The UK Government will attempt to gradually lift Coronavirus lock-down restrictions, as laid out in Boris Johnson’s step-by-step strategy (given on Sunday 10th May). All pointing to a move to get people back to work and business and the UK economy restarted.
Based on predictions supplied by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and focusing heavily on the rate of infection (a.k.a 'reproduction’ (R) value), easing the COVID-19 control measures will be gradual and carefully monitored rather than a wholesale return to business as normal.
It is thought the measures will be eased one at a time, to allow the effects of each to be closely monitored until the experts are satisfied more changes can be made.
So do we know so far about life after lock-down?
Office based employees who can continue to work from home will be advised to do so.
Employers will need to implement a number of safety measures to protect staff returning to work, including staggered arrival and departure times for those who have critical roles or who cannot work from home.
See our separate blog on Coronavirus Workplace Safety Measures, which includes recommendations for COVID-19 safety adaptation to offices to allow for social distancing, screens and barriers to protect people working side-by-side and sanitising routines and ventilation recommendations.
In industries like engineering, car manufacturing, textiles and construction, where social distancing can be implemented, workers are being encouraged to return to work.
If you are planning a post lockdown return to work and implementing new safety measures for your offices, sites or facilities, then video is a powerful way to educate staff and reassure customers that you’re taking safety seriously. Film Haus can support your business implement these new safety measures with quick and affordable video productions services. We can film in your offices highlighting the new signage, Protective Equipment (PPE), Coronavirus workplace adaptations and spell out any new rules, you need staff to work within.
An excellent example above of innovative use of video for safety and promotional purposes.
Family and Socialising (inc Leisure Sector)
Britons could be allowed to reunite with loved ones using "bubble" arrangements i.e. a small defined group, which would see people choose a small number of friends and family to mix with.
The emphasis will be on meeting outdoors, in well ventilated spaces for the time being, with strict orders not to mix with anybody else.
People could also be allowed to leave their homes more often and for longer periods of time. However, Pubs and clubs are expected to remain closed for the foreseeable future, although takeaway food services are being encouraged to re-open.
Some cafes have already begun to reopen while implementing social distancing measures – while McDonalds has announced it will reopen 15 of its restaurants in the UK offering delivery services only from May 13.
It seems unlikely hotels will reopen while the emphasis remains on “essential’ travel.
After Professor Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer for England, said there was “no doubt” that reopening schools would increase the R value (despite pupils returning to class in European countries like Denmark and Switzerland), the Government did a u-turn on their earlier announcement that primary school pupils will start returning to class from June 1.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested that schools may not reopen until after the summer holidays for the start of a new term in September.
A source close to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “It wouldn’t be wise for everyone to go back on the same day. What we are looking at is a phased return.” It is thought Year 10 and lower sixth pupils could be the first to return to secondary schools as they have GCSEs and A-Levels next year.
A recent poll found that the majority of parents would not send their children back to school as soon as they reopen.
The survey conducted by the online parenting forum Mumsnet found that 57 per cent of parents would prefer to keep their children at home initially even when they are allowed to return to the classroom. Just one in five parents (22 per cent) believe schools should reopen now.
Boris Johnson said face coverings "will be useful, both for epidemiological reasons, but also for giving people confidence that they can go back to work".
Earlier this week findings were submitted to Sage by a sub-group of the Royal Society claiming that face coverings could be at least half as effective as surgical masks and the public should be encouraged to wear them at work, on public transport and when shopping.
A survey by the rail and road watchdog, Transport Focus, found that more than half of commuters (51 per cent) would not be happy using trains and buses again unless the Government mandated the wearing of face masks.
Mr Johnson recommended that people avoid public transport if possible and travel when needed, to work etc, by bike or on foot – observing the 2m social distancing rules.
In additional to the face mask Trasport poll above, 83 per cent of passengers said they also wanted hand sanitiser made available on public transport vehicles as well as train stations and bus stops, and 62 percent said they would not venture back onto public transport unless effective social-distancing measures are in place.
Meanwhile, only 24 per cent of people said they would be happy to start travelling again as soon as lockdown restrictions are eased, with 40 percent saying they still expected to work from home.
The Government’s “ambition” is to hit 200,000 tests by the end of this May and then go even higher. They had previously hit the target of 100,000 tests by the end of April, but that number has since fallen back.
Testing has been extended beyond the NHS and carers to include other essential works and can be applied for via an employer referral service or direct self-referral route – only if you are displaying symptoms.
NHSx’s ‘track and trace’ app, currently being piloted in the Isle of Wight, will be rolled out nationwide in the coming weeks.
Although there have been multiple reports about non essential shops like gardening centres re-opening, Mr Johnson did not change the rules on other retail yet.
Retailers that are currently trading have taken measures outside and inside stores, introducing plexiglass screens at tills and limiting numbers both in store and in socially-distanced warehousing operations.
Another great example of video, this time from the retail sector, being used to promote Coronavirus safety measures.
So begins the next phase of our ‘new normal’ in dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic. There will be many changes to come in the way people live, work and interact, video can play an important part in educating us on how we can keep safe whilst the COVID-19 restrictions are being eased. If you're in charge of facilities, safety, human resources or communications in your workplace, speak to Film Haus about our professional and affordable video production services | firstname.lastname@example.org