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COVID-19 Update: 'Delay' Phase Begins

The Government has moved from the 'contain' phase to the 'delay' phase in the Coronavirus Action Plan. techUK breaks down what that means.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister, flanked by the Chief Medical Officer, Chris Witty, and the Chief Scientific Officer, Sir Patrick Vallance – a.k.a the country’s two newest national treasures, updated the nation on the Government’s response to coronavirus.

Here, techUK digests what it all means.

Moving from ‘contain’ to ‘delay’

The strategy laid out in the Government’s Coronavirus Action Plan set out a phased approach to dealing with coronavirus. The first phase, ‘contain’, was defined as “detect early cases, follow up close contacts, and prevent the disease taking hold in this country for as long as is reasonably possible”. The Government made it clear that whilst they had been successful in keeping us in the ‘contain’ phase for a period, we were now clearly in phase two: delay.

The Action Plan defines ‘delay’ as: slowing the spread in this country, lowering the peak impact, and pushing it away from the winter season. The view from the Chief Scientific Officer is that we need to delay the peak of the virus and push the peak down. This will allow the NHS more time to prepare and if the peak can be ‘flattened’ spread the burden on the health service over a longer period.

Building herd immunity

The Government has suggested it pro-actively wants the virus to “pass through the entire population so that we acquire herd immunity”.

For this reason the Government are not yet taking steps to close schools, or ban public events and sporting fixtures. However, all of this will be kept under review over the coming days and weeks.

However, given that the elderly and vulnerable are more susceptible to complications as a result of contracting the virus there have been some changes made to advice.

If you have any COVID-19 symptoms – a persistent cough or mild temperature, stay at home for at least 7 days.

If your symptoms are mild, do not call 111. Only call 111 in the instance where you would have otherwise gone to seek medical advice in person.

What does this mean for my business?

The Government are clear that at this stage, whilst the above precautions should be taken, the best thing everyone can continue to do is wash their hands regularly and thoroughly.

The Government have published a new page on GOV.UK that brings together details of all the support and advice available to businesses. This is a constantly evolving situation, so this single hub for businesses has been created to be able to find the most up to date advice.

Government have also launched a dedicated business support helpline where people can get advice on minimising and dealing with the impacts of coronavirus – businesses can call 0300 456 3565 Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm, or email

techUK will also continue to provide these updates as the situation changes.


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