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PM announces lockdown changes – and schools could start a phased return in June

PUBLISHED: 19:15 10 May 2020 | UPDATED: 19:49 10 May 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressing the nation about coronavirus (COVID-19) from 10 Downing Street in London.  Picture: PA Video/Downing Street Pool/PA Wire

Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressing the nation about coronavirus (COVID-19) from 10 Downing Street in London. Picture: PA Video/Downing Street Pool/PA Wire

Boris Johnson has announced ‘gradual changes’ to lockdown measures by relaxing exercise restrictions and ‘actively encouraging’ those who cannot work from home to resume their roles.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressing the nation about coronavirus from 10 Downing Street in London. Picture: PA Video/Downing Street Pool/PA WirePrime Minister Boris Johnson addressing the nation about coronavirus from 10 Downing Street in London. Picture: PA Video/Downing Street Pool/PA Wire

Boris Johnson has announced ‘gradual changes’ to lockdown measures by relaxing exercise restrictions and ‘actively encouraging’ those who cannot work from home to resume their roles.

The Prime Minister revealed the new measures in a televised address tonight, insisting that despite extra freedoms, lockdown is still in place.

The PM said he believed England may be in a position “to begin the phased reopening of shops” and get primary pupils back to school in steps staggered by year groups “at the earliest by June 1”.

And he said the ambition is to get secondary pupils facing exams next year to have “at least some time with their teachers before the holidays”.

In the third step, “at the earliest by July”, he said that ministers hope to re-open some of the hospitality industry, if the evidence supports the move and distancing can be enforced.

Here is what the PM set out in brief:

• Those who cannot work from home encouraged to return to work from Monday - but to avoid using public transport unless absolutely necessary

• People encouraged to take unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise, including travelling to other destinations from Wednesday

• Shops and possibly primary schools to begin phased reopening from June 1 at the earliest

• Some sectors within hospitality industry and secondary schools to begin phased reopening from July 1 at the earliest

During the highly anticipated update, Mr Johnson confirmed that from Wednesday the public should be encouraged to take “more and even unlimited” exercise outside.

Exercise

Mr Johnson said: “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.”

The public will now be able to use parks and travel more freely.

Work

Mr Johnson added that workers who cannot do their jobs from home should be ‘actively encouraged’ to resume their roles in a bid to limit the economic damage caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

He added: “Anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction and manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go 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 will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited.”

Stay alert

Earlier today it was announced that Government advice to the public on coronavirus has changed to “stay alert, control the virus, save lives”, dropping the previous stricter message that people should stay home unless it is absolutely necessary to go out.

Health experts, including East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust CEO Nick Hulme, have expressed concern that the new slogan lacks clarity and may lead to an increase in “risky behaviour” from the public.

Leaders of all the devolved nations all rejected Boris Johnson’s new “stay alert” advice in favour of keeping the “stay at home” message in the fight against coronavirus amid criticism that the new slogan is unclear.

This is not the end of lockdown

The measures also come as it was revealed that another five people have died in Suffolk and North Essex having tested positive for the virus.

Nearly 300 people have now died at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals having contracting the virus and a further 52 have died at West Suffolk Hospital.

Despite the new advice, Mr Johnson insisted this was not the end of the strict measures that he imposed on March 23.

He said it would be “madness now to throw away that achievement by allowing a second spike”.

“No, this is not the time simply to end the lockdown this week,” he said.

“Instead we are taking the first careful steps to modify our measures.”

He confirmed he would increase the fines for anyone who breaks social-distancing rules, and would set out guidance for employers to make workplaces “Covid secure”.

• ‘We can’t suddenly give up on social distancing,’ says Ipswich council leader

He confirmed he would increase the fines for anyone who breaks social-distancing rules, and would set out guidance for employers to make workplaces “Covid secure”.


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