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  3. Government prepares guidance for safe return to work

The government will be issuing advice on how each business sector can safely go back to work when lockdown conditions are eased. The business secretary Alok Sharma is preparing to give details on how closed businesses can begin to open once Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the easing of the lockdown.

Businesses in many sectors – including factories, offices, call centres and construction sites – have demanded more clarity from the government on how and when they can safely start operating again.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is working with the government to create standard safety guidelines targeted at particular industries.

Keir Starmer, the Labour Party leader, wants the prime minister to set out a clear exit strategy, warning that Britain could fall behind other countries that have already published lockdown ending plans.

The average rate of infection, also known as the “R number”, is falling, but it is understood that Johnson wants it to fall further before the lockdown can be eased. There could be some modifying of restrictions soon, but this will mean the majority of closed businesses will not reopen.

Office workers may continue to work from home for several more months, but factories and construction sites could start to re-open during the easing of the lockdown. Restaurants, bars, hotels and other hospitality industry businesses could be among the last to open.

The new guidelines are expected to detail how to organise social distancing and the use of PPE (personal protective equipment).

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