Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: UK to reopen nonessential businesses in two phases June 1 and 15, provided measures are taken to stem the spread of COVID-19.

This alert affects United Kingdom

This alert began 26 May 2020 11:30 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions

Summary
Authorities in the UK will allow all nonessential businesses to reopen in two phases June 1 and 15, provided they pass a risk assessment aimed at coronavirus disease (COVID-19) prevention. Outdoor markets and car showrooms are set to reopen from June 1, while all other nonessential businesses will be permitted to reopen from June 15. However, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales can set their own timetables for reopening. All businesses must adhere to strict hygiene practices including limiting the number of customers in the store in order to maintain social distancing of two meters (6.5 feet) and encouraging customers to use hand sanitizer when entering the premises. Retail workers must practice social distancing wherever possible.

Authorities previously announced that, from June 8, persons arriving in the UK will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. Travelers will be required to provide accommodation information to border officials; health officials may perform spot checks to ensure compliance with the regulations. Persons without suitable accommodation will be required to stay in facilities arranged by the government at their own expense. The measures apply to arrival by air, rail, and ferry. The quarantine period will apply to British citizens and foreign nationals. Persons arriving from Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man will be exempt from the restrictions. Freight drivers and healthcare workers will also be exempt from these requirements. The measures will be reviewed every three weeks.

Authorities have eased several other measures imposed to stem the spread of COVID-19. The Northern Ireland Executive has implemented the first stage of its five-stage COVID-19 recovery plan. Individuals in Northern Ireland who cannot work from home have been encouraged to return to work, gatherings of up to six people are permitted, some outdoor sports are allowed, and garden centers may reopen. In England unlimited outdoor exercise is allowed, two individuals from different houses may meet outdoors, and those who cannot work from home have been encouraged to return to work. Authorities in Scotland and Wales are not currently encouraging nonessential workers to return to work, though they have lifted limits on outdoor exercise.

Authorities throughout the UK continue to recommend citizens remain home except to perform essential tasks. Most educational facilities remain closed. Flights remain heavily restricted. Cargo and repatriation flights have continued. Public transport authorities nationwide are currently operating reduced services; many bus routes have been amended, and numerous train and London Underground stations closed. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice in response to government reviews and may receive updates or extensions in the coming days.

Background and Analysis
The measures implemented by the UK are similar to actions taken by other European governments in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

The UK's Joint Biosecurity Centre is a newly formed agency tasked with analyzing disease activity in England and setting the "COVID-19 Alert Level," a five-tier system that will inform the government's decisions on easing and reintroducing restrictions. The JBC can set different alert levels for different parts of the country, creating the possibility for varying restrictions based on locality in the future.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Arrive at the airport early to prevent your seat being reallocated to a standby passenger. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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