News, Culture & Society

‘Don’t tear the pants out of it!’ Government adviser Prof Van-Tam warns not to abuse liberties

England’s deputy chief medical officer today pleaded with Britons ‘not to tear the pants out of’ the loosened lockdown when more freedoms are granted on Monday.  

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam warned that abusing new liberties would fuel the spread of infection and said that the lifting of curbs should be treated as if gently lifting the lid on a coiled spring – ‘painstakingly’ slow.

The top scientific adviser said the country was at a ‘very dangerous moment’ in the crisis and gave his colourful instruction to the public as thousands of sun-seekers packed on to beaches to bask in scorching weather. 

Speaking beside Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden at the daily Downing Street briefing, he reminded people of how rapidly the disease can spread throughout the population. 

Ahead of next week’s easing of restrictions, Prof Van-Tam said: ‘This is a dual responsibility here of government to go slowly and carefully and to take the advice from the scientists, of the scientists to watch this whole thing very closely over the next few weeks and of the public in general to actually follow the guidance.

‘Don’t tear the pants out of it and don’t go further than the guidance actually says.’ 

It came after restless Britons today brushed aside warnings from police and scientists and were tempted outdoors by baking temperatures, which climbed to highs of 82F (28C). 

At the daily Covid-19 press conference held from Number 10 on day 68 of lockdown:

  • Mr Dowden confirmed a further 215 more Covid-19 deaths, taking the official number of coronavirus victims to 38,376 – but it is the lowest Saturday total since lockdown began; 
  • The minister announced groups of up to six people from different households will be able to exercise together from Monday;
  • Prof Van-Tam said there are ‘slight differences’ in track and trace systems across the devolved nations but he had ‘no real worries or doubts’ that it will work smoothly;
  • The expert said he had noticed ‘some increase’ in coronavirus cases in the past few days but urged Britons to look at the downward trend;
  • In answer to a question at the briefing about Dominic Cummings, Professor Van-Tam said: ‘In my opinion the rules are clear and they have always been clear. In my opinion they are for the benefit of all. In my opinion they apply to all.’

People enjoy the sunshine in the water and on the beach at Ruislip Lido in west London today as temperatures soared to 82F in the UK

A police officer patrols the beach at Southend-on-Sea, Essex, after forces across the nation said they faced an uphill struggle to enforce

A police officer patrols the beach at Southend-on-Sea, Essex, after forces across the nation said they faced an uphill struggle to enforce

The current lockdown allows the public to travel to beauty spots to sunbathe with members of their household, or to meet one person from another household at a two-metre distance (Lido in Ruislip pictured)

The current lockdown allows the public to travel to beauty spots to sunbathe with members of their household, or to meet one person from another household at a two-metre distance (Lido in Ruislip pictured)

Scenes at bustling seaside hotspots, especially along the south coast (Brighton pictured), showed large groups sprawling on the sand and pitching up tents from early this morning

Scenes at bustling seaside hotspots, especially along the south coast (Brighton pictured), showed large groups sprawling on the sand and pitching up tents from early this morning

England's deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van Tam  gave his colourful instruction as sun-seekers jumped the gun on Monday's easing of restrictions and crowded on to the nation's beaches

Oliver Dowden, Culture Secretary, also speaks at the briefing

England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van Tam (left) gave his colourful instruction as sun-seekers jumped the gun on Monday’s easing of restrictions and crowded on to the nation’s beaches. Right: Oliver Dowden, Culture Secretary, also speaks at the briefing

A family wearing plastic visors to protect themselves from coronavirus had a picnic on the beach at Ruislip Lido in west London

A family wearing plastic visors to protect themselves from coronavirus had a picnic on the beach at Ruislip Lido in west London

People enjoying the good weather on the beach at Durdle Door, near Lulworth, Dorset, as the public were urged to keep up social distancing measures

People enjoying the good weather on the beach at Durdle Door, near Lulworth, Dorset, as the public were urged to keep up social distancing measures

Boscombe Beach in Bournemouth was hugely popular with visitors and locals this weekend. On Monday, lockdown measures will be eased further

Boscombe Beach in Bournemouth was hugely popular with visitors and locals this weekend. On Monday, lockdown measures will be eased further

The four Home Nations now have significantly different sets of lockdown rules in place. For example, in England from Monday six people can meet up outdoors but in Scotland from today it is eight people

The four Home Nations now have significantly different sets of lockdown rules in place. For example, in England from Monday six people can meet up outdoors but in Scotland from today it is eight people 

How is the lockdown being eased in England from Monday? 

What’s changing?

From Monday, people can meet outside in groups of up to six as long as those from different households continue to socially distance.  

– Can I visit family and friends?

Yes . This means that family groups of no more than six can meet in parks and private gardens for chats and even barbecues.

– How far am I allowed to travel?

There are no mileage limits set for how far you are allowed to drive to visit family and friends in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland, but the general advice is to remain in your local area as much as possible.

However, people in Wales will still not be allowed to travel more than five miles from their home for any reason except work or to purchase essentials.

Great, can we hug?

Sadly no. You still cannot risk infection by being too close. The same goes for handshakes or kissing.

If young children from different households are part of the group, they must not share paddling pools, climbing frames, slides or anything that would encourage them to be closer than two metres to each other. 

Can I stay overnight?

Staying overnight at someone else’s home will still not be allowed anywhere in the UK, while even going indoors for any other reason than to access a garden or use the bathroom is prohibited.

However Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has advised that if the distance travelled to meet someone means that you have to use their bathroom, then ‘perhaps you shouldn’t be doing it’.   

Can we barbecue?

Yes, but you must wash your hands, be careful about passing food or plates and keep 6ft apart.

How about entering their house?

Only if there is no other way of getting to the back of the property. 

What about using the toilet?

You can, but you must thoroughly clean any surfaces you touch.

To be extra safe, you could even use a paper towel to open and close bathroom doors and perhaps consider using a kitchen roll to dry hands rather than a towel.

So what if it rains?

You will have to stand under an umbrella or leave. You cannot shelter in someone else’s home.

Can we camp in the garden?

No, Boris Johnson said he did not want you to stay overnight.

Do I only have to see the same group?

No, you can meet different people at different times, but try not to see too many in quick succession.

Can those shielding take part?

No, they must continue to shield if they’re in the clinically extremely vulnerable group and have had a letter from their GP.

What about the over-70s?

If they are not in the shielding group.

We are a family of six – can we meet anyone else?

No. The guidelines say you can meet only up to six people at any one time.

Can we visit a relative in a care home garden?

It would depend on circumstances and the care home’s management.

– What else will I be allowed to do under the new measures?

In England, Monday’s lockdown easing will signal the reopening of schools to allow students in nurseries, early-years settings, and Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to return to class.

Some shops are also set to reopen, with outdoor retail and car showrooms able to resume operations. 

– When might restrictions be eased further?

Boris Johnson has flagged that more restrictions will be eased on June 15, beginning with the reopening of other non-essential retail shops such as fashion or homeware retail.

Other businesses, such as pubs, hairdressers and cinemas will have to wait until July before they can reopen, the Government has previously said.

– And what’s the timeline elsewhere in the UK?

In Scotland, there is no set timeline as for when more measures might be lifted. The government’s lockdown roadmap stipulates that a number of conditions must be met before any further action is taken, including evidence that the country’s Covid-19 transmission is successfully under control.

Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to announce on Friday that further plans on lifting restrictions will be unveiled in the coming weeks.

Pending the country’s rate of transmission remaining below one, a host of further restrictions are set to be eased in Northern Ireland on June 8, including the reopening of outdoor sports facilities, car showrooms and some non-essential retail stores.

Outdoor weddings with a maximum of 10 people are also set to be allowed and hotels will be able to start taking forward bookings at their own risk.

From Monday, groups of up to six people will be allowed to meet both in public spaces and in private gardens, where they can even enjoy barbecues. 

But Boris Johnson’s preemptive announcement of the loosening last Thursday has already spurred a wave of revelry across the country.  

Police chiefs have warned their officers face an uphill struggle to enforce the existing rules this weekend, but have attempted to stamp out mass flouting by threatening to impose fines. 

The current lockdown allows the public to travel to beauty spots to sunbathe with members of their household, or to meet one person from another household at a two-metre distance. 

Yet scenes at bustling seaside hotspots, especially along the south coast, showed large groups sprawling on the sand and pitching up tents from early this morning. 

This evening, following alarming pictures of crammed beaches and parks, the government begged Britons not to take a mile when it gives an inch more freedom.

Prof Van-Tam told the press conference that the lockdown easing must go ‘painstakingly’ slowly, adding: ‘The scientists will continue to give that advice to the Government. No apologies for that, we will absolutely continue to do that.’

Referring back to when levels of the virus were higher, he said at that point he had noted it was a very dangerous moment.

He added: ‘I believe this is also a very dangerous moment. We have to get this right.’ 

Compliance with the curbs frayed further on the 68th day of lockdown as three of the nation’s top scientists – all on the government’s Sage panel of experts steering the crisis response – voiced concerns that restrictions were being lifted ‘too early’.

Prof Peter Horby this morning lined up behind Sir Jeremy Farrar and Prof John Edmunds to break ranks and caution that measures were being relaxed when the infection rate was still not low enough.

The ‘R’ reproduction rate sits just below one between 0.7 and 0.9, and the government announced there were 215 new Covid-19 deaths today, following a pattern of decline.

Ministers are trying to juggle both keeping the R number below 1 – to extinguish the spread of infection – and fire up the economy and return to normal life. 

Surges in travel have been recorded as the lockdown is tentatively eased, and traffic was pictured on busy motorways surrounding coastal towns – backed up by TomTom congestion data which plotted upticks from last week.

Seaside car parks were also rammed as beach-goers grabbed their towels and headed on to the sand. 

Bars lining the beaches served takeaway drinks to thirsty Britons after being shuttered for most of lockdown.

Supermarkets reported last night that shoppers were already spending record sums on sausages, beer, wine and ice cream in anticipation of weekend barbecues and picnics. 

Scorching temperatures hit highs of 81.5F (27.5C) in Kinlochewe in the Scottish Highlands, which basked in warmer weather than Morocco. 

London’s Heathrow recorded highs of 78F (25.7) and Bude in Cornwall saw the mercury climb to 77 (25.3). 

Police chiefs were braced for mass flouting today and warned their officers faced an impossible situation of trying to force the public to comply with existing rules while knowing many of these curbs are set to be dropped on Monday. 

Dorset today saw thousands flock to its sun-kissed beaches, with Bournemouth and Durdle Door overrun with people.

Chief Constable James Vaughan said today: ‘Despite the ongoing lockdown measures, we are experiencing a high volume of visitors to Dorset and this is in part due to the beautiful weather we are experiencing.

‘However, what is apparent is that in some locations social distancing cannot be adhered to because of the sheer number of people there. The message from Dorset Police and our partner agencies is that if an area looks too busy, please go home or elsewhere.

‘The Prime Minister has announced further relaxation of the rules from Monday 1 June and this will see more people meeting up outside and in private gardens. 

‘This will be welcome news to many families and friends, but please be mindful that we all need to stay alert and play our part to prevent more people from becoming infected or dying from this terrible virus.’

Other police chiefs took aim at the PM for casting officers into the lurch by announcing the easing of lockdown early. 

Northumbria’s Labour Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness said: ‘The PM must have known he was going to create a situation that is difficult to police. The messaging looks like it was rushed forward to help ministers in a difficult position.’

Anthony Stansfeld, the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, said: ‘People should obey the rules – things are only just beginning to open up, so please don’t pre-empt them. 

‘All the relaxation of lockdown is being carefully timed by the Government’s chief scientists for good reason.

‘It’s far better if people wait and do things at the proper time, so please don’t jump the gun. A bit more freedom is coming on Monday, so I urge everyone to be patient.’

Merseyside Police warned that people would be fined if they turned up to parks and beaches in large groups across the city this weekend.

Superintendent Jonathan Davies said: ‘I know people will be tempted to get outside. This is a reminder that the rules on spending time with only one other person from another household remains in place this weekend.’

There are also warnings from forces in UK holiday destinations, as it was revealed that 38 per cent of lockdown breach fines handed out on last bank holiday weekend were for overnight stays, including people using camper fans and second homes.  

The message from police to stick to the current rules was bolstered by the interventions from the Sage scientists, who were squeamish about the lockdown being lifted too fast.

Prof Horby, chairman of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) and a Sage member, said Britain could not afford to lose control of the virus.

He told BBC Radio 4 this morning: ‘We really can’t go back to a situation where we’ve got the numbers of cases and deaths we’ve had in the past.’  

Labour’s shadow health minister Justin Madders said: ‘It is crucial for all of us that the Government gets this right. 

‘Easing lockdown must be done as safely as possible. It will only work if there are effective, flexible and local systems in place that have the confidence of the public to ensure that we avoid a second peak of infections.’ 

London Mayor Sadiq Khan also waded in and said he was ‘deeply concerned we are now rushing too fast to lift lockdown measures’.  

Sir Jeremy, director of the Wellcome Trust and Sage member said in a Twitter post that he ‘agreed with John’ on the clear science advice, appearing to reference Sage colleague Professor John Edmunds, who said on Friday the Government was ‘taking risks’ by relaxing measures from Monday.

Sir Jeremy also said the newly-introduced NHS test and trace system needed to be ‘fully working’ before measures were eased.

He wrote: ‘Covid-19 spreading too fast to lift lockdown in England. Agree with John & clear science advice.

‘TTI (test, trace and isolate) has to be in place, fully working, capable dealing any surge immediately, locally responsive, rapid results & infection rates have to be lower. And trusted.’ 

A whistleblower told the Daily Mail that the government’s track and trace system, designed to keep the UK out of lockdown, is in chaos –  chaotically recruited, ill-prepared and, in many cases, left idle for days at a time . 

‘There’s absolutely no chance it’s ready,’ the 38-year-old whistleblower from Manchester said. ‘If it does happen [this week]… there will be catastrophic and continued failings from that day onwards. 

‘This is serious – it’s a pandemic, and lives are at risk. I’m genuinely worried about how we are about to be set loose on the public’.

Prof Horby also expressed serious doubts about the contact-tracing system, which has been heralded as the ticket out of blanker lockdown. He said: ‘As we know, it’s not yet fully operational so that is where the risk lies.’  

Sunbathers enjoy the warm weather on the beach near Boscombe Pier in Bournemouth. Britons were urged to follow social distancing guidelines this weekend

Sunbathers enjoy the warm weather on the beach near Boscombe Pier in Bournemouth. Britons were urged to follow social distancing guidelines this weekend

Bars lining the beaches served takeaway drinks to thirsty Britons after being shuttered for most of lockdown (Bournemouth pictured)

A man carries a foaming pint of beer at Bournemouth beach

Bars lining the beaches served takeaway drinks to thirsty Britons after being shuttered for most of lockdown (Bournemouth pictured)

Sun-seekers head down a path leading to the beach at Durdle Door near Lulworth, Dorset, as the sun shines on the south coast

Sun-seekers head down a path leading to the beach at Durdle Door near Lulworth, Dorset, as the sun shines on the south coast

Sunbathers sprawl out on the sands at Sandbanks in Dorset this morning as the mercury climbs to 82F

Sunbathers sprawl out on the sands at Sandbanks in Dorset this morning as the mercury climbs to 82F

The promenade at Sandbanks was bustling early this morning, with cyclists and runners getting their exercise

The promenade at Sandbanks was bustling early this morning, with cyclists and runners getting their exercise 

Busy traffic heads westward along the M3 near Eastleigh, Hampshire, near the coast as hordes of beach-goers headed to the seaside

Busy traffic heads westward along the M3 near Eastleigh, Hampshire, near the coast as hordes of beach-goers headed to the seaside

Sun-seekers jumped the gun on the next stage of lockdown easing and crowded on to the nation's beaches today (Sandbanks, Dorset, pictured)

Sun-seekers jumped the gun on the next stage of lockdown easing and crowded on to the nation’s beaches today (Sandbanks, Dorset, pictured)

HOW MANY LOCKDOWN FINES HAVE BEEN ISSUED IN YOUR AREA? 

Here are the total number of fines issued by police forces in England between March 27 and May 25 for alleged breaches of the coronavirus lockdown laws:

  • Avon and Somerset: 325
  • Bedfordshire: 302
  • British Transport Police (BTP): 331
  • Cambridgeshire: 132
  • Cheshire: 193
  • City of London: 70
  • Cleveland: 303
  • Cumbria: 436
  • Derbyshire: 243
  • Devon and Cornwall: 906
  • Dorset: 737
  • Durham: 155
  • Essex: 227
  • Gloucestershire: 245
  • Greater Manchester: 309
  • Hampshire: 261
  • Hertfordshire: 269
  • Humberside: 126
  • Kent: 125
  • Lancashire: 765
  • Leicestershire: 365
  • Lincolnshire: 221
  • Merseyside: 519
  • Metropolitan: 1,035
  • MoD Police: 36
  • Norfolk: 368
  • North Yorkshire: 1,032
  • Northamptonshire: 384
  • Northumbria: 243
  • Nottinghamshire: 188
  • South Yorkshire: 391
  • Staffordshire: 53
  • Suffolk: 261
  • Surrey: 632
  • Sussex: 757
  • Thames Valley: 878
  • Warwickshire: 40
  • West Mercia: 177
  • West Midlands: 442
  • West Yorkshire: 881
  • Wiltshire: 189

Total: 15,552

Number of fines issued by police forces in Wales in the same timeframe:

  • BTP: 15
  • Dyfed-Powys: 816
  • Gwent: 91
  • North Wales: 256
  • South Wales: 217

Total: 1,395 

Professor John Edmunds said many experts would ‘prefer’ to see the number of Covid-19 infections drop before measures such as a relaxation on social interaction restrictions were introduced.

Latest data from the Office for National Statistics suggests there are an estimated 54,000 new coronavirus infections a week in England outside of hospital and care settings, equating to nearly 8,000 per day.

The so-called R value, or reproduction rate, is currently between 0.7 and 0.9, and must remain under one to avoid a rise in infections – a key test on whether lockdown measures should be eased, with the Government stressing the need to avoid a second wave of cases which would threaten to overwhelm the NHS.

Prof Edmunds, speaking during a Science Media Centre briefing, said the decision to relax certain rules came with a degree of risk.

He said: ‘I think many of us would prefer to see the incidence driven down to lower levels because that would mean we have fewer cases occurring before we relaxed the measures.

‘If we had incidents at a lower level, even if the reproduction level went up a bit, we wouldn’t be in a position where we were overwhelming the health service.

‘I think at the moment with relatively high incidents, relaxing the measures and with an untested track and trace system, I think we are taking some risk here.

‘Even if that risk doesn’t play out and we keep the incidents flat, we’re keeping it flat at quite a high level. The Government has launched its track and trace system designed to limit the spread of infection by ordering contacts of those who become infected with coronavirus to isolate

Prof Edmunds, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, supported the decision to essentially substitute a ‘blanket approach’ to containing the virus with a targeted one, adding it saw a return to ‘some level of normality’.

He added: ‘None of us think, who have looked at this in any great detail, that that will be sufficient to be able to hold the reproduction number below one.

‘We all think we will have to have quite significant numbers of wider social distance measures in place.

‘The basic reproduction number for this virus is perhaps three, maybe even more, so we cannot relax our guard by very much at all.’

He said there was a need to try and get the economy restarted, to get people back to work and to provide a boost to people’s mental health.

But he said even if track and trace kept the R-value at about one, it would still result in around 8,000 community infections a day in England.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman defended the decision to announce the change on Thursday, saying: ‘We’ve said that wherever possible we would give a period of notice in advance of changes being made, ideally 48 hours or more.

‘We’re enormously grateful for the efforts of the British public in sticking by the rules and getting the infection rate down and that does mean that from June 1 we will be able to allow people to have some more social contact in a safe and socially-distanced way. I’m sure that members of the public will show common sense.’

Speaking in response to the PM’s announcement on Thursday that restrictions would be changed on Monday, former Tory minister Tobias Ellwood said last night: ‘The nation has been incredibly disciplined to date.

‘Is it wise to tell the public that they can have barbecues with friends from Monday before a sunny weekend?’  

A Home Office source also warned last night that if people breached the guidance this weekend, they risked putting lives in danger by reversing the progress that had been made in tackling the virus. 

There is also the possibility for confusion as while Wales also does not relax its lockdown rules until Monday, Scotland did so from yesterday.  

Bournemouth: Tom Tom traffic trackers show an uptick in car travel from last week, with road use slowly creeping up over the last seven days

Bournemouth: Tom Tom traffic trackers show an uptick in car travel from last week, with road use slowly creeping up over the last seven days

Brighton: An uptick in weekend travel was also recorded in this seaside town as people flooded on to the beaches

Brighton: An uptick in weekend travel was also recorded in this seaside town as people flooded on to the beaches

London: A small increase in travel was recorded in the capital from last week

London: A small increase in travel was recorded in the capital from last week

Apple mobility tracker also shows a surge in the amount of travel across the UK as the lockdown begins to be eased

Apple mobility tracker also shows a surge in the amount of travel across the UK as the lockdown begins to be eased 

Surfers grab their boards and head along the beach at Sandbanks in Dorset today as the sun shone on the south coast

Surfers grab their boards and head along the beach at Sandbanks in Dorset today as the sun shone on the south coast

People enjoy the continued warm weather along and on the banks of the River Thames Seasonal weather, Henley on thames, Oxfordshire

People enjoy the continued warm weather along and on the banks of the River Thames Seasonal weather, Henley on thames, Oxfordshire

Swimmers brace the waters at Hythe Bay, Dover, Kent today ahead of further lockdown restriction easing on Monday

Swimmers brace the waters at Hythe Bay, Dover, Kent today ahead of further lockdown restriction easing on Monday

Paddleboarders take to the river Thames near Maidenhead today as thousands of Britons were tempted outdoors by scorching weather

Paddleboarders take to the river Thames near Maidenhead today as thousands of Britons were tempted outdoors by scorching weather

A group of six people bask under the baking sun on Brighton beach this afternoon

A group of six people bask under the baking sun on Brighton beach this afternoon

Camber Sands car park in East Sussex was rammed today as beach-goers arrived to soak up the sun this Saturday

Camber Sands car park in East Sussex was rammed today as beach-goers arrived to soak up the sun this Saturday

Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust

Professor John Edmunds of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust and Sage member said in a Twitter post that he ‘agreed with John’ on the clear science advice, appearing to reference Sage colleague Professor John Edmunds, who said on Friday the Government was ‘taking risks’ by relaxing measures from Monday

A group of beach-goers grab their gear and head along the promenade in Sandbanks, Dorset, this afternoon

A group of beach-goers grab their gear and head along the promenade in Sandbanks, Dorset, this afternoon

People relax in a group of five on the banks of the River Thames Seasonal weather, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire

People relax in a group of five on the banks of the River Thames Seasonal weather, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire

Four nations, four lockdowns: How different rules now apply in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (so who’s following what science?) 

ByJack Maidment, Deputy Political Editor For Mailonline 

Long-awaited changes are being made to the UK’s coronavirus lockdown with the four Home Nations now adopting different approaches to the loosening of draconian rules. 

Boris Johnson set out his plans which mostly only relate to England at a Downing Street press conference last night with those changes coming into force on Monday. 

But more limited changes in Scotland came into force today while Wales and Northern Ireland are also doing their own thing. 

Below is a breakdown of how different rules apply in different parts of the country. 

ENGLAND 

Perhaps the most eye-grabbing change announced by Mr Johnson last night was that as of Monday groups of up to six people will be allowed to meet up outdoors. 

Social distancing rules to stay at least two metres apart remain in place but the six people can be from different households. 

This is a much more flexible approach than has been taken in Scotland and Wales. 

These group gatherings can take place either outdoors in a public park or within a private garden but people have been told to be careful if guests need to travel through a house to get to a garden. Barbecues are allowed. 

England’s new rules mean there is no limit on how far people can travel from their home. 

Meanwhile, people can also exercise as much as they want – a change which was announced by Mr Johnson in his first wave of loosening. 

When it comes to shops, all non-essential premises will be allowed to start reopening from June 15. That means most High Street stores like clothes shops and shoe shops. 

Other businesses, such as pubs, hairdressers and cinemas will have to wait until July before they can reopen, the Government has previously said. 

Primary schools and nurseries will begin their phased reopening from June 1 while some year 10 and 12 students will be able to return to secondary schools from June 15.   

SCOTLAND 

Nicola Sturgeon’s lockdown changes came into force as of today, in time for what is expected to be a sunny weekend with highs of up to 80F. 

The First Minister’s plans allow groups of up to eight people to meet up outside. 

However, they must all be from just two households. Similar to in England, these gatherings can either take place in private gardens or in outdoor spaces like parks.  

One difference is that people are not supposed to go into someone else’s house – even if it that is the only way to get to the garden. 

Social distancing rules remain at the two metre figure while there is no legal limit on travel away from home. 

However, the Scottish government has encouraged people to ‘stay local’ which means not travelling more than approximately five miles. 

Ms Sturgeon has advised that if the distance travelled to meet someone means that you have to use their bathroom, then ‘perhaps you shouldn’t be doing it’. 

People in Scotland are also allowed to exercise as much as they want outside. 

Scotland’s easing will enable people to visit garden centres and play some sports where social distancing can easily be maintained, such as golf and tennis. 

There is less clarity north of the border on when non-essential shops could reopen with the Scottish government yet to set a date for the return of the High Street. 

Scotland’s education plan is also much more cautious than England’s with schools not expected to start reopening until August 11. 

In Scotland, there is no set timeline for when more measures might be lifted. 

WALES 

First Minister Mark Drakeford set out his plans for lockdown loosening this morning. 

Outdoor gatherings will be permitted from Monday but only with people from two different households. 

However, the number of people who can meet up outdoors in a socially distanced way is unlimited. 

The Welsh plan also allows people to use gardens for their gatherings although like in Scotland people are not allowed to go into other people’s homes. 

In Wales there is a broad five mile limit on travel away from home although the Welsh government has stressed travel should remain ‘local’ and not generally further than five miles, seemingly giving some room for interpretation. 

People in Wales are also allowed to exercise as much as they want outside but no date has yet been set for the return of non-essential shops. 

However, Mr Drakeford said today that non-essential retail businesses that can comply with social distancing rules should start to prepare to reopen over the next three weeks.

Mr Drakeford said a decision on whether they will reopen will be taken at the next review of lockdown measures on June 18 and will depend on scientific and medical evidence.

No date has yet been set for the reopening of schools. 

NORTHERN IRELAND 

Northern Ireland was the first of the four Home Nations to move on loosening rules relating to socialising. 

Groups of between four and six people are allowed to meet outdoors. 

They can all be from different households and social distancing at two metres must be stuck to.

Gardens are allowed to be used for those gatherings but access to another person’s house is not permitted. 

People can travel as far as they want from their home – just like in England – with no restrictions on the amount of outdoor exercise allowed. 

Some non-essential shops are expected to begin reopening from June 15. 

Pending the country’s rate of transmission remaining below one, a host of further restrictions are set to be eased in Northern Ireland on June 8. 

That could include the reopening of outdoor sports facilities, car showrooms and some non-essential retail stores.

Outdoor weddings with a maximum of 10 people are also set to be allowed and hotels will be able to start taking forward bookings at their own risk.

However, there is a longer wait for schools with pupils not expected to return to the classroom until the new academic year begins in September.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.