A Plan to Rebuild
We will remember 2020 as the year we were hit, along with all other nations, by a previously unknown and remorseless foe.
Like the rest of the world, we have paid a heavy price. As of 6 May, 30,615 people have lost their lives having tested positive for COVID-19. Every one of those deaths is a tragedy for friends and family: children have lost mothers and fathers; parents have lost sons and daughters, before their time. We should pay tribute to the victims of this virus: those who have died, and their loved ones who remain.
That price could have been higher if not for the extraordinary efforts of our NHS and social care workers and had we not acted quickly to increase the capacity of the NHS. People up and down the UK have made an extraordinary sacrifice, putting their lives on hold and distancing themselves from their loved ones. It would have been higher had we not shielded the most vulnerable – providing help and support to those that need it.
On 3 March we published our plan (1), and since then millions of hardworking medical, health and care workers, military personnel, shopkeepers, civil servants, delivery and bus drivers, teachers and countless others have diligently and solemnly enacted it.
I said we’d take the right decisions at the right time, based on the science. And I said that the overwhelming priority of that plan was to keep our country safe.
Through the unprecedented action the people of the United Kingdom have taken, we have begun to beat back the virus. Whereas the virus threatened to overwhelm the NHS, our collective sacrifice has meant that at no point since the end of March have we had fewer than one third of our critical care beds free.
We can feel proud of everyone who worked so hard to create Cardiff’s Dragon’s Heart Hospital, Glasgow’s Louisa Jordan Hospital, and the Nightingale Hospitals in London, Belfast, Birmingham, Exeter, Harrogate, Sunderland, Bristol and Manchester. In addition to these new Nightingales, the UK has just over 7,000 critical care beds as of 4 May; an increase from 4,000 at the end of January.
Meanwhile the Government increased daily tests by over 1,000% during March – from 11,041 on 31 March to 122,347 on 30 April. Teachers have worked with Google to create the Oak National Academy – a virtual school – in just two weeks, delivering 2.2 million lessons in its first week of operation. We have supported businesses and workers with a furlough scheme – designed and built from scratch – that has safeguarded 6.3 million jobs. Right across the country we have seen huge ingenuity, drive and selflessness.
Now, with every week that passes, we learn more about the virus and understand more about how to defeat it. But the more we learn, the more we realise how little the world yet understands about the true nature of the threat – except that it is a shared one that we must all work together to defeat.
Our success containing the virus so far has been hard fought and hard won. So it is for that reason that we must proceed with the utmost care in the next phase, and avoid undoing what we have achieved.
This document sets out a plan to rebuild the UK for a world with COVID-19. It is not a quick return to ‘normality.’ Nor does it lay out an easy answer. And, inevitably, parts of this plan will adapt as we learn more about the virus. But it is a plan that should give the people of the United Kingdom hope. Hope that we can rebuild; hope that we can save lives; hope that we can safeguard livelihoods.
It will require much from us all: that we remain alert; that we care for those at most risk; that we pull together as a United Kingdom. We will continue to work with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure these outcomes for everybody, wherever they live in the UK.
It is clear that the only feasible long-term solution lies with a vaccine or drug-based treatment. That is why we have helped accelerate this from the start and are proud to be home to two of the world’s most promising vaccine development programmes at Oxford University and Imperial College, supported by a globally renowned pharmaceutical sector.
The recent collaboration between Oxford University and AstraZeneca is a vital step that could help rapidly advance the manufacture of a COVID-19 vaccine. It will also ensure that should the vaccine being developed by Oxford’s Jenner Institute work, it will be available as early as possible, helping to protect thousands of lives from this disease.
We also recognise that a global problem needs a global solution. This is why the United Kingdom has been at the forefront of the international response to the virus, co-hosting the Coronavirus Global Response Summit on 4 May, pledging £388m in aid funding for research into vaccines, tests and treatment including £250m to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, the largest contribution of any country.
But while we hope for a breakthrough, hope is not a plan. A mass vaccine or treatment may be more than a year away. Indeed, in a worst-case scenario, we may never find a vaccine. So our plan must countenance a situation where we are in this, together, for the long haul, even while doing all we can to avoid that outcome.
I know the current arrangements do not provide an enduring solution – the price is too heavy, to our national way of life, to our society, to our economy, indeed to our long-term public health. And while it has been vital to arrest the spread of the virus, we know it has taken a heavy toll on society – in particular to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged – and has brought loneliness and fear to many.
We’ve asked you to protect those you love by separating yourself from them; but we know this has been tough, and that we must avoid this separation from turning into loneliness.
So this plan seeks to return life to as close to normal as possible, for as many people as possible, as fast and fairly as possible, in a way that is safe and continues to protect our NHS.
The overriding priority remains to save lives.
And to do that, we must acknowledge that life will be different, at least for the foreseeable future. I will continue to put your safety first, while trying to bring back the things that are most important in your lives, and seeking to protect your livelihoods.
That means continuing to bolster the NHS and social care system so it can not only cope with the pressures from COVID-19 but also deliver the Government’s manifesto commitment to continue improving the quality of non-COVID-19 health and social care.
It means a huge national effort to develop, manufacture and prepare to distribute a vaccine, working with our friends and allies around the world to do so.
It means optimising the social distancing measures we’ve asked the nation to follow, so that as the threat changes, the measures change as well – doing as much as possible to suppress the epidemic spread, while minimising the economic and social effects.
That will require a widespread system of testing, of tracing and monitoring the spread of the disease, of shielding the most vulnerable, of protecting those in care homes, of securing our borders against its reintroduction, and of re-designing workplaces and public spaces to make them “COVID-19 Secure.”
Our NHS is already, rightly, the envy of the world. But we now need to build up the other world-leading systems that will protect us in the months ahead.
I must ask the country to be patient with a continued disruption to our normal way of life, but to be relentless in pursuing our mission to build the systems we need. The worst possible outcome would be a return to the virus being out of control – with the cost to human life, and – through the inevitable re-imposition of severe restrictions – the cost to the economy.
We must stay alert, control the virus, and in doing so, save lives.
If we get this right we will minimise deaths – not just from COVID-19, but also from meeting all our non-COVID-19 health needs, because our (bigger) NHS will not be overwhelmed.
We will maximise our economic and societal bounce-back: allowing more people to get on with more of their normal lives and get our economy working again.
Then, as vaccines and treatment become available, we will move to another new phase, where we will learn to live with COVID-19 for the longer term without it dominating our lives.
This is one of the biggest international challenges faced in a generation. But our great country has faced and overcome huge trials before. Our response to these unprecedented and unpredictable challenges must be similarly ambitious, selfless and creative.
Thank you for your efforts so far, and for the part everyone in the UK will play over the months ahead.
Full document can be downloaded HERE
- Step One – Wednesday 13 May
- Step Two – No earlier than Monday 1 June
- Step Three – No earlier than 4 July
- For the foreseeable future, workers should continue to work from home rather than their normal physical workplace, wherever possible.
- People who are able to work at home make it possible for people who have to attend workplaces in person to do so while minimising the risk of overcrowding on transport and in public places.
- All workers who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open. Sectors of the economy that are allowed to be open should be open, for example this includes food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research in laboratories. Workplaces that the government is requiring to remain closed include:
- 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
- Food retailers and food markets, hardware stores, garden centres (from Wednesday 13 May) and certain other retailers can remain open. Other businesses can remain open and their employees can travel to work, where they cannot work from home.
- The Government is amending its guidance to clarify that paid childcare, can take place subject to being able to meet the public health principles.
- Workplaces should follow the new “COVID-19 Secure” guidelines, as set out in the previous chapter, which will be published this week.
- Government is now advising that people should aim to wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet, for example on public transport or in some shops.
- Homemade cloth face-coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission in some circumstances. Face-coverings should not be used by children under the age of two, or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly, for example primary age children unassisted, or those with respiratory conditions
- International travel
- All international arrivals will be required to supply their contact and accommodation information. They will also be strongly advised to download and use the NHS contact tracing app.
- All international arrivals not on a short list of exemptions to self-isolate in their accommodation for fourteen days on arrival into the UK.
- Small exemptions to these measures will be in place to provide for continued security of supply into the UK. All journeys within the Common Travel Area (between UK ansd Ireland) will also be exempt from these measures.
- These international travel measures will not come into force on 13 May but will be introduced as soon as possible. Further details, and guidance, will be set out shortly, and the measures and list of exemptions will be kept under regular review.
- Business support
- As the UK adjusts the current restrictions, the Government will also need to wind down the economic support measures while people are eased back to work
- The Government will also need to ensure the UK's supply chains are resilient, ensuring the UK has sufficient access to the essential medicines, PPE, testing equipment, vaccines and treatments it needs, even during times of global shortage.
- A phased return for early years settings and schools. The Government expects children to be able to return to early years settings, and for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to be back in school in smaller sizes, from this point. Secondary schools and further education colleges should also prepare to begin some face to face contact with Year 10 and 12 pupils.
- Opening non-essential retail. Further guidance on the approach expected shortly on the approach taken to phasing, including which businesses will be covered in each phase and timeframes involved. All other sectors that are currently closed, including hospitality and personal care, are not able to re-open at this point because of the higher risk of transmission.
- Re-opening more local public transport in urban areas, subject to strict measures
- Open at least some of the remaining businesses and premises that have been required to close, including personal care (such as hairdressers and beauty salons), hospitality (such as food service providers, pubs and accommodation), public places (such as places of worship) and leisure facilities (like cinemas). These businesses must meet the COVID-19 Secure guidelines.
- Some venues which are, by design, crowded and where it may prove difficult to enact distancing may still not be able to re-open safely at this point, or may be able to open safely only in part. Nevertheless the Government will wish to open as many businesses and public places as the data and information at the time allows.
- In order to facilitate the fastest possible re-opening of these types of higher-risk businesses and public places, the Government will carefully phase and pilot re-openings to test their ability to adopt the new COVID-19 Secure guidelines.
- Construction and other outdoor work: for people who work in or run outdoor working environments.
- Factories, plants and warehouses: for people who work in or run factories, plants and warehouses.
- Homes: for people working in, visiting or delivering to home environments as well as their employers.
- Labs and research facilities: for people who work in or run indoor labs and research facilities and similar environments.
- Offices and contact centres: for people who work in or run offices, contact centres and similar indoor environments.
- Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery: for people who work in or run restaurants offering takeaway or delivery services.
- Shops and branches: for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments.
- Vehicles: for people who work in or from vehicles, including couriers, mobile workers, lorry drivers, on-site transit and work vehicles, field forces and similar.
Highlighted points from the guidance Legal obligations • The guidance is not statutory – it is described as a practical ‘framework’ for businesses to think about what is needed to continue or restart operations during the pandemic. • It gives practical considerations of how this can be applied in workplaces and businesses will need to translate into specific actions depending on the nature of their business. • The guidance does not supersede any legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment or equalities. It is important that businesses and/or employers continue to comply with existing obligations, including relating to individuals with protected characteristics. • The government is clear that workers should not be forced into an unsafe workplace. Risk Assessments • All businesses will need to carry out appropriate Coronavirus risk assessment in "consultation with unions and workers" • The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has provided best practice risk assessments. • Businesses will need to do everything reasonably practicable to minimise risk to workers, although it is clear that the risk of Coronavirus cannot be eliminated completely. Business will need to manage risk to the lowest reasonable practicable level by taking preventative measures. • Generally if businesses read the guidance, undertake risk assessment and take steps to minimise risks they will have taken reasonable steps. • There is 5 point notice for display in the workplace indicating that a business has completed risk assessment and taken steps to protect their workforce. • Businesses should share the results of their risk assessment with their workforce. If possible, they are encouraged to consider publishing the results on their website (and there is an expectation that all businesses with over 50 workers would do so).
Devolved Nations This guidance applies in England – people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should follow the specific rules in those parts of the UK. If you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland additional guidance is available: