We are delighted to hear the positive news, on the cautious re-opening of the economy and schools in England.
The re-opening of the economy and schools in England and the progress that has been made with the vaccine program is extremely promising and we should all be so very thankful to the professionals and volunteers who have been involved in getting the vaccine out at the pace that it has done.
It is reassuring to know that the Government is electing to follow a much more universal approach to the easing of restrictions, and it has confirmed that it will not be using a location-based tier system and there will be no curfew on pubs or requirement to have the infamous, substantial meal.
Lockdown easing: Key dates
Six people or two households allowed to meet outdoors
Gyms and other indoor leisure activity open
Pubs and restaurants open
All lockdown restrictions end
We support the re-opening of the economy and schools in England and support the Government to make sure this is the last lockdown and not rush the reopening of the economy, but we have to ensure that all the right provisions and support are in place for this last leg of the journey. The Prime Minister has said that the “rug will not be pulled from under businesses” and the Chancellor will set out the support in just over a week’s time, at his budget.
The Government explained the reopening of the economy will be done so in stages as follows:
From 8th March
- All schools will open for all pupils
- Recreation in open public space with one other person from another household will be permitted.
From 29th March
- Outdoor gatherings of six or two households will be allowed
- Outdoor sports facilities can reopen
From 12th April
- Non-essential retail and personal care, including hairdressers, barbers and nail / beauty salons can reopen
- Outdoor hospitality and takeaway can reopen
- Indoor leisure such as gyms and swimming pool can reopen
- Most outdoor attractions such as zoos and theme parks can reopen
From 17th May
- Most social contact rules lifted
- Mixing of two households allowed indoors
- Indoor hospitality such as pubs and restaurants to reopen subject to the rule of 6
- Performance / sports events largely reopened with some capacity limits
From 21st June
- All legal limits on social contact removed
- All sectors of the economy should reopen
- Restrictions lifted as to capacity at large events
- All limits removed on weddings / funeral a/ life events
The Prime Minister outlined that before moving on to the next stage of the lockdown easing, the following four conditions must be met:
- The coronavirus vaccine programme continues to go to plan
- Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently reducing the number of people dying with the virus or needing hospital treatment
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospital admissions
- New variants of the virus do not fundamentally change the risk of lifting restrictions
The Government has reiterated the message to work from home if you can do, which is sensible to reduce the risk of contact and transmission whilst the vaccination program moves on. However, we do have concern for those who are suffering isolation and mental health problems form a lack of socialisation they normally receive from their workplace and colleagues.
We remain positively optimistic that we are well on the way to recovery of the economy, and the risk to health and loss of life reduces, which is very welcome news. The approach the Government has taken is very cautious and some may rightly argue that with the successful immunisation of the top, most vulnerable persons, that there is some milage to open up faster than has been set out, but we do at least have a date to work towards.
As ever, the devil is going to be in the detail on this matter and we will watch with great interest, how the chancellor plans to support businesses, which everyone agrees, have largely had a terrible 12 months.
Group Operations Director
Hilton Smythe Group