Government advice and updates, including the devolved nations, and overseas, e.g. ROI:
How to protect yourself and others
Staying alert and safe (social distancing) guidance
Staying safe outside your home guidance
Guidance on getting tested for Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Staying at home if you think you have coronavirus (self-isolating)
How everyone can help stop coronavirus spreading (social distancing)
How to protect extremely vulnerable people (shielding)
Full guidance on staying at home and away from others
Guidance for the public on mental health and wellbeing
UK Government information service on WhatsApp
Employment and financial support
Guidance for employees
Check if your employer can use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
Self-employment Income Support Scheme
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
Your rights if your hours are cut or you're laid off
What to do if you cannot pay your tax bill on time
Employers, businesses and other organisations
Coronavirus Business Support Hub
NHS test and trace: workplace guidance (for England)
Check if you can claim for your employees' wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Financial support for businesses
Check what you need to do about Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
How to keep your employees safe
Applying for more time to file your company’s accounts
Local Growth Hub advice and support for Business
Social distancing in the workplace
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) page on Coronavirus
Apply for the coronavirus Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund
Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)
Information for those residing in the devolved nations regarding COVID-19 and/or construction
NIDirect provides details of support available for Northern Ireland businesses and employers.
Information, advice and guidance for businesses and employers in Northern Ireland from nibusinessinfo.co.uk.
Information for benefits and assistance during Covid-19.
Extra financial support information from NIDirect.
The Labour Relations Agency has also published Coronavirus guidance and links to resources for employers and employees.
You can find medical/health advice from the Department of Health at the link here.
The Executive Office has published information about how it will make desicions going forward RE coming out of lockdown.
Eddie Weir PCIAT has written on planning permission delays in NI - see the latter half of this article. (Please note this does not constitute as official advice.)
Contact tracing information from NIDirect.
FindBusinessSupport.gov.scot provides a range of resources for businesses in Scotland including:
Redundancy help in Scotland from Skills Development Scotland & PACE
A free service to help with current recruitment needs from Skills Development Scotland.
Updates regarding planning and building were issued on 29 May. Click here to read them.
The Scottish Government has confirmed that it is now advising construction sites to close. It is currently developing guidance for business on how to respond, and how to confirm whether their activities are essential or non-essential. Read the advice here.
The Scottish Government Coronavirus Business Support Fund is being administered by Local Authorities. The ratepayers of businesses located in a non-domestic property that is on 17 March;
in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS);
in receipt of Rural Relief; or
eligible for SBBS but in receipt of Nursery Relief or Disabled Relief;
can apply to access a support fund and receive a one-off small business support grant of £10,000. This is only available if they were the ratepayer for a premises occupied for that business use on 17 March 2020.
A separate one-off grant of £25,000 is available to the ratepayers of businesses in the retail, hospitality, leisure sectors operating in a premises with a rateable value of £18,001 or up to £50,999. This is the rateable value as at 17 March 2020 regardless of any subsequent reduction in rateable value due to an appeal. This is only available if they were the ratepayer for a premises occupied for that business use on 17 March 2020.
Eligible ratepayers can apply for a one-off grant payment as detailed below up to 31 March 2021. Only one grant is allowed per ratepayer regardless of the number of premises held.
These grants are aimed at helping keep companies in business and keep productive capacity so that they can recover. Their intention is to protect jobs, prevent business closure and promote economic recovery.
Find out how to apply here. The deadline for applications is 31 March 2021.
Regulations on Changing Places Toilets, and more Planning Act commencements
Regulations have been laid in the Scottish Parliament to bring in to effect the new Planning requirements on Changing Places Toilets. Section 26 of the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 introduces a requirement that planning applications for certain types of development will only be able to be approved if the development includes a toilet facility that meets the description in the Act. This is inserted as section 41B of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997.
The Town and Country Planning (Changing Places Toilets Facilities) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 amend the types of development and the description of the facility to align with the Building Standards requirements that came into force in October 2019. These regulations need to be approved by the Scottish Parliament before they come into effect.
The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 (Commencement No. 4 and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2020 will bring the requirements, as amended by the Regulations, into force for applications submitted on or after 18 May 2020.
A circular has been published setting out the amended requirements all in one place and giving more information about Changing Places Toilets and the interaction with Building Standards.
The Commencement Regulations also bring into force on 18 May the powers under section 17 of the 2019 Act for Scottish Ministers to make regulations about short term let control areas. The commencement of section 62 and paragraph 9 of schedule 2 deal with the Parliamentary procedure for approving these regulations. We will be consulting soon on what those regulations should include, with a view to the system for designating short term let control areas coming into force by the end of this year.
The Chief Planner and the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning have written in relation to implications for Scotland's planning system as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak and the resultant need for social distancing, and outlining some steps and actions to ensure planning can continue to operate and play a vital role in economic and social recovery. The letter also provides an update on what recent events and reprioritisation means for the wider work programme of the Planning and Architecture Division. Read the full letter.
Read a letter from the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning Kevin Stewart MSP about guidance on building standards, compliance and enforcement relating to special measures to enable the occupation of new buildings as a result of COVID-19.
Read a letter from the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning Kevin Stewart MSP about special measures to enable the erection of temporary care assistance buildings as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Read a letter from the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning Kevin Stewart MSP to the Chief Executives of local authorities about enabling the acceptance of unsigned certificates of design as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Read a letter from the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning Kevin Stewart MSP to the Chief Executives of local authorities about guidance on the duration of a building warrant and extending the validity and Determination of application – refusal and deemed refusal as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Read a letter from the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning Kevin Stewart MSP regarding the Scottish government's approach to restarting the construction industry in Scotland (26 May 2020).
Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 now in force
The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 came into force on 7 April 2020. The Act includes provisions relevant to the operation of the planning system. These include extending duration of planning permissions about to expire; publishing planning documents online rather than at physical locations; and allowing authorities to exclude people from meetings for public health reasons. This guidance for stakeholders explains the provisions of the Act.
COVID-19 – regulations laid in Parliament to allow planning system continuity
Regulations have been laid in the Scottish Parliament – to come into force on 24 April – that will help keep planning moving during this emergency period. Read the regulations here. The regulations include the temporary steps to suspend need for public events in pre-application consultation, local review bodies meeting in public and hard copies of EIA reports in physical places.
A guidance note has now been published explaining the temporary changes to the pre-application consultation requirements; including setting out expectations about the replacement of the public event with alternative, web-based approaches.
Information and frequently asked questions on recurring development management issues related to COVID-19.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making - further information (5 May 2020)
The Scottish Government has published further information, following the original publication COVID-19: A Framework for Decision Making. This update sets out further information about the challenges Scotland faces and provides illustrative examples of the steps that might form part of the initial changes to the current lockdown restrictions. The document can be found here.
Scottish Government newsletter for procurement and property, which summarises changes due to COVID-19.
COVID-19 – Framework for Decision Making: Scotland's route map through and out of the crisis (21 May 2020).
BusinessWales provides details of support for businesses in Wales including:
A series of free webinars – for small businesses in Wales – topics include; recovery and growth, business diversification, accessing finance and remote working
Help and information for people in Wales from the National Assembly for Wales.
Information and updates for those residing overseas in our Centres regarding COVID-19 and/or construction
View the latest information on how Ireland is responding to cases of COVID-19.
If you are self-employed, find out what help there is for you here.
Find out how to qualify for Short Time Work Support.
For those who have become recently unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, find out about the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
Financial assistance for Cross Border workers can be found here.
The National Standards Authority of Ireland have issued a guide on workplace protection and improvement.
The Construction Industry Federation has a range of information and resources for the construction industry here.
The Construction Industry Federation has published its Standard Site Operating Procedures. Read the guidance here.
Michael O'Keefe MCIAT has written an article on planning permission delays in ROI. (Please note this does not constitute as official advice.)
A Back to Work Resource Pack from CIF (April 2020)
A Return to Work Safety Protocol from the Government of Ireland (8 May 2020)
Business Continuity Planning Checklist COVID-19 from Dept. of Business, Enterprise and Innovation
Procurement Policy Note – Supplier relief due to COVID-19
This Procurement Policy Note (PPN) sets out information and guidance for public bodies on payment of their suppliers to ensure service continuity during and after the current coronavirus, COVID-19, outbreak. Contracting authorities must act now to ensure suppliers at risk are in position to resume normal contract delivery once the outbreak is over. To read the PPN in full, please click here.
The government has advised British citizens against all non-essential travel worldwide.
Housing and local services
School closures and education
Apprenticeship programme response
The Education and Skills Funding Agency is taking steps to ensure that, wherever possible, apprentices can continue and complete their apprenticeship and to support providers during this challenging time. New guidance has been published for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations.
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Call for businesses to help make NHS ventilators
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is seeking businesses who can support the production and supply of ventilators and ventilator components across the UK. If you think you can help please visit ventilator.herokuapp.com and register your details.
New guidance on the Regulatory status of equipment being used in UK hospitals.
A new Coronavirus Status Checker will help the NHS coordinate its response and build up additional data on the COVID-19 outbreak. It is open to anyone in the UK to use on the NHS website and in its initial phase the NHS is particularly keen for anyone who thinks they may be displaying potential coronavirus symptoms, no matter how mild, to complete it. You can find this here.
The NHS has useful information about the virus, advice on how to reduce your chance of contracting it and a tool you can use if you think you may have the virus. Click here to access their resources.
Our advice to members is to AVOID holding/attending Regional meetings, CPD events, exhibitions etc. in person and to instead opt for webinars and conference calls. This social distancing will mitigate the harm caused by the virus.
UK Government's Business Support website has a list of upcoming webinar events from Government and non-government partners. You can find more information here.
HMRC are delivering a programme of webinars on measures to support employers, employees and the self-employed through this period of disruption. You can watch a video of recorded webinar on the HMRC YouTube channel Coronavirus – (COVID-19): helping employers to support employees.
Construction policies in other countries
All feedback from Government is that they want construction activity to continue where it is safe to do so in compliance with HSE guidelines.
However, it is understood that non-compliance with the HSE Public Health Guidelines could be deemed to be a breach of the Safety, Health and Welfare Act 2005 requiring provision of a safe place to work.
The Irish Union for construction workers is also in discussions with the Government to secure a committment that contracting authorities will not penalise contractors for issues pertaining to the adaptation of these essential safety guidelines.
The government have published a press release saying: "Construction and public works firms are essential to the economy by contributing to French peoples' needs in terms of housing, water, energy, waste management, transport and telecommunications."
It announced that following discussions over previous days, construction federations and the government agreed a number of principles to strengthen the continuity of activity and works. Labour protection from the virus would be ensured through adapted procedures, including the maintenance of distance between workers.
Construction federations will publish a guide of good practice, approved by the Employment and Health ministries, which will set out a number of recommendations to ensure good health conditions. For public works, public sector clients and government services (i.e. local prefects) will coordinate and prioritise the works that should be resumed or continued.
Construction (including construction of buildings) is included in the more stringent Italian shutdown announced (i.e. it has shut down).
Civil engineering work (including work on roads, railways and other public infrastructure) is exempted and allowed to continue, as are various maintenance activities such as plumbing and electrical work.
Construction is exempt from the Spanish shutdown as the competent authority believes there is low risk of contagion due to sites being in open spaces.
The royal decree prohibits certain establishments from opening to the public, but does not prohibit economic activity and does not establish any limitation to work on construction sites or to the transport of related products. The work does have to follow the recommendations of the Ministry of Health, however, to avoid concentrations of people.
Health and safety measures being introduced by regional governments for construction sites include: continuous work (no collective breaks); taking turns to have lunch; distance of two metres between workers; cleaning stations on site.
Despite being allowed to continue, most works have reportedly been suspended due to problems of staff getting to work (due to restrictions on people travelling together) and supplies. Businesses have also come under pressure from unions, which have complained that construction works are putting the health of workers at risk.
The construction sector is not considered as key essential sector, with an exception for urgent works and emergency interventions.
As such, the general measures apply to the construction sector, i.e., if teleworking is not possible, companies must take necessary measures to comply with the rules of social distancing, in particular keeping of a distance of 1.5 meters between each person/worker. This rule also applies to transport from home to workplace.
The federal guidance does not explicitly reference construction workers in its list of essential critical infrastructure workers. However, this list is intended to be advisory and some states have identified construction as essential business exempt from “stay-at-home” orders.
California: The list of critical infrastructure workers exempt from the 19 March “stay-at-home” order includes construction workers who support the construction, operation, inspection, and maintenance of construction sites and construction projects (including housing construction). Under California State law, violation of the mandate could be a misdemeanour with penalty of fine or imprisonment but California Governor Newsom indicated that for now the order will not be enforced by law enforcement.
New York: The 20 March New York PAUSE executive order lists construction as essential business. The order is not clear whether construction is limited to essential infrastructure or emergency repair and reports suggest that commercial/residential construction has continued as usual. The mandate will be enforced through civil fine and mandatory closure for any business not in compliance.
Pennsylvania: The 19 March executive order for closure of ‘non-life sustaining businesses’ required cessation of construction of all residential and non-residential construction, utility, highway, street and bridge construction except where emergency repairs are required. At this stage, law enforcement are raising awareness of the order rather than enforcement.
New Zealand have moved to Level 4 of its COVID-19 alert on 25 March. Only essential services, defined as those absolutely essential to ensure the necessities of life, will remain open. Among these services is ‘building and construction associated with essential services and critical infrastructure, including to maintain human health and safety at home or work’. Entities providing essential services are required to use alternative ways of working to keep employees safe (effective social distancing). A warning has been issued that enforcement measures may be used, but specific penalties have not yet been communicated.