More exercise and some returns to work but no end to lockdown yet, PM announces
The prime minister has said it would be “madness” to completely end lockdown now, as he unveiled a “slow and gradual” exit plan for Britain.
In a television address to nation this evening, Boris Johnson revealed the first wave of changes to lockdown measures, which include allowing people to spend more time outdoors to exercise, but still observing social distancing measures.
From Wednesday, people will be encouraged to take in a greater amount of exercise and will be allowed to play sports with members of their own households.
There will also be opportunities for some people to return to the workplace, but those who are able to work remotely from home remain required to do so. Those that will be able to return to work include construction and manufacturing workers.
There was no mention in his speech, however, of when social distancing may be eased or end or the so-called ‘social pods’ plan, which it had been speculated would allow people to mix in small social groups.
Unveiling a new credo of ‘Stay Alert to Control the Virus and Save Lives’, the PM set out a ‘conditional plan’ for the next phase of the fight against Covid-19.
Within this, he indicated that a ‘second phase’ could see primary school children returning to class by June 1 at the earliest - after half term.
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This would see schoolchildren returning in phases, beginning with reception, Year 1 and Year 6.
He said it was also hoped that secondary school pupils facing exams next year would at least get some time with their teachers before the summer holidays.
Stage two would also see a phased reopening of shops, while July could see parts of the hospitality industry brought back into action and other public places reopned.
However, the prime minister added that all of these changes would be entirely dependent on the progress the country has made in its fight against the virus.
Mr Johnson said; “It depends on all of us - the entire country - to follow the advice, to observe the social distancing and keep that R down.
“It is thanks to your effort and sacrifice in stopping the spread of this disease that the death rate is coming down and hospital admissions are coming down.
“Thanks to you, we have protected the NHS and saved thousands of life. It would be madness now to throw away that achievement by allowing a second spike.
“This is not the time simply to end the lockdown this week.”
He added: “From this Wednesday we want to encourage people to take more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise.
“You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports but only with members of your own household.
“You must obey the rules on social distancing and to enforce those rules we will increase fines for the small minority who break them.
“From tomorrow (Monday) anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction and manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to work.
“And we want it to be safe for you to get to work, so you should avoid public transport if at all possible because we must and we will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited.
“So work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home.”
The PM also added that the government would be closely monitoring regional trends which could see certain regions placed under tighter restrictions than others.
Mr Johnson will also speak to the Commons tomorrow and front up the daily briefing and Q&A on Monday evening.