There will be minimal changes to UK lockdown regulations, Prime Minister announces.
In his daily briefing this evening (May 10), Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that there will be no significant changes to the UK lockdown restrictions, except for a few minor revisions.
He stated that, as of Monday (May 11), Brits will be able to return to work if they can’t work from home and, from Wednesday (May 13), they can spend more time outside with members of their household.
This news follows an announcement earlier today that Scotland’s lockdown restrictions remain basically unchanged, except for one new rule: people are now able to exercise more than once a day—a rule that England has also adopted. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that “people will die unnecessarily” if significant changes to the lockdown regulations are made.
These minor changes to lockdown restrictions will come as no surprise—Boris Johnson had previously warned us of his plans to release an exit strategy this week. In his daily government briefing on April 30, he said that there was scientific evidence to prove that social distancing is working, and that, subsequently, government was preparing a “comprehensive plan” that will outline our route to normality.
Then, on May 6, during Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson revealed that he would like “to get going with some of these measures [to ease the lockdown] on Monday.” He gave no details away about exactly which measures might be relaxed, but we figured that progress was likely to be slow and steady, to avoid a second wave of infections.
The aforementioned exit strategy, which Johnson outlined in his speech tonight, will be published, in the form of a 50-page document, on Monday (May 11). It is set to outline the full plan regarding how government plans to revitalise the UK economy, get children back to school, and allow us to return to work. He will go into more detail about these plans in parliament on Monday, and will be open to questions from the public.
For now, here’s a summary of exactly what has changed for UK residents:
• From tomorrow (May 11), workers who are unable to work from home are now actively encouraged to return to work, but should avoid public transport.
• From Wednesday (May 13), you will be able to sit in parks, have picnics, and play outdoor sports, but only with members of your household. You will also be allowed to drive to other locations for these activities. You will no longer be limited to one form of outdoor exercise per day.
Here’s what will happen in the coming weeks:
• From June 1, there will be a phased reopening of primary schools, starting with reception, year one and year six. Shops will also start to open.
• From July at the very earliest, parts of the hospitality industry may start to open, provided they stick to social distancing measures.
• Anyone arriving into the UK may be told to quarantine, but we expect to hear more detail on this in coming days.
It is important to note that this is a “conditional plan”, and we will only proceed if we are able to see falls in the death rate, sustained and considerable falls in the rate of infection, and we can continue to protect the NHS.
Boris explains that a five-point alert system is now in place, which is based on the reproduction rate of the virus. Ultimately, the lower the reproduction rate, the fewer restrictions. The higher the level, “the tougher and stricter we will have to be”, Johnson says.
Level one means that coronavirus is no longer present in the UK, while level five is the most critical. We are currently at level four, but are ready to move to level three, by taking baby steps.
As part of this roadmap to a new normality, government has also revealed new COVID-19 messaging: “STAY ALERT, CONTROL THE VIRUS, SAVE LIVES”.
However, concern has already been raised about the vagueness of this message, after it was leaked over the weekend.
Nicola Sturgeon also made it very clear that she wasn’t on board with the message.
We certainly hope to regain some aspects of normality over the coming weeks and months, but for now our situation remains largely unchanged. In the meantime, take a look at how life could change as the UK lockdown restrictions begin to ease.
This article will be updated with more information as we have it.
Also published on Medium.