The Prime Minister has now set out the Government’s road map for the next phase of our fight against coronavirus. Guided by the science, our aim is to ensure that we avoid a second peak which overwhelms the NHS. Because protecting the health and safety of the British public is, and must always be, our number one priority.
We must not waste the huge sacrifices the British people have made in lockdown to get the virus under control, but we need to restart our economy. It is important that we save lives but we also have to strike a balance to protect livelihoods and minimise all of the catastrophic effects on peoples lives that come from significant economic damage. We must save lives and recognise that severe economic damage costs lives too.
This is why we are approaching the adjustment of the lockdown measures carefully and deliberately, taking action in phases and constantly assessing the impact of those actions.
The first step that the Government has taken is a small one. After this we will pause until its impact, and the subsequent risk of a second peak, can be reliably measured. Only then will we move to the next step.
The advice for the vast majority of people remains the same, to stay at home where possible. However, if you are unable to work from home, and your company can follow social distancing rules or the relevant government safety advice, then you should return to work.
Information on what you now can and cannot do can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do
I appreciate that some of the advice may be confusing. For example, I have seen many people ask, if you can invite someone to your house to do a job, then why can’t you invite friends round for a cup of tea?
Put simply, one of these is allowing someone round for an economic reason, and the other for a social reason, one is helping to keep another household financially viable while the other is not.
These each carry a small risk of spreading the virus but allowing them both simultaneously could risk raising the R value to above 1 and seeing an increased spread of the virus. We therefore have to prioritise one over the other until we can see the effects and be sure that we are keeping R below 1. (The R value is the rate at at which the virus spreads. If R is below 1 then each infected person is infecting less than one other person and cases of the virus will shrink; if R is greater than 1 then each infected person is infecting more than one person and we risk a second peak of cases.)
This is why it may seem to some people that arbitrary lines have been drawn where two actions may seem similarly safe. The Government must take a slow and steady approach and prioritise some measures over others. In the meantime, the Government will continue developing its test track and trace program which has the potential to further reduce the spread of the virus.
Full information on the Governments strategy to ease lockdown can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/884760/Our_plan_to_rebuild_The_UK_Government_s_COVID-19_recovery_strategy.pdf