UK: Johnson to announce gradual deconfinement on Sunday

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson intends to announce on Sunday a plan for progressive deconfinement, with a battery of measures to make life safer in business, media reports Monday.

With 28 446 dead, the United Kingdom is the second country most affected in Europe by the virus. Containment was declared on 23 March and extended to Thursday, the date on which it must be reviewed.

A spokesman for Downing Street explained on Monday that a relaxation would not necessarily be announced that day, without confirming that the details would be announced Sunday evening in a speech by the Prime Minister, as claimed by some media .

Closure of company canteens, reduction in the number of shared offices, additional cleaning are among the ways envisaged by the government to allow companies to resume their activities, according to the BBC and the Financial Times .

Employees in contact with the public should be protected by plastic screens and workers who are able to do so are encouraged to continue working from home, in accordance with these recommendations.

Those who must go to the office are encouraged to work shift schedules to avoid metros and commuter trains being crowded.

Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Monday that “the number of people still infected and all other indicators” were still too high to bring a “significant change” to the measures in place.

“It is very likely that on Thursday, I ask you to respect confinement for a longer time,” she said at a press conference.

Hospitalizations and deaths are slowing down but the authorities fear a premature relaxation leading to a new wave of contamination.

To avoid this scenario, they intend to rely on a tracking application which must be tested from Monday on the Isle of Wight (south) in order to be generalized in several weeks.

Sign of the current recession, the activity of the giant field hospital opened especially to deal with the pandemic is “paused” due to the lack of patients, the government announced on Monday.

“It is unlikely that we will have to admit new patients in the coming days while the coronavirus in the capital remains under control,” said the spokesman for Downing Street.

Even if the United Kingdom has now “surpassed the peak of the epidemic” according to the government, the end of containment raises many questions. Companies will have to carry out a “risk assessment” before they can welcome their employees again, suggest government documents on the deconfinement cited in the press.

If the recommended distance of two meters between each worker cannot be respected, the wearing of personal protective clothing (PPE) will be considered. A “clear recommendation” is needed, however, BBC Adam Marshall, managing director of the British Chambers of Commerce, said on Monday.

The change also worries managers of large infrastructures such as airports, where social distancing measures are impossible to put into practice.

“It will not work in aviation or any other form of public transport, and it is not the plane, the problem is the lack of space in the airport”, writes John Holland -Kaye, head of London Heathrow Airport in the daily The Telegraph . “For a single jumbo jet there would be a one kilometer queue. “