First Minister outlines Scotland’s route out of lockdown
A route map setting out a phased approach to easing lockdown restrictions while still suppressing coronavirus has been published by the Scottish Government.
The Scottish Government route map gives details of a gradual four-phase move out of the current state of lockdown.
‘COVID-19: Framework for Decision Making gives practical examples of what people, organisations and businesses can expect to see change over time.
In phase one of the plan, the Scottish Government has urged that remote working should remain the default position for those who can.
It also urged that those workplaces that have been allowed to begin the process of reopening, employers should encourage staggered start times and flexible working.
The plan outlined that the Scottish Government is planning for outdoor workplaces to resume with physical distancing measures in place once guidance is agreed.
The construction sector will also be allowed to implement the first two phases in its restart plan with a decision to move to ‘phase two’ of the construction sector’s plan only after consulting with government to ensure it is safe to do so in line with public health advice.
The plan also indicates that in phase one, the Scottish Government is preparing for the safe reopening of the housing market.
Also in phase one, the Scottish Government is planning the gradual opening of drive-through food outlets as well as the re-opening of garden centres and plant nurseries with physical distancing.
In phase two of the plan, remote working should remain the default position for those who can. Indoor non-office-based workplaces can resume, once relevant guidance has been agreed – including factories and warehouses, lab and research facilities – with physical distancing.
In this phase, the Scottish Government is planning for the construction industry to move to later phases of its sectoral restart plan.
At this point, previously closed small retail units will be allowed to re-open with physical distancing in place. We are also planning on opening outdoor markets with physical distancing, hygiene measures and controls on numbers of people. Pubs and restaurants can also open outdoor spaces with physical distancing and increased hygiene routines.
Phase three will begin to feel closer to normal. At this point, many workplaces will already have adapted, with physical distancing the norm. Communities will be fully engaged and participating in the transition back to a more open life and economy.
In Phase three, remote working remains the default position for those who can. Indoor office workplaces including contact centres can reopen, once relevant guidance has been agreed and with physical distancing.
In Phase four the final phase, Remote and flexible working will remain encouraged. However, all types of workplaces would be open in line with public health advice.
Tracy Black, CBI Scotland director, commented on the announcement, she said: “Businesses across Scotland will welcome the publication of a route map for economic restart that puts safety first. Unless people feel safe, employees won’t return to work, customers will stay away and the restart will falter, putting people’s livelihoods at further risk.
“The four phases outlined provide a helpful starting point for firms preparing for the restart and those already working hard to ensure their operations are as safe as possible for staff and customers. For the Scottish construction industry, which has been hit so hard by the crisis, the resumption of activity in phase one will come as a significant relief.
“While businesses recognise that timings may vary based on scientific evidence, the principles and guidance that underpin the restart should be transparent and as consistent as possible across the UK. With the UK Government having already provided a helpful template looking at workplace settings, firms will be keen to see an acceleration of specific workplace guidance for Scotland that follows the same approach.”
David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, added: “What retailers want most of all is to get back to trading, looking after customers and providing the goods and services we all need and want. Our strong preference was for a re-opening of stores based on who can do so safely, as opposed to drawing lines in terms of different sizes or types of shop.
“Our members in pharmacy, pet food, and grocery retailing have shown during the coronavirus crisis that it is perfectly possible to operate safely and responsibly, regardless of the size of premises. That said, the First Minister’s plan does at least provide a sense of the way ahead and plots a route back to trading. That’s important for retailers, consumers and our economy.
“It won’t be a return to business as usual. Shopkeepers are working hard to re-open safely, and with all necessary social distancing and hygiene measures in place to protect customers and staff. The SRC and Usdaw have supported shopkeepers by jointly producing a social distancing implementation guide, published four weeks ago, which draws on the lessons learnt by pharmacies, supermarkets and other essential retailers.
“This gradual re-opening sets retail on a journey towards recovery, and the industry is ready to help kick-start Scotland’s economy.”
Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chair, said: “Yesterday’s publication is the first step required to getting our economy moving and ensuring as many Scottish businesses as possible make it through this crisis. We welcome this progress and the news that some operators may be able to re-open from next week.
“It looks likely, however, that many businesses will be required to make adjustments to their workplaces before the shutters can come up. But at the moment there’s little guidance for firms in Scotland regarding what those alterations might be.
“While we recognise that this is a public health crisis, it is also an economic crisis. With a third of closed Scottish businesses unsure if they’ll reopen, local firms need to know that Scottish policymakers want them to succeed. The Scottish Government needs to put smaller firms at the heart of their plans for recovery.”
Dr Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, commented: “Many employers have already implemented preventative measures to protect our employees and our customers and we ask that the publication of detailed sectoral guidelines are accelerated to support businesses to prepare.
“Whilst yesterday’s route map helps us to understand the sequencing of relaxing the lockdown, the absence of a more detailed time plan for each phase still means that businesses, employees and consumers cannot make plans with complete certainty.
“Focus until now has correctly been on protecting lives but we need to start balancing this with safeguarding jobs and the economy. This can be achieved with business and Government working together and we are pleased to see the Scottish Government emphasising a partnership approach in today’s document. This recognises it is our joint responsibilities to take the necessary steps to keep the virus under control while re-starting our economy together.”
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