The Prime Minister has set out the next stage of our response to the Coronavirus pandemic. This follows the incredible work by the public to follow the lockdown restrictions and maintain social distancing. This has helped to ensure that the NHS has not been overwhelmed and to reduce the rate of transmission of the virus. The plan sets out a road map for re-starting businesses and re-opening parts of society but in a cautious way to ensure that we prevent a second surge in cases.
We must stay alert. We must continue to control the virus and save lives.
We can all help control the virus if we all stay alert. This means you must:
- Stay at home as much as possible
- Work from home if you can
- Limit contact with other people
- Keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
- Wash your hands regularly
- Self-isolate if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.
We must not relent now – or else there is a very real risk of a second peak of the disease that could overwhelm the NHS and throw away all of our achievements to date. This is not the time simply to end the lockdown this week. Instead, the Government has taken the first careful steps to modify our measures.
- You should continue to work from home if you can, and only go to work if you must. We now need to stress that anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work.
- From this Wednesday, people can take more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise. You can sit in the sun in our local parks, drive to other destinations, and play sports but only with members of your own household.
- You must obey the rules on social distancing and to enforce those rules we will increase the fines for the small minority who break them.
- At the earliest, by 1st June we may be in a position to begin the phased reopening of shops and to get primary pupils back into schools, in stages, beginning with reception, Year 1 and Year 6.
- The Government’s ambition is that secondary pupils facing exams next year will get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays.
- At the earliest by July - subject to these conditions and further scientific advice; if and only if the numbers support it the Government hope to re-open at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, if they are safe and enforce social distancing.
The Government have been clear from the beginning that our five tests must be met. And since our priority is to protect the public and save lives, we cannot move forward unless we satisfy the five tests.
To chart our progress and to avoid going back to square one, we are establishing a new Covid Alert System. That Covid Alert Level will be determined primarily by R and the number of coronavirus cases. It will tell us how tough we have to be in our social distancing measures. There will be five alert levels – the lower the level, the fewer the measures.