Following Boris Johnson’s Sunday night broadcast, the government has released a strategy document, Our Plan to Rebuild, setting out how the UK will gradually ease lockdown measures. The first changes in “step one” of the process will be introduced on Wednesday
Anyone who cannot work from home should now consider travelling to work if their workplace is open. Employers have a duty to ensure the workplace is safe, and the government says it has given people guidance on how to run a safe working environment.
Workers are asked to cycle or walk to work as much as possible or travel by car, to reduce use of public transport, and to avoid peak times. Employers are being asked to consider finding more car parking and bike spaces and to provide changing rooms so staff can change clothes for work.
Workers coming into contact with others during their shifts should consider washing their clothes more often. The virus can stay on surfaces for up to 72 hours, so there should be regular disinfecting where possible. Bosses are also being asked to consider allowing staggered start times. Workplaces should be well ventilated.
It is too early to open schools in step one, although the government is asking local councils to encourage vulnerable pupils and the children of critical workers to go to school. The government is amending its guidance to clarify that paid childcare, for example by nannies and childminders, can take place as long as they adhere to the government’s guidelines on staying safe inside the home, which includes regular handwashing, washing clothes, keeping a place well ventilated and considering more activities outside.
Everybody should continue to avoid public transport wherever possible. The government says it will increase funding and give new statutory guidance to encourage local authorities to widen pavements, consider road closures in cities and create pop-up cycle lanes.
Unlimited outdoor exercise means you can go out as many times in a day as you like, but you will still not be able to use areas such as playgrounds or outdoor gyms, where there is a higher risk of close contact and touching surfaces. You can exercise with up to one person from outside your household, which means no team sports unless every participant is from the same household.
As long as you adhere to the two-metre physical distancing rules, you can meet up with one person from outside your household, like a friend or relative, in a public place.
You can drive to an outdoor place no matter how far from your household, as long as you adhere to physical distancing. However, the rules are different in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which means people from England should not travel to parts of the country that are not adhering to Boris Johnson’s “step one” plan.
These are not mandatory, but if you can then you should wear one on public transport and in some shops. They should not be worn by children under two years old.
This should continue for extremely vulnerable groups, who should stay at home and avoid face-to-face contact. For example, those who have had an organ transplant or are receiving chemotherapy or renal dialysis.
People aged over 70, those with specific, chronic, pre-existing conditions, and pregnant women, are “clinically vulnerable” and should minimise contact with others outside their households, but do not need to be shielded. The document said it is likely that the government will advise people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to shield beyond June – the end of the current 12-week period.
These measures are for England and are reliant on the risk level at the time of making a final decision. The first day of June is the goal for the following measures, but this is flexible. There would be 48 hours’ notice of any changes.
A phased return for early years settings and schools. Schools should prepare to open for more children from 1 June, with early years, reception, year 1 and year 6 to return in smaller classes. Secondary schools could begin some face-to-face contact for years 10 and 12 pupils, who have key exams next year. All children could return to school before the summer for a month, depending on scientific advice.
Non-essential shops could reopen from 1 June on a phased basis. Pubs, cafes and restaurants, and beauty services would not be allowed to reopen at this point because the risk of transmission in these environments is higher.
Sport and culture
Cultural and sporting events will be allowed to take place behind closed doors for broadcast.
Social and family contact
The government says it wants to reduce the most harmful effects of the current social restrictions while continuing to limit the risk of chains of transmission. One measure could be allowing two households to share childcare to create a “social bubble”. The government is considering looking at allowing small weddings.
These measures will be considered for introduction on 4 July. If all the five tests are met and there is scientific advice that suggests further changes are acceptable, the government plans to reopen remaining businesses such as pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, beauty salons, places of worship and cinemas.
These places must meet safety guidelines. Some venues which by their design make physical distancing difficult may not be able to reopen at this stage.