In February, the Prime Minister and leaders of the devolved Governments outlined a series of steps that would lead to Unlockdown and the end of all Coronavirus restrictions.
For England, the first step on the road was taken on 8th March when schools reopened. For businesses, the legal requirement for employees to work from home stays still in place, but restrictions on individuals were relaxed so people can meet one other person outside socially and not just for exercise and care home residents can receive one regular, named visitor. The next step on the road is taken on Monday 29th March:
Monday 29th March
The official stay at home order will end, but people will be encouraged to stay local. Businesses will still be asked to work from home if possible, but it will no longer be a legal requirement.
Socially, outdoor gatherings for groups of 6 people, or two households if this is larger, not just in parks but also gardens. Plus, outdoor sport for children and adults will be allowed including outdoor swimming pools.
The definition of local will largely be left to people’s discretion.
Not earlier than Monday 12th April
For businesses already open and operating there is no further easing of restrictions at this stage.
For businesses that are closed this is a big red letter day because it sees the reopening of non-essential retail, hair and nail salons, and public buildings such as libraries.
This is the day that most outdoor venues open, including pubs and restaurants but only for outdoor tables and beer gardens – customers will have to be seated but there will be no need to have a meal with alcohol. Also reopening will be settings such as zoos and theme parks, gyms and swimming pools. Also, Funerals can have up to 30 attendees, while weddings, receptions and wakes can have 15.
Social contact rules will apply to the above relaxations, so no indoor mixing between households and limits on outdoor mixing.
AIRBNB owners will be celebrating because holiday lets with self-contained (not shared) facilities, can reopen but only for one household. Business owner will need to keep a careful eye on attendance, performance and holiday management as the rules are relaxed.
Not earlier than Monday 17th May
Existing guidance and restrictions on businesses with regards to working from home etc remain in place, this step further relaxes guidance on social life because more mixing rules will be lifted. Indoor mixing will be allowed for up to six people or, if it is more than 6 people, two households. The outdoor limit is increased to 30 people meeting in parks or gardens.
Indoor venues such as the inside of pubs and restaurants, hotels and B&Bs, play centres, cinemas, museums and group exercise classes will reopen. The above indoor and outdoor mixing limits will apply for pubs and other hospitality venues.
Weddings will be allowed with a limit of 30 people and other events such as christenings and barmitzvahs will also be permitted. Spectators will be allowed to attend sports and other events, numbers will depend on the venue.
When the road to unlockdown was announced, this was flagged as the earliest date at which international holidays could resume – BUT – that has still to be confirmed and recent announcements indicate this may not be the case. Employers will need to manage holiday requests and plans carefully because people who have booked and can’t go may want to change things – those that can go may still be subject to quarantine on their return.
Not earlier than Monday 21st June
All legal limits on mixing will be removed and the last sectors to remain closed, such as nightclubs, will reopen. Large events can take place.
This the date that many are counting down to as the unrestricted return to pubs and clubs. Employers should be mindful of holiday management and brace themselves for a potential increase in short term absences.
We fervently hope that the measures being taking to tackle the virus continue to and the road to unlockdown is navigated safely.