PM’S ‘conditional plan’ to reopen society

Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled the first conditional steps in a public address to the nation yesterday (10 May) to reopen society – but people must still “Stay Alert”.

From Wednesday people in England will be able to spend more time outdoors.

You can take unlimited exercise and to meet one person from outside your own household as long as you stay two metres apart.

You can also go and sit in your local park, to sunbathe, or to take part in sport with others from your household. 

People can also take trips to beauty spots such as beaches and national parks, and play sport, as long as they are kept to household groups.

Mr Johnson also said those who could not work from home, such as people in the construction or manufacturing industries should return to the workplace. But they should avoid public transport in favour of car travel, cycling or walking.

There would be new guidance for employers to make the workplace Covid secure.

This new easing of lockdown could also see some primary pupils returning to school in England in stages “at the earliest by 1 June”.

Some secondary school pupils will be able to see their teachers occasionally before the end of the term. But there is no intention to reopen them before the summer. 

This stage will also involve reopening shops – but will only happen if supported by science.

The next step could see some hospitality businesses and other public places reopen providing they were safe and “if the numbers support it” – by 1 July.

All these steps form part of a “first sketch of a roadmap for reopening society”.

A new Covid Alert System with five levels will govern how quickly lockdown restrictions can be eased – with the UK currently at the second most serious level of four.

The PM added: “This is not the time simply to end the lockdown this week. Instead we are taking the first careful steps to modify our measures.”

But fines for the “small minority who break” lockdown rules will increase. These could start at £100 and double for further offences, up to a maximum of £3,200.

Another tightening of the rules will involve quarantining people coming to the UK from abroad for 14 days – but this might only apply to travel by plane.

But there was no mention of face masks, even though the government has been talking about them being a possibility – or any detail of when people might be able to see their extended families again.

There will be no change in the advice for those who are shielding and have been asked to stay at home for at least 12 weeks.

The prime minister’s decision to loosen the lockdown has also led to a breakdown in the UK’s “four nation” approach to dealing with coronavirus.

There has been criticism from the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who are refusing to replace the “stay home” messaging” with Johnson’s new “stay alert” slogan at this stage.

Mr Johnson said he would be “setting out more details in Parliament tomorrow” (Monday 11 May) and taking questions from the public in the evening.