Boris Johnson’s new plans for a gradual easing of the lockdown could see English primary schools, shops and nurseries partially reopening from June, some cafes or restaurants back from July, and more outdoor activity allowed from Wednesday, The Guardian reports.
In an address to the nation, the UK prime minister said there was “no immediate end to the lockdown” as people will still be required to stay at home most of the time and to keep within their own household groups.
He stressed that he would be taking a cautious approach guided by the science, after a chorus of criticism from the leaders of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales over his decision to drop the “stay at home” message in favour of advice to “stay alert.”
However, Johnson said his ambition was to get shops and primary schools back from 1 June, starting with reception, year 1 and year 6. It is understood that he would also want nurseries and other early years providers to return at the earliest opportunity.
The next step after that, at the earliest by July, would be an aim to “reopen at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, provided they are safe and enforce social distancing”. He was not specific about which hospitality venues could reopen, but it is understood that it means a return for cafes and restaurants with outdoor space that can enforce social distancing, rather than pubs, even ones with beer gardens.
More immediately, people in England will be allowed to sit in parks within their household groups, to drive to beauty spots for walks, and to take unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise. People will be able to meet and sit down with a single other person from another household outdoors as long as they stay two metres apart. Angling, swimming in lakes or rivers, tennis and golf will all be allowed if people are sticking to their household groups.
Johnson also said people who cannot work at home will now be “actively encouraged” to get back to work with social distancing where possible, an announcement that prompted trade unions to raise concerns about employee safety.