Q&A: What is changing with the new coronavirus strategy?

From face coverings and unlimited outdoor exercise to tougher fines for rule-breakers, the Government’s new strategy for tackling the coronavirus pandemic has introduced a range of new guidelines.

Here the PA news agency looks at the main changes in England taking effect from Wednesday in the 50-page Covid-19 recovery strategy.

– What can I do outside that I couldn’t before?

People are now allowed to spend more time outdoors to enjoy sunbathing, picnics and fresh air and exercise as much as they like.

You are also free to drive any distance within England for a day trip to visit open spaces, and can also go to garden centres.

Visiting holiday and second homes remains banned.

Outdoor facilities like tennis and basketball courts and golf courses can be made use of, but outdoor gyms, playgrounds and public pools remain off-limits.

Social distancing of two-metres must be respected at all times and if people break the rules and mix in groups the infection rate will increase and trigger further restrictions.

-Can I visit my extended family or friends?

You are only allowed to meet one other person from outside your household and that must take place outdoors.

But the Government is considering if it can safely allow an expanded definition of “household” to allow people to reconnect with close family members.

Scientific advisers are currently examining if it is safe to change the rules to allow one household to expand and include one other household in the same group or “bubble”.

This suggests a family with children would be able to incorporate a set of grandparents into their household group, for example.

You can go out to care for a vulnerable person, or to carry out voluntary or charitable services.

-Do I need to wear a facemask?

Face coverings are not compulsory.

But they should be worn in enclosed spaces such as public transport and some shops. They should not be worn by the under-twos, young children who will find them hard to manage, and those with respiratory conditions.

– What about punishment for breaking the rules?

Lockdown fines will rise to £100 as the Government warned it was considering tougher enforcement measures for anyone flouting the rules.

People police believe are breaching restrictions on movement will have their first fine lowered to £50 if paid within 14 days, the Home Office said.

But fines will double for each repeat offence, up to a maximum of £3,200.

Coronavirus – Sat May 9, 2020
Coronavirus – Sat May 9, 2020

-Who is going back to work?

People who can work only in the workplace are being advised to return to their jobs and “Covid-secure” safety guidelines are being drawn up to enable this.

The “back to work” group includes those in construction and manufacturing, in labs and research facilities, tradesmen, cleaners and others.

– What is happening with schools?

Young children could start returning to nurseries from June 1, with the Government aiming for all primary school pupils to go back for a month before summer.

The Government expects pre-school children to be able to return to early years settings, and for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils to be back in school in “smaller sizes”, from the start of next month.

Secondary schools and further education colleges should also prepare to begin some “face-to-face contact” with Year 10 and 12 students who have key exams next year.

Coronavirus – Wed Apr 29, 2020
Coronavirus – Wed Apr 29, 2020

– What about shops and restaurants?

More shuttered stores on the high street are set to reopen from June 1, including those currently considered “non-essential”, such as fashion or homeware retailers.

But other businesses, such as pubs, hairdressers and cinemas will have to wait until July before they can reopen.

Stores, which are set to be reopened in phases, must meet new Covid-19 safety and security guidelines.

Currently, only essential stores, such as supermarkets, pharmacies and cycle stores, have been allowed to remain open during the coronavirus lockdown.

– When will we see sport back on TV?

There will be no professional sport, even behind closed doors, in England until at least June 1 but after that some cultural and sporting events will be able to take place behind closed doors for broadcast, avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact.