Road Map To Easing Lockdown Restrictions
The Government announced on Sunday 10 May their road map to easing lockdown restrictions and have today (Monday 11 May) published ‘OUR PLAN TO REBUILD: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy’, setting out its roadmap to bring England out of Coronavirus lockdown. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have eached developed their own road map to easing lockdown restrictions.
The road map sets out a cautious approach to easing lockdown restrictions in a safe and measured way. The road map will be kept under contant review as the epidemic and the world’s understanding of it develops.
Updated guidance is released regularly and I will update this page as more details are announced.
This page was firstly published on 12 May 2020 and the last update was 15 May 2020.
The Road Map To Easing Lockdown Restrictions
The Road Map to easing lockdown restrictions in England has 3 steps, it is intended that step one will begin on Wednesday 13 May 2020 and then as with the current lockdown there will be three weekly reviews.
The commencement date for each of the three steps are expected to be:
- Step One – 13th May
- Step Two – 1st June
- Step Three – 4th July
If new cases continue on a downward trend the next step will be initiated, however if cases begin to increase the restrictions will revert to those described in the previous step of the road map. So the dates are for guidance only and are not guaranteed, they do however give you a date to aim and plan for.
Throughout the three steps of the road map it is vital that those who are showing symptoms, however mild, or is in a household where someone has symptoms, should not leave their house and must not go to work. Those people should self-isolate at home, as now, and that the household quarantine rules continue to apply. However, as the Government increases the availability and speed of swab testing it will be able to confirm more quickly whether suspected cases showing symptoms have COVID-19 or not. This will reduce the period of self-isolation for those who do not have COVID-19 and their household members.
The changes to policy in this first step will apply in England from Wednesday 13 May.
Proposals on work state:-
- For the foreseeable future, workers should continue to work from home rather than their normal physical workplace, wherever possible. This will help minimise the number of social contacts across the country and therefore keep transmissions as low as possible. People who are able to work at home make it possible for people who have to attend work places in person to do so while minimising the risk of overcrowding on transport and in public places.
- All workers who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open. Sectors of the economy that are allowed to be open should be open, for example this includes food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution, garden centres and scientific research in laboratories. The only exceptions to this are those workplaces such as hospitality and non-essential retail which during this first step the Government is requiring to remain closed. As soon as practicable, workplaces should follow the new “Covid-19 Secure Guidelines”.
Proposals on travel state:-
- While most journeys to work involve people travelling either by bike, by car or on foot, public transport takes a significant number of people to work across the country, but particularly in urban centres and at peak times. As more people return to work, the number of journeys on public transport will also increase. This is why the Government is working with public transport providers to bring services back towards pre-Coronavirus levels as quickly as possible.
- When travelling everybody (including critical workers) should continue to avoid public transport wherever possible. If they can, people should instead choose to cycle, walk or drive, to minimise the number of people with whom they come into close contact. It is important many more people can easily travel around by walking and cycling, so the Government will increase funding and provide new statutory guidance to encourage local authorities to widen pavements, create pop-up cycle lanes, and close some roads in cities to traffic (apart from buses) as some councils are already proposing.
- Social distancing guidance on public transport must be followed rigorously. As with workplaces, transport operators should follow appropriate guidance to make their services Covid-19 Secure.
Proposals on child care state:-
- The Government is amending its guidance to clarify that paid childcare, for example nannies and childminders, can take place subject to being able to meet the public health principles, because these are roles where working from home is not possible. This should enable more working parents to return to work.
Proposals on face-coverings state:-
- As more people return to work, there will be more movement outside people’s immediate household. This increased mobility means the Government is now advising that people should aim to wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet, for example on public transport or in some shops. Homemade cloth face-coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission in some circumstances. Face-coverings are not intended to help the wearer, but to protect against inadvertent transmission of the disease to others if you have it asymptomatically.
- A face covering is not the same as a facemask such as the surgical masks or respirators used as part of personal protective equipment by healthcare and other workers. These supplies must continue to be reserved for those who need it. Face-coverings should not be used by children under the age of two, or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly, for example primary age children unassisted, or those with respiratory conditions. It is important to use face-coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and taking them off.
- Employees who can work from home should continue to do so to minimise contact risk – there is no change to this statement.
- Where working from home is not possible and the normal place of work is open employees should be encouraged to attend work if it is safe to do so. Previously the government had said people should “only go to work if you must” i.e. if you’re an essential worker. The emphasis has now changed so that anyone who cannot work from home is being actively encouraged to return to work.
- Businesses that are open should comply with the new “Covid-19 Secure Guidelines” set of guidelines.
- If your business falls in to the hospitality, personal care or non-essential retail sector you should remain closed.
- Those displaying symptoms or are in a household with someone who is, must self isolate.
- Employees travelling to work should avoid public transport.
- Childminders and nannies will be allowed to return to work to enable working parents to return to work.
- Face coverings should be worn in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible and there will be contact with other people such as public transport and small shops.
Other reports from government ministers and departments have said that before opening their workplaces, employers should carry out risk assessments and work with health and safety reps to ensure safe working practices are adhered to. As well as this, employers are being told they should continue to implement social distancing practices at work – this would include using tape or markers, limiting the numbers of workers in certain areas and encouraging smaller teams working together. This is going to be a huge logistical and practical change for employers to achieve and implement.
Covid-19 Secure Guidelines
Workplaces should follow the new ‘Covid-19 Secure Guidelines‘.
The Government has consulted relevant sectors, industry bodies, local authorities, trades unions, the Health and Safety Executive and Public Health England on their development.
Many measures require the development of new safety guidelines that set out how each type of physical space can be adapted to operate safely. They will also include measures that were unlikely to be effective when the virus was so widespread that full stay-at-home measures were required, but that may now have some effect as the public increase the number of social contacts – including, for example, advising the use of face coverings in enclosed public areas such as on public transport and introducing stricter restrictions on international travellers.
Many businesses across the UK have already been highly innovative in developing new, durable ways of doing business, such as moving online or adapting to a delivery model. Many of these changes, like increased home working, have significant benefits, for example, reducing the carbon footprint associated with commuting. The Government will need to continue to ask all employers and operators of communal spaces to be innovative in developing novel approaches; UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) will welcome grant applications for proposals to develop new technologies and approaches that help the UK mitigate the impact of this virus.
The content and timing of the step two adjustments will depend on the most up-to-date assessment of the risk posed by the virus. It is possible that the dates will be delayed if there is an increase in cases. Changes will be announced at least 48 hours before coming into effect.
To aid planning, the Government’s current aim is that the second step will be made no earlier than Monday 1 June 2020. The aim is for the step two changes to be implemented across England at the same time, however, there may be circumstances where different measures will be lifted at different times depending on the variance in rate of transmission across England.
The current planning assumption for England is that the second step may include as many of the following measures as possible:
- A phased return for early years settings and schools. The Government expects children to be able to return to early years settings, and for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to be back in school in smaller sizes, from this point. This aims to ensure that the youngest children, and those preparing for the transition to secondary school, have maximum time with their teachers. Secondary schools and further education colleges should also prepare to begin some face to face contact with Year 10 and 12 pupils who have key exams next year, in support of their continued remote, home learning. The Government’s ambition is for all primary school children to return to school before the summer for a month if feasible, though this will be kept under review. The Department of Education will engage closely with schools and early years providers to develop further detail and guidance on how schools should facilitate this.
- Opening non-essential retail when and where it is safe to do so, and subject to those retailers being able to follow the new Covid-19 Secure Guidelines. The intention is for this to happen in phases from 1 June; the Government will issue further guidance shortly on the approach that will be taken to phasing, including which businesses will be covered in each phase and the timeframes involved. All other sectors that are currently closed, including hospitality and personal care, are not able to re-open at this point because the risk of transmission in these environments is higher. The opening of such sectors is likely to take place in phases during step three, as set out below.
- Permitting cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed-doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact.
- Re-opening more local public transport in urban areas, subject to strict measures to limit as far as possible the risk of infection in these normally crowded spaces
- Non essential retail will be allowed to open subject to those retailers being able to follow the new Covid-19 Secure Guidelines.
- If your business falls in to the hospitality or personal care sector you should remain closed.
- Those displaying symptoms should self isolate.
- Employees travelling to work should continue to avoid public transport.
- A gradual return to school for some children will enable some working parents to return to work.
The measures outlined in Step Three will be introduced no earlier than 4 July. The businesses included in this step include personal care (such as hairdressers and beauty salons) hospitality (such as food service providers, pubs and accommodation), public places (such as places of worship) and leisure facilities (like cinemas). They should also meet the Covid-19 Secure Guidelines.
Some venues which are, by design, crowded and where it may prove difficult to enact distancing may still not be able to re-open safely at this point, or may be able to open safely only in part.
In order to facilitate the fastest possible re-opening of these types of higher-risk businesses and public places, the Government will carefully phase and pilot re-openings to test their ability to adopt the new COVID-19 Secure guidelines. The Government will also monitor carefully the effects of re-opening other similar establishments elsewhere in the world, as this happens.
The draft road map had a step four and five which have now been merged into step three. It’s important to note that this road map does not say all remaining businesses will open on 4 July 2020, instead there will be a phasing process where some will hopefully open on 4 July whilst others may not open till a later date.
In the draft road map step three referred to the opening of cafes with outdoor seating areas. Phase four (End of August or early September) referred to the opening of pubs, bars and restaurants subject to strict social distancing rules and phase five (October) suggested gyms would reopen and stated further lifting of restrictions would be in doubt amid fears of a second wave of cases.
Road Map Taskforces
The Government have set up five new ministerial-led taskforces to develop plans for how and when closed sectors can reopen safely.
Businesses and shops in indoor environments or with closer contact between people, like pubs, hotels and non-essential retail, will likely have a higher risk of transmission, as is the case with many places of worship. It is the Government’s ambition to open as many of these other businesses and public places as possible over the coming months, when the scientific advice provided allows them to. These taskforces will be crucial to the reopening of Britain’s economy and each one 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 five new ministerial taskforces will look at the following sectors:
- pubs and restaurants (Department for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy)
- non-essential retail (including salons) (Department for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy);
- recreation and leisure, including tourism, culture and heritage, libraries, entertainment and sport (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
- places of worship, including faith, community and public buildings (Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
- international aviation, reflecting the unique challenges that sector is facing (Department for Transport)
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