Travel, garden centres and schools – how the UK’s lockdown could be eased

Boris Johnson will reveal on Sunday the Government’s “road map” on how it will lift restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

While the Government has stressed it wants all parts of the UK to move together in easing the measures, decisions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be for leaders there.

Here are some of the measures that could be made:

– International travel

Travellers coming in to the UK could be expected to quarantine for 14 days after their arrival, reports suggest.

Those visiting the UK will have to fill in a digital form and declare an address where they will then be expected to self-isolate for two weeks, according to The Times.

The Times reported that travellers from Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man will be exempt from the quarantine.

Briefing reporters on Friday, Downing Street confirmed quarantining foreign visitors was being “looked at” as a way of guarding the country against a second peak in the transmission rate.

Passengers travelling through Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports are being ordered to cover their faces and wear gloves.

Heathrow Airport has said it will introduce temperature screening, which will initially be used to monitor arriving passengers in immigration halls but could also be deployed in areas for departures, connections and airport staff searches.

– Shops

Garden centres will be allowed to reopen to customers from Wednesday May 13, Boris Johnson will announce.

Nursery bosses will have to ensure shoppers obey social distancing measures, such as keeping two metres away from others, and will be expected to put restrictions in place, including queuing systems and installing Perspex shields to protect till staff.

A senior Government source said: “Garden centres are typically open large open-air spaces where the risk of transmission of coronavirus is lower.”

Last month, the British Retail Consortium published guidance for measures that retail stores could introduce to help with the transition once restrictions are lifted, including limiting entry and exit points and using floor markings to outline social distancing.

– The workplace

Employees in non-essential industries who have been operating from home may be allowed to return to work – but they might be encouraged to wear face masks and opt for a bike ride to avoid public transport where possible.

Businesses wanting employees to return to the office could be made to stagger shifts, and ensure there are hand-washing facilities, hand gel and PPE supplies readily available.

People could be advised to wear face masks on public transport (Danny Lawson/PA)
People could be advised to wear face masks on public transport (Danny Lawson/PA)

Boris Johnson will recommend workers wear masks when they do return to work and when using public transport, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is set to use his appearance at the Downing Street briefing on Saturday to unveil a further £250 million for extra cycle lanes, while trials on the use of e-scooters on British roads are due to be fast-tracked, PA understands.

– Pubs and restaurants
Fast food franchises including McDonald’s and KFC have already announced they will begin opening locations for delivery services, with more sites likely to reopen in the coming weeks.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said this week that drive-thru restaurants such as McDonald’s are “made for social distancing”.

The popular fast food chain has conducted trials on reopening stores, with 15 restaurants opening for deliveries from next week.

We are pleased to confirm the 15 restaurants we will open for McDelivery only from 13th May.

— McDonald's UK (@McDonaldsUK) May 5, 2020

Before reopening, the restaurants will be deep cleaned while new safety measures will be introduced such as Perspex screens and floor markings.

The reopening of pubs and bars however is unlikely to happen any time soon, with some reports claiming they will not return until August and September.

– Schools

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said schools will not reopen in Wales in June.

Mr Drakeford told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he expects Wales’s “very modest” lockdown easing to be in line with what Boris Johnson will announce for England.

Wales' First Minister has said schools there will not reopen in June
Wales' First Minister has said schools there will not reopen in June

Meanwhile unions sent a joint statement to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson on Friday, outlining a list of key measures which they say must be met before pupils in England can safely return to their desks.

It includes extra money for deep cleaning and personal protective equipment (PPE) and local powers to close schools if clusters of Covid-19 infections break out in a particular area.

– Exercise and the outdoors

According to some reports, unlimited outdoor exercise will be allowed from Monday, however gyms and playgrounds are expected to remain closed.

Public Health England has signalled the “stay home” message could be abandoned and reports suggest people using benches, having picnics or sunbathing will no longer be asked to move on, provided they keep two metres apart.

– Public transport

Bus and train timetables are likely to be adjusted and increased to help the system cope with an increase in passengers.


There could also be further guidance on wearing masks while travelling after a survey by rail and road watchdog Transport Focus found 51% of people would not be happy using trains and buses unless passengers were required to wear them.

It has been reported Boris Johnson will recommend workers wear masks when using public transport. He previously said face coverings will be “useful” when lockdown restrictions are eased.

– Religious gatherings

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said it is still too early to reopen religious services, with no date for when that could happen.

Earlier in the week, Church of England leaders said churches could reopen in a “phased” way once lockdown measures begin to be lifted.