COVID-19 Defra Update 26 March 2020

26th March 2020

The latest news from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

At this busy time, Government communications are increasing to ensure that stakeholders are aware of updated guidance. As a result, you may have received the information below from different sources.

Latest guidance from Public Health England.

Guidance for food businesses on Coronavirus

New guidance for food businesses has been published.

‘Stay at Home, Save Lives’ campaign

Following updated guidance on social distancing, the government last night launched an updated public information campaign, reminding people of the very limited circumstances that they should leave home in the current situation.

Assets for the ‘Stay at Home, Save Lives’ are now available to download online, including posters, digital screens, and social media resources.

We are encouraging all stakeholders to use these assets and amplify the campaign as much as possible.


Updated guidance: Further businesses and premises to close

The Government has updated its guidance for businesses as part of further social distancing measures.


Guidance on producing hand sanitiser and gel for coronavirus

HMRC has produced updated guidance to help businesses who produce – or would like to start producing – hand sanitiser and gel, including for licensed distillers and gin manufacturers. The guidance is available on


Extra time for companies to file accounts

A joint initiative between the government and Companies House will allow businesses to apply for a three-month extension for filing their accounts, allowing them to prioritise managing the impact of coronavirus.

As part of the agreed measures, while companies will still have to apply for the 3-month extension to be granted, those citing issues around COVID-19 will be automatically and immediately granted an extension.

Applications can be made through a fast-tracked online system which will take just 15 minutes to complete. Guidance on how to apply for an extension can be found on


Coronavirus: Latest retailer activity

The British Retail Council (BRC) are providing a daily update on the actions taken by retailers to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic.

In their latest update they have covered: new and further measures by supermarkets to support social distancing, measures to implement social distancing between staff members in offices and staff rooms, changes to opening hours to support NHS and emergency staff, and bonuses for workers.

You can read updates on the BRC website.


Number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and risk in the UK

As of 9am on 24 March 2020, a total of 90,436 people have been tested, of which 82,359 were confirmed negative and 8,077 were confirmed positive. 422 patients in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) have died.

Find out the risk level in the UK, what to do if you have symptoms, and what the government is doing about the virus here.


New Coronavirus Information Service on Whatsapp

The government has launched the Coronavirus Information Service, an automated ‘chatbot’ which will allow the public to get answers to the most common questions about coronavirus.


Gender pay gap

The Government Equalities Office and the Equality and Human Rights Commission have announced the suspension of the enforcement of the gender pay gap deadlines for this reporting year, meaning that there will be no expectation on employers to report their data.


Six-month MOT exemption

The Department for Transport has announced that owners of cars, motorcycles, and vans which usually require an MOT test will be granted a six-month exemption from 30 March, enabling them to carry on with essential travel. Further information can be found on


All guidance, information and announcements can be found at GOV.UK.