What has changed with Boris Johnson’s slight easing of lockdown?
Boris Johnson has said there will be no immediate end to the lockdown.
But what is in his plan for the next phase of the coronavirus fight and how might it affect people’s lives?
– Firstly, does his plan apply to the whole of the UK?
No. Devolved governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have power to make their own decisions on a number of matters, including health, and some have already done so.
Wales announced a slight easing on Friday allowing people to exercise more than once a day, garden centres reopening with social distancing guidelines and local authorities starting planning on how to safely open libraries and recycling centres.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Sunday that the cap on daily exercise has been scrapped, but she warned that that is not an excuse to meet up in groups at parks or beaches, to sunbathe or have picnics and barbecues.
Northern Ireland’s road map, which is expected to only have “nuanced” changes, will be announced this week.
– OK, so if I’m in England then – am I still limited to how much I can exercise outdoors each day?
Not anymore. From Wednesday people will be encouraged to take more outdoor exercise – even an unlimited amount.
– Can I sunbathe?
Yes. People will be allowed to sit in the sun in their local parks, but you must only do so with members of your own household and remain socially distanced from others.
– Can I drive elsewhere to enjoy the outdoors?
Yes, you can drive to other destinations but only with members of your own household.
– When I’m outdoors can I play sports?
Yes, but again this must be limited to doing so only with members of your own household.
– What if I don’t obey the social distancing rules?
You could be fined, and the financial penalties will be increased in order to enforce the social distancing rules.
– Can I return to work?
You should continue to work from home if you can, but if that’s not possible you should go to work.
Anyone who cannot work from home, perhaps those in construction and manufacturing, “should be actively encouraged to go to work” from Monday, the Prime Minister said.
Mr Johnson said the Government has been establishing new guidance for employers to make workplaces “Covid-secure”.
– Can I use public transport?
Mr Johnson advised people to avoid public transport “if at all possible because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited”.
He said public transport operators, just as with workplaces, will be following the “Covid-secure” standards.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Saturday that even with England’s public transport network running at full capacity it could only safely cater for 10% of the usual passenger load with the two-metre social distancing rule in place.
– Are shops reopening?
A phased reopening of shops could begin at the earliest by June 1, Mr Johnson said.
Subject to conditions and scientific advice “at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places” could be reopened with social distancing measures in place by July at the earliest, he added.
– What about schools?
Efforts could be made to get primary pupils back into schools, in stages, starting with reception, Year 1 and Year 6, at the earliest by June 1, the Prime Minister said.
For secondary school pupils who have exams next year the aim is to get them “at least some time with their teachers before the holidays”, he added.
He promised detailed guidance “shortly” on how to make things work in schools and shops and on transport.
– Can my friends and relatives visit me from outside the UK?
They will soon be subject to a quarantine if they do. To prevent re-infection from abroad, Mr Johnson said he was “serving notice that it will soon be the time – with transmission significantly lower – to impose quarantine on people coming into this country by air”.
No further detail was given but a previous report suggested travellers from Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man will be exempt from the quarantine.