Firms urged to back flexible working, staggered start times
Nicola Sturgeon: ‘no risk-free solution’
The first minister today said employers would be encouraged to introduce flexible working, staggered start times and four day weeks as part of a phased return to work.
Confirming a four-part phased easing of the lockdown measures, Nicola Sturgeon told parliament that “remote working will remain the default position”.
She told MSPs that “there is no risk-free way of lifting lockdown”, adding that “the danger of a second wave later in the year is very real indeed” and admitted that “I almost felt like crying” when she saw scenes of people sunbathing on the Portobello beach yesterday.
The First Minister spelled out a series of steps that will be taken but was criticised for failing to produce a clear timetable.
She confirmed that professional sport will start in phase two while waste, recycling and garden centres will reopen in the first phase. Plans for transport will be announced next week along with more details on the economy.
Teachers will return next month to prepare for the reopening of schools on 11 August.
In the first phase, beginning on 28 May, the construction industry will be able to “carefully implement” key steps in its restart plan with a “genuine partnership” with trade unions and preparations will be made for a reopening of the housing market.
People from two households will be able to meet and some GP services will resume. Drive-through food outlets can reopen as well as garden centres, but not cafes except for takeaways. Hiking, canoeing and swimming are added to golf, tennis, bowls and fishing.
Small retail outlets, outdoor markets, factories, offices and laboratories will reopen in the next phase with safe distancing measures and the construction industry will fully reopen.
Pubs and restaurants with outdoor facilities can open, Weddings and civil partnerships with limited numbers and worship for private prayer will be allowed and dental practices reopen for urgent cases.
Non-essential offices will reopen in the third phase along with pubs, museums, galleries, hair salons and gyms and live events can take place with limited numbers. All workplaces and mass gatherings will be allowed in the fourth period.
Phase 1: Virus not yet contained but cases are falling. From 28 May you should be able to meet another household outside in small numbers. Sunbathing is allowed, along with some outdoor activities like golf and fishing. Garden centres and drive-through takeaways can reopen, some outdoor work can resume, and childminding services can begin.
Phase 2: Virus controlled. You can meet larger groups outdoors, and meet another household indoors. Construction, factories, warehouses, laboratories and small shops can resume work. Playgrounds and sports courts can reopen, and professional sport can begin again.
Phase 3: Virus suppressed. You can meet people from more than one household indoors. Non-essential offices would reopen, along with gyms, museums, libraries, cinemas, larger shops, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and dentists. Live events could take place with restricted numbers and physical distancing restrictions. Schools should reopen from 11 August.
Phase 4: Virus no longer a significant threat. University and college campuses can reopen in full, mass gatherings are allowed. All workplaces open and public transport is back at full capacity.
Retailers have reservations
David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Our strong preference was for a re-opening of stores based on who can do so safely, as opposed to drawing lines in terms of different sizes or types of shop.
“Our members in pharmacy, pet food, and grocery retailing have shown during the coronavirus crisis that it is perfectly possible to operate safely and responsibly, regardless of the size of premises.
“That said, the First Minister’s plan does at least provide a sense of the way ahead and plots a route back to trading. That’s important for retailers, consumers and our economy.”
CBI calls for clearer guidance
Tracy Black, CBI Scotland director, said: “For the Scottish construction industry, which has been hit so hard by the crisis, the resumption of activity in phase one will come as a significant relief.
“With the UK Government having already provided a helpful template looking at workplace settings, firms will be keen to see an acceleration of specific workplace guidance for Scotland that follows the same approach.”
FSB wants more clarity
Andrew McRae, the Federation of Small Businesses Scotland policy chairman, said: “Many businesses will be required to make adjustments to their workplaces before the shutters can come up. But at the moment there’s little guidance for firms in Scotland regarding what those alterations might be.
“While the First Minister said today that this guidance is coming in the days ahead, there is no time to lose.