Johnson’s 50-page roadmap is aimed at giving people “hope” and to lead Britain out of the lockdown. The dossier includes a 3-phase strategy designed for lifting the lockdown gradually. During times when a vaccine for the deadly virus is nowhere in sight – the UK is all set to rebuild the country. Will this strategy bring growth and prosperity? Or are we looking towards an unforeseeable future? ⭐COVID-19 ⭐UK Government
Several pneumonia-related cases surged in Wuhan that made the Chinese authorities to alert the WHO on December 31, 2019. COVID-19 started as an epidemic restricted only to China, however, it has now become a ‘global pandemic’. With more than 227K cases in the United Kingdom, thousands of people have lost their life. However, the rigorous efforts by the NHS and the social care workers are commendable. A financially planned approach has helped the nation yet and may continue to do so. Boris Johnson has revealed a 50-page plan for lifting the lockdown gradually. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has been taking actions to prevent an economic meltdown.
As we wait for a long-term solution, the decline in economic activities has created turbulence, raising a serious question. To spur the economic life and to bring back millions of lives on track – the government is taking unprecedented actions. What will be the changes and how are we supposed to come out of our houses?
In this article, we will discuss:
- Government’s 3-phased recovery plan
- A step-by-step roadmap for lifting restrictions
- What are the challenges ahead?
- How to stay safe outside your homes?
UK Government’s 3-phased Recovery Plan
The invisible foe has made a long-lasting impact on our lives. The Government has planned everything based on the facts that are made available from highly reliable sources and science. It can be said that the spread of the virus in the country has been rapid. Estimations showed that the number of patients in intensive care was getting doubled every 3 to 4 days.
Phase – 1: Current Situation
On March 16, the Government asked the British public to cease all “non-essential” contact and travel to contain the spread of the virus. Followed by the closure of schools on March 18. Entertainment, hospitality, and indoor leisure venues were also instructed for shut down on March 20. A “Stay at Home” guidance was introduced on March 23 in a drastic action to save lives. This phase was an important one that helped to fight the spread. The efforts of the public suppressed the spread to a great extent. All these measures led to a reduction in the percentage of NHS’s critical care beds. The percentage fell to 27% from 51% in April.
However, the stillness of economic activities has impacted the UK economy. The Government has introduced several financial aids to protect millions of businesses and jobs. The Office of Budget responsibility has revealed that by the 2nd quarter of this year, the UK may witness a decline by 35% in the GDP.
Phase – 2: Smarter Controls
Different regions of the UK are hit differently with the virus. Measures are being taken to prevent the second peak of infections that may arise. The UK Government’s utmost priority is to save the British public from being a victim to this invisible enemy. For this reason, ventilated bed capacity has been increased although the number of COVID-19 patients has declined over the weeks. Testing capacity and PPE kits will continue to keep meeting the demand. Smarter and periodic measures will be taken over the coming weeks to replace the social restrictions that are in place. Redesigning public places including workspaces will also be taken into consideration. As these social points are prone to high infection areas. Steps will be taken regularly to make adjustments to the current measures. However, highly crowded places such as nightclubs, beauty salons, sports stadia will be functional only after a significant reduction in the infection. However, if the virus starts spreading again, the government may have to impose tighter regulations to protect the lives of its people.
Phase – 3: Reliable Treatment
Lifting the current nationwide lockdown may result in a rise of COVID-19 cases in the UK. And if economic activities are not initiated, millions of livelihoods will have to face other problems. To return to society as far as normal, we need to have a balanced strategy. And therefore, the government has introduced a plan that ends in October. Researchers may repurpose existing drugs or create drugs that will minimise the impact of the virus. The first UK human trial of the vaccine has begun at the prestigious University of Oxford. It may take a very long time for the researchers to develop a credible vaccine.
Step-by-step Roadmap for Lifting Lockdown in the UK
A plan has been prepared by the Government that will help in the gradual easing of the restrictions. This will help the people to plan and schedule accordingly.
Workers who can work from home are advised to continue doing so. However, workers who cannot work from home may travel to their workplace. The employers have to provide a safe workplace to the employees. Also, you should walk or pedal to the workplace rather than taking public transport to reduce the chance of infection. If anyone has any symptoms, they must stay at home and isolate themselves rather than going outside for work.
The rate of infection is very high in schools. Educational institutes are working remotely to deliver the classes online to the students. However, the government is urging the local councils to encourage children of critical care workers and vulnerable pupils to go to school.
People are asked to avoid public transport whenever possible, especially during peak times. Social distancing rules to be followed while taking any public transport for commuting. To encourage more people to cycle or walk, the government will increase the funding to widen the pavements, pop-up cycle lanes, and may close some roads to traffic.
Social distancing is not possible always. Therefore, the government has advised the public to wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces. However, children under the age of two should not be made to wear face-coverings.
Outdoors & Exercise
You can drive out of your homes to any distance, however, you have to adhere to the physical distancing rules. People must not violate the rules of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. In clear terms, people from England must not travel to different parts of the country.
You may go out for exercise as many as times as you want. You have to avoid areas of high contact such as playgrounds and outdoor gyms. You are not allowed to play any team sports.
To manage the risk of transmission and keep it as low as possible, all international arrivals in the UK have to self-isolate themselves for 14 days in their accommodation. International travellers may opt for accommodation arranged by the Government. This will not come into force from May 13, however, it will be implemented as soon as possible.
The second step completely depends on the risk posed by the virus. The government has made it clear that the second step will not be implemented before June 1. Different measures may be posed or lifted at different areas at different times.
Schools will be allowed to take in more children from June 1. It aims at the return of all primary school children before the summer if at all feasible. The Department of Education will work closely with schools to facilitate this.
Retailers are advised to follow the new COVID-19 Secure guidelines. As the risk of virus transmission is high in hospitality and personal care – these industries will not get permission to reopen in this stage. Further guidance by the government will be introduced shortly for businesses that may reopen with proper timelines.
Social and Family Contact
The government wants to limit the transmission chain. However, small weddings could be allowed soon. And even two households may be allowed to share childcare.
According to the assumptions of the government, step three will be implemented no earlier than 4 July. Some of the remaining businesses may be reopened including personal care. Leisure facilities such as cinemas, pubs, accommodation may also be reopened in this step. The government may schedule some pilot re-opening programs to test their ability to adapt to the new guidelines.
What are the Challenges Ahead?
As we hope to return to the normal world, many economies around the world have started falling. The numbers around the world, especially Europe grew exponentially. The global system is changing rapidly and we have to adapt to it as soon and as fast as possible. The COVID-19 pandemic will have major implications on every business from every sector. From a global recession to adverse trade effects, experts have already prepared an endless list. Here are a few challenges that the government of the UK has to face in the coming years.
- Not a Short-term Crisis
The virus is likely to circulate in the human population for a long-term. It needs drastic and major changes rather than short-term fixes. The government’s economic response has been perfectly timed. Sunak has taken the right steps to support the economy.
- Reopening may Trigger the 2nd Wave
Reopening of businesses and schools may trigger a second wave of infections. With so many people lacking immunity, the chances of the virus spreading faster also arise. If no strict measures are taken, the virus may start spreading again.
- Difficult to Detect
The virus is difficult to detect as some people carry the infection asymptomatically. There are chances that the person may infect other unintentionally. Monitoring the spread of the virus is another herculean task that has to be taken up by the government.
- No Quick-fix
There is no quick-fix or easy solution to overcome the current situation. To control this pandemic, we can only rely on effective drugs. Any vaccine that may tone down the impact of the virus can also help at large. However, it may take years for such a drug to be developed.
How to Stay Safe Outside your Homes?
To keep this infection from spreading needs a collective effort. It is the responsibility of every individual to share the load by adhering to the guidelines. When you step out of your homes, ensure that you act responsibly. Here are a few things that you can do to stay safe outside your homes.
- Keep distance from people when you are outside. At least keep 2 meters away from people as the closer you are to someone, the more your chances of being infected are. Spend as less time as possible when you are outside to stay safe.
- Avoid touching your face, eyes, and mouth when you are outside. Wash your hands regularly using soap and water. Use sanitisers whenever you are out of your homes. Do not touch things that have a high risk of infection.
- Work from home whenever it is possible. Only commute to your workplace if it is important. However, all jobs cannot be done from home. So, if you have to commute daily to your workplace – prefer to walk or ride a bike.
- Avoid the crowd. Reduce the number of people you come in contact with. You can do this by not taking public transport during peak times.
- Wear face coverings when you are sick. And avoid stepping out of your home if you do not feel good. By this, you will lower the chances of spreading the infection. Do not come in close contact with anyone and self-isolate yourself.
We have to fight it off together. A common coordinated approach with well-designed strategy is going to help us in the long run. According to the experts, this pandemic will last around for 2 years. Following the regulations to protect ourselves and others should be our top priority. The COVID-19 virus has brought immeasurable human suffering that can be minimised gradually.
Most of us know that life will not be the same as before and an urgent revision in our behaviour is the demand of the hour. However, during these uncertain times, we cannot afford to lose our hopes and patience. Boris Johnson’s plan to take Britain out of the lockdown may only work if all the regulations are adhered to by the general public. The entire world has one common and invisible enemy and fighting that off will require a concrete plan.