This afternoon, Wale’s First Minister Mark Drakeford announced that Wales will start moving into stricter level 4 restrictions – the equivalent of a lockdown – from 6pm on Christmas Day. Mr Drakeford announced that all non-essential retail and gyms would close at the end of trading on Christmas Eve with hospitality having to close from 6pm on Christmas Day.
Almost like bad Christmas gift, this latest update to coronavirus restrictions in Wales is probably the last thing businesses in that country wanted to hear. Alas, here we are, and once again, businesses in Wales are going to have to consider what the impact of this will mean.
From 28 December, Wales will go into a level 4 lockdown, the highest level of restrictions in that country. Once again, many businesses will be forced to close, including those in the hospitality industry, non-essential retail and close contact services. This means they will need to, again, consider the options open to them. Employers should remember that the furlough scheme remains available to all eligible businesses and should consider if the scheme could help them to retain staff through this difficult period. As a reminder, companies can furlough staff for the first time, even if they have never made use of the scheme before.
Meanwhile, people will be told to stay at home as much as possible unless travelling for essential purposes, such as for work. Guidance on homeworking, however, will not change from what it has remained in Wales since the first lockdown back in March; everyone who can work from home should do so.
With all four UK nations remaining committed to going ahead with previous plans to relax coronavirus restrictions over Christmas, it remains to be seen if the other devolved nations will follow suit with harsher restrictions as December ends and January begins. To this end, employers across the UK should remain vigilant for any updates from the government.
Alan Price, CEO of BrightHR