The GGF welcomed the Governments’ recent unveiling of their roadmaps to recovery, but remains cautious after many false starts to the recovery over the past year.
There are some key dates that all being well, the industry can look forward to, with the headliner for England being the 12th April as the date for the re-opening of non-essential retail, which includes showrooms and concession outlets in garden centres and supermarkets. However the easing of the lockdown measures, depends on four key tests.
The tests the Government will check against every five weeks are:
- The continued success of the vaccine deployment programme.
- Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalizations and deaths in those vaccinated.
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalizations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
- The Government assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of the virus that may raise concern.
John Agnew, GGF Managing Director commented, “We are pleased to see the Government’s roadmap to recovery and hopeful that it all goes to plan, however there is still a long way to go to full recovery and companies should continue to act responsibly, follow the safe guidance and take all necessary precautions.”
The four tests by which the UK Government is measuring the situation shows how precarious the roadmap to recovery is and particularly after the last 12 months that has seen things change rapidly with three national lockdowns, new variants, second waves and increases in infection rates, cases, hospitalizations and fatalities.
On the positive side the vaccination programme is going remarkably well with almost 18 million people receiving the first does and over 650,000 receiving the second injection. An estimated 300,000 people per day are receiving the vaccination and by July, all going to plan, the entire population could be vaccinated.
In recent weeks, the rates of infection, cases, hospitalizations and fatalities have decreased and the yesterday’s Government announcement has been a message of great optimism for the UK.
From the Governments’ information, the GGF has put together a summary of “best case scenarios” for companies in the Glass and Glazing Industry across the four nations of the UK and also the Republic of Ireland:
- Meeting outdoors is allowed again this is detailed in the context of social and families meeting not work. The GGF will be seeking clarification from working closely with local councils and the Government on “meeting outdoors” as this could include safe canvassing.
- Non-essential retail (including showrooms and concessions stores) to remain closed
- Working in people’s houses can continue but safe guidance must be followed
- Working on construction sites and manufacturing can continue but must follow the safe guidance (Site Operating Procedures)
- The ‘stay at home’ legal requirement replaced by guidance, restrictions will remain in place. People should continue to work from home where they can.
If all 4 tests have proven satisfactory to Government then;
- All retail should be in allowed to re-open. This includes showrooms, concession stores, garden centres etc.
- It is anticipated that canvassing, if it had not resumed beforehand should be safe to resume
- Most legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors will be lifted – although gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal
If all 4 tests have proven satisfactory to Government then;
- Legal limits on social contact will be lifted but some guidance will remain
Subject to satisfactory conditions regarding the pandemic:
- Essential retailers list expanded slightly and non-essential retail click and collect can resume. No details on whether non-essential retail (including showrooms and garden centres, concession stores) will re-open.
- Non-essential work in the home may be allowed
A move beyond the strengthened level 4 into the variable levels is under the condition detail in the statement from the report here;
“Given the importance of vaccine roll-out to the safe return to geographically variable levels, we are therefore setting an important further condition that must be met in addition to the six WHO criteria for easing outlined above. This condition is that at least all of the JCVI groups 1-9 must have been offered a vaccination prior to the return to geographically varied levels.”
In the Scotland Vaccination deployment plan the groups through to 9 are expected to have had their first doses by “early May” and have started in March, See statement from the deployment plan;
JCVI priority groups 6,7,8,9 – We expect to start these cohorts in March and aim to complete first doses by early May 2021
The best case scenario is that at some point in March, Scotland may announce a move into the variable levels system however this would need to coincide with the World Health Organisation test being satisfied after the easing of the “strengthened level four”
Lockdown continues with two six week reviews from 23 February. These reviews will determine whether the non-essential retail can re-open – though click and collect for non-essential goods can continue.
Working in people’s homes is allowed as long as the safe guidance is followed
Working factories and on construction sites can continue but site operating safety procedures and social distancing must be followed.
In Northern Ireland
The Northern Ireland Executive has extended the lockdown until 1st April. From that date non-essential click and collect can resume. No further information on the easing of the lockdown have been released.
In Republic of Ireland
The Republic of Ireland government has extended the lockdown until 5th April and by this date will have made a decision on when to re-open construction and other industries.
John Agnew concluded, “The GGF is continuing weekly discussions with government on the issues affecting our industry including the resumption of canvassing and re-opening of showrooms. We hope these activities can resume soon for our sector but only if it is deemed safe to do so. In the meantime, I urge all Members and all companies in the industry to proceed with caution and continue to follow the GGF and Government guidance to protect the NHS and save lives.”
See GGF Safe Guidance here
See GGF COVID Guidance Table here
Register for rapid testing in the workplace here
Vaccines explained – read more here