Basingstoke and Deane CrestFrom Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council

Overview of government guidance updates

 The Prime Minister’s address to the country yesterday about the restrictions in response to the coronavirus epidemic has been followed by more guidance and announcements today

 The address gave a high level overview of the Government’s ‘roadmap’ for reopening society and the economy and taking the first steps to modify the lockdown measures. Today the government’s full COVID-19 recovery strategy has been published.

 General guidance on the gov.uk website has also been amended to reflect the changes around the restrictions, the key points of which, announced yesterday and today, are outlined below.

 General points:

  • A new Covid Alert System has been set up with five alert levels, five being the most severe and one meaning the disease is no longer present in the UK. The current status is level four, but about to decrease to level three (definitions of all levels still to be published);
  • This is not the time to end the lockdown but there is a change in emphasis to “Stay Alert, Control the Virus, and Save Lives” – a move away from “Stay at Home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives”;
  • There are six new principles:
    • Stay at home as much as possible;
    • Work from home if you can;
    • Limit contact with other people;
    • Keep your distance if you go out (two metres apart if possible);
    • Wash your hands regularly;
    • Self-isolate if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.
  • Progress will be monitored locally, regionally, and nationally and if there are outbreaks, or if there are problems, the Government will not hesitate to put on the brakes;

 Step one – from today:

  • Anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work. People should work from home if they can, but, if they cannot, then they should go to work;  
  • However, people should avoid public transport if at all possible –social distancing must be maintained and so capacity on public transport will therefore be limited – this is being mitigated by measures announced by the Secretary of State for Transport on 9 May and a £2bn funding package for cycling and walking;
  • New guidance is being issued for employers to make workplaces COVID-secure;
  • From this Wednesday 13 May, people can sit in their local park, can drive to other destinations, and can play sports but only with members of their own household;
  • Social distancing must be observed and fines will be increased for those who break the social distancing rules.

Today, updated guidance giving more information on the above has been published:

 Step two – at the earliest by 1 June:

  • At the earliest by 1 June, phased reopening of shops could take place; and
  • Primary pupils to go back to school in stages, beginning with reception, year one and year six;
  • Secondary pupils facing exams next year should get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays.

 Step three – at the earliest by July:

  • At the earliest by July – and subject to all these conditions and further scientific advice – if and only if the numbers support it, it is hoped that at least some of the hospitality industry could reopen, and other public places, provided they are safe and social distancing is enforced.

 Today the public has also been advised to consider wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces such as shops, trains and buses to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

 More detailed guidance is expected in the coming days and weeks.