At 19:00 BST on 10 May, Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled a ‘conditional’ coronavirus exit strategy for England; with the devolved authorities of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland setting their own coronavirus policies.
The PM detailed a three-stage approach, starting 11 May, whereby England will reopen under a ‘new normal’. In the first stage, workers who cannot work from home - such as those in construction or manufacturing – will be actively encouraged to return to work, if they can observe social distancing rules. However, these workers should seek to avoid using public transport for their commutes.
From 13 May, restrictions on the amount of outdoor exercise will be lifted, this includes the permission to travel to locations not in the immediate vicinity of a person’s home. There will also be a ‘common sense’ approach for meeting a family member in public spaces, ensuring social distancing is adhered to. Fines for those who break the rules will now increase from £60 to £100 for first offenders.
Thereafter, and dependant on outbreak monitoring, the government will look to implement its second stage from 1 June, at the earliest. This will involve the reopening of some shops that can comply with social distancing and a phased reopening of schools, starting with primary education (reception, year one, and year six). The conditions for other childcare facilities to open remain unclear.
From no earlier than 4 July, and again conditional to the progress of the outbreak, England will start to reopen some social venues, subject to social distancing. Details concerning stage 3 remain particularly unclear.
The PM also announced the UK would soon introduce a mandatory quarantine for any persons entering the UK by air. These people will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival to the UK. However, this does not apply to France or the common travel area.
A new five-tier colour coded COVID-19 alert system will be introduced for which the government will align its policies. The five-tier system ranging from green to red is similar to the one used by the government to announce threats from terrorism. It will be run by a new Joint Biosecurity Centre.
The lockdown measures will be lifted or increased as the pandemic develops and the country either descends or ascends the five-tier system, with level one meaning the disease is no longer present and level five being the most critical. At present, the UK is currently on a level four just below the “most critical” but is moving towards a level three.
In addition, in line with the policies of other countries, for the first time, people in England are also being advised to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces where they come into contact with other people – including on public transport. This guidance emphasises that people should use home-made coverings, not specialist masks, in order to protect PPE for health care providers. This is not a legal requirement.
Over the past 24 hours, a further 210 people died in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus, taking the total number of deaths recorded to 32,065. The government also missed its target of 100,000 coronavirus tests a day for the eighth day in a row on Saturday, completing 92,837 tests.
Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable will be told to continue to shield beyond June.