PM announcement: What does the lockdown roadmap mean for small businesses?

Business leaders call for clarity on how to ensure workplaces are “Covid-safe”, as well as what the new guidance means for different sectors of the economy

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Boris Johnson’s “conditional plan” to reopen society has been received with confusion and uncertainty by businesses and members of the public alike.

Following the address to the nation on Sunday evening, business groups have called for clarity on what the new guidance means for workplaces and different sectors of the economy.

The lockdown roadmap contains a number of conditions that will have to be met in order for life to return to normal, but offers scant information on how this ‘phased’ approach will affect small businesses.

Here’s what we know so far.

Is your business struggling due to the pandemic? Check out our small businesses advice page for a comprehensive list of the government schemes and financial support available to you.

What does the announcment mean for my business?

From Wednesday, people in England who can’t work from home – especially those in the manufacturing and construction sectors – will be “actively encouraged to go back to work”.

However, Johnson has stressed that they should avoid using public transport where possible.

Workplaces that do reopen this week will have to take every precaution necessary to ensure a “Covid-safe” environment. This includes following social distancing measures, and providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees.

Previous draft government proposals have proposed staggered shifts for workers, an end to hot desking, and changes to how office equipment is shared.

But what about other sectors of the economy?

Retail businesses could be allowed to reopen from 1 June at the earliest, while hospitality businesses could reopen by 1 July if expert advice says it is safe to do so.

It’s important to note that restrictions could be reimposed at any time depending on the perceived threat-level from the virus.

The government is due to release expert guidance on how to ensure your workplace is safe later today. We’ll continue to update this page with new information.

Lex Butler, chair of the Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA), said that many events and hospitality businesses will not survive until restrictions are lifted:

“The businesses in this industry urgently need much more support to survive and to get their 700,000 staff back to work and off furlough.

“As HBAA has been demanding for several weeks, we immediately need to know that the furlough scheme will be extended beyond the end of June and on what terms.  And commercial rent relief still has not been agreed – landlords could be evicting our members in a few weeks.

“We need clarity now to prevent closures and large-scale loss of jobs. We also need clarity and clear definition on whether the government’s statement that the “hospitality industry could start to reopen in July” includes meetings and events and what criteria it must meet.

”We welcome the recognition of the impact of the lockdown on mental wellbeing but we need so much more to get people in the events, hospitality and travel industry back to work safely and confidently.”

The Covid Alert System

The Covid Alert System ranks the threat posed by Covid-19 on a scale from 1-5.

Determined by the number of cases and the transmission rate of the virus, the greater the threat, the more severe the restrictions imposed on society will be.

Level 1 – Low

Disease is no longer present in the UK. No behavioural restrictions. Public and private sectors operate normally.

Level 2 – Moderate

Businesses open subject to some special measures. Social distancing measures in place.

Level 3 – Substantial 

Restrictions remain on public sector, businesses and everyday life. Restaurants and non-essential shops closed.

Level 4 – Severe

Partial lockdown: stay at home order.

Level 5 – Critical 

Tight lockdown: all workplaces closed.

Written by:
Henry Williams headshot
Henry has been writing for since 2015, covering everything from business finance and web builders to tax and red tape. He’s also acted as project lead on many of our industry-renowned annual indexes, including Startups 100 and Business Ideas, and created a number of the site’s popular how to guides.
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