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What does Boris Johnson’s recovery strategy mean for the jewellery industry?

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has updated the nation on the steps the government has laid out to pave the way back to some normality.

In what he describes as a “roadmap” for restarting the economy, step one has seen rules relaxed on outdoor exercise, while Johnson also encourages those that cannot work from home to go back to work – providing the right social distancing measures are being met.

Before this announcement, many suppliers and manufacturers in the jewellery trade had already started a phased reopening their businesses.

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After careful consideration of how the factories can run whilst putting staff and client wellbeing first, many have opted to reopen factory doors with skeleton staff, reduced hours and limited services, with some gradually ramping up their services over time after finding efficient ways to do so while abiding by the government’s guidance on social distancing and health and hygiene.

Following Johnson’s speech and the release of the government’s 50-page ‘Covid-19 recovery strategy’ document, jewellery manufacturers and suppliers officially have the green light to return to work, however, for those that have already open, some additional changes may need to be made as the government has published new ‘working safely during coronavirus’ guidelines today.

READ HERE: Government issues guidance to get Brits back to work safely

In short, employers are being encouraged to change shift patterns and rotas in order to have staff working in smaller teams, and work surfaces should be cleaned frequently as evidence suggests the virus can exist for up to 72 hours on surfaces.

Employers are also being asked to carry out a risk assessment, with businesses with over 50 employees being instructed to publish these online.

Furthermore, it is important for jewellery firms to note that the government is saying people should only return to work if they can’t do their jobs from home. Therefore, the likes of marketing, sales and finance teams, who have been able to operate functionally from home, should continue to do so.

Step two of the roadmap to recovery has given UK jewellery retailers a provisional date to work towards, as Johnson states that he would like to try and allow non-essential retailers to open after half term.

The prime minister says: “In step two – at the earliest by June 1 – after half term – we believe we may be in a position to begin the phased reopening of shops.”

Adding: “We will shortly be setting out detailed guidance on how to make it work in schools and shops and on transport.”

This work safety guidance, published today, outlines how jewellers can prepare to reopen and what adaptations and considerations will need to be made.

Unlike step one though, which has an official start date of tomorrow (May 13), the June 1 date is simply the earliest jewellers can expect to open their doors again, with the government stressing that the ‘R’ rate needs to remain down and the government’s coronavirus pandemic reduction conditions continue to be met.

The road map document also states that stores are set to be reopened in phases, with the government set to issue further guidance on which businesses will be included in each phase and time-frame.

It is believed the decision as to what shops can open when will be based on the risk of transmission in each retail environment.

For example, the government have said hairdressers and beauty salons will not be able to reopen until at least July 4, as the risk of the infection spreading in these places is considered high.

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The author Stacey Hailes

Editor, Professional Jeweller

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