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10 May 2020, 19:21 | Updated: 10 May 2020, 20:10
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a "conditional plan" for the next stage of the country's fight against coronavirus but said it is "not the time simply to end the lockdown this week".
Boris Johnson has said there will be no immediate end to the UK's lockdown in a key address to the nation.
However, the Prime Minister did announce the "first, careful steps" to ease restrictions, permitting "unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise" from Wednesday and allowing members of the same household to sit in parks and play sports.
"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," Mr Johnson said, warning that people must still "obey the rules on social distancing."
The Prime Minister emphasised that the conditions to completely relax the lockdown have not yet been met.
Mr Johnson also issued new guidance for employers, saying that people who cannot do their jobs from home, such as in the construction and manufacturing industries, should be "encouraged" to go back to work.
"Work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can't work from home," the PM said, but he advised against people using public transport "because we must and will maintain social distancing."
Speaking in a pre-recorded ministerial broadcast on Sunday evening, the PM set out a "conditional plan" for the next phase of the country's fight against the virus outbreak.
'Step one' of the government's plan means that people in the UK can now:
- Take "unlimited" amounts of outdoor exercise and sit in the sun in a local park
- Play sports, but only with members of your own household
- Return to work, but only where jobs cannot be done from home (e.g. in construction and manufacturing)
Mr Johnson said he hoped that after 'step one', the government would be able to 'step two'. In 'step two', schools would begin to re-open from June 1st "at the earliest".
Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 in primary schools would be the first to return and the PM said he hoped secondary school pupils who have exams next year would "get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays".
'Step three' would see some of the hospitality industry re-opening provided that social distancing can be enforced. This would happen at the earliest by July but only if the statistics supported such a move.
"If there are outbreaks, if there are problems, we will not hesitate to put on the brakes," the PM said, warning against a second spike of the virus, "We must stay alert. We must continue to control the virus and save lives."
The Prime Minister also announced the launch of a new alert system to rank the threat level of coronavirus in England.
The system is similar to the one used to measure the terror threat, with alerts adjusted according the data available - ranging from green (the lowest level one) to red (the highest level five).
Mr Johnson explained that England is currently at level four but gradually moving towards level three.
In his broadcast, the Prime Minister did not say when exactly the lockdown would be fully lifted. The current restrictions on daily life have now been in place for seven weeks.
It comes as a further 269 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus. The total number of recorded deaths in the UK, including deaths in hospitals, care homes and the community, now stands at 31,855.
Over the weekend, the government replaced the "stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives" slogan in England with "stay alert, control the virus, save lives".
However, the "stay at home" advice remains in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with leaders in the devolved nations criticising the government's change of message.
Nicola Sturgeon called the new slogan "vague and imprecise". "I don't know what 'stay alert' means," the First Minister said in the Scottish government's daily briefing.
She confirmed that the only change being made to the existing lockdown restrictions in Scotland was that people would be able to exercise more than once a day, from Monday.
Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford and Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster both confirmed that the "stay at home" message has not changed in their respective nations.
The UK government's guidance is now:
- Stay at home as much as possible
- Work at home if you can
- Limit contact with other people
- Keep your distance if you go out (2m apart where possible)
- Wash your hands regularly
- If you or anyone in your household has symptoms, you all need to self-isolate