On Sunday 10th May 2020 the government announced their initial plans to reduce lockdown in the UK. In this blog we list the planned actions for small and medium businesses and discuss the variability and flexibility needed during this turbulent time.
Minimal allowances, such as increased outdoor activity and for those who cannot work from home to return to roles such as manufacturing and construction – so long as appropriate measures are taken. However please note that there are significant differences between the guidelines in England and the devolved nations. As the majority of our clients operate within England the following information is the advice for English businesses.
Business Changes In Step 1
Who can and can’t open their business? Today (11th May) the government have updated their website to specify which businesses may now open.
Must stay closed:
- restaurants and cafes, other than for takeaway
- pubs, cinemas, theatres and nightclubs
- clothing and electronics stores; hair, beauty and nail salons; and outdoor and indoor markets (not selling food)
- libraries, community centres, and youth centres
- indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, gyms, arcades and soft play facilities
- some communal places within parks, such as playgrounds and outdoor gyms
- places of worship (except for funerals)
- hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for commercial/leisure use, excluding use by those who live in them permanently, those who are unable to return home and critical workers where they need to for work
May open with special precautions in-place from 13th May:
- Food retailers and food markets,
- hardware stores
- garden centres
- outdoor sports facilities – such as tennis and basketball courts, golf courses and bowling greens – but you should only use these alone, with members of your household, or with one other person from outside your household, while keeping two metres apart at all times.
The government have just made new safety guidelines for the workplace available this evening (11th May). There are 8 guides, each focussed on a type of workplace:
- Construction and other outdoor work
- Factories, plants and warehouses
- Labs and research facilities
- Offices and contact centres
- Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery
- Shops and branches
There will be spot-checks on workplaces to ensure your workplace is safe, so please do pay attention to these documents and ensure your workplace is safe for your employees to return.
Please bear in mind, those who are clinically vulnerable or extremely vulnerable are still expected to minimise contact with people outside their household (clinically vulnerable), and should still be shielded (extremely vulnerable). So if you have employees who fit into these categories it is likely they will not be returning to work in the short term.
Business Changes In Step 2
The 1st June is the target date for Step 2, however this is entirely dependent upon the progress between now and the 1st June – there is no guarantee that these measures will be permitted at this date.
Non-essential retail could be allowed to open in Step 2. However hospitality businesses and beauty salons would need to remain closed. As with Step 1, there will be necessary precautions to ensure staff and public safety to which businesses must adhere.
Business Changes In Step 3
Step 3’s provisional date is 4th July, and would see the opening of remaining businesses inclusive of hospitality and leisure – again, with the necessary safety stipulations.
What Changes In Support Can We Expect?
With 50% of the UK workforce, the Chancellor has previously announced that there will be no ‘cliff edge’ to the furlough support scheme. The current 80% furlough scheme is due to expire at the end of May, there is now a discussion regarding extending this support at a level of 60% until the end of September.
It is expected that the business loans will remain available for the foreseeable future.
What is clear is that business, in general, is going to change. Offices may need more space, may need to invest in safety measures, hand cleaning stations, one-way systems and increased cleaning regimes. So if your closed business has a provisional reopening date, now is time to plan how you will go about fulfilling these additional safety requirements.
Many businesses have already begun to diversify, and it may be wise to keep a certain level of diversity within your business. At any point the situation could become worse and we will experience a more strict lockdown again. It is wise to prepare for significant business disruption for the next 12 months.