UK Government Sets Out Rules for The Third Phase of Reopening

Summary

  • Encouraged by the coronavirus infections rate under check since the first two phases of the opening of the lockdown, the government advances to phase three with a new set of rules.
  • Some of the sensitive businesses like, salons, hotels, pubs, and restaurants are set to open with prescribed specific rules
  • The further reopening move paves the way for more businesses to come back from hibernation, and more people joining back to the workforce

The government of the United Kingdom is all set to initiate the third phase of the reopening of the lockdown on the 4th of July, nearly two months after the first phase and over a month of the second. The concern of the government that there could be a major spike in infections after the first two phases of opening did not happen, and hence it is pressing ahead with phase three. The British economy came to a virtual standstill since the time the lockdown was announced with most of the major economic indicators plummeting to record lows. Stretched on the one side to protect the economy from going into a long term recession and on the other side to check the pandemic from spreading uncontrollably, the government chose a balancing act and decided to open up the economy in three phases. The idea behind such a move was slowly open up the economy while having the maximum control possible on the viral infection. The idea it seems has been working well till now, and the country is set to enter into the third phase with a new set of guidelines.

Some of the Industries that have been earmarked for opening on 4th of July are Salons, pubs restaurants and hotels, which are some of the riskiest as far as increased human contact and risk of infection is concerned—keeping that in view the government has come up with a detailed set of guidelines for each of these industries, some of which are as enumerated below.

  • Hair Salons, Cafes and restaurants have to keep a record of their customers for a period of 21 days, so that any case of infection is traced back to the outlet.
  • These businesses also may operate on an appointment basis, so that customers may arrive as per their time slots, and shop staff may limit the time spent on each customer.
  • Customers to be encouraged to use hand sanitizers upon arrival at business premises. Toilets and cash counters are to be cleaned more often, and proper functioning of ventilation systems to be ensured.
  • Playing of loud music is to be avoided and speaking in loud voices to be discouraged.
  • For hotels, guests should be encouraged to use masks whenever using corridors while stall has to ensure to more frequently clean areas more often used by guests and staff.
  • Room service trays are to be left outside the rooms, and the guests encouraged to leave it outside the door after usage so that contact between staff and guests are minimized.
  • Common facilities like, reception areas, television rooms and guest kitchens are to remain closed, and other places of a recreation like dance floors are to be repurposed.
  • Showers which are designated for a single room, meant to be used by a single guest are allowed to be open; otherwise, they need to be cleaned and sanitized after every usage.
  • For hotels providing self-service accommodation, keys must be cleaned before being handed over to guests.
  • Also, for paying tips, the customers to be encouraged to pay them along with the bill rather than in-person to the staff.

The above rules are some of the more important and are expected to come as the date of 4th of July comes near. While some have come out openly to criticize these rules on the grounds that they are slowing down the whole recovery process, but the government insists they are important for public safety. It is critical that the infection rate does not spike up in the country again, because if it happens, a harsher lockdown will be necessitated, which will be disastrous for the economy. It is to be noted here that so far, the coronavirus pandemic has infected as many as 306,000 people out of which nearly 43,000 have already lost their lives.

During the last two months since the lockdown was first relaxed, the British economy has seen a bounce back. The IHS Markit / CIPS Flash manufacturing PMI index has shown that the manufacturing sector in the country has entered into an expansionary phase, though the actual picture will come with the actual data, but the momentum seems to be sustainable. The third phase of opening would provide a major boost to the economic revival efforts by bringing more businesses out of hibernation and more people out of the furloughing scheme. This increased momentum will also go a long way in spurring demand in the economy, which is a critical component for the nation to make a quick turnaround.

The magnitude of the turnaround in business activity in the last two months reflects the efforts of the government made by the government during the lockdown to protect the businesses and the livelihoods in the country. The furloughing scheme, the bounce back loan scheme, and the loan guarantee scheme ensured that most of the businesses in the country remained intact and did not fall apart. It is that foresight of the government that ensured business activity in the country such a sharp turnaround. This third phase of reopening of the economy will only go on to accelerate the process further and expand to more industries which had seen no activity or very slow activity during the first two phases of opening.

It would be interesting to see how much business activity the government is able to restore after its three-phase of the opening while the threat of the pandemic is still looming large. A threat reduction on the pandemic is, however, only possible when an effective vaccine comes to the fore, and the government is able to vaccinate a majority of the country's population.


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