The UK Government has published a document giving a detailed look at its plans for the recovery from COVID-19.
The publishing of the document, named ‘Our Plan To Rebuild’, comes following Boris Johnson’s address to the nation on Sunday evening where he announced the extension of lockdown measures but the easing of some restrictions.
Here’s a look at some of the key points from the document;
- From Wednesday “people may exercise outside as many times each day as they wish” – instead of for just one hour a day.
- People can only exercise with up to one person from outside their household
- You can play team sports, but only with members of your own household
- People cannot use areas like playgrounds or outdoor gyms due to a higher risk of close contact and touching surfaces
- You may travel to outdoor spaces irrespective of their distance from your home, however, the document says “do not travel to different parts of the UK” – as Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are enforcing different rules.
- When meeting anyone outside your household, you must stay 2m apart from them
- In terms of working, the document says, “For the foreseeable future, workers should continue to work from home rather than their normal physical workplace, wherever possible.”
- The following sectors should be open for business and see workers returning to work if they have stopped working – Food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research in laboratories.
- Anyone with symptoms of the virus should not return to work
- Paid childcare is allowed to resume where safe to do so
- Vulnerable children should be urged to attend school
- Everyone, including key workers, should avoid public transport unless absolutely necessary to better allow for social distancing
- People are encouraged to “wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible”. Only homemade face coverings should be used – people are urged not to wear clinical face masks intended for health care professionals
- Soon, most people will be required to quarantine in their accommodation for 2 weeks after arriving in the UK. A date has not been given for the start of this policy, but it was said it would begin as soon as possible.
The easing of lockdown measures depends on compliance with the government’s five tests. The five tests for easing measures require;
- The NHS to be able to provide sufficient critical care and specialist treatment across the UK
- There to be a sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rates from COVID-19
- Reliable data to show the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels across the board
- Confidence that operational challenges including testing capacity and PPE are under control
- Confidence that adjustments to the current measures will not risk a second peak of infections that overwhelms the NHS.
If there is compliance with the five tests, step two of the government’s plan for easing restrictions could see a phased return for early years settings and schools, the opening of non-essential retail outlets and the permitting of cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed doors. This step could begin gradually from June 1.
If there is compliance with the five tests, step three, which will begin no earlier than 4 July, could see the reopening of some hairdressers and beauty salons, food service providers, pubs and accommodation, places of worship and leisure facilities like cinemas.
On the topic of enforcing lockdown measures, the document said;
“The Government will impose higher fines to reflect the increased risk to others of breaking the rules as people are returning to work and school. The Government will seek to make clearer to the public what is and is not allowed.”
There has been uncertainty over what plans announced in the document will be applied in the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Matters of health are devolved and so Boris Johnson does not speak for the other nations. While the devolved nations are generally following similar policies to England, they have already announced that they will not follow the same timescales as set out by the UK Government.
The document is being presented to Parliament and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will speak to MPs this afternoon.
Photo Credit: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street under licence (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)