What the Covid lockdown in England means for consumers | World news

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Which shops will remain open?

As with the last lockdown, food shops, supermarkets, chemists and certain other retailers providing “essential goods and services” will be allowed to remain open.

Downing Street said on Sunday it would set out exactly which shops will be allowed to stay open in the coming days.

Expect bike shops, off-licences and wine merchants to get the green light. The government has indicated that garden centres will remain open, in which case DIY stores might be allowed to keep their doors open too.

So what’s closing?

Virtually everything else. All non-essential retailers must close on Wednesday night as must all pubs, cafes, and restaurants. All indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, leisure centres, gyms, swimming pools, golf courses, and kids soft-play areas must all close.

It is the same story for all entertainment venues, meaning all theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums, galleries and bingo halls have to shut, as must all hairdressers and other personal care outlets.

What about takeaways?

While restaurants, bars and pubs must close to the public, they will still be allowed to provide takeaway and delivery services. One crucial difference this time around is that the government has said pubs will not be allowed to sell alcohol on a takeaway basis.

During the last lockdown, otherwise closed pubs were able to sell off their beer stocks which helped keep many going. Unless the government reverses this decision in the next 48-hours, expect some very unhappy publicans who will have to throw away a lot of perfectly good beer.

I have a short-break booked in the UK in November – will I get a refund?

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has previously stated that refunds should be paid to customers who cannot take up a service because of government regulations.

Despite this, some consumers are expected to lose out. For example, Airbnb is at odds with CMA’s stance. It has stated that its standard cancellation terms will apply to all bookings made after March, meaning that some people will lose up to half their money. The company keeps its booking fee if the consumer cancels. Better to let the host cancel, in which case you are entitled to a full refund.

I was due to travel abroad – what happens to me?

After the Canary Islands were added to the no-quarantine list last week, bookings went mad for November as people tried to grab some last-minute sun. If you are due to fly before Wednesday night, you can still go. Trips that were due to depart from Thursday onwards are off, and whether you receive a refund will depend on how you booked the trip.

Those who booked a package tour will have that trip cancelled and will be entitled to a full refund under the package tour regulations. If you booked your own flight and accommodation, it is looking far less certain. If your flight is cancelled by the airline you can ask for a refund.

Few travel insurance policies are paying out for the cancellation of trips booked after mid-March, when the coronavirus pandemic became a “known event”.

My employer is going to shut again, can I be furloughed again?

Yes. The furlough scheme was due to be replaced by the far less generous job support scheme (JSS) on Sunday, 1 November. However, the furlough scheme, which has paid up to 80% of the wages – up to £2,500 a month – for more 10 million people prevented from working because of Covid restrictions, will now run until December – when this new lockdown is expected to come to an end.

From the employees’ perspective it will be identical to the scheme launched back in March. For employers, it is significantly more generous.

In recent months, the government has been paying 60% of the employee’s payments leaving the company to contribute the remaining 20% of the furlough payments. Now, the chancellor is picking up the full 80%, leaving the employer to cover pension and national insurance contributions.

To be eligible for the extension, employees must have been on the payroll on 30 October 2020.

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What else can firms get?

The government will also give England-based firms up to £3,000 per month under the local restrictions support grant if their premises is forced to close. They can also apply for £1,000 for every furloughed employee kept on until at least the end of January, or £1,500 for each unemployed 16- to 24-year-old given a ‘‘high-quality’’ work placement for at least six months.


What other help is there for workers struggling to pay the bills?

The government’s mortgage payments holiday scheme, that has allowed householders a six month payments deferral, was due to end on Saturday, 31 October, but this is being extended as well.

The Treasury says borrowers who have been impacted by coronavirus are entitled to a six-month mortgage payments holiday without this being recorded on their credit file.

The Financial Conduct Authority will announce further information on how the extension will practically work on Monday. Since the start of the pandemic, lenders have granted a total of £2.5m mortgage payment holidays.



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