Edwin Coe LLP (England-Wales): The Government’s roadmap for how and when the UK will adjust its response to the Covid-19 crisis

The Government has published its roadmap – click here to read it in full.

The Government describes the process of coming out of lockdown as moving into ‘phase 2’ which it describes as the gradual introduction of ‘smarter controls’ in ‘steps’ with each step involving the adding of new adjustments and taking some adjustments further. Chapter 4 of the paper sets out ‘an indicative roadmap’ to those phase 2 steps although no precise timetable has been set as that will be guided by the infection risk at each point and the effectiveness of other ‘mitigation measures’ like contact tracing.

Step 2 of phase 2 will not happen before 1 June (and may be later) but will include the return to school for reception, year 1 and year 6 children and some limited face to face contact with years 10 and 12 in the light of the key exams they face next year. Step 2 of phase 2 will also include the opening of non-essential retail and sporting events to take place behind closed doors. There is a positive reference to the New Zealand model of household ‘bubbles’ which may be introduced and efforts to facilitate ‘small weddings’.

Step 3 of phase 2 will not happen before 4 July (and may be later) and aims to include the opening of ‘remaining businesses’ including hairdressers, beauty salons, hospitality and leisure such as cinemas.

What is encouraging is that the paper makes it clear that “…new safety guidelines that set out how each type of physical space can be adapted to operate safely” is being developed and will be released some time this week. As we have consistently said, clear, specific guidance, preferably in the form of a national safety standard is the key to giving not only employees, but employers confidence in lockdown release without fear of exposing employees to risk and the consequent liabilities that may attract.

The paper sets out alert levels (1 – 5) and the strategy for its Test and Trace Taskforce and gives the sobering statistic that direct Government costs for financial support provided to date could rise above £100 billion in 2020/2021 excluding the loan guarantees offered (GDP in 2019 was £523 billion).

Good news for tennis players and anglers; you’re back in action.

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