UK roadmaps: where we are so far

The UK has been in and out of lockdown since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. To tackle the need for further lockdown measures, and to ease the current restrictions in place, the Prime Minister and the First Ministers of the devolved nations have released individual roadmaps. Here is an update on where we are so far.

England

England entered step two of its roadmap on 12 April 2021. Non-essential retail and personal care premises such as hairdressers, beauty and nail salons have been able to re-open, as have indoor leisure facilities such as gyms and spas (but not including saunas and steam rooms, which are due to open at Step 3 – no earlier than 17 May 2021).

Public buildings such as libraries and community centres can also open again, as can the majority of outdoor settings and attractions – including zoos, theme parks, drive-in cinemas, and drive-in performances events. Hospitality venues can re-open for outdoor service, with no requirement for a substantial meal to be served alongside alcohol, and no curfew.

Scotland

Almost exactly a year after the country first went into lockdown, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has presented an optimistic view of the weeks ahead. Between April 2021 and mid-May 2021, she suggested, Scotland would move towards brighter days.

All parts of Scotland previously in level 4 of its Covid-alert system have now moved down to a modified level 3, meaning travel to and from other parts of the UK is now allowed. Indoor gyms (for individual exercise only), libraries, museums, galleries, and all remaining retail premises have been able to re-open subject to wider restrictions that remain in place, for example, on the hospitality industry. These changes took place on 26 April 2021.

Assuming that coronavirus data is favourable, all level 3 areas will move to level 2 from 17 May 2021 and indoor hospitality can return to greater normality. By late June 2021, it is aimed that all of Scotland will move to at least level 0.

Wales

First Minister Mark Drakeford has set out plans to further relax coronavirus restrictions with the aim of taking Wales fully into alert level 3 by 17 May 2021, subject to public health conditions remaining favourable.

Since 12 April 2021, all remaining non-essential retail and close contact services (including hairdressers and barbers) have been able to reopen. Further, since 26 April 2021, outdoor attractions and outdoor hospitality venues – including cafes, pubs and restaurants have also been able to re-open – indoor hospitality has remained restricted, however.

Originally, gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities were to reopen on 10 May 2021, but this has now been brought forward to 3 May 2021. This will include individual or one-to-one training but not exercise classes.

Key things to note

As emphasised by all three nations, the roadmaps come with a caveat that progress will depend on continued success in suppressing the virus and rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine. From the developments that have already occurred, employers should note the following:

  • Eligible businesses can still make use of the furlough scheme until the end of September 2021, with flexible furlough remaining an option if staff are not required for their full hours;
  • Guidance on working from home has not changed in the UK. It remains that staff should work from home where they can.

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