- Boris Johnson warns UK businesses of a risk of another wave of Covid-19 infections in the coming autumn season
- Government would try not to impose another nation-wide lockdown
- The corona-related infections and deaths continue to fall steadily in Britain
- However, many businesses are reluctant to resume work from office, and will continue to allow their staff to work from home
The UK Prime Minister virtually met more than a dozen businesses over a conference call recently and warned them to be prepared for another probable spike in new coronavirus infections, during the fall. He said that he expected the nation to resume its pre-corona economic activity levels by the next spring season in the year 2021.
Johnson said he would try his best that no national lockdowns are put in place this fall, to get the economy up and running. However, Dido Harding, Head, test and traceability program, UK government elaborated that there could be local lockdowns imposed, in case there is a rise in Covid-19 infections.
The PM has also re-emphasised that people should be increasingly trying to go back to their offices for work, provided the relevant guidelines are being adhered to.
Nevertheless, in case a second wave of coronavirus infections does come about, the British economy as well as the country’s stock market both will definitely be negatively impacted for sure.
Covid-19 update for the UK
The total number of lab-confirmed coronavirus infection cases in the UK were 300,111 on 27 July 2020 at 8:29 pm, with a total death count of 45,759. The daily number of lab-confirmed UK cases for 27 July was 685, with 7 deaths reported on the day so far.
Official data on daily additional coronavirus associated deaths across the UK (on 27 July 2020)
(Source: Government of UK)
Official data on daily lab-confirmed coronavirus cases across the UK (on 27 July 2020)
(Source: Government of UK)
Both the number of daily infections and deaths have been falling steadily over the past three months across the nation. They had peaked in April 2020 when the daily Covid-19 infections had gone up to nearly 5,000, and the daily deaths close to 1,200.
The current set of rules on going to offices in the UK
In view of the decline in the number of coronavirus cases across the nation, it was decided to go ahead with the third and final phase of re-opening the economy beginning 4 July 2020. Johnson had called it an end to a long national hibernation.
The two-meter social distancing rule was reduced to one-plus meter, if more gap between people can’t be maintained. For instance, in places like public transport. It was to be accompanied by other health safety measures of wearing face mask, frequent hand washing, and installing screens to avoid easy spread of infections, where possible.
The sectors which were allowed to open up on 4 July were pubs, restaurants, hotels (limiting the contact with the customers), hairdressers, tourist attractions, cinemas, and libraries. Swimming pools, sports facilities, and gyms were allowed to re-open from 25 July 2020.
Companies employing more than 50 workers are supposed to submit their risk assessment online on to the government. A notification in this regard has to be displayed at the workplace as well. Regulators would carry out random compliance checks to see if safety guidelines are being adhered to at work places.
Not all businesses are comfortable re-opening their offices
However, not all offices have resumed working from office, as they either find it unsafe or are not able to invest the money needed to bring about the safety guidelines in place. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said that many businesses will take more time to re-open their workplaces. Companies under severe cash crunch are demanding for a tax-break to re-open offices, according to the BCC.
Further, not all issues are under the companies’ control. For instance, many childcares are not yet open, so mothers can’t leave their kids alone. Additionally, many people are still fearful of using public transport.
The companies where employees are now working from home, and are delivering an acceptable output, are also reluctant to shift back to the work from office routine any-time soon. So, home-working is likely to continue definitely for some more time.
Government’s updated advice is expected to be announced on 1 August 2020. It might ask companies about their detailed plan of resuming work-from-office operations. All the remaining leisure facilities will be allowed to re-open from the same day.
Colleges, childcare and schools would be re-opening from September 2020. All events and conferences will be allowed to resume back operations beginning October 2020.
Second wave of coronavirus infections suspected
Many health experts have warned that with the onset of winters, Britain could see another wave of corona infections. A recent report by the Academy of Medical Sciences forecasted that Britain could see around 120,000 deaths resulting from the deadly flu between the period of September 2020 to June 2021. The rate of infection or the R rate is currently hovering between 0.7 to 0.9 across the country, and it projected to shoot up to 1.7 from September 2020.
Virus spreads faster indoors, which is the place where most Britons would be confined to during the chilly winters. This is being cited as the main reason for the projected rise in the R rate.
To conclude, the UK PM Boris Johnson has warned British businesses to be prepared for a second wave of coronavirus infections across Britain. Health bodies have also issued similar forecasts and a spike is expected between September 2020 to June 2021. However, the latest data indicates a fall in infections and deaths as a result of coronavirus infections in the country. They had both peaked in the month of April, after which they are going down steadily. While the PM is increasingly encouraging businesses to resume work from office practices, they are reluctant for obvious reasons. Many companies are asking for tax-breaks to pay for the rising cost of imposing health and safety measures at workplaces. Eventually, the coming few months will be crucial is resolving the uncertainties spread around by the coronavirus pandemic.
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