Boris Johnson outlines lockdown exit plan, ‘recovery strategy’


The prime minister’s tone reflected how moving on from lockdown will also require a good deal of public reassurance – that it is safe for parents to return children to school, and to gradually begin to resume all of the other aspects of everyday life that we used to take for granted so recently (Photo: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images).
The prime minister’s tone reflected how moving on from lockdown will also require a good deal of public reassurance – that it is safe for parents to return children to school, and to gradually begin to resume all of the other aspects of everyday life that we used to take for granted so recently (Photo: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images).

PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson has published his plan for exiting the coronavirus lockdown on Monday (11), allowing some people back to work but cautioning that all should wear face coverings in enclosed spaces as Covid-19 was here to stay.

The 51-page document, titled “Our Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government’s Covid-19 recovery strategy”, gives an outline of how the UK could return to normal life.

“This is not a short-term crisis,” said the 51-page document.

“It is likely that Covid-19 will circulate in the human population long-term, possibly causing periodic epidemics. In the near future, large epidemic waves cannot be excluded without continuing some measures.”

In the foreword, Johnson noted that the “plan must countenance a situation where we are in this, together, for the long haul, even while doing all we can to avoid that outcome”.

The roadmap is set out in three steps, gradually easing over time the stringent restrictions that have all but shuttered the economy.

Following are the key points:

HOW FAST?

“This is not a short-term crisis. It is likely that Covid-19 will circulate in the human population long-term, possibly causing periodic epidemics. In the near future, large epidemic waves cannot be excluded without continuing some measures.

“In the near term, we cannot afford to make drastic changes,” the government said.

CONDITIONALITY

The government says that any of the changed social distancing measures will be monitored to gauge whether the changes increase the rate of infection — the so-called R (reproduction) rate. If so or if the government identifies hotspots, ministers could reintroduce some stricter measures.

Any further decisions on easing the lockdown will depend on what scientists know at the time, and so some of the provisional dates for further steps might be changed.

THE VULNERABLE

Those in the clinically extremely vulnerable group will continue to be advised to shield themselves for some time yet

BACK TO WORK?

For the foreseeable future, workers should continue to work from home rather than their normal physical workplace, wherever possible

All those who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open.

SCHOOLS

Schools should prepare to begin to open for more children from June 1. The government’s ambition is for all primary school children to return to school before the summer for a month if feasible.

TRANSPORT

Everybody (including critical workers) should continue to avoid public transport wherever possible. Walk or cycle if possible. Try and avoid peak times on public transport.

Social distancing guidance on public transport must be followed rigorously. As with workplaces, transport operators should follow appropriate guidance to make their services Covid-19 Secure; this will be published this week.

INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL

The government will require all international arrivals not on a short list of exemptions to self-isolate in their accommodation for 14 days on arrival into the UK. All journeys within the Common Travel Area will be exempt from these measures.

These international travel measures will not come into force on May 13, but will be introduced as soon as possible. Further details and guidance will be set out shortly, and the measures and list of exemptions will be kept under regular review.

HOUSEHOLD BUBBLES

UK is looking at how to allow people to expand their household group to include one other household. This could be based on the New Zealand model of household “bubbles”.

NON-ESSENTIAL RETAIL

Non-essential retail will reopen in phases from June 1.

After July 4, some remaining businesses could open. Examples include personal care (such as hairdressers and beauty salons) hospitality (such as food service providers, pubs and accommodation), public places (such as places of worship) and leisure facilities (like cinemas).

The government will carefully phase and pilot re-openings to test their ability to adopt the new Covid-19 Secure guidelines.

FACE COVERING

After weeks of declining to tell the British people to wear face coverings amid contradictory scientific advice on the utility of such masks, the government said face coverings should be worn in enclosed spaces where distancing is impossible.

“Homemade cloth face-coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission in some circumstances,” the plan said. “Face-coverings are not intended to help the wearer, but to protect against inadvertent transmission of the disease to others if you have it asymptomatically.”

Public Health England has published a description on how to make a face covering from an old T-shirt, along with cutting advice and how to sew a homemade face covering.

GOING OUTSIDE

People can now also spend time outdoors. A person can meet a friend outside if they respect the social distancing measures. People may exercise outside as many times each day as they wish, and may drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance.

COMPLIANCE

The government is examining more stringent enforcement measures for non-compliance, as it has seen in many other countries. Earlier, a government official said fines would be increased for not adhering to the new rules.

COST

These measures are extraordinarily costly and cannot be sustained for a prolonged period of time. As the UK adjusts the current restrictions, the government will also need to wind down the economic support measures while people are eased back to work.