The government has today (23 December) confirmed that Oxfordshire will be placed into tier four from 00:01 on Saturday 26 December.
Tier four is the highest alert level in the national four-tier system. It means that Oxfordshire residents must stay at home, except for a limited number of purposes.
These include essential work that cannot be done from home, buying food, taking exercise, or getting medical treatment. In tier four, you cannot meet other people socially indoors, unless you live with them or are part of a support bubble.
The latest data shows that the virus is spreading much faster than expected given the existing restrictions already in place. In the past seven days, cases across the county have increased by 86 per cent to 1,636, with rises seen across all districts.
Health Secretary's press conference as Oxfordshire moves into tier four status:
Among the over 60s, cases have more than doubled in the space of a week. Oxfordshire’s weekly rate currently stands at 236.5 per 100,000 people, which compares with 126.9 for the week ending 11 December.
The rapid spread is being attributed to a new variant of COVID-19, which is passed on far more easily. Although there is currently no evidence that this variant causes a more severe illness nor that the vaccine will be any less effective, it is 70 per cent more transmissible. This new variant is increasingly becoming the dominant strain across the country.
What support is available for your business?
This new announcement, coupled with the UK's impending departure from the European Union, means its an extremely challenging period for our business community.
Coronavirus has created an unprecedented situation during 2020 and will cause concern and disruption to businesses of all sizes moving into 2021. In addition – as the UK transition period comes to end – the county’s businesses will have to make a number of changes to ensure a continued flow of people, data, goods and services between the UK and the EU.
With this in mind, here’s a brief summary of the support we are encouraging Oxfordshire businesses to consider during the upcoming festive period and beyond.
COVID-19 specific support:
Take a look at the latest COVID-19 related Government support, including the Job Support Scheme, the Local Restrictions Support Grant (for closed businesses), the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) and specific sector-focused help for businesses.
The peer networks programme brings together cohorts of business leaders so they can discuss business challenges with their peers.
Delivered through a series of group sessions, businesses gain and reflect valuable feedback from peers and identify practical solutions to overcome business challenges. Businesses will then choose which coach, mentor or business advisor to work with to further explore solutions to your challenge.
Business support tool:
Through the business support tool, businesses can complete a simple online form and receive a bespoke business support plan, aimed at coming up with practical solutions to challenges currently faced:
The eScalate programme supports growing businesses that have scale-up potential. It also supports SMEs that are social enterprise, social entrepreneurs, enterprising charities and other purposeful businesses committed to enabling positive social and environmental impact.
Innovation Support for Business (ISfB):
ISfB is a programme designed to drive and commercialise the innovative business ideas of Oxfordshire's SMEs and entrepreneurs.
Skills for Business:
Skills for Business provides practical support to small to medium-sized businesses to identify and evaluate their skills and learning needs including upskilling current staff.
UK transition-specific support:
In recognition of the end of the UK transition period, a business support service is available to Oxfordshire businesses throughout the working days of the Christmas and New Year period, and from 4 January to end of March 2021.
Full details, plus links to the latest Government support, can be found via the UK transition section of our website.