On Monday, 11th May, the Government released a new 50-page document that outlines in detail the Government’s approach to dealing in the longer-term with Covid-19.
The document describes the progress the UK has made so far in tackling coronavirus and sets out the plans for moving to the next phase of our response to the virus. Crucially, it also set out the changes to the social distancing rules that are now in place.
As a nation we are making positive progress, but we must ensure that we do not throw away all the hard work already achieved which is why we must continue to follow the updated social distancing guidance.
This full document can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/our-plan-to-rebuild-the-uk-governments-covid-19-recovery-strategy.
In addition to this document, the Government also released a very useful “FAQs: what you can and can’t do” guide, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do.
The above Frequently-Asked-Questions guide answers a number of common questions in relation to all aspects of Covid-19 restrictions.
Changes to travel
- When travelling everyone (including critical workers) should continue to avoid public transport wherever possible.
- If you can, you should instead choose to cycle, walk or drive, to minimise the number of people with whom you come into contact.
- It is important many more people can travel around by walking and cycling, so the Government is providing new statutory guidance to encourage local authorities to temporarily widen pavements, create pop-up cycle lanes, and close some roads in cities to traffic (apart from buses) as some councils are already proposing.
- The Government has announced a £2 billion package to facilitate this.
- More information about these cycling and traffic measures can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/2-billion-package-to-create-new-era-for-cycling-and-walking
- The Government is advising that people should aim to wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet, for example on public transport or in some shops.
- Home-made cloth face-coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission in some circumstances.
- Face-coverings are not intended so much to help the wearer, but to protect others against inadvertent transmission of the disease if the wearer has the disease but has no symptoms. If you have symptoms, you should stay at home.
- A face covering is not the same as a facemask such as the surgical masks or respirators used as part of personal protective equipment by healthcare workers.
- These medical supplies must continue to be reserved for those who need them.
- Face-coverings should not be used by children under the age of two, or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly, for example primary age children unassisted, or those with respiratory conditions.
- It is important to use face-coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and taking them off.
Changes to work
- For the foreseeable future, workers should continue to work from home rather than their normal physical workplace, wherever possible.
- This helps to minimise the number of social contacts, therefore keeping transmission as low as possible, but crucially those working continue to contribute taxes to pay for the healthcare provision on which the UK relies.
- 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 open; for example, food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research.
- The only exceptions to this are those workplaces, such as hospitality and non-essential retail which, during this first step, remain closed.
- It remains the case that anyone who has symptoms or is in a household where someone has symptoms, should not leave their house to go to work. Those people should self-isolate.
Changes to exercise/sport
- SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) advise that the risk of infection outside is significantly lower than inside, so the Government is updating the rules so that, as well as exercise, people can now also spend time outdoors subject to:
- Not meeting up with any more than one person from outside your household
- Continued compliance with social distancing guidelines to remain two metres (6ft) away from people outside your household
- Good hand hygiene, particularly with respect to shared surfaces
- Those responsible for public places being able to put appropriate measures in place to follow the new COVID-19 Secure guidance.
- People may exercise outside as many times each day as they wish. For example, this would include angling and tennis.
- You will still not be able to use areas like playgrounds, outdoor gyms or ticketed outdoor leisure venues, where there is a higher risk of close contact and touching surfaces.
- You can only exercise with up to one person from outside your household – this means you should not play team sports, except with members of your own household.
- People may drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance, so long as they respect social distancing guidance while they are there, because this does not involve contact with people outside your household.
- These measures may come with some risk; it is important that everyone continues to act responsibly, as the very large majority have done to date. The infection rate will increase if people begin to break these rules and, for example, mix in groups in parks, which will trigger the need for further restrictions.
If you have any questions or queries please refer to the guidance in the two documents above.