Lifting UK Lockdown – Restrictions to be eased in five-week intervals

  • UK watchdog urges bosses not to dismiss “lockdown fatigue” amid growing concerns over staff mental health
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveils key lockdown dates for pubs, shops, salons and gyms
  • England lockdown to be lifted in five-weekly intervals
  • FTSE 100 falls ahead of PM Boris Johnson’s exit plan announcement

UK Prime Minister has unveiled details of his lockdown exit plan today, which will come as a relief to many given the impact the third round of coronavirus restrictions has had on mental health and wellbeing.

According to UK watchdog and FCA Head of Conduct Specialists David Blunt, “more people have struggled with job security, caring responsibilities, home-schooling, bereavements and lockdown fatigue” during England’s third lockdown.

Mr Blunt added that UK bosses should not downplay reports of “lockdown fatigue” and continually revisit how they can support staff and lead remote workers.

His statement comes after an investigation was launched into comments made by former KPMG Chairman Bill Michael.

Mr Michael told KPMG consultants to “stop playing the victim card and moaning” about the impact of COVID-19 on their wellbeing during a virtual meeting earlier this month.

It comes as the FCA prepares to launch new procedures that force senior members of financial firms to take personal accountability for measures introduced to improve conduct standards.

David Blunt urged firms to consider “psychological safety” going forward to ensure that employees feel like they can openly speak to management about their concerns.

Although the UK Prime Minister has unveiled his lockdown exit strategy, it will be a while before society returns to any form of normality, so it’s essential that British companies continue to protectand support employee mental health.

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson unveils UK lockdown exit plan

Boris Johnson finally unveiled the highly anticipated coronavirus exit plan in the House of Commons at 3.30 PM. According to the Prime Minister, England’s lockdown restrictions are set to be eased in four stages over a four-month period.

Mr Johnson said the UK government would be taking a “data not dates” approach to avoid a repeat of the spike witnessed following the second lockdown in November.

The cautious plan will include “four tests”, all of which must be met before the next stage can go ahead. The four tests that need to be met are:

  • Evidence that the UK’s ongoing vaccine rollout program remains successful
  • Data showing that vaccines are effectively reducing the number of COVID-related hospitalisations and fatalities
  • The infection rate does not put the NHS under “unsustainable” pressure
  • New COVID variants have not challenged the UK government’s assessment of the risks associated with reopening the economy

According to the latest government statistics, the UK has vaccinated one-third of its adult population, whilst the number of daily COVID cases and fatalities have fallen to its lowest levels in months.

While COVID will remain a threat to the UK for the foreseeable future, Mr Johnson said that thanks to the resolve of the British public, the government has been able to devise a roadmap that will guide us “cautiously but irreversibly to reclaiming our freedoms.”

England’s lockdown will be eased in five-week intervals, with stage one of the exit plan commencing on March 8th.

The final phase of lifting coronavirus restrictions will not occur until June 21st, when the UK government hopes to remove all limits on social contact and reopen all sectors of the economy, including nightclubs.

Key lockdown exit dates

The first stage of lockdown exit will prioritise the reopening of schools and outdoor social contact.

March lockdown lifting plans – March 8th

From March 8th, face-to-face learning will resume in classrooms, and people will be able to socialise outside or exercise with one other person from outside their household.

From March 29th, the UK government will reintroduce the rule of six, allowing outdoor social contact in public places and private gardens. Two households will also be allowed to meet regardless of the number of people in each house.

Outdoor sporting activities such as tennis, golf and football will also be permitted to return from March 29th.

April lockdown lifting plans – April 12th

Stage two of the exit plan will come into effect from April 12th at the earliest and will see the reopening of hair salons, nail parlours, gyms and non-essential retail stores.

Restaurants, bars and pubs with outdoor seating areas will also be able to resume trade in mid-April, providing that scientific data suggests it is safe.

Boris Johnson confirmed that theme parks, zoos, drive-in cinemas, public libraries and community centres would also reopen during April.

May lockdown lifting plans – May 17th

Indoor hospitality, cinemas, hotels, theatres, concert halls and gyms are expected to reopen on May 17th under stage three of the lockdown exit roadmap.

Most limitations and restrictions on outdoor social activity will also be lifted, subjected to a 30 person limit.

Boris Johnson said that the current raft of stringent travel restrictions and bans on foreign holidays, including the newly-enforced quarantine hotels, will be removed in mid-May, with the 17th set as the target date.

However, the UK government is yet to confirm whether travellers will need vaccine certificates to verify their immunisations. That being said, ministers are keen to restore international travel as soon as possible and explore ways to ensure a safe return to the skies.

June lockdown lifting plans – June 21st

The final stage of the UK’s lockdown roadmap plan is expected to start on June 21st. Allowing indoor household mixing, fans’ ability to return to sports stadiums and the reopening of nightclubs – which have been shut down since the onset of the pandemic back in March 2020.

While UK PM Boris Johnson has not ruled out future lockdowns, there is hope that the UK could return to “normal” by early July, which is when the British government hopes to have offered every adult in the UK their first vaccine jab.

As he drew his speech to a close, Boris Johnson said that he knows many may feel that our exit plan is too ambitious. However, he insisted that thorough planning went into the roadmap and easing rules under this cautious approach “will ensure we do not undo the progress we have achieved so far and the sacrifices we have made to keep ourselves and others safe.”

Mr Johnson also said that the UK government would continue to support industries and businesses struggling due to the impact of lockdown. It appears his optimistic comments, combined with the exit plan, have boosted hopes over the UK’s economic recovery outlook.

FTSE 100 rises following lockdown roadmap announcement

The FTSE 100 Index plunged ahead of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans for easing lockdown measures in England, with many investors wary over the possibility that the government may delay the pace at which restrictions are lifted.

However, with details of the plan now unveiled, the FTSE 100 Index is pushing higher heading into New York trading hours.

After plummeting to 6,545.93, the FTSE 100 Index has jumped higher to 6,612.24 and could rise further out of the red territory and close in the green on Monday.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s lockdown roadmap has also boosted hopes of the UK record a swift economic rebound in Q2 2021, which has driven pound Sterling (GBP) exchange rates higher in foreign exchange (FX) markets.

The British pound (GBP) is trading 0.2% higher against the US dollar (USD) at USD 1.40, while the British pound to euro (GBP/EUR) exchange rate has rallied near EUR 1.16.

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