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Posts tagged "covid19"

Coronavirus: Who are the Covid marshals and what powers will they have?
Covid-secure marshals will be introduced in towns and city centres in England to help ensure social distancing rules are followed, Prime Minister Boris Johnson says. However, there are questions over who will pay for them and those already working in some areas have no power to enforce rules.

What's the aim?

Mr Johnson said the government and the public want to see "stronger enforcement of the rules". In order to do this, he said marshals would be introduced and a register of environmental health officers - who councils could use for support - would be set up. He added that:
  • Hospitality venues will be legally required to record the contact details of everyone visiting and to hold them for 21 days
  • Hospitality venues which fail to follow Covid-secure guidelines will be fined
  • Local authorities will be supported to make greater use of existing powers to close venues which break the rules
  • The police will have new powers from 14 September to break up, and fine, groups of more than six people
However, the plans have been criticised. Conservative MP Steve Baker, for example, said it would "turn every public space in Britain into the equivalent of going through airport security".

Who will the marshals be?

The government said marshals can either be volunteers or existing members of council staff. The Local Government Association (LGA) said "any new responsibilities for councils in this area will have to be fully funded", but there has been no funding announced by government. The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government told the BBC that some areas of the country had already introduced marshals - including Leeds and Cornwall - and it would see where else they were needed. Leeds City Council told the BBC it had introduced six night marshals "who were in place over four weeks and who did not have any enforcement powers". It said these marshals "were positively welcomed by our businesses as necessary and effective in supporting the evening and night-time economy to reopen safely". In Cornwall, street marshals were introduced in Camborne, Helston, Newquay, Redruth, St Austell, St Ives and Truro in July. The council said they would be present during the busiest times of the day to "give friendly help and guidance to those visiting and working" in the area. Banner image reading 'more about coronavirus' Banner

What powers will they have?

The government has still to set out details of what marshals will do, and says those decisions will be a matter for local authorities. In areas where marshals have already been introduced, they have done things like giving out hand sanitiser and face coverings, answered questions and explained social distancing guidelines to members of the public. Marshals do not have the power to enforce social distancing or to issue fines to anyone who breaks the rules. But the government says they can call the police if enforcement action is needed.

Who will enforce the rules for hospitality venues?

Mr Johnson spoke about the need for stricter enforcement of the rules for hospitality venues like pubs and restaurants. Regulation of these premises is a role for local authorities and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), but there have been concerns about a lack of resources. Data provided by the HSE shows that between the beginning of the pandemic in March and 6 September:
  • 14,934 spot checks have been carried out
  • Formal action has been taken in 2,541 cases
  • 2,034 have received verbal advice - and 432 written correspondence and 75 enforcement notices have been issued
To bolster this work, the government announced it would set up a register of environmental health officers that councils could call upon - but it is yet to release further details. The LGA said "given the shortage of environmental health officers, it is positive that the government has committed to a register".
Coronavirus: People urged not to move house

The government has urged people not to move house to try to limit the spread of coronavirus across the UK.

Buyers and renters should delay moving while emergency stay-at-home measures are in place, it said.

Its comments come amid reports banks are pressing for a full suspension of the UK housing market.

Lenders are concerned about the effect of the pandemic on valuations, according to the Financial Times.

Banks are also worried about granting mortgages during this period of extreme economic uncertainty, the FT said.

The government said that while there "is no need to pull out of transactions", "we all need to ensure we are following guidance to stay at home and away from others at all times".

If a property is vacant, people can continue with the transaction, although they must ensure they are following guidelines with regards to home removals.

But if the house is occupied "we encourage all parties to do all they can to amicably agree alternative dates to move".

Property listings websites say that interest in moving home has slumped amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Zoopla said demand in the week to 22 March fell 40% from the week before and it predicts housing transactions will drop by up to 60% over the next three months.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of sales that had been agreed before the lockdown are falling through.

The property listings site said the UK housing market had a strong start to the year before the coronavirus outbreak crushed demand.

The pandemic has led to a "rapidly increasing" proportion of sales falling through, as would-be buyers "reassess whether to make a big financial decision in these shifting times".

Rival Rightmove also said the slowdown in the UK housing market had been "significant".

"The number of property transactions failing to complete in recent days and likely changes in tenant behaviour following the announcement of the renters' protections by the government may put further pressure on estate and lettings agents," it said, referring to the recent ban on evictions.

In response to the crisis, UK Finance, which was formerly known as the British Bankers' Association, said lenders would extend mortgage offers for people who were due to move house during the lockdown.

"Current social distancing measures mean many house moves will need to be delayed," UK Finance chief executive Stephen Jones.

"Where people have already exchanged contracts for house purchases and set dates for completion this is likely to be particularly stressful," he said.

"To support these customers at this time, all mortgage lenders are working to find ways to enable customers who have exchanged contracts to extend their mortgage offer for up to three months to enable them to move at a later date."

source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52051174#

Coronavirus (COVID-19): immigration guidance

Guidance on immigration provisions made by the Home Office for individuals affected by travel restrictions associated with coronavirus (COVID-19).

Published 17 February 2020Last updated 27 February 2020 — see all updates From:  

Contents

  1. Chinese nationals in the UK whose visa has recently expired or is about to expire
  2. Non-Chinese, non-EEA nationals in the UK normally resident in China
  3. Chinese nationals in the UK whose visa was granted by Irish authorities (British Irish Visa Scheme (BIVS)
  4. Chinese nationals in the UK whose visa was granted by the Crown Dependencies
  5. Switching to a Tier 2 category in the UK
  6. Information for Chinese or third country nationals in China
  7. British nationals in China who need to apply for a passport
  8. Licensed Tier 2, Tier 4 or Tier 5 sponsors: absences due to coronavirus
  9. Additional immigration queries
  10. Coronavirus Immigration Helpline
  11. Additional resources

Due to travel restrictions because of coronavirus some individuals may be facing uncertainty in relation to the expiry date of their current visa or leave to remain in the United Kingdom. The Home Office understands that in many cases this is because of circumstances outside of your control.

Subject to the below guidance, most people in the UK whose immigration status is affected by the coronavirus outbreak will get an automatic extension of their visa until 31 March 2020.

Read the guidance below to find out if your visa will be automatically extended or if you need to contact the Home Office’s dedicated coronavirus immigration helpline to discuss your circumstances and arrange an extension.

The helpline can only speak to the visa holder or applicant about individual cases. If a third party wishes to speak on their behalf, they must have the visa holder’s permission.

Chinese nationals in the UK whose visa has recently expired or is about to expire

If you are a Chinese national in the UK and have been compliant with the conditions of your visa prior to the coronavirus outbreak, your visa will be automatically extended to 31 March 2020 if your visa has an expiry date between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020.

You’ll also get an automatic extension if you’re in the UK on a long-term standard visitor visa that lasts 2, 5 or 10 years and you have reached the maximum stay of 180 days between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020.

You don’t need to do anything to get this extension.

You will remain subject to the same immigration conditions attached to your visa during the extension period.

You will not automatically receive a new visa or Biometric Residence Permit card.

Your new expiry date (31 March 2020) will be added to UK Visas and Immigration’s systems.

If you need a status letter confirming this extension, or a new Biometric Residence Permit with a revised expiry date, you should contact the coronavirus immigration helpline.

If you have already applied to extend your visa you don’t need to do anything.

If you are intending to apply to extend your stay in the UK before 31 March 2020 you should continue to do so.

Non-Chinese, non-EEA nationals in the UK normally resident in China

If you are a non-Chinese or non-EEA national in the UK but are normally resident in China and your visa in the UK has an expiry date between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020 you should contact the coronavirus immigration helpline.

The team will be able to extend your visa to 31 March 2020 if you can demonstrate you are normally resident in China.

You will remain subject to the same immigration conditions attached to your visa during the extension period.

Chinese nationals in the UK whose visa was granted by Irish authorities (British Irish Visa Scheme (BIVS)

If you are a Chinese national in the UK with a visa that was granted by the Irish authorities and has an expiry date between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020 you should contact the coronavirus immigration helpline to discuss your circumstances.

Chinese nationals in the UK whose visa was granted by the Crown Dependencies

If you are a Chinese national in the UK with a visa that was granted by a Crown Dependency and has an expiry date between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020 you should contact the coronavirus immigration helpline to discuss your circumstances.

Switching to a Tier 2 category in the UK

If you are a Chinese national in the UK on a Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visa and want to switch to a Tier 2 General visa you normally need to return to China to make your application.

You can exceptionally apply to switch from a Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer to a Tier 2 General visa from within the UK if your visa has an expiry date between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020.

You will still need to pay the relevant fee and meet all the requirements of a Tier 2 General visa, other than the requirement that you usually have to apply in China.

Information for Chinese or third country nationals in China

UK Visa Application Centres in China are currently closed.

The Home Office continues to monitor the situation and updates on when the VACs will re-open will be available on VFS’s website.

Bookings for Secure English Language Testing (SELT)

Access to approved Secure English Language Testing (SELT) facilities across China is also currently restricted in line with national requirements, and tests scheduled for March 2020 have been cancelled.

These dates are being kept under review as the situation develops.

Test takers who have already taken their test will receive their Test Report Form (TRF) by mail.

For all the latest information, please visit the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)’s website, or contact your test centre directly by email.

Chinese or third country nationals whose passport is at a Visa Application Centre (VAC)

UK Visa Application Centres in China are currently closed.

Where possible we will return passports currently held in VACs to customers via courier, where courier return has been requested. This will not be possible in all locations.

If your passport is currently held in a VAC, but you have not previously arranged for it to be returned by courier, please contact VFS Global directly.

The Home Office continues to monitor the situation and updates on when the VACs will re-open will be available on VFS’s website.

As soon as we are able to re-open the VACs we will prioritise the return of all documents to our customers.

British nationals in China who need to apply for a passport

Due to the closure of Visa Application Centres (VAC), it is not currently possible to apply for a British passport from China. If you urgently need to travel to the UK, you can apply for an emergency travel document.

British passports that were due for collection at a VAC have now been delivered to the British Embassy in Beijing, or the Consulates in Shanghai and Guangzhou. You will be contacted to make arrangements to collect your documents.

The Home Office is monitoring the situation, and as soon as we are able to re-open the VACs we will prioritise the return of documents to our customers.

Licensed Tier 2, Tier 4 or Tier 5 sponsors: absences due to coronavirus

Some Tier 4 students or Tier 2/5 employees may be prevented from attending their studies or employment due to illness, the need to serve a period of quarantine or the inability to travel due to travel restrictions caused by coronavirus.

Sponsors do not need to report student or employee absences related to coronavirus which they have authorised.

Sponsors do not need to withdraw sponsorship if they consider there are exceptional circumstances when:

  • a student will be unable to attend for more than 60 days
  • an employee is absent from work without pay for four weeks or more

Decisions on whether to withdraw a student from their studies or terminate an employment are for sponsors to make. The Home Office recognises the current situation is exceptional and will not take any compliance action against students or employees who are unable to attend their studies/work due to the coronavirus outbreak, or against sponsors which authorise absences and continue to sponsor students or employees despite absences for this reason.

The Home Office will keep this under review, especially if the length of absences mean a potential repeat of period of studies become necessary.

Additional immigration queries

You can also contact the coronavirus immigration helpline if you have any other immigration queries related to coronavirus, including questions about urgent, compelling, compassionate case where a Chinese national or other visa national based in China needs to travel to the UK.

If your query doesn’t relate to immigration provisions associated with coronavirus (COVID-19) please contact the general immigration helpline on 0300 123 2241.

Coronavirus Immigration Helpline

Telephone: 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)

Calls are free of charge.

Email: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk

Due to Data Protection Regulations we can only speak to the visa holder or applicant about their specific query.

If you are a third party (for example family member or sponsor) and wish to speak on their behalf, we must have the visa holder’s permission. This can be provided by verbal consent to the coronavirus immigration helpline or written consent via email. The email to verify consent must be sent from the email address provided on the visa holder’s application to CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk to enable us to provide a response. Without consent we are unable to discuss person-specific details with a third party.

Additional resources

We will keep our guidance under regular review. You can keep up to date by reading the latest Public Health England advice which includes the latest advice for travellers.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has also produced guidance for British people travelling and living overseas following the outbreak, and you can find country-specific information on their travel advice pages for all countries you’re planning to visit or transit.

Published 17 February 2020Last updated 27 February 2020 + show all updates source:https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-immigration-guidance-if-youre-unable-to-return-to-china-from-the-uk

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