Challenges as we emerge from lockdown

There is no guarantee that the heady mix of vaccination and easing of lockdown will contain the spread of COVID-19. However, based on government predictions, they are willing to start the process of easing lockdown restrictions.

The relaxation of restrictions will depend on four tests. They are:

  1. The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
  2. Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
  3. Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
  4. Assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.

The stepped approach published is:

Step 1: 8 March

  • Schools and colleges are open for all students. Practical Higher Education Courses.
  • Recreation or exercise outdoors with household or one other person. No household mixing indoors.
  • Wraparound childcare.
  • Stay at home.
  • Funerals (30), wakes and weddings (6)

29 March

  • Rule of 6 or two households outdoors. No household mixing indoors.
  • Outdoor sport and leisure facilities.
  • Organised outdoor sport allowed (children and adults).
  • Minimise travel. No holidays.
  • Outdoor parent & child groups (up to 15 parents).

Step 2
At least five weeks after Step 1, no earlier than 12 April.

  • Indoor leisure (including gyms) open for use individually or within household groups.
  • Rule of 6 or two households outdoors. No household mixing indoors.
  • Outdoor attractions such as zoos, theme parks and drive-in cinemas.
  • Libraries and community centres.
  • Personal care premises.
  • All retail.
  • Outdoor hospitality.
  • All children’s activities, indoor parent & child groups (up to 15 parents).
  • Domestic overnight stays (household only).
  • Self-contained accommodation (household only).
  • Funerals (30), wakes, weddings and receptions (15).
  • Minimise travel. No international holidays.
  • Event pilots begin.

Step 3
At least five weeks after Step 2, no earlier than 17 May.

  • Indoor entertainment and attractions.
  • 30 persons limit outdoors. Rule of 6 or two households (subject to review).
  • Domestic overnight stays.
  • Organised indoor adult sport.
  • Most significant life events (30).
  • Remaining outdoor entertainment (including performances).
  • Remaining accommodation.
  • Some large events (expect for pilots) – capacity limits apply.
    • Indoor events: 1,000 or 50%.
    • Outdoor other events: 4,000 or 50%.
    • Outdoor seated events: 10,000 or 25%.
  • International travel – subject to review.

Step 4
At least five weeks after Step 3, no earlier than 21 June. By Step 4, the Government hopes to be able to introduce the following (subject to review):

  • No legal limits on social contact
  • Nightclubs.
  • Larger events.
  • No legal limit on life events.

Based on these published intentions it would be wise for UK’s raft of small businesses that have been adversely affected by lockdown to plan for resumption of trade. Depending on how badly their finances have been affected by the events of the last year they will need plans in place to finance expansion. It is likely that once consumers can scent the freedom to step out and spend there will be a significant push to economic activity.

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