2020 has been a year of incredible lows, as well as highs. Hundreds of thousands of people volunteered to help their neighbours and those in need, the weekly clap for carers brought communities together, and tens of millions complied with the government’s instructions to combat the spread of COVID-19. The first lockdown deprived millions of their basic liberties, and most were left in uncertainty when it came to obeying rules and understanding the global pandemic.
Now, as winter approaches, seemingly so does the rise of another COVID-19 wave. That’s why UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the House of Commons last evening on Monday 12 October from Downing Street. But what exactly did he explain in his new coronavirus briefing? What does the three-tier lockdown consist of? Here’s everything you need to know.
Boris Johnson announced a new three-tier system of restrictions designed to simplify what had become a confusing mix-match of targeted lockdowns across the UK. While the first tier basically duplicates the country’s most recent restrictions, the second tier restricts people from different households from socialising together, and the third—the one just imposed in Liverpool—shuts pubs, gyms and other nonessential businesses. Schools and offices, however, will be able to remain open.
“We don’t want to go back to another national lockdown,” Johnson declared in Parliament. But with coronavirus cases rising rapidly and more people now hospitalised with the virus than in March, he said it was time for more draconian restrictions.
The Prime Minister’s move to order the closure of pubs and bars in Liverpool angered local officials, who say they were cut out of the government’s deliberations, and laid bare how a second wave of infections is afflicting England’s North far more seriously than London or the rest of the South. In other words, the rigours of this latest campaign are being felt unevenly: 2.4 million people in Liverpool and its suburbs face tough new restrictions while for now, life in London goes on more or less ‘normally’.
Some health experts have already criticised the latest measures, saying they would neither stamp out the virus nor shield the economy from damage.
Areas with the lowest rates of infection will be placed in Tier One. They will face the basic national rules currently in force including: pubs, bars and restaurants will have to close at 10 p.m. and the rule of six (number of people who can meet up) applies both indoors and outdoors.
Areas in Tier Two face an extra level of restrictions, which includes: no mixing between different households indoors as well as the rule of six, which continues outdoors. Most areas of England that are already subject to local restrictions will be placed in Tier Two, although some places will face additional restrictions too.
The areas in Tier Two are Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Derbyshire, Lancashire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, North East, Tees Valley, West Midlands, Leicester, Nottingham.
The highest level of restrictions are in Tier Three. Areas where transmission is rising most rapidly will be placed in this tier. The government will work with local councils on the additional measures for each area. Johnson said the Liverpool City Region (Liverpool, Knowsley, Sefton, Wirral, St Helens and Halton), which is currently the only area facing Tier Three restrictions, will have the following restrictions from Wednesday 14 October: pubs and bars will be closed (except where serving substantial meals), households cannot mix indoors or outdoors, gyms, leisure centres, betting shops and casinos will also close although shops, schools and universities will remain open.
The virus is roaring back across much of Europe, where countries are reporting daily cases comparable to those of the pandemic’s first peaks—and sometimes far beyond. Britain recorded over 15,000 cases on Saturday 10 October alone. France is weighing the possibility of local lockdowns as the country battles a second wave. In Spain, the federal government has used emergency powers to enforce a partial lockdown in Madrid, despite protests. Even Germany, much praised for its testing and contact-tracing capabilities, has reported a rise in infections this month.
Public trust in the government’s ability to lead the UK safely and effectively has wavered since mid-May, and it is understandably irritating to be told that we are all in this together, however, no matter how confusing the government’s decisions may be, we really are all in this together, on a global scale.
May we all steer clear of the top tier, but if not, we’ll be thinking about you today.
The go-to phrase, it seems, to describe the current state of affairs is the “new normal.” Not only does this refer to the ongoing social distancing precautions adopted worldwide, but it also encapsulates the long-term economic shifts precipitated by the pandemic.
While for many these economic affects have been decidedly negative, especially as the UK’s furlough scheme draws to a close, it is worth evaluating the positive effects of the virus as it relates to British entrepreneurship.
An uptick in entrepreneurship among the public is undeniable. During the height of lockdown, Startup.co.uk observed that five new British businesses were being founded every single day in April 2020, representing a 60 per cent jump on figures from April 2019. Why exactly was this the case? Why did COVID-19, and the ensuing lockdown, push so many to carry out their entrepreneurial dreams? As discussed below, this is due to a variety of factors.
Firstly, the general shift to homeworking, coupled with soaring unemployment, gave many the autonomy needed to act on their entrepreneurial intentions. No longer spending time commuting or taking part in traditional social leisure activities, those self-isolating at home had plenty of time to refine and pursue their own start-up ideas.
Secondly, the lockdown facilitated the birth of entirely new industries, as consumers adjusted to new ways of living. Faced with a lockdown, the needs of consumers began to change dramatically, and this opened up the way for new innovative products and services. Suddenly, entrepreneurs were able to explore how technology could be creatively used to meet consumer needs during lockdown. As a result, some industries were forced to completely change the way they engaged with the clients.
For self-starters with an innovative idea and new-found time on their hands, the lockdown provided the spark needed for a new generation of entrepreneurs to emerge. In many respects, these entrepreneurs have been vital in helping the country overcome the initial challenges posed by COVID-19.
But what exactly are these new business opportunities under lockdown? And what do these new company founders need to keep in mind when embracing their entrepreneurial side?
The lockdown has completely changed the way people are able to shop. To avoid queues and the risk of not finding certain products, demand for grocery delivery services skyrocketed. Existing delivery systems could not keep up with demand, and this meant that customers faced waiting weeks for their food to arrive.
Innovative entrepreneurs were quick to act, with Ashdown Organics being a great example. When their founder, Oliver Loveday, struggled to find work as a mountaineering tour guide at the beginning of lockdown, he took up a job as an ASDA delivery driver.
Witnessing first-hand the pressure placed on existing delivery services, he decided to establish his own food delivery service called Ashdown Organics. Having noticed that demand for organic products was rising, his startup now delivers upwards of 70 food boxes from farm shops, bakeries, and florists across East Sussex every week.
Gemma Perlin provides another example of an innovative, entrepreneurial reaction to the virus. With television sets forced to close across the world due to COVID-19, her career as a documentary filmmaker was forced to go on pause. Taking advantage of the new free time she had, Perlin decided to pursue her long-standing dream of becoming a behavioural change coach.
By utilising her Neuro-Linguistic Programming degree, she launched her own website and began offering online sessions within days of the launch. In many respects, COVID-19 provided an opportune time for Perlin to act on her long-standing entrepreneurial ambition, taking advantage of the market demand for digital communication during lockdown by offering a popular service.
Both these examples show just how entrepreneurs have embraced lockdown and launched exciting new businesses. Importantly, there are still fundamental rules that entrepreneurs should not overlook when launching a new product or service to market.
First and foremost, you must identify a gap in the market. No matter how fantastic an idea for a product and service is, if the demand is too niche or too general, success will be limited. Conducting meticulous research, and seeking out as much honest feedback as possible, is paramount in properly measuring the demand for your idea that exists among society.
Secondly, prioritising the perfection of the minimal viable product (MVP) before engaging in business expansion or additional products is integral to building a successful company. If delivering goods door-to-door, ensure your delivery systems are as streamlined as possible before planning to launch new or re-designed products or services. It’s all about creating a strong foundation from which to grow the product, instead of taking drastic leaps forward.
Finally, you must ensure that you maximise your product-market fit. What I mean by this is simple. Customers demand more from businesses than ever before, and the uncertainty brought by COVID-19 may dissuade people from changing their consumer habits unless absolutely necessary. As such, you must guarantee that whatever your company offers will indubitably improve the lives of your customers.
If entrepreneurs keep these key considerations in mind and continue to capitalise on the business opportunities hidden during lockdown, I have no doubt that the community will be positioned to overcome the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Britain has a long history of innovative entrepreneurism, and this is exactly what the country needs to meet the ever-shifting demands of consumers during these trying times. That’s why I actively encourage budding entrepreneurs to be on the lookout for gaps in the market and develop solutions that address the changing needs of consumers and businesses.