Yesterday, the Prime Minister unveiled his much-anticipated Spring Response, the roadmap for lifting lockdown restrictions in England. The Devolved Administrations will set out separately how lockdown will be lifted in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
As expected, the roadmap (entitled ‘Covid-19 Response – Spring 2021’) does not set out hard dates for re-opening businesses, etc., but instead sets out four key steps, being the earliest dates when relaxations may be possible based on meeting four tests, including the latest infection rates, vaccination levels, etc. Each step is at least five weeks apart to reflect the fact it takes around four weeks for the data to show the impact of the previous step and the government has committed to giving a week’s notice to individuals and businesses before making further changes.
Due to the current relatively uniform spread of the virus across the country, restrictions are going to be eased across the whole of England at the same time so there will not be different rules for different parts of the country, or at least not for now. The right to reintroduce them is firmly reserved in the roadmap.
The introduction to the government’s response makes pretty depressing reading, with confirmation that the UK economy shrank by 9.9% in 2020, the largest annual fall in UK GDP on record. The number of employees on payroll fell by 828,000 between February and December 2020, with aviation, pubs, restaurants and hotels, sports and events, arts, entertainment and conferences most heavily impacted by the economic fallout from the pandemic.
To assist employers we have produced our own timeline, incorporating the key dates from the government’s roadmap, together with some other key dates for employers to have in mind.