Some 10 weeks ago the UK government imposed a LOCKDOWN on the evening of Monday 23 March, when restrictions were initially put in place for a period of three weeks, until Monday 13 April, but they were later extended for another 21-day period, and have continued until now albeit with further modifications
Lockdown measures here are starting to be slightly and gradually eased after more than two months of annoying debilitating restrictions, but many, if not most, of us in Britain REMAIN somewhat unclear about exactly what are the CURRENT rules of the lockdown in the UK, not least because of its state of fluidity and moreover due to the understandable but deliberate lack of clarity by the government, so this write-up is intended to explain just where things seem to be just now [and it will be updated as further government announcements are made]
However, the lockdown relaxation nevertheless represents a dangerous moment in the UK’s war against the virus, and one in which people needed to stick with social distancing, must clearly understand the rules, indeed follow them, and moreover appreciate that rules APPLY to EVERYBODY, so should not be bent nor broken as it is NOT one rule for the ELITE and another for the REST as some seem to think [accordingly the rules DO equally apply to Dominic Cummings (who despite national fury got away scot-free with breaking travel restrictions by driving some 250 miles to Durham on March 31st, repeating it, plus driving to a beauty spot, and not self-isolating when required to do so), and very surprisingly and even more embarrassingly the Prime Minister’s younger sister no less, LBC talk station radio host Rachel Johnson, flaunted rules as well, making no secret of the fact that although she is supposedly isolating some 200 miles away in her Exmoor beauty spot’s 500-acre family farm in West Somerset with husband and daughter, she is actually splitting her time between there and when she works in Leicester Square, being at her West London Notting Hill second home residence, where her two sons live, when she enjoys overnight stays, plays tennis with non-family, dog walks with friends, and moreover she meets-up socially with her high social status pals (whereas the rules had strictly prohibited visiting second homes, banned movement between households, and indeed constrained meeting others from a different household) – but apparently as one of the powerful people of wealth & privilege, who is associated with political power, as well as being an insignificant broadcaster, she is afforded keyworker status, which entitles her to travel and sometimes results in staying over (does that sound to you like her being a lockdown ‘equal’, eh? Or perhaps the case of Rosie Duffield MP, who in a humiliation for Labour, resigned her frontbench role as whip after it was revealed she also broke lockdown restrictions when she met her already married partner for a long walk in April (before lockdown restrictions were eased that allowed members of different households to meet-up)? Or EU lover and hypocrite Ian Blackford, the SNP’s leader at Westminster who took his place at PMQs and then despite having accommodation in London (provided by thousands of pounds in taxpayer-funded accommodation expenses), the very next day escaped from a virus prevalence (his words) hit London on March 26 (three days AFTER the UK was officially shut down to fight coronavirus) to travelled on a 600-mile journey from Westminster to return to his multi-acre estate on the Scottish island of Skye, where ‘he says’ he self-isolated as a precaution (although he is not thought to have had COVID-19 symptoms)? Yet, despite his own questionable travel actions he has since been one of the most critical foes of the Prime Minister’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings, and has called repeatedly for the aide to resign or be fired over his much shorter Durham journey during the lockdown, which unsurprisingly has resulted in Blackford himself being the focus of social media fury.
Moreover an expert from the SCIENTIFIC Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has revealed that a lack of clear communication could be the thing to completely throw off social-distancing measures and also warned of PERCEPTIONS OF UNFAIRNESS as different groups of people have delivered different messages so that was the one thing that could completely DESTROY social-distancing measures. What is needed is clarity, consistency and explanation, and also not giving false explanations.
There’s probably about 10% of people who are getting frustrated, bored, and want to get on with things, and the 1st June relaxation on household groups will perhaps unavoidably give the green light to those people – then the concern is that once some people begin doing things, other people look at them and think well they’re doing it and we’ll do it too.
Well, regarding the rules themselves, for a start, they give the the advice for those aged 70 and over (who can be absolutely fit and healthy and it’s not the case that everybody over 70 has a chronic health condition or an underlying disease) continues to be that they should take particular care to MINIMISE contact with others outside their HOUSEHOLD [if they do go out more frequently, they should be careful to maintain distance from others. They and EVERYONE ELSE should continue to comply with any general social distancing restrictions).
Anyone amongst the 2.2 MILLION most medically vulnerable individuals with very specific medical conditions (including those 70 and over), who have been advised to shield by the NHS or their GP [that group includes those being treated for cancer, those with severe respiratory conditions such as cystic fibrosis, or asthma, and organ transplant recipients], so are ones have been forced to continue to stay indoors and avoid seeing anyone they don’t live with for the past 10 weeks under lockdown (which had been expected to last until the end of June), have actually now have had those restrictions ‘eased’ early so they CAN from the 1st June go outside with family, or exercise with a friend, but they should be careful to follow social distancing rules and should do everything they can to stay at home (hence they are advised to leave the house only once per day), because those in the ‘shielded group’ category remain AT RISK and are likely to be in the greatest danger of serious complications from coronavirus. Also, those of them who live alone (many of whom have had no face-to-face contact with others since March), can now meet OUTSIDE with one person from ANOTHER household providing they adhere to the two-metre social distancing rule
MOST IMPORTANTLY If you are showing coronavirus SYMPTOMS, or if YOU or any of your HOUSEHOLD are self-isolating, you should most definitely STAY AT HOME
The GENERAL advice to EVERYBODY is that you should stay at home as much as possible.
The reasons you may leave home include:
- for work, where you cannot work from home
- going to shops that are permitted to be open – to get things like food and medicine
- to exercise or spend time outdoors
- any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid injury or illness, escape risk of harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
[Moreover, while taxis are still operating during the current lockdown, they may ONLY be taken for the above “essential” purposes]
NOTE though that these reasons for leaving home are deemed exceptions and even when doing these activities, you should be MINIMISING time spent away from the home and ensure that you are two metres apart from anyone outside of your household
As a result of the 23rd March initial lockdown rules, the government passed Statute Law [Database Portable Document File (PDF)] legislation to give it the authority to impose restrictions on people’s movements and activities. These regulations said
- people would not be able to leave their home without a reasonable excuse
- gatherings of more than TWO PEOPLE were NOT allowed, unless they were from the same household (this included family members and partners who did not live together)
- people should NOT visit friends in their homes or allow people to come and visit them
On May 10, it was further announced that other NEW lockdown rules would start to be introduced, which revealed several different STAGES and STEPS to a new UK’s coronavirus plan. These were detailed in a 60-page plan published by the government.
Overall, there are three PHASES to the UK’s Covid-19 response. These are:
- Phase One: which includes attempting to contain and delay the response of the virus
- Phase Two: introducing “smarter controls” to the lockdown response
- Phase Three: this final one includes creating reliable treatments and a vaccine for the virus
In addition to the three coronavirus phases, it was said that there are multiple steps to easing the lockdown and these are detailed below. However, from the 13th of May there would be changes to the lockdown rules as described herein.
The CURRENT lockdown rules [including those from 10th May as further modified on 28th May relating to ENGLAND are]
- It HAD BEEN recommended but was ‘non-mandatory’ that people wear FACE COVERINGS, (including MASKS and homemade masks), when they are in enclosed public spaces, such as on public transport, and children would NOT be compelled to wear face coverings at school.
However that all changed on 4th June, when SOME basic common sense finally prevailed within the government, and it was announced that wearing face coverings WILL as a condition of travel be COMPULSORY on public transport buses, trams, trains, coaches, aircraft and ferries in England from 15th June (because passenger numbers are expected to increase when lockdown measures were eased further. This rule change coincides with the planned reopening of non-essential retail and return of some secondary school pupils in England) and passengers failing their duty by not wearing one could “ultimately” lead to a penalty fines (in a similar way to people who travel without a ticket), but very young children, disabled people and those with breathing difficulties would be EXEMPT.
It was further announced on 5th June (moreover without warning those authorities impacted) that all Hospital staff, Patients and Visitors in England MUST wear face coverings from 15 June [Hospital staff will be REQUIRED to wear type one or type two SURGICAL masks at ALL times, while patients and visitors WILL be required to wear face coverings]
This latest move on face masks is just a further example of the government being too SLOW to ACT or COMMUNICATE and moreover one now has to question nevertheless just why the government is waiting until mid-June to bring in the new measures, when the risk of the virus would be much less if it was brought in STRAIGHT AWAY and moreover just WHY compulsory face coverings shouldn’t equally apply in all other areas of public life, where social distancing is NOT possible? [Indeed on 5th June, the World Health Organization (WHO), which previously had stressed there was no evidence that wearing a mask (whether medical or other types) by HEALTHY people in the wider community could prevent them from being infected with respiratory viruses, has now updated its guidance on wearing masks in public to help limit the spread of coronavirus, and has advised that people SHOULD wear masks in SHOPS, public transport and in all AREAS where social distancing is not possible – furthermore people aged 60 and over, or those with underlying health issues, SHOULD wear MEDICAL masks in situations where social distancing was not possible (the WHO added that while masks alone will not protect you from Covid-19, they neither are a replacement for hand hygiene and social distancing)]
[Face coverings are a sensible and potentially useful extra tool that can help us protect each other and ‘reduce the spread’ of the disease particularly if you are suffering from coronavirus, but not yet showing symptoms so don’t know you’re infected]
- people who aren’t able to work from HOME should be looking to RETURN TO WORK [for the foreseeable future, workers should continue to work from home rather than their normal physical workplace, wherever possible]. People who CANNOT work from home SHOULD travel to work if their workplaces are OPEN [while workplaces should be made safe for staff, with more cleaning, staggered working shifts and, for office workers, no hot-desking). This provision includes those working in food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research]
- It has been recommended that people who now have to travel to work should prevent overcrowding and AVOID public transport, so should consider all other forms of transport BEFORE using public transport, and therefore should walk, cycle or drive instead, but If they can’t walk, cycle or drive to their destination, they are advised to:
- Travel at off-peak times
- Take a less busy route and reduce the number of changes
- Wait for other passengers to get off before boarding
- Keep 2m away from people “where possible” [there may be situations where people can’t keep 2m away from each other, such as at busy times or getting on or off public transport. In these cases, the advice is to avoid physical contact and face away from others]
- Wash their hands for at least 20 seconds after completing their journey
- People who work in PAID CHILDCARE (such as nannies and childminders), CAN return to work, but only if they’re caring for youngsters who come from the same household or if they are able to follow SOCIAL DISTANCING RULES [during lockdown, registered childminders have either been closed or providing care for vulnerable children or children of key workers]. Also, the government has said it would like pre-school NURSERIES in England to start reopening from 1 June
- Schools opening and universities return – the government’s ambition was for all primary school children in England to return to school before the summer for a month if feasible. In England, pupils in nurseries, early years nursery, Reception, and Years 1 and 6 at primary schools are able to return from 1 June, but class sizes are expected to be no more than 15 pupils, with staggered breaks and frequent hand washing.
However, on 8th June it was announced that the plans to fully reopen Primary Schools before end of term were to be DROPPED, so the vast majority, probably about eight million children who’d expected to go back into school before the summer, very likely won’t return to the classroom until September. This has been branded a huge disappointment by some, as the reversal decision meant many children would remain “isolated”, with many living in “fragile” family environments for months to come, and that again, there will be a huge variation in their learning over that period. Although Ministers had wanted pupils to spend four weeks in school before the summer break, they had faced a backlash from some in the education sector who said it would be impossible to enforce social distancing to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. This change in plan was not a surprise to some who believed that the ‘ambition’ to bring back all primary year groups for a month before the end of the summer term was a case of the government OVER-PROMISING SOMETHING THAT WASN’T DELIVERABLE as it isn’t possible to do that while maintaining small class sizes and social bubbles
It is reported that Boris Johnson will speak with his Cabinet on morning of Tuesday 9th June before education secretary Gavin Williamson delivers a statement to parliament on the wider reopening of schools, while the Department of Education has said it remained the “ambition” for all primary school children to return before the summer holidays, but it did not deny reports that this DESIRE MAY NOT BE FULFILLED.
Also, the government in Wales had ruled out schools reopening on 1 June, while Scotland’s First Minister has said that children will return to school on 11 August (some pupils in Northern Ireland will return to school in August). From 15 June, the UK government had said some SECONDARY schools and further education COLLEGES would reopen and be able to have face-to-face contact with Year 10 and 12 pupils who have key exams next year, in addition to their “continued remote, home learning”. Meanwhile, there is uncertainty over whether students will be able to go to UNIVERSITY in person in September or whether they will be taught partially or completely online [the university watchdog says new students must be told with “absolute clarity” how they will be taught before accepting a place]
- Entering someone else’s home – if you’re a cleaner or plumber, so need to enter someone else’s home for your job, you ARE allowed to return to work, although no work should be carried out in the home of someone shielding or isolating because of Covid-19 symptoms, unless it’s a household emergency, while in homes where someone is clinically vulnerable (for example, where a person is aged over 70) face-to-face contact should be AVOIDED, and strict HYGIENE rules followed
- Moving home – house moves and viewings CAN resume again and potential buyers and renters WILL be able to visit show homes and view houses on the market to let or buy. Anyone who has already bought a new home can visit it to prepare for moving in
- people can now take “unlimited” amounts of exercise
- some sports can now be played – all restrictions on exercise and non-contact sports have been lifted
- people without limit WILL be allowed
- to sunbathe
- sit in local parks [you can meet ONE OTHER PERSON from outside your household if you are OUTDOORS. Public gatherings of more than 2 people from different households are prohibited in law. There are no limits on gatherings in the park with members of YOUR household
- drive further to exercise [you can travel to outdoor open space irrespective of distance, but you shouldn’t travel with someone from outside your household unless you can practise social distancing – for example by cycling. However, you should NOT travel to Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, where the rules are different
- go to a garden centre
- play sports OUTSIDE with members of a household [use outdoor sports courts or facilities, such as a tennis or basketball court, or golf course – with members of your HOUSEHOLD, or ONE OTHER PERSON while staying 2 metres apart]
- from Monday 1st June, you ARE able to meet or exercise in groups of up to SIX PEOPLE from DIFFERENT households OUTSIDE – either in PARKS or now also in PRIVATE GARDENS and can use the toilet at the home – as long as you adhere to social distancing which is to remain 2m (6ft) apart [This rules relaxation ONLY applied from the specified date so it would have been ILLEGAL to have applied it beforehand, like say on Sunday 31st May – hence it was a totally mistimed advanced government announcement which could only have caused public confusion, it must be said?
Sports courts can re-open, but you should only partake in such activities ALONE, or with members of YOUR HOUSEHOLD, or with ONE OTHER PERSON from outside your household, while practising social distancing. You should take particular care if you need to use any indoor facilities next to these outdoor courts, such as toilets.
You should NOT use any of these facilities if you are showing coronavirus symptoms, or if you or any of your household are self-isolating
As with before, you CANNOT:
- visit or stay overnight with friends and family in their homes [however the government had asked the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) to advise on the concept of “bubbles”, which would mean allowing people to expand their household group to include ONE OTHER HOUSEHOLD. HOWEVER, that has in fact resulted in a much different rules relaxation that as from Monday 1st June, you are ALLOWED home meetings in groups (with conditions), of up to SIX PEOPLE from DIFFERENT households, as well as you continuing with permission to spend your time OUTDOORS with up to ONE PERSON from a different household
- exercise in an indoor sports court, gym or leisure centre, or go swimming in a public pool
- use an outdoor gym or playground
- visit a private or ticketed attraction (although 29 National Trust parks began opening on 29th May in a phased resumption
- gather in a group of more than two (excluding members of your own household), except for a few specific exceptions set out in law (for work, funerals, house moves, supporting the vulnerable, in emergencies and to fulfil legal obligations)
- leave your home – the place you live – to stay at another home including visiting second homes, for a holiday or other purpose is NOT ALLOWED, although if a student is moving permanently to live back at their family home, this is permitted
- share a private vehicle with someone from another household
- have someone attend a funeral who is not from the deceased family’s household, or not close family or friends
- some non-essential retail stores, bars, and restaurants will remain CLOSED until restrictions are lifted sometime later in June
The May 10th change to working rules did NOT APPLY to
- people who work in HOSPITALITY – including pubs, restaurants, cinemas and more
- those who work for NON-ESSENTIAL RETAILERS
- One change to the rules now ALLOWS people to meet others OUTSIDE of their own home. However, this is still very limited. People can meet OUTSIDE with ONE person not from their household as long as they follow social distancing rules and stay two metres apart.
- All weddings have been cancelled
- Prisons have been put on lockdown with external visits cancelled
- Funerals ARE still allowed to take place but they should be limited to a person’s IMMEDIATE FAMILY (this includes spouses and partners, parents or carers, plus siblings and children). Where a grandparent has died, grandchildren can attend and if a person does not have any relatives, a close friend may attend. In all instances, funerals should follow the two metre social distancing guidelines.
in the future, there may be different levels of lockdown around England. This could see some areas with lower R numbers being allowed greater freedoms than those where the virus is more prevalent.
Why UK lockdown rules are different across the UK?
Many of the issues that face the UK can also be decided upon by the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This is done through their own legislation and powers. During May, as the new lockdown rules started to be implemented, differences emerged between the countries, and moreover the rules in those regions are being set or relaxed by their executives on different dates. In most cases, England has moved faster than the other UK nations.
As of May 14, SCOTLAND and WALES had NOT PERMITTED
- travel for exercise
- issued dates for schools reopening
- allowed limited socialising in open spaces
BUT since then from Friday 28th May in Scotland, there is no longer any limit to the amount of time you can spend outside doing exercise, or in open-air recreation like sunbathing in parks and open areas, PLUS outdoor activities (including golf, tennis, bowls and fishing,) can RESUME where physical distancing can be maintained, AND also members of TWO different households will be allowed to meet up OUTDOORS if they maintain social distancing (groups cannot be bigger than eight, and people are “strongly recommended” not to meet more than one OTHER household per day), whilst they should not use indoor bathrooms if visiting someone in their garden and whereas there’s no actual limit on travel, people are advised to stay local. In Wales, people from two different households will be able to meet each other outdoors from 1st June, but must maintain social distancing and strict hand hygiene, and shouldn’t generally travel more than 5 miles from home
- encouraged companies to reopen
- Scotland has said people should wear face coverings in crowded areas, in shops and on public transport (but it isn’t YET compulsory), while Wales has not yet recommended face coverings for the general public
- In NORTHERN IRELAND people ARE being allowed to travel for exercise, socialise in outdoor spaces and people have been told to cover their faces in crowded public spaces. Groups of four to six people who are NOT in the same household CAN meet OUTDOORS, although outdoor WEDDINGS with 10 people present may be allowed from 8 June
Do we know when will the UK lockdown end?
On April 30, it was confirmed the UK had passed the PEAK of its first coronavirus outbreak. This announcement gave the first sign that the government was seriously thinking about how to end some of the lockdown measures that had been put in place.
Throughout the crisis, officials have been reluctant to put any firm dates on when measures would change. And that has not changed. “This is not the time simply to end the lockdown this week,” Johnson said on May 10. Instead the UK would start to take the “first careful steps to modify our measures”.
Johnson said there was a balance that needed to be struck between reopening the economy and ensuring the highest levels of public health protection. The government would be following science, data, and advice from public health officials as it decided which lockdown measures to ease.
The end of the lockdown is being guided by five key tests that the government is following. These tests have been designed to ensure that once people are allowed to freely move around again, there is less likelihood of a second wave of the virus appearing. The tests are largely measures of preparedness for the near-term future.
The five key tests are:
- the NHS having capacity to provide critical care across the UK
- a sustained and consistent fall in daily coronavirus deaths
- a decreased rate of infections
- enough testing and personal protective equipment are held for future demand;
- a confidence that adjusting the lockdown measures will not risk a second peak of infections.
One key factor to monitoring when certain lockdown restrictions will end is the R number. This is a measure of the rate of transmission of the coronavirus
Worryingly, the R value in England has risen in all regions so is between 0.7 and 1, and the latest data suggests the North-West in particular (where it is close to one – above one means the infection is spreading exponentially) and to a lesser extent South-West are both areas of concern, as it has been confirmed that the R was higher in those regions than the rest of the country and although National easing of lockdown measures would go ahead, it would be with a focus on localised lockdowns to address flare-ups. That all means that the need for such localised lockdowns loom as increasingly there will be a requirement to tackle specific areas where flare-ups are spotted, which is going to be divisive, don’t you think?
Coronavirus lockdown: scientists advising the Government have suggested employing a TRAFFIC light code system to grade the risk of activities while “very gradually” lifting lockdown
Coronavirus lockdown: scientists advising the Government have suggested employing a TRAFFIC light code system to grade the risk of activities while “very gradually” lifting lockdown
The 10th May address outlined that the lockdown would also be monitored though a new system of alerts. The system works on a scale of one to five – ranging from a “low” to “critical” threat level.
Achieving a one on this scale indicates that coronavirus is not present in the UK any more. This is something that is unlikely to be reached for a long time, if it is ever achieved, and will most likely rely on a vaccine being created. At the top end of the scale, number five, there is a significant risk the NHS is not able to handle the number of coronavirus cases where patients need to be hospitalised.
The level is being determined by a Joint Biosecurity Centre, and would be measured based on the R number and the number of new cases in the country. “That Covid Alert Level will tell us how tough we have to be in our social distancing measures – the lower the level the fewer the measures,” Johnson said. “The higher the level, the tougher and stricter we will have to be.” During the lockdown the UK was at level four.
Alongside the alerts are THREE STEPS the government is introducing to ease the lockdown.
- STEP ONE [‘CONFIRMED’ commenced May 13] –some restrictions on who can go to work were being eased, as well as the ability to meet one person from another household and the allowance of unlimited exercise.
- STEP TWO ‘UNCONFIRMED’ which may happen from June 1.
- This step would allow a PHASED RETURN FOR SCHOOLS, with pupils from reception, year one and year six being allowed back into classrooms. “The government’s ambition is for all primary school children to return to school before the summer for a month if feasible, though this will be kept under review. The government has issued more guidance on how it believes schools can safely return. It states that the majority of staff in schools will NOT need PPE and that primary school pupils CANNOT be expected to stay two metres apart. Schools should make sure hand cleaning is done regularly, buildings are cleaned often and where possible physical contact and mixing of groups should be avoided.
The guidance also says that class sizes should be REDUCED (instead of 30 pupils in classes, groups should not number more than 15). Teachers will be allocated to the same group of pupils. Where possible, desks should be spread out further than they usually are. Corridor dividers to keep people apart, one-way systems, and limits on the number of people that can enter toilets at once are also being recommended for schools. Finally, the government says schools should look at introducing staggered pickup times for pupils to stop the amount of mixing that happens between adults from different households.
- Also in step two could be the reopening of “non-essential retail“. The government has not outlined the types of businesses that it considered to be non-essential retailers in any detail but it is NOT thought to include pubs and similar firms
- There’s no change at this time, but it is an intention to enable small wedding ceremonies from 1 June.
- STEP THREE, ‘UNCONFIRMED’ which may happen no earlier than July 4,
- The roadmap sets out that some businesses (like pubs, cinemas) will NOT open until Step 3 is reached – but that would see the reopening of some of the HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY and other public places.
- when this point is reached, many of the remaining lockdown measures would be eased. (this may include the reopening of hairdressers, beauty salons, pubs, hotels, and leisure facilities such as cinemas)
When will shops and pubs reopen?
The vast majority of retailers had to close their doors on March 23. The government said bars, clubs, restaurants and cafes should be closed, unless they are open for takeaways or deliveries. In addition, hair and beauty shops (including nail salons and tattoo parlours), massage parlours, auction houses, car showrooms, hotels, campsites, caravan parks, libraries, community centres, places of worship, cinemas and similar venues, museums, casinos and betting shops, spas, gyms, arcades and skating rinks should all be closed.
The government has provided extra guidance and exemptions for many of these businesses.
Supermarkets and other food shops have been allowed to stay open, as can many services that people rely on for basic needs. Banks, newsagents and corner shops, post offices, dry cleaners, home and hardware shops, petrol stations, laundrettes, pet shops, and car rentals are allowed to continue operating. As can pharmacies and market stalls that provide groceries. Shops and organisations that have stayed open have introduced extra safety measures to comply with social distancing rules. These include queue control outside shops and limits on number of people allowed in stores.
Online shopping hasn’t changed. Food deliveries, takeaways and other online shopping, including Amazon deliveries, are still happening. The government has said online shopping is “encouraged” and delivery services and the postal service are running as normal. When the government ordered restaurants to close on March 20, it said they could stay open for takeaways and deliveries. People aren’t allowed to eat food or drink while waiting for a takeaway and have to keep two metres apart while queuing.
In the May 10 announcement, it was said there could be a “phased” reopening of shops from the start of June. However, this would depend on the UK’s continued coronavirus response and a further reduction in cases. Pubs are likely to be one of the last sectors of the economy to reopen. As with the rest of the country’s retailers, the government has not set a definite date for pubs to reopen, but its roadmap to ending the lockdown says the earliest this could happen would be at the start of July [In fact with the latest update, while now Pubs, Restaurants, Hairdressers, Hotels, Cinemas and places of Worship will open from 4 July at the earliest (but only as long as they can meet social distancing measures), other indoor public spaces such as beauty salons, where social distancing may be difficult, could reopen ”significantly later”, depending on when the rate of infection goes down
GARDEN CENTRES have already reopened in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and are now due to reopen in Scotland, while DIY chains (some of which stayed open throughout the lockdown) have also REOPENED many of their shops
All NON-ESSENTIAL retailers – from DEPARTMENT stores to small INDEPENDENT shops – can REOPEN in England from 15 June,but only IF they put in place social distancing measures.
OUTDOOR MARKETS and CAR showrooms can reopen from 1 June, but only IF they are “Covid-secure” [however the government has said these dates could change if coronavirus infection rates increase]
Can I see my family?
The lockdown plans outlined by Johnson on May 10 changed very little. People were allowed to meet one person from another household as long as they are OUTSIDE from May 13, but they must keep two metres apart at all times. The lockdown rules say people cannot mix with other households.
It was said that in the future this may change. Sage, the government’s science advisory committee, was asked to examine when it may be possible for people to spend time with one other household. “The government said, the intention of such a change would be to allow those who are isolated some more social contact, and to reduce the most harmful effects of the then social restrictions, while continuing to limit the risk of chains of transmission, although at that time no date had been put on when that could happen. HOWEVER, it has in fact resulted in a much different rules relaxation as outlined above that from Monday 1st June, allowed meetings in groups (with conditions), of up to SIX PEOPLE from DIFFERENT households [it might though have been cleverer to have set the number to eight (as in Scotland) and view 1 family as 2 adults and 2 children, perhaps?]
Who can go to work under lockdown?
Companies have been told that everyone working for them should work from home, “wherever possible”. This includes the vast majority of people who work in offices and many other professions. While restaurants are allowed to stay open serving takeaways and deliveries, many of them (including Nando’s and McDonald’s) have decided to close entirely due to the difficulties of enforcing social distancing. People who work for retailers that are allowed to stay open should speak to their employers about their individual situations.
With the closure of schools, the UK government also issued a list of who it identifies as key workers. It’s a broad list. Included are people working in health and social key, education, government, public services (including the justice system, charities and journalists), people providing food and other necessary goods, transportation services and utilities.
On May 10, Johnson said that people who can work from home should continue to do so. He did not give a date when this might change. However, he said that if people could not work from home – citing examples of people who work in construction – then they should be encouraged to return to work. “When you do go to work, if possible do so by car or even better by walking or bicycle,” the prime minister urged. He recommended that people DO NOT USE public transport where possible.
When offices do reopen things will be different. Johnson has said the government is working on guidance to make workplaces “Covid-secure”. This guidance has yet to be published. Reports say companies will have to limit hot desking and introduce protective screens to workplaces to ensure people don’t come into contact with each other. Staff canteens will stay closed and it is likely that shifts will be staggered for different employees. One team may work in an office space for one week and then switch with another team for the following week.
These measures may be added on top of other returning to work measures. Social distancing will be required in all types of workplaces and existing government guidance says face-to-face meetings should last for 15 minutes at the very most. It is likely some forms of social distancing will operate until a vaccine for coronavirus is found.
What rules apply about flying into and out of the UK?
The Foreign Office currently advises against all but ESSENTIAL journeys, and the government has now said a two-week QUARANTINE period for people arriving in the UK will be introduced as soon as possible, but there will be some exemptions for people arriving from the Republic of Ireland as part of the Common Travel Area.
THE UK NEW QUARANTINE RULES
A two-week quarantine period for anyone arriving in the UK will be enforced from 8 June.
As usual all TOO LATE of course to prove effective, as this is yet another action that the government should have imposed 3 months ago to prevent the current virus crisis here, whereas UK airlines predict the measure’s belated introduction at this stage will have now a devastating impact on their industry as well as the wider economy. Airline and Ports authorities involved have deemed this quarantine measure to be an overzealous policy with no credibility and one which would indeed effectively kill off air travel.
Passengers arriving in the UK by plane, ferry or train – including UK nationals – will HAVE to provide an address where they will remain for 14 days (there is a £100 penalty for anyone found to have not filled in this ”contact locator” form), and surprise visits will be used to check they are following the rules (those in England could be fined up to £1,000 if they fail to self-isolate, while governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can also impose penalties). If international travellers cannot say where they plan to self-isolate for 14 days, they will have to do so in accommodation arranged by the government.
Passengers will be asked to drive in their own car to their destination, where possible.
They must then NOT go to work, school, or public areas, or use public transport or taxis. They should also NOT have any visitors unless they are providing essential support, and should NOT go out to buy food or other essentials where they can rely on others.
The UK’s quarantine rules WON’T apply to everybody though, as there are a number of groups who are exempt, including:
◾Road haulage and freight workers
◾Medical officials who are travelling to help fight coronavirus
◾Anyone arriving from the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man
◾Seasonal agricultural workers if they self-isolate on the property where they are working
(Although it had initially been suggested that the rules would also NOT apply to travellers from France, that has been rescinded as the Government has backtracked on French quarantine exemption, so the same quarantine measures WILL also apply to the French)
The possibility of introducing “air bridges” is however being considered by the government. This would be an arrangement where travellers from countries with ‘low coronavirus levels’ could be exempt from quarantine]
- All passengers are advised by the government to remain 2m (6ft) apart wherever possible. They should also consider wearing gloves and a face covering – which some UK airports [already Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands] and some airlines [Air France, several US airlines] have made compulsory. Air France’s passengers will be temperature-checked before flying
- Heathrow, one of the world’s busiest airports, is already trialling large-scale temperature checks and some temperature screening trials will also be conducted at Stansted. What airlines will be flying?Ryanair still plans to reintroduce 40% of its flights from 1 July, subject to travel restrictions being lifted and safety measures being brought in at airports.
- British Airways is reviewing its plans to run 50% of its schedule from July, because of the new quarantine rules
- EasyJet will restart a small number of flights on 15 June, with all passengers and cabin crew told to wear face masks.
[OTHER COUNTRIES WHICH HAVE QUARANTINE RULES
- Spain, Italy, Greece, Canada, the UAE, Australia, New Zealand
Have fourteen-day quarantine rules applying, and many have introduced screening measures such as temperature checks, and entry restrictions. Spain and some others have banned foreign visitors, and where only UK citizens with permanent resident status can enter.
- Italy arrivals must carry a form explaining their reason for travel, avoid public transport and report to health authorities
- France has announced quarantine plans for UK arrivals (basically in retaliation to the UK’s quarantine?)
- The US only has 13 airports open for international flights
- Canadian rules insist airlines must carry out health assessments on passengers
- The United Arab Emirates has strict entry rules for foreign residents
- Australia a special exemption visa to travel there is need by UK citizens
- New Zealand the border is closed to almost all arrivals]
[It is going to be many months before greater clarity returns to the UK lockdown and its restrictions and that’s unfortunate since community spirit as well as the economy is currently trashed]