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Read all of the latest news on Government guidelines for reopening, testing and VAT.

 Extended Opening Hours
The Government has announced that it is to allow shops to stay open until 10pm in England once retailing is allowed from 12 April. This should also give a boost to trade for foodservice businesses. Details of the temporary relaxation in opening hours have not yet been released.

Approved Testing
The Government has published a list of private testing systems that they have approved. See: here

Home Testing
From 6  April, the Government is to make free home COVID test kits available to all employers with over 10 workers. Employees will be able to do rapid and regular testing at home, thus avoiding lengthy journeys to test centres.
See: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/workplace-testing-programme-expands-to-offer-free-rapid-home-testing?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_source=8067c0f1-f1f5-44b2-b152-7125e6351e2b&utm_content=daily

What can you do if an Employee Refuses to be Tested or have a Vaccine?
There seems to be some confusion over the legal position if an employee refuses to be tested or to have a COVID vaccination and, thereby, puts other workers at risk. The Association has taken views from two sets of legal advisors on this question and the message seems to be to tread carefully. According to ACAS “if an individual unreasonably refuses to take a test, in some situations it could result in disciplinary action” such as where there is a workplace policy to test staff and it is necessary to do their job. However, this may not stand up if there are genuine reasons (not just an opinion) – such as pregnancy or religious beliefs – for not having a vaccination. So, the best advice currently is to seek legal guidance before taking any such action. Members can obtain free advice from HR consultants Ellis Whittam on Tel. 0345 226 8393, email. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Restrictions on Temporary Structures Eased Again
The Communities Secretary has also announced that businesses such as pubs and restaurants, including those in listed buildings, are to be allowed to use their land more flexibly to set up marquees throughout the summer and provide more outdoor space for diners as restrictions ease. See: here

VAT Deferral Scheme Guidance Updated
HMRC has updated the guidance on the VAT Deferral Scheme to clarify that the maximum number of instalments that a business can make is related to when they joined the scheme. Here’s the table from the Guidance that clarifies this:

If you join by           Number of instalments available to you
19 March 2021        11
21 April 2021           10
19 May 2021            9
21 June 2021           8

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