Government's COVID-19 recovery strategy: What employers need to know

The key points from Boris Johnson's road map to re-opening.

by Management Today
Last Updated: 12 May 2020

The government has published its 50-page ‘road-map’ detailing how the UK will emerge from the coronavirus lockdown. The conditional plan is dependent on the government’s five tests being met. 

These are: Making sure the NHS can cope, a sustained and daily fall in the nationwide death rate, the rate of infection R Number decreasing to below one, demands for personal protective equipment being met and confidence that any adjustment will not increase pressure on the NHS. 

Here are the main points leaders should be aware of. 

When can businesses reopen?

All workers should continue to work from home where possible. Those who cannot, or who work for firms in sectors deemed to be essential - including food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research in laboratories - should be encouraged to work where possible from Wednesday 13 May. However they should avoid public transport, using cars, bikes or walking where possible. 

The opening of non-essential retail businesses is to commence in phases from June 1 under phase two of the plan, given that firms are able to meet as-yet-undefined COVID-19 secure guidelines (see below). 

Under phase three, some personal care firms including hairdressers, hospitality and leisure firms (the document specifically references cinemas) may be able to reopen from 4 July providing the government’s five conditions have been met and the firms can meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines.

However, venues of a nature that means they will be too crowded, or unable to safely practise social distancing may not be able to open at this point. 

“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 document says.

What are COVID-19 secure guidelines?

The document says that as soon as possible, firms should adopt the government’s as yet unspecified “COVID-19 Secure” guidelines. 

Prime minister Boris Johnson told Parliament that an update as to what constitutes a COVID-secure workplace is expected later tonight. There is a shred of detail as to what employers should expect however.

Workplaces should seek to limit the number of people each individual comes into contact with by changing shift patterns, keeping rotas small and within contained teams. More ventilation could also help limit the spread. 

The government also recommends the wearing of face coverings within “enclosed public spaces” but as yet has no guidance as to whether workers will be required to wear them at work. 

Seven draft plans drawn up by employer groups, trade unions and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy were released last weekend. 

Increased hygiene practices, one-way systems, protective screens and ensuring that staff avoid working face-to-face are among some of the other general measures outlined in the plans

Image credit: Anthony Devlin / Contributor via Getty Images


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