ECONOMIC support schemes will be wound down and "smarter" social distancing measures introduced to ease people back to work.

The Government’s Covid-19 Recovery Strategy, setting out details of its timetable for lifting restrictions, said the priority was to save lives and protect livelihoods.

The report said people should continue to work from home "for the foreseeable future", where possible. Those who cannot should go to their workplace, if open.

Sectors allowed to operate should be open, including food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research in laboratories. Exceptions are workplaces such as hospitality and non-essential retail which must remain closed.

New Covid-19 Secure guideline, published this week, will set out how physical spaces can be adapted to operate safely. The Government has been consulting relevant sectors, industry bodies, local authorities, trades unions, the Health and Safety Executive and Public Health England on this.

Many businesses across York and North Yorkshire have already been developing new, durable ways of doing business, such as moving online or adapting to a delivery model.

The plan highlights a need for "smarter" social distancing measures that reflect the risk at that time, and to "carefully wind down economic support schemes while people are eased back into work". A strong economy was the best way to protect jobs and ensure funding for public services including healthcare, it said.

The exit plan will take into account the short-term economic impact, including the number of people who can safely return to work, and the long-term economic future, which could be harmed by people being out of jobs and by insolvencies.

The Government also needs to protect the UK’s international competitiveness, seeking new economic opportunities, for example in pharmaceutical and medical-device manufacturing.

In step two of the plan, non-essential retail may be able to reopen, when and where it is safe, and subject to retailers following the Covid-19 Secure guidelines, from June 1 in phases. Further guidance will include which businesses will be covered in each phase and the timeframes. The opening of sectors such as hospitality and personal care is likely to be no earlier than July 4.

Carolyn Frank, of North Yorkshire Federation of Small Businesses, said: “It is clear the economic roadmap has many different scenarios dependent on how the health crisis unfolds and it is impossible to give clear timing on the various stages. It is important businesses remain flexible and ready to adapt, and explore all options available in terms of support and guidance.”