Boris Johnson announces new lockdown rules allowing six people to gather from Monday
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The Prime Minister announced that outdoor gatherings of up to six people will be permitted from Monday as long as social distancing rules are still observed. Barbecues and garden parties got the green light, as well as get-togethers in parks, beaches and other outdoor venues. And grandparents will finally be able to see their grandchildren again, although shielding advice for the most vulnerable to coronavirus remains in force.
The PM said: “I know that for many this will be a long-awaited and joyful moment.”
Mr Johnson also confirmed that primary schools and nurseries will start some classes for the children of non-key workers from Monday. Secondaries will follow a fortnight later. NHS dentists will be encouraged to reopen from June 8. Outdoor markets and car showrooms have been permitted to start trading on Monday with other non-essential shops reopening from the middle of the month.
Mr Johnson announced the loosening of the lockdown at the daily Downing Street briefing and revealed Covid-19 had claimed 377 more lives. The tragic total stands at 37,837.
He said: “I know the toll that lockdown has taken on families and friends who have been unable to see each other.
“So from Monday we will allow up to six people to meet outside, provided those from different households continue strictly to observe social distancing rules by staying two metres apart.
“These changes mean friends and family can start to meet their loved ones, perhaps seeing both parents at once, or both grandparents at once.”
He said the “hard work and sacrifice” of the British people meant the Government’s five tests for easing the lockdown had been met, allowing the country to move to a new phase.
The NHS is coping with the outbreak, the peak of deaths has passed and the rate of new infections is decreasing.
Progress is also being made in the effort to supply medical and care home staff with personal protective equipment.
Finally, ministers and officials are confident a partial easing of the lockdown will not risk a second peak of the disease that could overwhelm the NHS.
Insisting the Government would remain vigilant, the PM said: “I cannot and will not throw away all the gains we have made together, and so the changes we are making are limited and cautious.
“It is thanks to the caution we have shown so far that all five tests are being met.
“That is not my achievement or the Government’s achievement.
“It is your achievement, only possible thanks to your resolve and dedication to our national purpose to overcome this virus. So the result is we can move forward with adjusting the lockdown in England on Monday.”
Giving the green light to barbecues and garden parties, he said: “We do want people to be able to see their friends and family.
“We do want people to be able to see two grandparents at once – but it’s got to be socially distanced.
“It’s got to be a maximum of six people and we don’t want people to stay overnight. We don’t want people to go to other households and stay there. We are not at that stage.
“There could be meetings of families in a garden, you could even have a barbecue providing you did it in a socially distanced way, provided everybody washes their hands, provided everybody exercises common sense.
“This is a limited step forward. We hope people will take advantage of it and enjoy the opportunity to see friends and family a bit more.” Mr Johnson also warned pockets of new infections are likely, which will mean restrictions are reintroduced locally. He said: “There will be further local outbreaks. So we will monitor carefully, we will put on the brakes as required and, where necessary, we will reimpose measures.”
The PM said many extremely vulnerable people will have to remain at home despite the latest easing. He added: “At this stage, I am afraid that those who have been asked to shield themselves should continue to do so.
“I want to say to those extremely clinically vulnerable people who are being shielded that I do understand how difficult this has been for you especially.
“And I want to thank you for all the efforts you have gone to because your actions have helped the NHS to cope. We are looking carefully at how we can make your life easier, and how we can better support you, and we want to say more on that soon.”
Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said there were still 54,000 new infections a week.
He added: “That is not a low number. That means there is not a lot of room to do things and things need to be done cautiously.”
Outdoor markets will be back in business from Monday as well as car showrooms because social distancing is easier to enforce than in other areas of retail which are more enclosed.
Primary schools will open on Monday for year one and year six pupils and nurseries can also restart. Secondary schools will begin to provide “some face to face contact time” for years 10 and 12 from June 15.
From June 15 all shops will be given the green light to resume trading. But it will be dependent on whether the targets on keeping the virus under control continue to be met and shops can operate safely.
FRIENDS AND FAMILY
From Monday up to six people will be able to meet up outside as long as they stay two metres apart.
Gatherings can be held in gardens and barbeques are allowed.
Guests will be allowed to pop to the toilet but must wipe everything down and wash their hands thoroughly.
Dentists in England will reopen from June 8. Chief dental officer Sarah Hurley in a letter to practices cleared them to resume if they have protective equipment and infection control measures.
Urgent cases will be their top priority.
Mick Armstrong, chairman of the British Dental Association, said: “A return of high street dentistry we will be welcome news to millions of patients left with few options during lockdown.”
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