We know lockdown has taken its toll on the UK residents in both the home setting and the workplace. Many may have been hopeful that lockdown would be lifted yesterday, but with the R rate still sitting just below 1, UK citizens need to stay safe and protect each other and the NHS. With the Prime Ministers’ speech causing a little confusion across the board, we thought it was appropriate to share the message again with our customers.
Let’s take a look again at what Boris Johnson had to say on Sunday night.
Boris thanked us for protecting each other and the NHS by sticking to the measures we have been living under for the last 2 months despite “colossal cost” to our own lives. The message was very much around how plans were being discussed to aid the reopening of many businesses, and in turn, the UK economy before it suffers any further. More details are to follow over the coming days but lockdown will continue until the 5 key areas are satisfied:
- Sufficient critical care capacity across the UK.
- Sustained and consistent fall in daily death rates.
- Rate of infection deceasing.
- Testing and PPE able to meet demand.
- Adjustments to measure will not risk a second peak that will overwhelm the NHS.
It was reiterated that the lower we, as a collective, in the UK can keep the R rate, the lighter the restrictions. If the R level creeps up, restrictions will increase. This was the introduction to the COVID alert system now in place, with Level 5 being the worst and level 1 meaning COVID 19 is no longer present in the UK. As it stands the UK is on the verge of entering level 3 which in turn means some restrictions can be relaxed – if the R rate remains low then we could head into lower levels and further easing of restrictions. However if the R rate increases then harsher, more severe restriction will be implemented.
Two further things must be done to ensure this happens: Support care homes and reduce the R rate within them, and increase testing nationally.
What has changed?
In reality, the answer is “Not much”. Restrictions still remain in place for our safety.
- Working: Work from home if you can. If you can work, but not from home, you are now encouraged to return to your place of work to do so.
- Public transport: Where possible, avoid public transport and abide by the 2m rule – new guidance for employers is being issued this week. Public Transport providers will also be adhering to social distancing measures to ensure peoples’ safety if they do need to take public transport.
- Exercising outside is encouraged and you can even exercise in household groups – meaning those you live with. There is no time limit on this nor is it limited to once a day any longer BUT social distancing must still be observed, retain the 2m rule with anyone who does not reside within your own household.
- Fines: Those considered to be breaking the rules will be fined, and these fines have been increased from what was previously in place.
What does this mean for our industry?
Realistically, many construction based companies, albeit under strict social distancing guidelines, should be able to return to a level of normality over the coming weeks. The majority of our industry, whether they fall into tiling outlets, builders merchants or construction sites, will be able to begin operating again. It is unlikely that sole traders will be able to return in the same capacity, but we are eager to find out what guidelines the PM will release over the coming days, and we will do our best to keep you informed.
As an industry, we need to set the precedent for many others who will follow us – we are realistically one of the first sectors of the UK economy to be reopened. If you have any concerns about how to proceed we are more than happy to discuss our PPE and reopening products with you. You can find more details on how STS are helping to keep customers and staff safe with our extended range of PPE and social distancing products here.