Four months ago, nobody had even heard of COVID-19 (coronavirus), yet in that short space of time, the virus has utterly transformed the employment landscape in the UK. Like in any crisis, there have been some winners and some losers. For some, business is booming and they are actively recruiting additional staff to meet extra demand, but for the majority of businesses the enforced lockdown and social distancing measures have had a devastating economic impact. Estimates suggest that up to 30% of the UK workforce has been furloughed and many more are currently working from home, whilst simultaneously needing to look after children due to the closure of schools and childcare providers.
Thankfully, there are tentative signs that the UK has reached its peak of infections and that the infection curve is starting to flatten. There are also signs that the conversation is starting to switch towards how the UK can begin to lift the lockdown restrictions and get the economy working again. It is safe to assume that lockdown measures will not be lifted overnight; instead, the restrictions will be lifted in a managed way. It seems probable that lower-risk parts of the economy will be allowed to get back to work first. Higher risk sectors, including hospitality and leisure, are likely to see lockdown continue for a while yet, and then see a gradual release of restrictions.