Yesterday evening, the Prime Minister set out a road map for the continued fight against coronavirus. He was clear, and I agree with him, that now is simply not the time to end the lockdown.
It is thanks to the combined effort of everyone across society that we have not reached a stage where the NHS has been overwhelmed. This is, of course, thanks to not only the fantastic men and women in our NHS, but also our emergency and key workers who have kept the country running, as well as the general public for abiding by the guidance.
While the Prime Minister set out the Government’s plans for future stages, the first steps set out by the Prime Minister will be to modify the current restrictions.
From Wednesday, changes will come into force meaning that:
- People who cannot work from home are encouraged to go to work if their workplace is open. Workplaces should follow new “COVID-19 Secure” guidelines, to ensure that the risk of infection is as low as possible, while as many people as possible to resume their livelihoods.
- Unlimited exercise and spending time outdoors, for instance at a park or beach, in household groups, is allowed.
- Sports such as fishing, golf and tennis can take place, if you keep to social distancing measures from those not in your household.
- You may meet up with one other person from outside your household, if you keep to social distancing measures.
- Try to avoid public transport and travel by car, bike or foot, if at all possible.
The next steps will come in further stages. The Prime Minister has been clear that the exact content and timing of these stages of adjustments will depend on the most up-to-date assessment of the risk posed by the virus. The five tests previously set out by Government must justify such changes. This will be enabled by programmes such as bolstering test and trace capabilities, which is currently being trialled on the Isle of Wight.
Step Two – no earlier than 1st June
- A phased return for early years setting and schools. Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to be back in school in smaller class sizes, from this point. Year 10 and Year 12 pupils who have exams next year will begin some face to face contact, in support of their continued remote, home learning.
- Non-essential retail will open, where it is safe to do so, subject to those retailers being able to follow the new COVID-19 Secure guidelines.
- Permitting cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed doors for broadcast.
Step Three – no earlier than 4th July
- Open at least some of the remaining businesses and premises that have been required to close, including personal care (such as hairdressers), hospitality (such as pubs, accommodation and food service providers), public places (such as places of worship) and leisure facilities (like cinemas). This is if they can meet COVID-19 guidelines.
The Prime Minister has also reaffirmed his commitment to increasing testing capacity up to 200,000 tests daily by the end of this month. You can be tested if you have symptoms and are an essential worker, are 65 or over, if you cannot work from home, as well as if you have symptoms and live with any of these individuals. Further, we are testing social care workers and residents in care homes (with or without symptoms) both to investigation outbreaks and, following successful pilots, as part of a rolling programme to test all care homes. You can book a test here.
These measures, set out in the Government’s recovery strategy, act as a guide in how the Government intends to phase out the current measures. However, where necessary, the Government is prepared to put on the brakes, delay or reintroduce measures if they are necessary.
It remains the case that anyone who has symptoms, however mild, or is in a household where someone has symptoms, should not leave their house. They should self-isolate, as should their household.