Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy

11 May Coronavirus update

The government has now published ‘Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy’ for England.

There is also new guidance around ‘Staying safe outside your home’ https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-safe-outside-your-home/staying-safe-outside-your-home

And Staying Alert and Safe Social Distancing https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing

And the Government guidance has been issued –https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

Please find below a summary of some of the key points from the full recovery strategy (not including guidance around schools or the clinically vulnerable):

  • The document is described as a ‘cautious roadmap to ease existing measures in a safe and measured way, subject to successfully controlling the virus and being able to monitor and react to its spread. The roadmap will be kept constantly under review.
  • The government sets out the aim of the plan as being as follows:-

‘…return life to as close to normal as possible, for as many people as possible, as fast and fairly as possible…in a way that avoids a new epidemic…and maximises health, economic and social outcomes’

  • As the UK exits phase one of the Government’s response the Government will need to steadily redesign the current social distancing measures with new, smarter measures that reflect the level of risk at that point in time, and carefully wind down economic support schemes while people are eased back into work.  There will be two further phases: Phase two: smarter controls; Phase three: reliable treatment.

The government have been released to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

There are eight guides which cover a range of different types of work. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, so you may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe.

The guides include:

  • Guidance for people who work in or run restaurants offering takeaway or delivery services.
  • Guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments.  NB The guidance for retail businesses that are currently closed is to enable businesses to plan for when they can re-open.
  • Guidance for people who work in or run offices, contact centres and similar indoor environments.

You can find all the guides here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

Step One (of moving into Phase two)

The changes to policy in this step will apply from Wednesday 13 May in England.  If the data suggests the virus is spreading again, the Government will have to tighten restrictions, possibly at short notice.

Work:

  • 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.  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.
  • For those workplaces who can open, as soon as practicable, they should follow the new “COVID-19 Secure” guidelines – The Government has been consulting relevant sectors, industry bodies, local authorities, trades unions, the Health and Safety Executive and Public Health England on their development and will release them this week.
  • 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.

Travel:

  • 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.

Face coverings:

  • 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. 
  • It is important to use facecoverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and taking them off.

Public spaces:

  • As well as exercise, people can now also spend time outdoors subject to: not meeting up with any more than one person from outside your household; continued compliance with social distancing guidelines to remain two metres (6ft) away from people outside your household; good hand hygiene, particularly with respect to shared surfaces; and those responsible for public places being able to put appropriate measures in place to follow the new COVID-19 Secure guidance.
  • People may exercise outside as many times each day as they wish. For example, this would include angling and tennis. You will still not be able to use areas like playgrounds, outdoor gyms or ticketed outdoor leisure venues, where there is a higher risk of close contact and touching surfaces.
  • You can only exercise with up to one person from outside your household – this means you should not play team sports, except with members of your own household. 
  • People may drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance, so long as they respect social distancing guidance while they are there.

Step Two:

  • The content and timing of the second stage of adjustments will depend on the most up-to-date assessment of the risk posed by the virus.
  • To aid planning, the Government’s current aim is that the second step will be made no earlier than Monday 1 June
  • 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.
  • 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.

Step Three

  • The next step will also take place when the assessment of risk warrants further adjustments to the remaining measures.
  • The Government’s current planning assumption is that this step will be no earlier than 4 July, subject to the five tests justifying some or all of the measures below, and further detailed scientific advice, provided closer to the time, on how far we can go.
  • The 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.  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.

We hope this is helpful.  Again, if you would welcome a (perhaps more open-ended) online Q&A so that you can ask questions and raise any issues with the above please let us know, as the partnership of the BID, the Hive and Blackburn with Darwen Council can facilitate this to provide you with support and advice.

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