Do you believe in life after lockdown?
As the end of week 7 in lockdown approaches, we all sit in eager anticipation for the Prime Minister’s press conference on Sunday where he is expected to update the nation on current and future restrictions, how these might be eased and indeed how these might even be tightened. In all likelihood we will see a slight loosening of the rules governing how we behave outside, some businesses will be allowed to resume trading and small-scale social activities may even be permitted once again. However, with #KeeptheLockdown trending on twitter this afternoon there it is clear that the public remain anxious about how quickly we will leave lockdown and how we can avoid a return to total quarantine should the virus peak a second time. For businesses eager to start trading the question remains, will there be life after lockdown?
People are understandably nervous about what is to come but with a sensible dose of caution and common sense there is no reason that the nation can’t start to get back to work and back to a semblance of “normal” life. The Government will be doing all it can to control the return and measures will be eased one at a time, to allow the effects of each to be closely monitored until the experts are satisfied more changes can be made. As one cabinet minister put it: “The messaging will evolve from stay at home to be careful when you’re out… There will be a cautious easing of some of the restrictions and an outline of the route back to something closer to normality, rather than everything suddenly going back to normal.” It will not be an overnight change, progress will be gradual and is expected to take from May till October.
Although there have been multiple reports about non-essential shops like gardening centres re-opening, the Prime Minister is not expected to change the rules on other retail yet – although chains like B&Q have already reopened some stores. Retailers that are currently trading have taken measures outside and inside stores, introducing plexiglass screens at tills and limiting numbers both in store and in socially-distanced warehousing operations. The British Retail Consortium has submitted a report to Government recommending that if non-essential shops reopen, changing rooms should stay closed and in-store seating and services – such as advice, personal shopping or nail bars – should be limited.
Similarly, a staged return to normal will be seen in many other sectors. Office based employees who can continue to work from home will be advised to do so. Employers are expected to be instructed to implement staggered arrival and departure times for those who have critical roles in business or who cannot work from home – with workers advised to use the stairs instead of lifts. The boom for zoom and similar platforms will continue as the Government continues to recommend that meetings take place remotely where possible.
Whatever change comes from the statement on Sunday, the Prime Minister says the Government will proceed with “maximum caution” when considering easing coronavirus restrictions. There certainly will be life after lockdown, it just might take us a little longer than we might otherwise wish to get there.
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