Government publishes roadmap for bringing the UK out of lockdown
The Government has published its roadmap for bringing the UK out of lockdown and a returning to the workplace. It will also be publishing COVID-19 Secure Guidelines to help employers reduce infection risk. The key messages for employers are:
Step One: from 13 May
These changes apply in England.
- For the foreseeable future, workers should continue to work from home rather than their normal physical workplace, wherever possible.
- 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.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 non-essential retail which the Government is requiring to remain closed during Step One
- Workplaces should follow the new “COVID-19 Secure” guidelines as soon as practicable in order to keep risk of infection as low as possible. These will be published this week
- Anyone with symptoms, or in a household where someone has symptoms, should not leave their house to go to work. They should self-isolate, as should those in their households
- While it is too early to allow schools to reopen for all pupils, the Government will amend its guidance to clarify that paid nannies and childminders can work, subject to being able to comply with COVID-19 Secure guidelines. This is because these are roles where working from home is not possible. This should enable more working parents to return to work
- When travelling everybody (including critical workers) should continue to avoid public transport wherever possible. If they can, they should cycle, walk or drive instead. 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)
- Social distancing guidance on public transport must be followed rigorously and transport operators will have to follow appropriate guidance to make their services COVID19 Secure. This will be also published this week
- People should aim to wear a face-covering (not a face mask) in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible, and they come into contact with people they do not normally meet. Examples given are on public transport or in some shops. Face-coverings should not be used by those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly, for example, those with respiratory conditions. Face coverings must be used properly and people should wash their hands before putting them on and taking them off
- Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face -to-face contact. This category should therefore continue to shield
- Those who are clinically vulnerable (but not extremely vulnerable) i.e. those aged over 70, those with specific chronic pre-existing conditions and pregnant women should continue to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their households, but do not need to shield
Step two: no earlier than 1 June
- Children will be able to return to early years settings and Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils will be back in school in smaller class sizes. The Government’s ambition is for all primary school children to return to school before the summer for a month if feasible
- Phased opening of non-essential retail when and where it is safe to do so, provided they are able to follow the new COVID-19 Secure guidelines. 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. This will not include all other sectors that are currently closed, such as hospitality and personal care (hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons)
- Cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed doors for broadcast
- Re-opening more public transport in urban areas
Step three: no earlier than 4 July
- The Government’s ambition is to open at least some of the remaining businesses and premises that have been required to close, including personal care (such as hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons) and hospitality (such as restaurants, pubs and hotels accommodation), public places (such as places of worship) and leisure facilities (like cinemas). This is subject to them meeting 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.
COVID-19 Secure Guidelines
The workplace COVID-19 Secure Guidelines will be published this week and are the result of an extensive programme of engagement between Government, the Health and Safety Executive, the public health authorities, business representative groups, unions, employers and local authorities, to agree the best way to make workplaces less infectious.
The guidelines include the following:
- Individuals should keep their distance from people outside their household, wherever possible. Individuals should not be too close to other people for more than a short amount of time. Public Health England recommends trying to keep two metres away from people as a precaution
- Keep face and hands as clean as possible. People should wash their hands often, using soap and water, and dry them thoroughly. Touching the face should be avoided. Hand sanitiser should be carried when travelling and applied where available outside the home, especially when entering a building and following contact with surfaces. Clothes should also be washed regularly, as there is some evidence that the virus can stay on fabrics
- Limiting the number of people that any given individual comes into contact with regularly in the workplace. Employers can support this where practical by changing shift patterns and rotas to keep smaller, contained teams. Evidence also suggests the virus is less likely to be transmitted in well-ventilated areas so employers should try to leave doors and windows open in good weather and use external extractor fans
- People should avoid being face to face with people from outside their household. Staying side-to-side rather than facing people can lower the risk of infection
- Avoid crowds, so avoid peak travel times on public transport, where possible. Businesses should also take reasonable steps to avoid people being gathered together, for example by allowing the use of more entrances and exits and staggering entry and exit where possible
- People should walk or cycle wherever possible in order to reduce demand on public transport. Those who have to use public transport should try to avoid peak times. Employers should consider staggering working hours and expanding bicycle storage facilities, changing facilities and car parking to help
- Wear a face covering in an enclosed space where social distancing is not possible
You can read OUR PLAN TO REBUILD: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy here.
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