-UK government’s exit strategy is still vague
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Sunday the nationwide lockdown would continue, but small adjustments would be made for “the first careful steps” to reopening the country and the economy. In a pre-recorded message from Wednesday, Johnson said the government will “encourage people to take more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise” as long as they stay in their household groups and maintain social distancing from others. Fines will be increased for those who break the rules.
“You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports but only with members of your own household,” he said.
He also said he hoped to see nurseries and schools open by June, and some shops, restaurants, and cafes by July. He also confirmed those coming into the UK by air would have to be quarantined for two weeks.
However, there are still many unknowns especially for businesses regarding the possibility of them benefiting from the furlough scheme if the lockdown continues, and the type of extra support that will be provided.
Regarding the economy, Johnson called on those who can work from home to continue to do so but he “actively encouraged” those who are not able to, such as workers in the construction and manufacturing sector, to go to work.
“You should avoid public transport if at all possible because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited,” he added.
However, this recommendation is destined to prove difficult for construction and manufacturing workers in getting to work without using public transportation.
The old slogan of “stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives” has been replaced with a new one: “Stay alert, control the virus, and save lives.”
However, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland reject Johnson’s ‘stay alert’ advice in favor of ‘stay at home’.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who said she had first heard of the slogan in the Sunday newspapers, said the 'clear message' to Scotland was still to “stay home' due to the critical point the country is at.
She tweeted: “The Sunday papers is the first I’ve seen of the PM’s new slogan.
Not sure how effective the measures would be while a united strategy is not achieved yet within United Kingdom.”
The death toll in the country rose to 31,855 as of Sunday evening, as 269 more patients died over the past 24 hours.
The Bank of England last Thursday had predicted the worst economic crash since the Great Frost of 1709. The UK economy could shrink by 14% in 2020, the biggest annual contraction since a decline of 15% in 1706 and 13% in 1709. While the country is bracing for one of the worst economic crises, businesses must know how to prepare for exiting the lockdown. Johnson’s televised statement on Sunday evening is still far from presenting a road map for the whole UK.