COVID-19 Briefing by Mark Eastwood MP
The Prime Minister last night updated the country on the next phase of the Government's plan to tackle the Coronavirus pandemic. And today made a statement to the House of Commons, to further outlined the Government's roadmap to help us navigate the biggest challenge to hit this country since the second world war.
As we move to the next phase of our fight with this virus, and I have outlined the Government's guidance below. The two most significant changes are:
- people who cannot work from home should be encouraged to go back to work (if your place of work can open)
- outside recreation is to be encouraged, but people must socially distance.
As we leave ‘Phase 1’ and moving into ‘Phase 2’ of the Government's Coronavirus guidance, I have outlined below how these phases are broadly characterised. If you would like to read the Government's COVID-19 recovery strategy in full please click here.
- Smarter social distancing measures to balance aims effectively, having the largest effect on controlling the epidemic but the lowest health, economic and social costs;
- Progress to the next steps will have strict conditions, and restrictions may be reimposed if required;
- Continue to increase NHS and social care capacity; and,
- More reactive and localised measures through widespread, accurate monitoring of the disease.
Phase 2 is separated into 3 different ‘steps’. The gap between steps will be several weeks to allow time for monitoring - as monitoring becomes more precise and larger-scale, response times may reduce.
- Work from home if you can, this reduces risk for other workers on transport and public place
- If your workplace is open and you cannot work from home then you should go to work, hospitality and non-essential retail is excluded
- Workplaces should follow the new COVID-19 Secure guidelines which will be published this week
- Symptomatic people, however mild, should stay at home still
Step 1: Schools
- Schools should urge more children who would benefit from attending school in-person to do so (only vulnerable children and children of critical workers)
- Clarified that paid childcare can take place subject to public health principles
Step 1: Transport
- Govt is working to bring public transport levels to pre-COVID 19 levels
- Continue to avoid public transport where possible
- Increased funding and new statutory guidance to encourage local authorities to widen pavements, create pop-up cycle lanes, close some roads to traffic
- Social distancing guidance on public transport to be followed rigorously
Step 1: Face-coverings
- People should wear face-coverings in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible, and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet
- Homemade cloth face-coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission in some circumstances, as it protects against inadvertent transmission of the disease if you have it asymptomatically
- A face covering is not the same as a facemask (such as surgical masks), these continue to be reserved for healthcare and other workers
- Face-coverings are not to be worn by children under 2 years old, primary age children unassisted or those with respiratory conditions
- Wash your hands before putting them on and taking them off
Step 1: Public spaces
- You can meet with one person outside your household if it is socially distanced
- Those responsible for public places should put appropriate measures in place to follow the new COVID 19 secure guidance
- Exercise as much as you wish. Do not use playgrounds, outdoor gyms or ticketed outdoor leisure venues (this is due to contact with surfaces)
- You can only exercise with up to one person outside your household. Team sports can only take place with members of your own household
- You can use outdoor sports facilities such as golf courses, tennis courts, basketball courts and bowling greens alone, with members of your household or 1 person outside of your household
- You can drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance so long as social distancing is respected
- Do not travel to different parts of the UK where it would be inconsistent with guidance and regulations issued by the devolved administration
- These measures may come with some risk so act responsibly
Step 1: Protecting the clinically vulnerable
- ‘More clinically vulnerable’ people, ie those over 70, specific chronic pre-existing conditions and pregnant women should take care to minimise contact with those outside their household but do not have to shield
- ‘Extremely clinically vulnerable’ groups such stay at home at all times and shield
- See the end of this section for the definitions
Step 1: Enforcement
- Higher fines to reflect increased risk, £100 or £50 if paid within 14 days
Step 1: Parliament
- Move towards further physical proceedings
Step 1: International Travel
- All international arrivals to provide contact and accommodation information. Strongly advised to download and use the NHS contact tracing app
- Non-exempt arrivals to self-isolate in their accommodation for 14 days, if they can’t demonstrate where they would self-isolate they will be required to do so in government accommodation
- Common Travel Area is exempt, those key to security of supply, critical infrastructure, international obligations
- Will not come into force on 13th May but will be introduced as soon as possible, exemption list set out shortly
- Changes to be announced at least 48 hours before coming into effect
- No earlier than Monday 1st June, subject to conditions being satisfied
Step 2: Schools
- Phased return for: early years settings, reception, year 1 and year 6 to be back in school in smaller sizes. Secondary schools and FE colleges should prepare for some face-to-face contact for Year 10 and 12 pupils
- Ambition for all primary school children to return to school before summer for a month
Step 2: non-essential retail
- Re-open when and where it is safe to do, subject to following COVID-19 secure guidelines.
- Open in phases from 1st June, Govt to issue guidance shortly on phasing, including which businesses will be covered in each phase and timeframes involved.
- Hospitality and personal care will not be re-opened in this step
Step 2: Cultural and sporting events:
- Behind closed doors and available for broadcast
Step 2: Public transport in urban areas
- Re-opening more local transport in urban areas and subject to strict measures
Step 2: Social and family contact
- Potential to allow people to expand their household group to include one other household
- Potentially allowing two households to share childcare
- Potential to allow slightly larger groups to better facilitate small weddings
- Will begin no earlier than 4th July
- Open some of the remaining businesses and premises that have been required to close, including personal care, hospitality, public places (including places of worship) and leisure facilities. Should meet COVID 19 Secure guidelines.
- Venues which are, by design, crowded and difficult to enact distancing will still not be able to re-open safely or only in part.
- Higher-risk businesses and public places will be carefully phased and re-openings will be piloted to test their ability to adopt COVID 10 secure guidelines. Government taskforces will work closely with stakeholders in these sectors
- Classification of vulnerable groups
- These are some supporting programmes or aims mentioned in the document.
- Expand supply from overseas for PPE;
- Improve domestic manufacturing capability ;
- Expand and improve the logistics network for delivering to the front line
- Testing of residents and staff, whether symptomatic or otherwise. By 6th June every care home for the over 65s will have been offered testing for residents and staff
- Restrict all routine and non-essential healthcare visits and reduce staff movements between homes;
- Care homes to be given an NHS contact to help ‘train the trainers’;
- Free DBS checks, online training and job matching flatform and centrally paid induction training;
- Every care home to have a named clinician by 15th May
Accurate disease monitoring and reactive measures:
- Joint Biosecurity Centre, independent real-time analysis and assessment of infection outbreaks at a community level to enable rapid intervention.
- Will work closely with local partners and businesses to: collect a range of data to build up a picture of infection rates across the country including testing, environmental and workplace data; analyse data to form a clear picture of changes in infection rates; advise the CMO. This advice may include the closing of some schools or workplaces where infection rates have spiked.
- A new series of alert levels to be determined by JBC
Testing and tracing:
- Widespread swab testing to rapid turn-around time; LA Public health services to bring in local dimension; automated, app-based contract tracing; online and phone-based contract tracing staffed by health professions and call handlers working closely with local government
- Staying safe outside your home, up-to-date guidance
- Keep your distance from people outside your household where possible, if you cannot then make sure it is not for more than a short amount of time
- Keep your hands and face as clean as possible. Avoid touching your face.
- Work from home if you can, employer should support you to find reasonable adjustments
- Avoid being face to face with people if they are outside your household
- Reduce the number of people you spend time with in a work setting where you can – changing shift patterns and rotas to match you with the same team each time and splitting into smaller contained teams
- Avoid crowds, avoid peak travel times on public transport, businesses should allow the use of more entrances and exits and stagger entry and exit where possible
- Wash your clothes regularly. Changing clothes in workplaces may be required if there is a high risk of infection of there are highly vulnerable people. Avoid changing in crowded changing rooms.
- Keep indoor places well ventilated
- If you can, wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible
- Effective treatment and/or vaccine
- In Phase 2 the Government may:
- Minimise spread through good hygiene: hand washing, social distancing and regularly disinfecting surfaces;
- Continue to limit the number of social contracts, reduce exposure of vulnerable groups, isolation of symptomatic and diagnosed individuals;
- Over time: redesigning public and workspaces; testing and tracing to better focus restrictions according to risk; and, detecting infection outbreaks at a localised level and rapidly intervening with targeted measures;
- Adjust restrictions in some regions at different times to others;
- Issue new guidelines this week promoting measures that were unlikely to be effective previously, including the use of face coverings and international travel restrictions; and,
- Adjust protections for care homes and prisons.
You can of course contact me on 01924 939007 or email email@example.com if you have other further questions.
Take care and stay safe