Source: Cabinet Office
Phase 1 started with a short period of Social Distancing, which quickly culminated in the Stay at Home rule introduced on 23rd March 2020. This rule remains in force today.
The 5 Tests
The Government has explained that measures can be eased once the Five Tests are satisfied:
- Protect the NHS's ability to cope
- A sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rates
- Reduction of the "R" number to manageable levels
- Confidence in the availability of sufficient testing and PPE
- Confidence that there is no risk of a second peak
The Overarching Principles
The Government has explained (relatively recently) that its plan is based on 5 guiding principles:
- Informed by Science - doing the right thing at the right time
- Fairness - being fair to all people and groups
- Proportionality - balancing the risk with the social and economic implications
- Privacy - protecting the public's privacy
- Transparency - being open, including making the relevant advice available to the public, admitting when it is uncertain or acting at risk, and transparency about its judgements and the basis for them
Phase 2: Smarter Controls
The Government will enact measures that have the largest effect on controlling the epidemic but the lowest health, economic and social costs.
These will be developed and announced in periodic ‘steps’ over the coming weeks and months, seeking to maximise the pace at which restrictions are lifted, but with strict conditions to move from each step to the next. The Government will maintain options to react to a rise in transmissions, including by reimposing restrictions if required.
"COVID-19 Secure" Guidelines
As part of Phase 2, the Government will release new safety guidelines:
They will also include measures that were unlikely to be effective when the virus was so widespread that full stay-at-home measures were required, but that may now have some effect as the public increase the number of social contacts - including, for example, advising the use of face coverings in enclosed public areas such as on public transport and introducing stricter restrictions on international travellers.
More on these below.
Phase 3: Reliable Treatment / Vaccine
The virus is unlikely to die out spontaneously; nor is it likely to be eradicated. Only one human infectious disease - smallpox - has ever been eradicated. The Government must therefore develop either a treatment that enables us to manage it like other serious diseases or have people acquire immunity by vaccination.
Even if it is not possible to develop an effective vaccine, it may be possible to develop drug treatments to reduce the impact of contracting COVID-19, as has been done for many other infectious diseases, ranging from other pneumonias and herpes infections, to HIV and malaria.
For example, drugs might treat the virus itself and prevent disease progression, be used to limit the risk of being infected, or be used in severe cases to prevent progression to severe disease, shorten time in intensive care and reduce the chance of dying.
The Roadmap: 5 Steps
Step 1: From 13th May in England
See our full Step 1 topic here:
In addition, the Government has confirmed its initial plans for international travel:
Therefore, in order to keep overall levels of infection down and in line with many other countries, the Government will introduce a series of measures and restrictions at the UK border. This will contribute to keeping the overall number of transmissions in the UK as low as possible. First, alongside increased information about the UK’s social distancing regime at the border, the Government will require all international arrivals to supply their contact and accommodation information. They will also be strongly advised to download and use the NHS contact tracing app.
Second, the Government will require all international arrivals not on a short list of exemptions to self-isolate in their accommodation for fourteen days on arrival into the UK. Where international travellers are unable to demonstrate where they would self-isolate, they will be required to do so in accommodation arranged by the Government. The Government is working closely with the devolved administrations to coordinate implementation across the UK.
Small exemptions to these measures will be in place to provide for continued security of supply into the UK and so as not to impede work supporting national security or critical infrastructure and to meet the UK’s international obligations. All journeys within the Common Travel Area 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.
Step 2: No Earlier than 1st June 2020
The 5 tests must have been satisfied and the current alert level must be correct.
This will see:
- Early years and certain school years going back to school
- Opening of non-essential retail, provided retailers can follow the COVID-19 Secure Guidelines (below)
- Cultural and sporting events behind closed doors for broadcast
- More local public transport
In addition this may include the start of a 'bubble' system (allowing one household to choose one other household to interact with).
Step 3: No earlier than 4th July 2020
The ambition at this stage is to open up some of the remaining businesses, including:
- personal care (including hairdressers and beauty salons)
- hospitality (food service, pubs and accommodation)
- public places of worship
- leisure facilities like cinemas
All will need to meet the new COVID-19 Secure Guidelines.
Covid-19 Alert Levels
The current Level, at 11th May 2020, is Level 4.
- Level 5: There is a material risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed
- Level 4: A COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation; transmission is high or rising exponentially
- Level 3: A COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation
- Level 2: COVID-19 is present in the UK, but the number of cases and transmission is low
- Level 1: COVID-19 is not known to be present in the UK
COVID-19 Secure Guidelines
These will be a set of guidelines which set a standard for businesses/places being able to open. Eg, if you demonstrate compliance with the guidelines, you will be able to describe yourself as being COVID-19 Secure.
Further information is not yet available on these Guidelines.