The government is proposing to ease the lockdown conditions and gradually reopen our economy. This will be a staged process (i.e. easing restrictions little by little) while still keeping R as low as possible. The prime minister will outline this on the coming weekend. Moving to this stage will involve an increased testing and contact tracing, and rules for using masks in crowded spaces.

There may be guidelines for businesses (and places of worship) when they reopen, ranging from markers and barriers to maintain physical distancing (if this cannot be maintained staff will be required to wear personal protection equipment PPE) and staggering employees working hours, but mass gatherings of people will be the last thing to return.

However, the chief medical officer has warned that a second coronavirus wave in winter may be worse than the first – whatever road map for exiting the coronavirus lockdown is outlined it must avoid the second peak. Therefore, we are unlikely to go back to the world we have known before the lockdown until a vaccine has been developed.

As people from the ethnic communities are more adversely affected by the Covid-19, we should observe all guideline and take additional precautions.

The R value

The R values – the rate at which the virus spreads in the community – will dictate our individual freedoms and economic prospects.  The value of R for a nation can be considered as a global measure of the spread of the disease, however, the local value of R may differ from region to region; therefore, restrictions may also differ from region to region.

If R is less than 1 (On average, one infected person infects less than one person)

The disease stops spreading and eventually dies out

If R is equal to 1 (On average, one infected person infects one other person)

The disease spread is stable and the number of infections doesn’t increase or decrease.

If R is greater than 1 (On average, one infected person infects more than one person).

The disease spread in the community – in absence of intervention

With the easing of restrictions government will be hoping that initiatives such as contact tracing, social distancing, hand washing and wearing face masks will help to keep R down to an acceptable level.

The current value of R for UK is somewhere between 0.6 and 0.9 as stated by the government

The Government at their daily press briefing provide information about the spread of the virus. The value of R can be determined from figures such as daily admission to the hospitals – as it reflects the number of people in the community who may be infected with the virus. The graph below shows number of people in hospitals in the Midlands suffering from COVID-19, and an indication of the R value as the virus has spread in the community