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The government have set 5 tests to be satisfied before the lockdown can be relaxed;
Decisions taken by the government will be based on the best available scientific and health advice and when restrictions are relaxed, if the virus spikes again, lockdown could have to return with little notice.
Whilst limiting spread of the virus is the immediate and key concern, other factors also need to be considered, such as; the mental health of the nation, the escalation of domestic abuse and the impact of the continued lockdown on the UK economy among others.
There is no doubt that our way of life and business operation will be impacted for many months to come, and return to normal, may well only be achieved when a proven vaccination is available for widespread use.
In the short term, to support any easing of the current lockdown restrictions, UK policy is focussed on a Test, Track and Trace strategy
The UK government is hiring 18,000 human contact tracers and will encourage people to download an NHS app. which they hope to launch over the coming weeks (Australia are taking a similar approach and are launching their own Contact Tracing App. this week, whilst Germany plan a similar type of App to launch in June)
Once the NHS App is implemented, the system should notify people when they have been in contact with a Covid-19 carrier, so that they can immediately isolate and stop it spreading further.
The mobile-phone based app, will utilise Bluetooth technology to log each time your phone moves near another persons phone loaded with the app. If one of those people is later diagnosed with Covid-19, you would get an alert warning you to get tested and to self-isolate.
Whilst at present there are no concrete UK guidelines as to how or when restrictions may be relaxed, looking at how other countries (and parts of the UK such as Scotland and Wales), are approaching an easing of the lockdown, here are some thoughts on what UK policy may entail;
Easing by Location?
There are certainly some parts of the country suffering more than others, which may be down to a number of factors such as; population density, average age levels, a large presence of ethnic groups, and so on, so easing measures according to location, could be a consideration.
Easing by Market Sector or Business / Organisation Type?
Whilst few if any businesses remain unscathed by COVID-19, market sectors such as Retail, Sport, Tourism & Leisure, Pubs & Restaurants and industries such as Hairdressing, Beauty and Fashion, among others, have experienced devastating loss of income since the lockdown started.
It seems logical therefore that some relaxation is needed as soon as practical to avert widespread failure of businesses in these sectors which could result in a subsequent significant rise in unemployment and a high level of business failures.
Inevitably, it will be easier to relax restrictions in some sectors than in others, but any relaxation will probably require businesses to modify the way they work, such as applying social distancing measures, etc. in order to protect staff and customers.
Easing by Population Age
Whilst everyone is potentially at risk of contracting the virus, the elderly are statistically at a higher risk than younger people, of it proving fatal.
Whilst relaxing restrictions for younger age groups may seem an attractive option, we should remember that many businesses rely heavily on the skills and knowledge of older staff members to operate effectively, and there are many people in the UK, passed retirement age, who out of choice or financial necessity are still working.
We don’t have a crystal ball, so there are no guarantees, but based on our conversations with other businesses and considering how other countries have approached relaxing restrictions, it seems likely that there will be an early focus on reopening schools, non-essential shops, restarting construction and boosting manufacturing capacity among others.
Maximising people safety and minimising the risk of spreading the virus, will be a key focus for any business or organisation reopening under any relaxation of the current restrictions. Requirements are likely to include some or all of the following;
Following any relaxation of the lockdown restrictions, any sign of virus escalation could cause an instant reinstatement of the lockdown with minimal warning.
In reality, we can expect to experience an uncertain lifestyle for many months to come. This really means, until a proven and widespread vaccination programme becomes available, or a proven treatment can be identified and made available to reduce the level of fatalities among those contracting the virus.
In the meanwhile, we must all continue to do what we can to minimise the risk of virus spread.
On a positive note, we should of course all remember and appreciate the many good things to have come from the current situation, including;
Although we are confident that our government are working really hard on plans to ease the lockdown, they currently appear unwilling to share their thoughts with businesses or the UK population.
The thoughts expressed in this article are therefore based on personal observations and assessments, which we hope may help other businesses in formulating their own plans and preparations for the future.
If you have any views or thoughts which you would like to share, we would be delighted to hear from you (please email; email@example.com).
Meanwhile, please follow the government lockdown guidelines, and Stay Safe.
Here are some practical links that you may find helpful;
Business Security Tips for Coronavirus Lockdown
Coronavirus Sanitisation Guidelines for Homes and Businesses
COVID-19 Surface Sanitiser (75% alcohol)
This message was added on Monday 27th April 2020
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