New plans on post-lockdown recovery announced by the Government

Prime Minister (PM) Boris Johnson has outlined, on 17 July, plans for the next stage of tackling the coronavirus.

Key points are detailed below –

Local lockdowns

  • A new framework for containing and controlling the coronavirus will be published soon
  • From 18 July, Local Authorities in England will be able to take action to implement localised lockdown measures. This includes closing specific premises and cancelling events.
  • Draft Regulations will be released next week, expected to outline how the Government can intervene if local measures are not deemed effective. This could include localised stay at home orders and restricting public transport.
  • From 17 July, anyone in England can use public transport if they need to, but alternative methods of transport should be used if possible.

Reopening businesses 

  • From 25 July, leisure centres such as gyms and swimming pools can reopen in England.
  • Also from 1 August, most remaining leisure centres can reopen, including skating rinks, bowling, beauticians and casinos.
  • From September, schools, colleges and nurseries will be able to reopen for all children in England.
  • From October, it is expected that there can be bigger audiences in stadiums, subject to pilot checks, and that conferences will be able to resume in England.
  • Outstanding restrictions will be reviewed again. He is hopeful that they can be removed in time for Christmas.
  • As always, the above will be subjected to regular reviews.

Working from home

  • From 1 August, organisations in England will be granted more discretion to ask staff to return to work safely – PM affirms it is for organisations to decide how to run workplaces safely, not the Government. This could include working from home or making workplaces safe by following Covid-secure guidelines. It may be that productivity has increased from home and companies are welcome to continue this arrangement if they want to. However, employees should be consulted on plans and must not be asked to return if it is not safe.

What is clear is that the Government is certainly operating with winter in mind and is focussed on increased localised lockdown measures as a key component of working against a second wave of coronavirus. Whilst companies have likely already considered the implications of a localised lockdown, this announcement makes it all the more important that they are ready to implement measures, such as home working, should their area, or business, face an increased rate of infection.

One of the major areas organisations were likely eager to hear more news on was the guidance on staff working from home. Ultimately, the Prime Minister’s announcement does not seem to represent a substantial shift in current guidance, however it does seem to confirm that working from home remains up to organisations to implement. Therefore, whilst employees can continue to work from home, it is up to their employer if they should be permitted to do so – if Covid-secure measures are in place.

More information will be provided when it is received.

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