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05 January 2021

Covid-19 update – 5 January

England and Scotland today join Northern Ireland and Wales in nationwide lockdowns. Here is an update about what we know at this stage.

Audiology

Audiology practices remain open across the UK to meet people’s needs.

Members should continue to follow Audiology and otology services during Covid-19. AIHHP, BAA, BSA and BSHAA have advised that audiologists follow guidance in Alert Level 4 in Appendix 9 in their joint guidance. 

Members are also advised to continue following all official Covid-19 guidance and keep up to date with developments. You can also access the NCHA Covid-19 resource hub and contact us for support in the usual way.

Extremely clinically vulnerable (shielding) people

In England, the government is advising the clinically extremely vulnerable to begin shielding again. They should only go out for medical appointments and exercise or if it is essential. If they cannot work from home, then they should not attend work (read more).

In Scotland, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) has written to everyone on the shielding list with detailed advice.  

People on the list should “stay home as much as possible” although they “can still go out for exercise and essential shopping or medicines”. However, they are advised to “strictly follow the guidelines when shopping and limit the number of times you go to a shop. Shop at quieter times”.

If they cannot work from home, the advice is “not to go to work”. They can use the CMO letter as “shielding notification” and show it to their employer as “a fit note for as long as lockdown restrictions are in place”. A GP’s fit note is not required (read more)

Schooling

In England, the children of key workers should have access to school provision (read more). Audiology staff are regarded as key workers.

In Scotland, from 5 January to 29 January, children of Category 1 and Category 2 key workers will continue to have access to schools (read more). In most cases, audiology staff will be Category 2 key workers.

Financial support

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a new business grant for retail businesses across the UK. At this stage, it is not clear whether essential retail premises will be eligible for this grant. We will update members as soon as we have more information. Also, £594m is available for businesses not eligible for the grants which might be affected by the restrictions. Read more.

To check whether your business is eligible for other financial support, you can use the coronavirus financial support tool.

The government has extended the coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS) until 30 April 2021. Check if you can claim and what to do next.

If you intend to apply for the latest instalment of the self-employment income support scheme (SEISS), you must make your claim on or before 29 January.

More detail

On 4 January, the UK’s four Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) recommended that the Covid-19 alert level moves from level 4 to level 5. Read the full statement.

With lockdowns already in place in Northern Ireland and Wales, England and Scotland announced new Covid-19 restrictions.

In England, restrictions come into effect today, 5 January, and are expected to last until mid-February if hospitals’ situation improves. The goal is to have vaccinated everyone in the top four priority groups, including all frontline healthcare staff, by that point.

During this period, people cannot leave or be outside their home except where they have a ‘reasonable excuse’, which includes:

  • Work – where you cannot do your job from home
  • Essential activities – to buy things at shops or obtain services, which includes on behalf of a disabled or vulnerable person or someone self-isolating
  • Medical reasons – such as medical appointments and emergencies, Covid-19 testing and vaccination etc.

Where you must work in other people’s homes, you can do so. (Read the full guidance for England)

In Scotland, the First Minister has announced that there will be a legal requirement to stay at home from today except for essential purposes. These new restrictions will remain in place until the end of January. Examples of the published essential purposes include:

  • Healthcare
  • Essential services
  • Essential retail

Also included are community audiology services, which are permitted to remain open.  

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