Following the Prime Minister’s speech yesterday evening, plans have been today published by the Government to set out steps to ease lockdown measures.
The Government is opting for a three-step approach to adjusting measures.
The Government state ‘over the coming months, we will introduce a range of adjustments to current social distancing controls, timing these carefully according to both the current spread of the virus and to ensure safety.
‘These will happen in “steps,” as set out in the next chapter, with strict conditions to safely move from each step to the next.’
As of yesterday, the Prime Minister announced that Step 1 will begin this week;
‘The changes to policy in this step will apply from Wednesday 13 May in England.
‘As the rate of infection may be different in different parts of the UK, this guidance should be considered alongside local public health and safety requirements for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.’
On working arrangements in this step, the Government state that:
‘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, for example this includes food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research in laboratories.
On schools reopening in this step, the Government has stated:
‘The rate of infection remains too high to allow the reopening of schools for all pupils yet, however, it is important that vulnerable children (including children in need, those with an Education, Health and Care plan and those assessed as otherwise vulnerable by educational providers or local authorities) and the children of critical workers are able to attend school, as is currently permitted.’
On travel, the Government states:
‘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.’
As people return to some workplaces, the Government is advising that face coverings be used in enclosed spaces.
The key change for all members of the public in this step, is the unrestricting of exercising outdoors.
‘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, because this does not involve contact with people outside your household.’
Step 2 involves phased return for early years settings and schools, non-essential retail and cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed doors.
On schools, the Government has stated that in Step 2:
‘Schools should prepare to begin to open for more children from 1 June.
‘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.’
On retail in this step:
‘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.’
Also in this step, further public transport will resume in urban areas as well as expanding the household group ‘bubble’ to include one other household in the same exclusive group.
SAGE is providing the Government with advice on this and is based on the New Zealand model currently in force.
Step 3 is to take place when risk assessment undertaken by the Government on the first two steps ‘warrants further adjustments to the remaining measures.’
On this step, the Government have stated that no action will be taken until the 4th July.
‘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).’