The year 2020 was certainly one we’ll never forget, with 2021 following suit as we are still under strict restrictions. However, there is now light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine and the possible easing of COVID-19 restrictions. On February 22nd, the government announced their cautious ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown – Starting from the 8th of March!
The PM has stressed the idea of focusing on data rather than dates, urging Britons to remain cautious until the nation has been vaccinated. Although, if the hospital admissions and death rate remain low then we may have a chance of having a ‘normal’ summer.
As of the 6th of March, almost 22 million people in the UK have received the first dose of the COVID vaccine. That is almost ⅓ of the population! With the vaccine rollout going so successfully, the government aims to get all adults vaccinated by the end of July. This is the good news that we have been waiting for!
This blog will rundown the details of the roadmap out of lockdown and the implications it may have on businesses. It will cover all major industries, for example – retail, hospitality, salon, travel and gyms.
The Roadmap Out Of Lockdown For Business Owners
In England, lockdown restrictions will finally begin to ease from the 8th of March – As part of the government’s four steps to lifting lockdown. The government has stated that the easing of lockdown could be slowed down if there’s a surge in cases, hospital admissions or deaths.
The decision to move to the next step of the lockdown roadmap will be decided by if;
- The vaccine rollout continues to succeed.
- The data shows the vaccine reduces the risk of hospitalisation and death.
- Hospitalisations surge and the NHS becomes overwhelmed.
- The risk level changes due to COVID-19 variants.
As the lockdown restrictions ease gradually, businesses can start to prepare for their return to work! This announcement from the government has given UK businesses hope for the future, allowing many to start opening in April.
Step One – From March 8th and 29th
From the 8th of March, all school-age children will return to their education (face to face). Rapid testing of all teachers and high school/college-aged children will be in place to ensure safety. This will take the pressure off for working parents, allowing them to focus on work and not homeschooling!
The rules on social contact will ease also, with care home residents being allowed one designated visitor. People will be allowed to leave home for recreational purposes and for exercising – With their household, support bubble or one other person from a separate household.
From the 29th of March, outdoor gatherings (including in gardens) will be allowed, with the rule of six being reinstated. Additionally, outdoor sports venues including open-air swimming pools (e.g. tennis/basketball courts, football/rugby pitches) will be allowed to reopen! This is great news for the gym/leisure industry which has been hit hard by the pandemic.
The stay at home order will officially end also, however, people will still be asked to remain working at home if possible. This does mean that some furloughed employees may be able to return to work if it is COVID-safe!
Step Two – From April 12th
This provisional date is the earlier estimate of when the next step of the lockdown will be taken. From the 12th of April, non-essential retail will see its return to the high street! This will include:
- Indoor Exercise Venues – Gyms, Spas and Pools.
- Hairdressers and Beauty Salons.
- Pubs and Restaurants (for outdoor service).
- Holiday Accommodation (hotels, b&bs, etc) to members of the same household for ‘staycations’.
- Other Non-Essential Retail (shops, zoos, drive-in cinemas, etc).
The number of people allowed to visit events like weddings and funerals will also increase, with 30 allowed for funerals and 15 for weddings/commemorative events.
This gradual roadmap has given businesses across the UK plenty of time to make the preparations and adjustments, this means they can be as safe as possible. Many retailers in the UK have been closed for almost a year now, for some, this is the light at the end of the tunnel.
Step Three – From May 17th
From May 17th at the earliest, the restrictions on more businesses will be eased. The following businesses will be allowed to open:
- Indoor and Outdoor Entertainment (theatres, cinemas, museums, play areas, etc).
- Indoor Pubs and Restaurants
- Hostels, B&Bs and Hotels
- Indoor Group Sports
- Large Events (with half capacity or 1000/4000 people depending on if indoors or outdoors)
The rule of six will be back in place for indoors social mixing from the 17th of May! Plus, up to 30 people will be able to attend a wedding/wake. This easing will allow for life to be similar to pre-pandemic times for the majority of businesses – Although, the limits on social interaction may cause lower levels of attendance for indoor venues.
Step Four – From June 21st
This step will be taken by June 21st at the earliest, like all the other stages. During this step, the government hopes to have ended all restrictions on social contact! There will no longer be a legal limit on the number of people who can attend events like weddings or funerals.
The government hopes that the majority of businesses will now be reopened in the UK, with venues such as nightclubs being allowed to finally reopen.
For the last year, businesses all across the UK have been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions. This cautious roadmap set out by the government gives clarity to business owners, allowing them to remain hopeful for the near future. During the next three months, businesses will still face difficult times but now there is finally some good news to keep us going!
However, that being said, business owners should remain cautious and keep up to date with all the latest coronavirus news. There are no guarantees when it comes to COVID-19 and history may repeat itself.
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