Following the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday evening, the Government has today published some further details of its roadmap for coming out of lockdown, OUR PLAN TO REBUILD: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy.

This makes clear that the change in emphasis highlighted by the Prime Minister is intended to apply from Wednesday 13  May. The plan confirms (at page 25) that:

  • For the foreseeable future, workers should continue to work from home rather than their normal physical workplace, wherever possible, not least as this will minimise the risk of overcrowding on transport and in public places. (The plan also makes clear that social distancing is to be followed rigorously on public transport and the use of home-made face-coverings is recommended.)
  • 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 which during this first step the Government is requiring to remain closed.
  • As soon as practicable, workplaces should follow the new “COVID-19 Secure” guidelines, which will be published this week.
  • It remains the case that anyone who has symptoms, however mild, or is in a household where someone has symptoms, should not leave their house to go to work.  Those people should self-isolate, as should their households.

The second stage of adjustments, which will be no earlier than 1 June, proposes beginning a phased return for primary school children, re-opening non-essential retail when and where safe and subject to being compliant with the COVID-19 Secure guidelines (with further guidance on the phasing and timeframes promised shortly), and re-opening more local public transport in urban areas subject to strict safety measures (page 30).

The third stage, which will be no earlier than 4 July, will include opening at least some of the remaining businesses and premises that have been required to close, including personal care, hospitality, public places and leisure facilities, where and to the extent that these can re-open safely (page 31).

Page 41 and Annex A at page 53 set out existing general COVID-19 Secure guidelines including keeping at a 2m distance, hand hygiene, washing clothes, and keeping areas well-ventilated. Measures to limit the number of people with whom there is regular contact should be taken, such as changing shift patterns and rotas to keep smaller, contained teams.  Businesses should take reasonable steps to avoid people being gathered together, for example by allowing the use of more entrances and exits and staggering entry and exit where possible.  Employers should consider staggering working hours and expanding bicycle storage facilities, changing facilities and car parking, to help minimise the demands on public transport.  The importance of frequent cleaning is also highlighted, in particular in relation to communal surfaces such as door handles, lift buttons, bathrooms, kitchens and tea points.

In Parliament this afternoon the Prime Minister stated that the guidelines on places of employment will be published this evening and guidance on transport will be made available on Tuesday.  He emphasised that employees should only be going to work once workplaces have been made COVID-19 Secure and mentioned that spot checks would be used to ensure compliance.

More accessible guidance is available here:

Further announcements on changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme are expected in the next couple of days, with rumours of an extension to the end of September and possibly the tapering of grants from 80% of capped wages to 60%.  The guidance on making a claim and the step-by-step guide have recently been updated to reflect the fact that claims can now be saved and returned to within 7 days rather than having to be completed in one go.

Employers considering new health and safety measures may find Airbus’s detailed plan on social distancing at work a useful starting point – this is available on the CBI website here.  The CBI also has a useful Q&A page for employers here.