I may have got a bit carried away after the last review when I said that a potential reopening date for the industry could be May 11th. Dominic Raab at the time did say there would be another review.

Almost immediately in the days following, Government ministers were out on TV already trying to lower expectations of a lifting of lockdown. Indeed, Boris Johnson hinted at it himself in his statement to the country on Monday when he said he would not risk the health of the nation above anything else.

The general commentary this week has been moving towards a further extension.

Boris is back

It felt like a big moment tonight. Boris was back after nearly paying the ultimate price to COVID-19. He had some huge good news yesterday, on the birth of his new son. He began the week with a stirring speech in front of Number 10. It was nice to see him back in his place. It was that character and oration that we had been missing these past five weeks.

What he has said this week matters. On Monday, he said that after all these weeks of sacrifice and effort, he would not put the health of the nation before anything else. Any hopes of a rapid lifting of the lockdown were dashed at that moment.

Ministers and Chief Medical Officers in Northern Ireland and Scotland were saying that it was too soon to lift any of the measures currently in place as the risks were still very high at this time, even as we were headed lower and moving past the peak. Indeed Boris Johnson confirmed in his briefing today that we were moving past the peak.

Crucially, he also said that whilst it was too early to lift measures, the Government would set out a plan next week about the next stages of managing this pandemic and who would be able to go back to work and when.

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Potential road map

The Government and scientists would not have been managing expectations of lifting next week if they didn’t deem it necessary. Indeed, Nicoal Sturgeon last night on the Peston show on ITV said that she does not think any measures at all would be lifted next week. I would have to agree with her.

Whilst the death rate is falling, the peak in care homes only appears to be being reached now. So whilst the situation in hospitals in reducing, in other areas is still peaking. This poses a wider risk. I noticed today as well that with the increase in testing, there was a huge jump in the number of confirmed cases. This was one of the slides presented by Government today:

We have all noticed that road traffic and the number of businesses going back to work has increased significantly over the past ten days or so. I hope that this spike in cases, which is significant, is simply down to more testing and not because of the increased human movement. We shall see over the next few days.

What I expect to happen next week is a mix of good and bad news. What will be given with one hand, will be taken away with another. Boris I think will announce a further extension for the majority of us, lasting until the end of the month. But he will know that he can’t come on TV with another round of bad news without something positive as the stomach for the fight is draining away day by day. What he’ll do to bolster spirits is give a roadmap about which sectors would be able to reopen and in a rough time scale. I don’t expect him to give specific dates, but a loose timetable.

I think business that can be done outdoors might be given the go ahead. I’m not sure whether it will be immediate, or if we will be told when that can restart. For the sake of supply chains it would be better to be given a common date, but I doubt the Government will go that specific. So, from a fenestration point of view, conservatories/extensions and roofline could be done. But I have been told by those with connections in the right place that the prospect of work that can be done indoors isn’t on the table as of yet. That would rule out replacement window and door work in the residential market, which makes up the most of the work installers do. That is my understanding based on what I’m being told, and is subject to change.

What is going to have to happen in the next few weeks is Government are going to have to give very detailed, almost granular detail to each individual sector if they are to achieve their very cautious, slow, phased approach to lifting lockdown. They have never really done this in the past with other things, but if they hope to keep this as managed as possible, they’re going to have to get very detailed very quickly.

They will also be looking at what is happening in Germany and other nations that are lifting their own measures. Bosnia has seen cases rise after lifting measures. Singapore is under their second lockdown until June 1st. Japan is in their second lockdown after a spike in their cases after they lifted and a Brazilian city saw cases rise 160% after lifting lockdown there as well. The closer we get to the review, if the likes of Germany, who have seen their cases rise every day this week, the Government might be forced to reconsider their plans if they believe lifting them will cause a second spike.

For our little world of windows and doors, this remains our biggest ever challenge. Some I have seen are tackling this with a good dose of realism and pragmatism and planning. Some are hoping and thinking positive. Hope isn’t a plan. A plan is a plan.

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