What is the timetable to relax the lockdown in Suffolk – from schools to cinemas and the Premier League?
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Face coverings for people visiting shops or using public transport, some children returning to school, some televised sports resuming in June, and the possibility of some bars, restaurants and cinemas opening their doors again in July.
These are all on the roadmap for easing the lockdown over the next two months – but the government has warned that we could go straight back into a full lockdown if the number of cases of Covid-19 start to rise again.
This is the timetable, and the measures that are changing to try to ease the lockdown.
From now: People who have to use public transport or visit some shops where social distancing rules might be difficult to observe should wear home-made or non-specialist face coverings. You should not wear clinical facemasks which should be kept for health and care workers.
This is advice, not a legally enforceable rule, but the government is likely to make it clear that people should wear a covering to slow the spread of the virus.
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Wednesday, May 13:
Return to work: People who are not able to work from home should be encouraged to return to work if it is safe for them to do so – particularly in sectors like manufacturing or construction.
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Workplaces should be made safe and to give people the chance to observe social distancing.
People should try to avoid public transport to get to and from work wherever possible – there will be more trains, but they will only be able to carry about 10% of normal numbers to ensure social distancing on board. If you have to use public transport you should wear a face covering.
If you can walk or cycle to work that is the best option – and the government is planning to spend more on developing a better walking and cycling network.
Exercise restrictions lifted: You can exercise outside as many times a day as you like – so long as you observe social distancing regulations of staying at least two metres away from anyone outside your household.
You can drive anywhere to take exercise, so long as you observe the same social distancing rules. Only take people in your own household in your car. There would be nothing wrong with a family from Ipswich driving to the seaside or to a forest for a walk or cycle ride so long as they did not come within two metres of anyone else.
You can meet with one other person from outside your household to exercise outside together – so long as you do not come within two metres of each other. It would be possible to play golf or tennis, but not any contact sports.
Monday, June 1:
Some schools reopen: From this day schools and nurseries should prepare to reopen. That will be for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 initially in primary schools.
The government also hopes to have some youngsters in secondary schools who are due to sit exams next year having at least some time with teachers before the end of the summer.
According to Mr Johnson, it is so that “the youngest children and those preparing for the transition to secondary school have maximum time with their teachers”.
Childcare: Some nurseries and childminders could also star working again to enable more working parents to return to work.”
It is not yet clear whether parents will be required to send their children back to school if they do not feel comfortable doing so, but it is understood that schools are making preparations on the basis that some children, such as those who live with vulnerable adults, may not be able to come back immediately.
More shops could reopen: The government would like to see more shops which sell items that are not considered essential reopening – but they will be required to show they have taken steps to ensure social distancing for staff and customers.
Families could get together: The government is asking its SAGE advisors whether it might be possible for households to interact with one other household to allow visits to families. This would follow the New Zealand example of “bubbles” which has been successful in reducing the spread of the virus.
Allow some sports and cultural events: Some professional sport and cultural events could be allowed behind closed doors for broadcast. This would, in theory, allow the resumption of sports like the Premier League and test cricket – although how social distancing would be imposed on players on the field is not clear.
This is still very much subject to discussions between the government and sports authorities.
Monday, July 4:
Some hospitality businesses could reopen: It is possible that some venues like bars, restaurants and cinemas could reopen after this date – so long as strict social distancing measures were in place.
There has been some confusion on this with some ministers suggesting that in the first instance only pubs and restaurants with outside facilities could re-open but there is no mention of this in the government statement.
The government says many of these businesses would be unable to meet the social distancing requirements and would not be able to reopen at this stage.
Some public places could reopen: The government would like to see some churches and other places of worship being able to reopen at this time – and possibly some museums and galleries. It could also look at possibly opening some leisure services.
Some businesses offering personal services could reopen: Some hairdressers and beauty salons will be able to reopen – but only if they can comply with new guidelines that will have to be drawn up over the next two months.
All of the reopenings during July will only be able to happen if the government is convinced that premises have taken action to minimise the risk of the virus spreading.
This is the best case scenario – assuming that the virus does remain under control and that there is no perceived threat of an increase in the number of cases in the community. If that happens strict lockdown measures could be re-imposed straight away.
And even in the best-case scenario, life at the end of July will still be very different to life at the start of March for the vast majority of people.