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COVID-19: government unveils roadmap to recovery

Tom Rathborn Tom Rathborn

On 11 May 2020, the government released its COVID-19 recovery strategy, setting out how and when it intends to lift the lockdown restrictions. To save you reading the whole 60-page document, we offer you a summary of the key takeaways and some useful links.

What do you need to know?

New guidance on working safely

There are eight new guides to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely

Government support will respond to changes

The government estimates that the direct cost of current support measures will total over £100 billion by the end of the year, with a further £330 billion in the form of guarantees for loans. They plan to reduce the available support as restrictions are eased, taking into account sector variations and a changing economic environment.

Three-stage approach to releasing lockdown

Whether restrictions are to be a lifted further will be determined by the spread of the virus. Restrictions could later be ramped up again in the event of a further outbreak. Therefore, the following dates are indicative only:

Stage one – from Wednesday 13 May

  • Social-distancing will continue and you are advised to keep a two-metre distance, wherever possible
  • Those unable to work from home are encouraged to go back to work and employers have a duty to keep the workplace safe
  • Drive, cycle or walk to work, rather than using public transport, if possible
  • Schools will not open yet, but paid childcare can take place, so long as government guidelines are followed
  • Face coverings are encouraged (a guide to building your own has been offered)
  • New international travel measures include arrivals being required to supply contact and accommodation information and (with some exclusions, including travellers from Ireland) to self-isolate for 14 days

Stage two – from 1 June

  • Phased return for schools, with a focus on early years and older pupils with key exams next year
  • Opening of ‘non-essential’ retail, including food retailers, hardware stores, garden centres, and certain other retailers
  • Other sectors, that have been required by law to close, such as those in hospitality will remain closed
  • Cultural and sporting events can resume, but will need to take place behind closed doors and be broadcast to audiences
  • Increased transport options and re-opened urban areas
  • New, less-stringent distancing rules

Stage three – from 4 July

  • Re-open as many businesses as possible, including personal care, hospitality, public places and leisure facilities

What should businesses do in response?

Keep up to date with changing rules

Gaps still remain and businesses should keep a close eye on government COVID-19 guidance.

Recognise and incorporate regional differences

The devolved administrations have chosen different approaches to easing lockdown. This means that the guidelines may be different across the UK. Organisations operating outside of England (in part or in whole) will need to factor in any variations.

Prepare for an end of government support

Many businesses have taken advantage of available government support measures, such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). As the government prepares to bring various measures to a close, consider how any changes would impact your organisation and what steps you might need to take to react. For example, preparations can be made ahead of bringing people off furlough and back to work.

Think long-term

Significant disruption is set to continue through 2020 and into 2021, with no certainty around when or how lockdown measures will end. Businesses must ensure that they are factoring in realistic time frames for financial modelling and business planning.