Prime Minister Boris Johnson has outlined three steps to easing restrictions that had been imposed on March 23 in the battle against coronavirus.
In a public address this evening (May 10) the PM said the restrictions would be eased – or reinstated – in accordance to a covid alert system.
The system runs from level one – no covid cases in the UK – to level five – critical risk. He added: “Our period of lockdown has been in level four. We are now in a position to move in steps to level 3.”
Outlining the easing proposals – which will be dependent on the rate of infection and number of hospital admissions in the country – the PM said the current R level is between 0.5-0.9. It needs to be below one for any restrictions to be lifted.
The PM said the new covid alert system will be able in time to detect local flare-ups as well as giving a national picture.
The message of ‘stay alert’ was repeated several times throughout the address, replacing the ‘stay at home’ slogan of the past seven weeks.
The proposed measures are:
From tomorrow: For those who cannot work at home, the PM said they are now actively encouraged to go back to work. This would include those in construction and manufacturing. Social distancing must be maintained and all efforts to avoid public transport should be made. New guidance for employers to make workplaces COVID-secure is being established.
From Wednesday: Unlimited exercise with the PM saying people can “sit in the sun, drive to other destinations, play sports with members of your own household.” Social distancing must be maintained. Fines will be increased for anyone flouting guidelines.
From June 1: A possible phased reopening of shops and primary pupils from reception, year one and year six, going back into schools. The PM also mentioned those due to take exams should also get some time with their teachers.
The PM said: “We will shortly be setting out detailed guidance on how to make it work in schools and shops and on transport.”
From July at the earliest: The hope to reopen some hospitality venues and other public places as long as social distancing can be maintained.
The PM said all these steps would be “driven by science, data and public health,” adding: “All this is conditional…if there are problems we will not hesitate to put on the brakes.”
He also said: “To prevent re-infection from abroad, I am serving notice that it will soon be the time – with transmission significantly lower – to impose quarantine on people coming into this country by air.
“And it is because of your efforts to get the R down and the number of infections down here, that this measure will now be effective.”
More details are due to be released in Parliament tomorrow. The PM will also answer public questions tomorrow evening.