Hounslow Business Task Force at Ten - Free Webinars:
 
The next Task Force at Ten webinar is on Thursday 21 st  May at 10:00am
 
If you have missed our webinars, you can watch them now:  https://hounslowchamber.org.uk/10015
DAILY BUSINESS BRIEFING FROM GOVERNMENT'S COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE (courtesy of White Label)
                                                                       
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has pledged to ‘keep Britain building’ as a boost to the country’s economy at today’s Downing Street press conference.
 
He announced a series of measures to unlock the housing market, including:

  • allowing builders to agree more flexible construction site working hours up to 9pm at night Monday to Saturday with their local council, which would involve staggering builders’ arrival times, easing pressure on public transport
  • enabling local councils and developers to publicise planning applications through social media instead of having to rely on posters and leaflets, helping to unblock the service
  • support for smaller developers by allowing them to defer payments to local councils, helping those struggling with their cash flow while ensuring communities still receive funding towards local infrastructure in the longer term
  • Kickstarting the planning system by encouraging it to make greater use of digital technology and insisting on virtual hearings of planning applications within weeks to ensure the planning system can resume

The Housing Secretary said the housing market reboot was essential for a vibrant housing market and critical for the government’s planned "first homes programme" later this year, which will offer a 30% discount for key workers.

He added that more than 100 organisations had already signed up to a new Charter launched by the government and the Home Builders Federation, which helps construction sites reopen in line with latest health and safety guidance.

In addition, from today (13 May) anyone in England can move home if they follow new guidance .

Roadmap taskforces to plan how closed sectors can reopen safely
Five new ministerial-led taskforces have been set up to develop plans for how and when closed sectors can reopen safely, following publication of the UK’s roadmap to rebuild Britain. Each taskforce will lead on developing new COVID-19 secure guidelines for the reopening of public places and businesses, where and when it is safe to do so. The taskforces will look at the following sectors:

  • pubs and restaurants
  • non-essential retail
  • recreation and leisure, including tourism, culture and heritage, libraries, entertainment and sport
  • places of worship, including faith, community and public buildings
  • international aviation, reflecting the unique challenges that sector is facing.

As part of the science-led approach, each taskforce will work across government and engage with key stakeholders in public health, industry, trade unions and devolved administrations to:

  • ensure that COVID-19 secure guidelines are developed in line with the phased approach and public health directions, building on the existing guidance and providing intelligence and sector-specific expert input
  • agree and ensure alignment of all relevant sectoral guidance
  • provide key sector stakeholders direct access to ministers to shape the guidance.

More information is available here.

Government to support businesses through Trade Credit Insurance guarantee
Businesses with supply chains which rely on Trade Credit Insurance and who are experiencing difficulties maintaining cover due to Coronavirus will get support from the government, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen has announced.

Trade Credit Insurance provides cover to hundreds of thousands of business to business transactions, particularly in non-service sectors, such as manufacturing and construction. It insures suppliers selling goods against the company they are selling to defaulting on payment, giving businesses the confidence to trade with one another.

But due to coronavirus and businesses struggling to pay bills, they risk having credit insurance withdrawn, or premiums increasing to unaffordable levels.

To prevent this from happening, the government will temporarily guarantee business-to-business transactions currently supported by Trade Credit Insurance, ensuring the majority of insurance coverage will be maintained across the market.

The guarantee will be delivered through a temporary reinsurance agreement with insurers currently operating in the market. More details are available here .

ADDITIONAL UPDATES AND GUIDANCE

Angling restrictions eased
You can now fish on your own, with your household, or with one other person while adhering to social distancing rules and staying two metres apart at all times, due to updated government guidance on outdoor activities .

Government expands expert team to rapidly roll out coronavirus test and trace programme
The government has announced the expansion of the expert team leading on the rapid nationwide roll-out of the coronavirus (COVID-19) test and trace programme. Find out more here.

COVID-19: safer public places – urban centres and green spaces
New guidance for the owners and operators of urban centres and green spaces to help social distancing.

Closing certain businesses and venues in England
Guidance has been updated to reflect current regulations.
Strategy guidance from HM Government Department for Business, Energy & Industry.
London Resilience COVID-19 Comms Group – update 

Changes to coronavirus lockdown rules  (courtesy of Hounslow Council)

The Government’s initial changes to the lockdown rules began today. Its  overarching guidance  is:

  • Stay at home as much as possible
  • Work from home if you can
  • Limit contact with other people
  • Keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms (a high temperature and/or a new, continuous cough)

People are also being urged to avoid public transport if possible, and walk or cycle where they can.
The Council and its partner organisations will support and enforce the new measures as best we can.

Mobile testing unit at Grasshoppers’ Rugby Club
Friday 15th and Saturday 16th May
As more people are returning to work this week, you should get tested if you are symptomatic. A Coronavirus mobile testing unit will again be in place on Friday 15  May and Saturday 16 May at Grasshoppers’ Rugby Club, Syon Lane, Osterley, Isleworth, TW7 5PN.  There are a mixture of  walk-in and drive-through appointments available at this site.

Eligible people for testing are: 
Our priority is testing patients to inform their clinical diagnosis 
  • all essential workers including NHS and social care workers with symptoms (ideally within first 5 days of symptoms) 
  • anyone over 65 with symptoms (ideally within first 5 days of symptoms) 
  • anyone with symptoms whose work cannot be done from home (for example, construction workers, shop workers, emergency plumbers and delivery drivers) (ideally within first 5 days of symptoms) 
  • anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus and lives with any of those identified above (ideally within first 5 days of symptoms) 

Additionally, we are testing: 
  • social care workers in care homes (with or without symptoms) 
  • NHS workers without symptoms according to NHS England guidelines 

Book an appointment 
You can book your appointment  here

Anyone who shows up without an appointment will not be tested. The testing centre will be operating between 10.30am-3.30pm. 

Please note that if an appointment is not available at the Grasshoppers’ site then the same testing criteria apply for bookings at the Twickenham testing site too, and they operate 7 days a week. They do however only offer drive-in appointments. 

If you have any difficulty or any questions about testing, please email  publichealth@hounslow.gov.uk  
New guidance for safer travel 
The Government have released new guidance for anyone that needs to use the transport network. The advice sets out that if people who cannot work from home and have to travel for work, they should first consider alternatives to public transport such as walking and/or cycling. Those driving their own cars have been asked to avoid busy areas and times. 

For those who have to use public transport, the  guidance for passengers on how to travel safely  recommends: 

  • keeping 2 metres apart from others wherever possible 
  • wearing a face covering if you can 
  • using contactless payment where possible 
  • avoiding rush hour travel where feasible
  • washing or sanitising your hands as soon as possible before and after travel 
  • following advice from staff and being considerate to others 

All transport operators have been issued guidance on ensuring stations and services are regularly cleaned, making clear to passengers how to stay 2 metres apart where possible in stations, airports and ports, and to ensure routes for passengers are clearly communicated to avoid crowding.  
In line with Government plans to increase national rail services, we are working hard to return Tube and bus services to normal levels under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, with many staff ill, shielding or self-isolating. 

By next week, over 70 per cent of Tube services (in line with national rail services) and 85 per cent of bus services will be running.

However, given the national requirement to maintain 2 metres distance between passengers wherever possible, the capacity on the Tube and buses will be reduced to around 13-15 per cent, even once services are back to full strength.

This means transport must operate very differently.

In line with new Government advice, everyone who can work from home should continue to do so. Public transport should be avoided wherever possible to free up the limited space available to those who have no alternative way to travel.

If you must travel, please plan ahead and travel outside of the busiest times, particularly first thing in the morning. Please try to take the most direct route and avoid busy interchanges. To help you plan your journey we will be publishing details of the busiest stations and lines in the next few days and will write to you again with that information.

If you can, please walk or cycle for all or part of your journey, including to complete your journey if travelling into central London. We have been introducing local improvements in partnership with boroughs to widen footpaths and provide more cycle lanes. You can find out more  here .

This is also to help support you in making the most of your local shops and outdoor spaces.

We are taking measures across our network to enable social distancing of 2 metres where possible. Please wear a face covering. Do not travel if you have any symptoms of the virus.

You may be asked to wait to enter a station. Some stations will have one-way systems, or you may be asked to walk on the left. We are also asking people to maintain social distancing throughout stations, for example on stairs, escalators and in lifts.

If travelling by bus, please maintain social distancing at stops and bus stations wherever possible. Currently you will also need to board the bus using the middle doors and you do not need to tap in. When in the bus please use all available space, including the upper deck, if possible, to maintain social distancing.

We are doing everything we can to maintain the cleanliness of our network with regular cleaning using hospital grade antiviral disinfectant.

It is also important that you continue to follow the Government advice on hygiene. Please wash your hands before and after travel and carry hand sanitiser with you. We are also putting hand sanitiser dispensers in our stations in the coming weeks.

Please be considerate to our staff and follow their instructions. Everyone is doing their best in these difficult times.

Thank you for your help.

Vernon Everitt
Managing Director, Customers, Communication & Technology
Keep on top of your mental health and wellbeing
Having good mental health helps us relax more, achieve more and enjoy our lives more. It's especially important now more than ever, to take care of your mental health during this pandemic. 

During this time you may be bored, frustrated or lonely. You may also feel low, worried, anxious or be concerned about your health or that of those close to you. It is important to remember that it is OK to feel this way, the situation is only temporary. It’s important that you take care of your mind as well as your body and to get further support if you need it. 

Here are some helpful websites on looking after your mental wellbeing: 

Chamber member, MortenICT is holding an online event with HAYS Recruitment, Cisco Meraki and other valuable speakers about new technologies, ICT skills & jobs in the new ERA (post-COVID-19).

CLS , a patron of Hounslow Chamber, is now offering IT services for businesses. 
Hounslow Chamber of Commerce is the primary support, networking, and representation organisation in west London for SMEs.

We support the interests, the commercial aspirations and the investment for some 18,000 firms - from Chiswick to Feltham, Heathrow to Osterley and Brentford to Bedfont - the Chamber is the voice for all businesses located in the borough.