Yesterday evening the government announced a loose plan outlining how the UK is going to start coming out of lockdown. The Prime Minister made it clear that from Wednesday, May 13th some restrictions would start to be lifted and only if all of the numbers continue to improve – infection rate, cases, deaths – will other restrictions be lifted – at this stage nothing is set in stone beyond May 13th.
Only where someone’s job cannot be done from home AND social distancing can be practised properly, should that person return to work from May 13th. The government gave construction and manufacturing as examples.
Today, the government released a 60-page document providing further guidance on the government’s plans for opening u the UK. A link to the document can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/884171/FINAL_6.6637_CO_HMG_C19_Recovery_FINAL_110520_v2_WEB__1_.pdf – it is quite a lengthy document and has a lot of information included in it.
However, I have included some of the important bits that specifically relate to work and businesses for you. These are direct quotes from the article.
Step One; From May 13thFor 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. All those who
work are contributing taxes that help pay for the healthcare provision on which the UK relies.
People who are able to work at home make it possible for people who have to attend workplaces 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 and scientific research in
laboratories. The only exceptions to this are those workplaces such as hospitality and nonessential 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, as set out
in the previous chapter, which will be published this week. These will ensure the risk of infection is
as low as possible, while allowing as many people as possible to resume their livelihoods.
It remains the case that anyone who has symptoms, however mild, or is in a household
where someone has symptoms, should not leave their house to go to work. Those people
should self-isolate, as should those in their households.
Step 2: no earlier than June 1stOpening 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.
Step 3: no earlier than July 4thThe ambition at this step is to open at least some of the remaining businesses and premises
that have been required to close, including 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. Nevertheless the Government will wish to open as many
businesses and public places as the data and information at the time allows.
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 reopening other similar establishments elsewhere in the world, as this happens. The Government will
establish a series of taskforces to work closely with stakeholders in these sectors to develop ways
in which they can make these businesses and public places COVID-19 Secure.
The government has provided a lot of financial support for a large number of businesses during the Covid-19 situation, and as they start to re-open the economy and people can start to go back to work, they will start to wind down the various schemes, but no actual dates or processes for doing this have yet been released.
There is another document that has been released which covers a number of FAQs as to what you can and cannot do from Wednesday, May 13th. You can access the document here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do. The main sections that focus on work are Sections 3 and 4.
It is important to note that the businesses that can open from May 13th are still limited to only those in essential retail, this does not include pubs, cinemas or hairdressers.
Further guidance is going to be provided on what businesses need to do in order to ensure they are following the new guidelines. There will also be spot checks on businesses that open to ensure they are following the new guidelines.
It is really important that everyone understands that at any point in time, the restrictions can be brought into force again with very little notice.
I am continually monitoring the updates that the government and other business-related departments release and will continue to share that information for as long as I feel that it is beneficial to all businesses in the UK.
The information and policies are continually being updated by the government, so I urge you to keep on top of the information by visiting the relevant website for your area.
Northern Ireland: https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/
I will be trying to keep myself as informed as possible and will share relevant information on my fb business page: https://www.facebook.com/ihelmenterprises/