A relaxation of the restrictions on public life to reduce the spread of coronavirus will mean that groups of up to six people from different households will be able to meet in gardens and private outdoor spaces, maintaining social distancing, as from Monday (June 1).
The announcement was made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the public briefing today (May 28). He also confirmed the phased reopening of schools for early years, Reception, Years One and Six from June 1 and face to face time for secondary students in Years 10 and 12 from June 15.
The June 1 date will also see the reopening of outdoor retail and markets and car showrooms and from June 15 non-essential retail as long as spaces have Covid secure measures.
PM Boris Johnson said all the changes were conditional on scientific advice.
He also warned of possible local outbreaks which could result in local lockdowns.
However the R rate – the rate of infection – needs to stay below 1 but scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance said the rate was still ‘very close to one.’
The PM said: “From Monday we will allow up to six people to meet outside – provided those from different households continue strictly to observe social distancing rules by staying two metres apart.
“At the moment, as you know, people can meet in parks but not in private gardens. This was a cautious first step – but we know that there is no difference in the health risk. So we will now allow people to meet in gardens and other private outdoor spaces.
“These changes mean friends and family can start to meet their loved ones – perhaps seeing both parents at once, or both grandparents at once. I know that for many this will be a long-awaited and joyful moment.
“But I must stress that to control the virus, everyone needs to stay alert, act responsibly, strictly observe social distancing rules, and stay two metres apart from those who you do not live with.
“Minimising contact with others is still the best way to prevent transmission. You should also try to avoid seeing people from too many households in quick succession – so that we can avoid the risk of quick transmission from lots of different families and continue to control the virus.
“And it remains the case that people should not be inside the homes of their friends and families, unless it is to access the garden.
“I should add that, at this stage, I am afraid that those who have been asked to shield themselves should continue to do so.”
The PM said a huge step in progress had now also been made with the NHS test and trace service which:
- ensures that anyone who develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) can quickly be tested to find out if they have the virus, and also includes targeted asymptomatic testing of NHS and social care staff and care home residents
- helps trace close recent contacts of anyone who tests positive for coronavirus and, if necessary, notifies them that they must self-isolate at home to help stop the spread of the virus
The service will allow the spread of the virus to be traced and those with new infections to be isolated while giving an early warning if the virus is increasing again, locally or nationally.