Today’s Recovery Strategy document sets out details of the government’s three-step plan – as announced by the Prime Minister yesterday.
It describes this 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”.
It says: “The roadmap will be kept constantly under review as the epidemic, and the world’s understanding of it, develops”.
There are 14 supporting programmes covering a range of areas.
Much of today’s guidance applies to England only.
The Prime Minister is currently updating the House of Commons, and there will be a news conference at 7pm.
Mr. Johnson indicated guidelines on places of employment should be published tonight, and transport tomorrow.
Here is a link to the government’s Recovery Strategy document ‘Our Plan to Rebuild’: Click Here
Updated guidance on safe distancing: Click Here
Staying safe outside your home: Click Here
Guidance on how to wear face coverings: Click Here
FAQs and what you can and cannot do: Click Here
House of Commons Library briefing note: Click Here
UK Parliament POST note on social distancing strategies: Click Here
In Step One, starting on Wednesday, 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. Workplaces should follow new “COVID-19 Secure” guidelines (published shortly).
The government is also urging more vulnerable children, who are already able to attend school, to do so.
For the first time, people in England are being advised to wear face-coverings in enclosed spaces where they come into contact with other people – including on public transport or in shops.
In Step Two, which will begin no earlier than 1st June, nurseries and primary schools will begin a phased return. At first, this will only involve early years, reception, and years 1 and 6. The government’s ambition is that all primary school children in England should return to school for a month before the summer. 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.
Also in the same phase, some businesses will be able to re-open and sporting events will be able to take place behind closed doors – but hairdressers and beauty salons will not open.
The government is seeking advice on allowing people to expand their household groups and examining how small weddings can be better facilitated.
In Step Three, which will start no earlier than 4th July, more businesses will be able to open – although some, which are crowded by design, will not be able to open.
Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable will be told to continue to shield beyond June.
All planned dates for easing restrictions could be delayed if insufficient progress is made in tackling the virus.
Restrictions could be re-imposed if there were a further spike in infections – possibly in specific geographical areas.
The government will also introduce a quarantine system for international arrivals, starting as soon as possible.
For the first time, people in England are being advised to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces where they come into contact with other people – including on public transport and in some shops.
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.
“COVID-19 Secure” guidelines
The government will shortly release safety guidelines, set out how each type of physical space can be adapted to operate safely.
In addition to COVID-19 Secure guidelines for workplaces, the government will consult on and release similar guidelines for schools, prisons, and other public spaces.
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. The only exceptions to this are those workplaces such as hospitality and non-essential retail.
As soon as practicable, workplaces should be set up to meet the new COVID-19 secure guidelines. In particular, workplaces should, where possible, ensure employees can maintain a two-meter distance from others and wash their hands regularly.
The document states:
- Employers have a duty to assess and manage risks to safety in the workplace. The guidance includes how to make adjustments to your workplace to help maintain social distance. It also includes guidance on hygiene as evidence suggests that the virus can exist for up to 72 hours on surfaces. Frequent cleaning is therefore particularly important for communal surfaces like door handles or lift buttons and communal areas like bathrooms, kitchens, and tea points.
- Employers can where practical change shift patterns and rotas to keep smaller, contained teams
- Evidence also suggests the virus is less likely to be transmitted in well-ventilated areas.
The FAQs state: “Employers and staff should discuss and agree with working arrangements… To identify the precautions needed to manage risk, your employer should discuss the workplace risk assessment with you to identify the practical ways of managing those risks. If you remain concerned that your employer is not taking all practical steps to promote social distancing then you can report this to your local authority or the Health and Safety Executive who can take a range of activities, including where appropriate requiring your employer to take additional steps”.
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 the virus.
Everybody (including critical workers) should continue to avoid public transport wherever possible.
Social distancing guidance on public transport must be followed rigorously.
Schools and Childcare
The document states there is a large societal benefit from vulnerable children, or the children of critical workers, attending school. Local authorities and schools should therefore urge more children who would benefit from attending in person to do so.
The Government is also 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.
NHS and Social Care
As well as immediate measures on PPE, the document sets out a longer-term strategy which “might include using more telemedicine and remote monitoring”.
Capacity in community care and step-down services will also be bolstered.
The Government will invest in preventative and personalised solutions to ill-health, and social care.
There are specific measures in care homes.
Economic Support Programmes and Future Economy
The document states: “as the UK adjusts the current restrictions, the Government will also need to wind down the economic support measures while people are eased back to work… The Government will also need to ensure the UK’s supply chains are resilient…”
It says: “The world will not return to ‘normal’ after COVID-19; much of the global economy is likely to change significantly. The UK will need to be agile in adapting to and shaping this new world if the Government is to improve living standards across the nation as it recovers from COVID-19”.
The 14 supporting programmes also cover:
- Smarter shielding of the most vulnerable
- More effective, risk-based targeting of protection measures
- Accurate disease monitoring and reactive measures
- Testing and tracing Increased scientific understanding
- Better distancing measures
- Treatments and vaccines
- International action and awareness
- Public communication, understanding, and enforcement
- Sustainable Government Structures