Boris Johnson eased several lockdown restrictions this evening, telling Britons they can exercise as much as they want to and drive anywhere, reducing the pressure on police – but the PM failed to mention when families will be able to reunite.
Addressing the nation, the Prime Minister announced that, from Wednesday, Britons will be allowed sunbathe in parks, drive to other destinations and even play sports – though only with members of their own households.
Strict social distancing measures will continue to remain in place – with even harsher fines for those who breach them.
It comes after weeks of battles between police and covidiots, with officers moving on sunbathers, stopping people from playing supports and fining those who travel to the countryside from cities.
However, despite the relaxation of the measures, and the Prime Minister urging Britons to go back to work, there was no word on when people will be able to reunited with their families who live in different homes.
Piers Morgan led the criticism, posting on social media: ‘So, the Prime Minister is urging millions of non-essential workers to go out to work – but also telling people we still can’t see family or friends even if we maintain the same social distancing rules as non-essential workers at work?
‘Makes no sense. I can drive 100s of miles to sunbathe alongside complete strangers on a beach, maintaining 2m distance – but not see my parents? This is ridiculous.
Mr Johnson said in his speech this evening: ‘From this Wednesday, we want to encourage people to take more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise.
People exercising in Greenwich, London this afternoon before Boris Johnson eased some lockdown restrictions
A police officer speaks to a group of sunbathers in Greenwich Park – though restrictions are set to be eased on Wednesday
Cyclists in London Fields park in Hackney, north London, during lockdown. Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary announced that the government wanted more people to cycle when the coronavirus lockdown is eased
‘You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even 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.’
The National Trust said it was reviewing plans for reopening sites following Boris Johnson’s speech.
‘Following the Prime Minister’s broadcast outlining the Government’s gradual road map out of lockdown, we will begin to review its effect on our reopening plans,’ a spokeswoman said.
Last week, the trust said it was working on plans to reopen sites, which have been shut to the public since March 24.
Though some will celebrate the news, others have reacted with alarm at the PM’s announcement.
Cumbria’s tourism board tweeted: ‘We are shocked by the timing and short notice of tonight’s announcement. We are awaiting further details but the safety of residents must come first.
‘For now, tourism businesses in Cumbria remain closed and we urge everyone to continue to £StayHome.’
Police Superintendents’ Association president, Paul Griffiths, said: ‘My message to the Government has not changed – we need clear and consistent communication with both the public and the police, so that society as a whole understands how this will work.
Sunbathers in Greenwich Park, London yesterday. The Metropolitan Police Federation (MPF) said that, despite its assertions to the contrary, the Government is sending out mixed messages
Police officers in a patrol car move sunbathers on in Greenwich Park, London, May 9 as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus
A man sunbathes while on the phone in Richmond Park on Saturday. Under current guidelines, only one outing for exercise is allowed a day
People enjoying the sun in Burgess Park, south London on Saturday on a crowded pathway amid a nationwide lockdown
‘It is also essential that all sectors play their role in ensuring social distancing, as this cannot fall to policing alone.
‘Our service has once again been shown as responsive and resilient throughout this crisis, despite the significant challenges it has faced.
‘The vast majority of the public have worked with us and the efforts and achievements of our workforce have repeatedly been praised at the highest level.
‘We will continue to work with the Government and other key police stakeholders, as the law for England is amended this week, to ensure our officers and staff have a clear understanding and expectation of their role as we enter a new phase of restrictions.
‘Police should rightly feel proud of everything they have done to help save lives – our efforts will continue to be vital in getting us through this national emergency.’
And others took to social media to hit out the Prime Minister for easing some restrictions, but not revealing when families could be reunited.
A father wrote: ‘So I can’t see family, I can teach a class of kids but distanced, I can’t send my son to nursery as it’s closed and he can’t go to his grandparents but it’s okay, I can play sport with him!’
One person added: ‘Can’t see my boyfriend, friends or family yet but I can go to work but I shouldn’t take public transport to get there ?? Ok Boris.’
A second said: ‘So nothing is mentioned about friends and family again?! And he wonders why people are not sticking to lockdown.
‘Jesus throw us a bone over here. Almost 2 months!!!
While a third wrote: ‘Boris Johnson, so one thing you didn’t mention.. When can we see our family again? We can go and chill in the park, sit on benches in the sun and some can go to work.. but we can’t see our loved ones?’
It comes as a police Chief Superintendent who went into a coma while battling coronavirus has hit out at ‘blasé’ lockdown breakers – as a spokesman for London officers branded the government’s response to the crisis ‘wishy washy’.
The weekend saw bank holiday sunbathers flock to parks across the country to revel in the sunshine – a spectacle that will likely be repeated today as the country seemingly returns to normality despite the continuing restrictions.
West Midlands Police Chief Superintendent Phil Dolby, who spent 26 days in hospital with coronavirus and battled the deadly virus for 13 days in intensive care, criticised those who flout the government measures.
He said: ‘A month ago today, on a ventilator and in a coma, I started to breathe for myself!
‘I am [very] disturbed by the increasingly blasé way people are treating the lockdown.
‘With lack of answers around immunity, my family and I are going to remain shielding. I can’t go through that again.’
Families with young children queue for ice cream near Greenwich Park in London as the ice cream seller dons a face mask despite customers lining up shoulder-to-shoulder on Saturday
Two people enjoy a work out in Richmond Park, south west London on Saturday as it is expected exercise restrictions will be lifted for next week
And a Metropolitan Police Federation (MPF) spokesperson said that despite its assertions to the contrary, the Government is sending out mixed messages.
MPF’s Ken Marsh told BBC Radio 4 that authorities ‘needed to be firmer right from the beginning’.
He said: ‘It’s been quite wishy-washy how we’ve gone about it.
‘Had we been very stringent from the off – it is painful, but it’s not overly painful in terms of what you’re actually being asked to do – then I think we would have a better result now.’
Yesterday police admitted they are ‘fighting a losing battle’ as parks and beaches were packed full of people.
Britons were out in their droves as temperatures hit 26C (78.8F) on the South Coast, matching the temperature recorded in Treknow, in Cornwall, on Good Friday, making it hotter than Ibiza and St Tropez.
Hundreds flocked to London fields where Hackney police said they were powerless to stop those out enjoying the sun from drinking and eating pizza.
The exasperated force tweeted a picture of the packed park and said: ‘Sadly we’re fighting a losing battle in the parks today. Literally hundreds of people sitting having pizza, beers, wines. As always a big thank you to those that are observing the guidelines.’
In scenes replicated around the country, the Coastguard said that on Friday it had the highest number of call-outs since lockdown began, with 97 incidents, 54 per cent more than the average of 63 recorded for the previous month.
Traffic officers in Brighton were stopping cars at the end of the A23, which leads to the south coast seaside network, and officers fined visitors trying to visit for the bank holiday.