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UK's plan for exiting the COVID-19 lockdown

UK's plan for exiting the COVID-19 lockdown

People walk along London Bridge in London, Britain on May 11, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Simon Dawson)

LONDON: The British government published its plan on Monday (May 11) for exiting the COVID-19 lockdown.

The 51-page document, entitled "Our Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy", gives an outline of how the United Kingdom could return to normal life.

READ: From South Korea to Germany, fresh outbreaks as countries ease COVID-19 lockdowns

READ: COVID-19: Britain unveils phased plan to exit lockdown

The roadmap is set out in three steps, gradually easing over time the stringent restrictions that have all but shuttered the economy. Following are the main points:

HOW FAST?

"This is not a short-term crisis. It is likely that COVID-19 will circulate in the human population long-term, possibly causing periodic epidemics. In the near future, large epidemic waves cannot be excluded without continuing some measures."

"In the near term, we cannot afford to make drastic changes," the government said.

CONDITIONALITY

The government says that any of the changed social distancing measures will be monitored to gauge whether the changes increase the rate of infection - the so-called R (reproduction) rate. If so or if the government identifies hotspots, ministers could reintroduce some stricter measures.

FILE PHOTO: Workers walk outside a construction site for a section of Britain's HS2 high-speed railway project, at London Euston train station in London on Feb 11, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Justin TALLIS)

Any further decisions on easing the lockdown will depend on what scientists know at the time, and so some of the provisional dates for further steps might be changed.

THE VULNERABLE

Those in the clinically extremely vulnerable group will continue to be advised to shield themselves for some time yet.

BACK TO WORK?

For the foreseeable future, workers should continue to work from home rather than their normal physical workplace, wherever possible.

All those who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open.

SCHOOLS

Schools should prepare to begin to open for more children from Jun 1. The government’s ambition is for all primary school children to return to school before the summer for a month if feasible.

TRANSPORT

Everybody (including critical workers) should continue to avoid public transport wherever possible. Walk or cycle if possible. Try and avoid peak times on public transport.

READ: UK minister warns no big changes to virus lockdown

READ: British GP could go ahead despite quarantine restrictions

Social distancing guidance on public transport must be followed rigorously. As with workplaces, transport operators should follow appropriate guidance to make their services COVID-19 Secure; this will be published this week.

INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL

The government will require all international arrivals not on a short list of exemptions to self-isolate in their accommodation for 14 days on arrival into the UK. All journeys within the Common Travel Area will be exempt from these measures.

FILE PHOTO: A man walks into a deserted Gatwick airport in Gatwick, Britain on May 5, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Hannah McKay)

These international travel measures will not come into force on May 13 but will be introduced as soon as possible. Further details and guidance will be set out shortly, and the measures and list of exemptions will be kept under regular review.

HOUSEHOLD BUBBLES

UK is looking at how to allow people to expand their household group to include one other household. This could be based on the New Zealand model of household "bubbles".

NON-ESSENTIAL RETAIL

Non-essential retail will reopen in phases from Jun 1.

After Jul 4, some remaining businesses could open. Examples include personal care (such as hairdressers and beauty salons) hospitality (such as food service providers, pubs and accommodation), public places (such as places of worship) and leisure facilities (like cinemas).

READ: UK PM Johnson under fire over handling of coronavirus crisis

READ: Britain won't quarantine travellers from France at this stage

The government will carefully phase and pilot re-openings to test their ability to adopt the new COVID-19 Secure guidelines.

MASKS

The government is now advising that people should aim to wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible. People can make their own cotton masks, buy similar in shops or on the Internet or wear scarves.

GOING OUTSIDE

People can now also spend time outdoors. One person can meet a friend outside if they respect the social distancing measures. 

FILE PHOTO: A man and a dog are seen on a bicycle in central London on May 4, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Toby Melville)

People may exercise outside as many times each day as they wish. People may drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance.

COMPLIANCE

The government is examining more stringent enforcement measures for non-compliance, as it has seen in many other countries. Earlier, a government official said fines would be increased for not adhering to the new rules.

COST

These measures are extraordinarily costly and cannot be sustained for a prolonged period of time. As the UK adjusts the current restrictions, the government will also need to wind down the economic support measures while people are eased back to work.

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Source: Reuters/ic

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