Lockdown restrictions relaxed

The Prime Minister announced in his daily briefing yesterday (28.05.20) that some lockdown restrictions will be lifted in England on 1st June.

The announcement to gradually ease lockdown measures was announced after the Prime Minister said that his five key tests have been met, meaning friends and families will now be able to meet in groups of up to six people outside – including private gardens and parks – from Monday 1st June.

Though the news will bring about no new changes to mobile caterers, pubs and restaurants, the Prime Minister did provide some hope to hospitality businesses yesterday (28.05.20) by saying that the two-metre distancing rule may soon be eased.

Speaking to the Commons liaison committee yesterday, he said that pubs, restaurants and hotels could be permitted to open sooner than 4th July.

Johnson said: “My own hope is that as we make progress in getting the virus down, in reducing the incidence, that we will be able to reduce that distance, which I think will be particularly valuable in transport and clearly the hospitality sector.”

“It is really difficult to bring forward hospitality measures in a way that involves social distancing. But I am much more optimistic about that than I was. We may be able to do things faster than I previously thought.”

Some of the key changes being brought in from 1st June, include:

  • Outdoor retail and car showrooms will open on 1st June, with other retail opening 15th June.
  • Up to 6 people will be allowed to gather outdoors, including in private gardens, provided that separate households maintain physical distancing measures.
  • Shielded and vulnerable groups of people should remain in quarantine.
  • If and when local outbreaks arise, distancing measures will be reinstated as needed.

In Scotland, First Minister Nicola eased lockdown measures from today (29.05.20), implementing phase one of a four-step plan to lift lockdown restrictions. Some key changes include:

  • People from two different households may meet outdoors in groups up to 8, while maintaining social distancing.
  • Outdoor leisure activities such as golf, tennis, bowls and fishing may resume with distancing measures.

Wales’ first minister Mark Drakeford reiterated his government’s new “stay local” guidance, which states that people in Wales must not travel more than five miles to meet others. Two households will be able to meet outside from next week.

Furlough scheme set to alter

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to announce major changes to the Government’s furlough scheme soon, with plans to potentially force employers to pay 20% of wages from August.

MPs are calling on Mr Sunak to extend the Job Retention Scheme for self-employed workers – including those who work in industries such as mobile catering, construction and hairdressing – due to concerns they may lose out on vital support.

Employers have furloughed 8.4 million workers and claimed up to 80% of their wages, to a maximum £2,500 a month. Figures earlier this week revealed that the cost has reached £15bn while a separate scheme to support self-employed workers had cost almost £7bn.

More details are expected in due course.

NHS Test and Trace system launched

From this week, anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will be asked to share details about their recent interactions, including household members, people they have been in direct contact with or people that have come within 2 metres for more than 15 minutes. Each of those contacts will then need to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they are not showing symptoms, to avoid spreading the virus.

More guidance can be found for employers, businesses and individuals here.

The social effects of Coronavirus on Britain

A new survey from the Office for National Statistics has looked into the impact that the Coronavirus pandemic is having on people in Great Britain.

The Opinions and Lifestyle Survey examined the concerns that members of the public hold over Covid-19, their activities, and main concerns going forward about life under restrictions.

Some of the main points raised included:

  • More people have left their home this week, with 90% of adults saying they had left for any reason compared with 86% last week.
  • The most common reasons for leaving home continue to be: essential shopping, exercise, work and medical need; however, leaving to meet with others in a public place has seen the largest increase this week.
  • Over 1 in 3 adults in employment (36%) said they had left their home to travel to and from work in the past seven days, a similar level to last week.
  • Almost 3 in 10 adults (29%) said they felt unsafe or very unsafe when outside of their home this week, compared with over 4 in 10 (41%) last week.
  • Almost 3 in 10 adults (29%) reported that they had used face coverings outside of their home in the past week, most commonly whilst shopping.

Over 4 in 10 adults (43%) said the coronavirus was having an impact on their work, and of these the most common impacts were similar to previous weeks: being furloughed, needing to work from home and a change in hours worked.

The largest change amongst those who said their work was affected was seen with increasing levels of concern about health and safety at work. This increased to 20% this week from 11% last week. The most common concerns people had around health and safety at their workplace were: difficulties in following social distancing advice, difficulty in following hygiene advice, and limited or no protective equipment in place.

Read more on the findings of the survey

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