The UK Government’s COVID-19 Recovery Strategy

The UK Government published its plan for easing coronavirus lockdown measures on 11 May 2020. ‘Our Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 Recovery Strategy’ includes an outline of when different parts of the economy can reopen, plans to develop smarter controls to limit the spread of coronavirus, and advice on social distancing. This guide provides an overview of the Government’s recovery strategy.

A phased recovery

The UK Government has outlined a phased COVID-19 recovery strategy. As part of phase two, the UK Government has set out a three-step approach for easing lockdown restrictions in England:

  • Since 13 May, anyone who cannot work from home, such as workers in the construction and manufacturing sectors, should be encouraged to return to work. The only exceptions to this are those workplaces which the Government is requiring to remain closed. Those who can work from home should continue to do so.
  • On 1 June, the UK Government started the phased reopening of some areas of the economy. From 15 June, non-essential retailers will be able to reopen as long as they are able to demonstrate measures are in place to control coronavirus-related risks.
  • On 4 July, the Government started reopening some of the remaining businesses that have been required to close, including personal care (such as hairdressers), hospitality (such as food service providers, pubs and accommodation) and some leisure facilities (like cinemas).

For the full list of businesses and venues that must remain closed, go to

The exact timing and implementation of measures and adjustments during phase two will depend on the most up to date assessment of the risk posed by coronavirus. Phase three will come into effect when reliable treatment for COVID-19 is available.

The UK Government’s COVID-19 Recovery Strategy

Update to recovery strategy

New measures came into force across England on 24 September to tackle the rise in coronavirus cases. The measures include:

  • Hospitality venues serving food and drink must close between 10pm and 5am. This includes takeaways, but delivery services can continue after 10pm.
  • All hospitality venues must operate with table service only, excluding takeaways.
  • Customers in hospitality venues must wear face coverings, except when seated at a table for food or drink. Staff are also required to wear face coverings.
  • Employers should encourage office workers to work from home where possible.
  • Face coverings and visors must be worn in premises offering close contact services.

On 12 October, the Prime Minister set out details of the UK Government’s new three-tier COVID-19 alert system for England. Under the system, regions and local areas in England are categorised as being on medium, high or very high alert. Each tier sets out the COVID-19 restrictions that apply. Find out more.

Reopening businesses and returning to work

COVID-19 Secure guidelines

Businesses that reopen will be required to follow COVID-19 Secure guidelines, which are safety guidelines that set out how each type of physical space can be adapted to operate safely. The guidelines will help keep the risk of infection as low as possible, as well as support people to return to work safely.

The UK Government has been consulting relevant sectors, industry bodies, local authorities, trade unions, the Health and Safety Executive and Public Health England on their development. The guides cover a range of different types of work including:

  • Construction and outdoor work.
  • Factories, plants and warehouses.
  • Labs and research facilities.
  • Offices and contact centres.
  • Working in other people’s homes.
  • Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services.
  • Shops and branches.
  • Vehicles.
  • Close contact services.
  • The visitor economy.
  • Hotels and other guest accommodation.

To read the guidance, go to

Travelling to work

When travelling to work, people should continue to avoid public transport wherever possible. If they can, people should cycle, walk or drive to work to limit the number of people with whom they come into close contact.

Social distancing guidance on public transport must be followed. Passengers are also required to wear a face-covering on public transport in England.

Further information


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