View all newsletters
Sign up to our newsletters

Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Science & Tech
  2. Coronavirus
11 May 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

Evening summary: Mind the gaps

By Samuel Horti

The government published its full plan for leaving lockdown today, and it both fleshed out and clarified many of the (sometimes contradictory) statements that Boris Johnson and his ministers have made over the past few days. We know now, for example, that the government wants everyone to wear face coverings in confined spaces, including shops and trains. But as important as what the guidance says is what it omits, and crucial details surrounding the practicalities of the lockdown remain elusive. 

For example, employers are still awaiting guidance on making their workplaces safe. These new guidelines, enforced by spot inspections, will arrive later this week. But the government says that workplaces that can be open, including construction sites and manufacturing plants, “should” be open on Wednesday, and employees are being urged to return to work if they can’t work from home. There’s no guarantee the new safety guidance will arrive before that – and even if they do, businesses will be left with precisely zero time to make crucial safety changes.

The same problem applies to extra guidance on transport, also arriving later this week. The government wants people to avoid public transport wherever possible, but some of those people returning to work on Wednesday will inevitably rely on trains, buses or the tube. Those workers will be using networks that have not had the time to implement government guidance. At what cost?

One thing we can expect some clarity on is the government’s furlough scheme. Chancellor Rishi Sunak will discuss the future of the scheme, which pays furloughed staff 80 per cent of their wages, tomorrow, and reports suggest he will extend it from the end of June to the end of September, albeit it at a reduced payment rate of 60 per cent.

You can expect Johnson to address some of these issues, or at least to be asked to address some of them, at today’s Downing Street press conference, which is taking place at a later-than-usual time of 7pm.

Content from our partners
Inside the UK's enduring love for chocolate
Unlocking the potential of a national asset, St Pancras International
Time for Labour to turn the tide on children’s health

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.