online community engagement platform ECHO. Due to social distancing, ECHO enables the Constabulary to gather community views in order to help them shape their plans whilst social distancing remains in place.
A joint statement by Herts County Council, Herts Local Enterprise Partnership and Herts Chamber of Commerce about the support local business can receive during the Coronavirus outbreak can be found here: https://www.hertfordshirelep.com/news-events/news/covid-19-joint-statement/
You can find answers to some frequently asked coronavirus questions, such as Council updates, by clicking on this link: https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/about-the-council/news/news-archive/coronavirus-frequently-asked-questions
All Government support and advice can be found at www.gov.uk
I have received an update from the Hertfordshire Local Resilience Forum, a multi-agency partnership of local public services working to coordinate the County's approach to COVID-19. You can find the update in PDF form in the attachments below under the heading Herts Local Resilience Forum.
There has been much comment on press reports that MPs are to be given £10,000 to cover additional costs incurred through working from home during the Coronavirus crisis. The media coverage of this is inaccurate and aimed at attacking MPs unfairly.
The extra contingency was decided by the independent body IPSA, which administers and verifies MP funding and is for the purchase of laptops or other equipment needed for staff who normally work in an office and are now working from home. Payments are payable if verified by receipts. The verification is done by the independent body IPSA. It is not a sum of money paid to MPs.
I will not need to use this contingency.
23rd March 2020
Coronavirus: Thanks from MP and call to follow the distancing rules
I would like to thank all constituents for all they are doing to help the elderly and vulnerable through this difficult period with COVID-19. The number of volunteers has been wonderful and the Hertfordshire County Council Resilience Forum is co-ordinating well. We are all thinking of family and those we love at this difficult time. I would also like to thank our NHS and caring services and those in the public sector who are doing so much at personal sacrifice. We are grateful to them all and to supermarket and stores’ staff, doing so much in the current crisis.
The most important thing at present is for all of us to follow government guidance and particularly the distancing rules, so that we keep more than 2m apart. Many people are following this but we do need everyone to comply. It is not that hard, but I do hear from constituents that some people are not yet doing it. The government may have to take tougher measures still if all of us cannot follow the rules.
I wish all constituents well and to keep safe over the coming weeks.
Rt Hon Sir Oliver Heald QC MP
Member of Parliament for North East Hertfordshire
We will all be thinking of family and loved ones as the virus causes widespread illness and raises issues for our caring services. The Government advice is available at the www.gov.uk website and Hertfordshire County Council response at www.hertfordshire.gov.uk
I have already replied to many messages about particular concerns and am in touch with Ministers and officials in Government trying to resolve constituents’ problems.
The key to the response is to ensure that the vulnerable are protected and that the caring services can cope. I also welcome Government announcements to help business and look forward to further announcements to help individual workers and the self-employed.
Rt Hon Sir Oliver Heald QC MP
Member of Parliament for North East Hertfordshire
19th March 2020
Below is a letter from the Chancellor regarding immediate economic support in response to COVID-19. You can find the rest of the letter under the 'Budget Letter from the Chancellor' attachment at the bottom of this page. You can also find a 'COVID-19 fact sheet' on how your business can be supported during the COVID-19 pandemic at the bottom of the page.
19th March 2020
I have received the attached Dear Colleague Letter from the Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, Matt Hancock regarding the Coronavirus Bill. You can find this letter in the attachment section at the bottom of this page, under the heading 'Coronavirus Bill'.